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Ken Borland

Fleetwood shows brotherly spirit after winning NGC, praising closest challenger Fox 0

Posted on February 16, 2023 by Ken

Tommy Fleetwood is one of the most popular golfers on the circuit and his brotherly spirit was once again to the fore as he won the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Sunday and then praised his closest challenger Ryan Fox.

Fleetwood’s kindhearted, harmonious personality came to the fore in the 2018 Ryder Cup with his famous ‘bromance’ with Francesco Molinari, and on Sunday at Sun City, he put aside the obvious emotion of his first win since his triumph in the 2019 Nedbank Golf Challenge, the last one held, to praise Fox, who finished one stroke behind him after making bogey to the Englishman’s par on the final hole.

“Ryan was fantastic, he played great golf today and it was lovely being in the same group as one of the best golfers in the world at the moment. I would have loved my putt going in to have been the deciding factor rather than his miss,” Fleetwood said.

The putt he referred to was his clutch 50-footer on the 18th hole which ended inches away from the hole, giving him a tap-in for par, his 11-under-par total being enough to see off the tenacious New Zealander by a single stroke.

Fleetwood’s short game also came to the fore on the 14th and 17th holes. He chipped in from the waste-bunker for eagle on 14 to stay in touch with Fox and Shubhankar Sharma just as he seemed to be slipping behind, and then on the penultimate hole he produced a brilliant chip from off the green for a tap-in par.

“I didn’t have the best lie on 14, but it wasn’t a terrible place,” Fleetwood said. “I had missed chances though on 10, 11, 12 and 13, I felt good putts weren’t going in and I felt it was just not happening for me.

“But the chip on 14 came out lovely and went in on the first bounce, and that sort of provided the spark for me. Sometimes these things happen.”

But if Fleetwood has a lot of love for his colleagues, then his love for his family dwarfs that.

Due to a rain delay that lasted for nearly three-and-a-half hours, Fleetwood’s winning moment was missed by his family, so his tears on the 18th perhaps had a bit to do with that as well as ending his winning drought.

“One of my big goals has been to win when my whole family is there and our son Frankie always says I never win when he’s around,” Fleetwood smiled. “But today took such a long time that they had to disappear to the airport, the kids have got exams tomorrow.

“It’s been such a long time coming back here, so today meant so much. Seeing my name on the champions’ walkway on the ninth brought back some great memories and I had to call it in and send a video to my Dad at home. He said let’s go for a second plaque.

“I feel a great connection to this place, I was able to draw on good memories today. And the support of the crowds was amazing. This is such a special event and I’ve waited so long to be back here,” Fleetwood said.

Tip from friend & challenger Bradley helps Van Niekerk into the lead 0

Posted on November 01, 2022 by Ken

SOUTHBROOM, KwaZulu-Natal – A tip from his friend and close challenger Sean Bradley has seen Danie van Niekerk take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series San Lameer event on Friday, the Lichtenburg golfer taking an 11-under-par total into the weekend.

Van Niekerk shot a six-under-par 66 on Friday, the joint best round of the day, to go with his five-under 67 on the opening day, in a remarkable turnaround in form. The 34-year-old has missed his last three cuts, making it eight missed paydays in total this season.

“I felt last week that I played very poorly but my friend Sean Bradley helped me a lot on Monday and Tuesday this week,” Van Niekerk said. “So now I’m just hitting my small fade again and I’ve stopped trying to hit the ball both ways.

“San Lameer Country Club does suit me because I don’t really hit it long but I just focus on keeping the ball in play, but the big thing is I found my swing again.

“I started quite slowly today with four pars, but then I picked it up with four birdies in a row from the fifth. I’m very happy with the way I played, although I got a bit nervous on the last couple of holes and bogeyed the last.

“It’s the first time I’m leading a Sunshine Tour event and it feels good. I’m pretty excited about the final round and I will have the exact same game-plan: Just try and keep it in play and make some putts,” Van Niekerk said.

Wynand Dingle shared the overnight lead on six-under-par and he roared to nine-under early in the second round by birdieing three of his first four holes, having teed off on the 10th. He suffered the frustration of dropping a shot at the par-five 17th, but three more birdies on the front nine saw climb to 11-under. But then there was more frustration with a bogey on the par-three ninth hole, his last.

The 38-year-old Dingle goes into the final round just a shot off Van Niekerk’s lead and has been rampant in terms of consistency this season – he has made eight successive cuts now and has seven top-20 finishes in 11 events. His hopes of a maiden Sunshine Tour win have so far been thwarted, but he will be focused on stopping that on Saturday.

Bradley is in a tie for third, two shots back on nine-under, with Jaco Prinsloo, who raced up the leaderboard with a 67 on Friday.

Bradley’s 69 was a continuation of the good form he showed in finishing third in the Gary and Vivienne Player Challenge last weekend at Selborne Park Golf Club, and the 66 he shot in the first round at San Lameer.

Of the other golfers who shared the first-round lead, Ockie Strydom endured a disappointing day with just two birdies and three bogeys seeing him slip down into a tie for 12th on five-under; a double-bogey on the par-three 16th saw Herman Loubser also shoot a 73 to lie five-under, and Doug McGuigan also posted a 73 to be in that tie.

But the biggest exasperation of all was Matthew Spacey’s as he crashed to a five-over 77 and finished on one-under to miss the cut by a stroke. Double-bogeys on the fourth and seventh holes were his downfall.

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