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Ken Borland

Fleetwood well-served by short game as he clinches NGC title 0

Posted on February 13, 2023 by Ken

Tommy Fleetwood was well-served by his short game as he clinched a thrilling 40th Nedbank Golf Challenge on the final hole on Sunday, the seventh time the tournament has been won by the defending champion.

Fleetwood came from three shots behind in the final round, shooting a superb five-under-par 67 on Sunday to finish on 11-under-par. The Englishman won the previous Nedbank Golf Challenge in 2019 with a score of 12-under-par 276, and so joined Seve Ballesteros (1983/84), David Frost (1989/90), Nick Price (1997/98), Ernie Els (1999/2000), Jim Furyk (2005/06) and Lee Westwood (2010/11) as back-to-back winners.

A brilliant 50-foot putt to within inches of the 18th hole earned Fleetwood his par, and victory, with Ryan Fox unable to get up-and-down from short of the bunker in front of the green, his bogey leaving him on 10-under-par.

Shubhankar Sharma bogeyed the 16th and 17th holes to finish on nine-under.

Fleetwood started hot with three birdies in his first six holes, his 20-foot putt on the sixth bringing him just one stroke off the lead as overnight leaders Rasmus Hojgaard (76) and Thomas Detry (77) were overcome by the pressure and the ruthless nature of the Gary Player Country Club when mistakes are made.

Play was brought to a halt though by lightning when Fleetwood, Fox and Shubhankar were on the eighth hole, but Fleetwood, the highest-ranked golfer in the field at No.25, was not fazed by the near three-and-a-half hour delay.

Fleetwood birdied the par-five ninth hole, as did Fox and Shubhankar. The New Zealander and the Indian were now the co-leaders, but Fox, who had started his round with six straight pars, then reeled off four birdies in a row, joining them on 10-under with his four at the par-five 10th hole.

Fleetwood let good chances for birdie slip by on the 10th and 11th holes, and then narrowly failed to get up-and-down from a greenside bunker on the 12th.

He found himself in the sand again on the 14th, but chipped in for eagle to go to 11-under-par, catching up with Shubhankar and Fox, who made birdies.

But the 31-year-old was inspired by the shot and would not relinquish his position. His short game came to the fore on the last two holes as a brilliant chip from off the green on the 17th left him with a tap-in for par, and then came his wonderfully-judged long putt on the final hole.

Shubhankar, the 2017 Joburg Open champion, short-sided himself in the bunker on the par-three 16th and missed his eight-foot putt for par, and then found the fairway bunker on 17. He laid up and produced an excellent third shot but then missed his four-foot putt for par, to ruin his chances of a second title on South African soil.

Fox’s tenacity all through the tournament was remarkable, overcoming his wonky Driver with a brilliant short game. But his crucial chip shot on 18 was initially disturbed by a moronic heckler in the crowd, and he then ran the ball on to the fringe of the green and could not make the putt.

Fleetwood has not won since his 2019 triumph at Sun City, and his emotions flowed on the 18th green as the tears came.

Coetzee has the experience, composure & skill to get the job done despite golf being a capricious mistress 0

Posted on February 06, 2023 by Ken

ST FRANCIS BAY, Eastern Cape – Golf is a capricious mistress and George Coetzee has been in the game for long enough to know the swing he has one day might not be around the next, but the two-time Sunshine Tour order of merit champion had the experience, composure and skill to get the job done on Sunday as he clinched his second PGA Championship title at the St Francis Links.

Coetzee had just a one-stroke lead going into the final round, but a polished four-under-par 68 on Sunday, which included two eagles and almost a third, carried him to 15-under-par and a three-stroke victory in the prestigious R1.2 million tournament.

“I was pretty much under pressure all day, I didn’t really feel comfortable and my swing wasn’t 100%,” Coetzee said after claiming his 14th Sunshine Tour title.

“But golf is one of those games, it’s not like cycling where the more you cycle the better you get. You can have one swing on one day and then the next day another swing.

“So I was putting pressure on myself, but I stuck to the game-plan, made good choices and hit good shots, and luckily it was enough in the end,” Coetzee said.

Some of those shots were better than good as an eagle on the par-five third hole brought some early pleasure, and he holed out with a sand-wedge for an eagle-two on the par-four 10th hole. In between those highlights, he could also have eagled the 350-yard par-four fifth hole after driving the green, but his putt was narrowly wide.

“We were put on the clock on the fifth and I didn’t have time to read my putt properly,” Coetzee laughed.

Unusually, Coetzee made bogey on the following hole on both occasions he registered an eagle.

“I was really happy with my two eagles after I saw a lot of chances in the third round. But then it was a bit hard to calm down and get back into my rhythm, get my head back into a good space,” Coetzee admitted.

But back-to-back birdies on the 12th and 13th holes put him firmly in control of the tournament and he parred his way in from the 14th for a comfortable victory in the end.

Rookie Casey Jarvis produced his best Sunshine Tour result as he finished second after a final-round 69, and the experienced duo of Hennie Otto and Jake Redman were tied in third place, one stroke behind on 11-under-par, both shooting two-under-par 70s on Sunday.

Coetzee will now head to Sun City and this week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge, which is like the AGM of South African professional golf, assured that he has the game in place to contend for that massive title.

“The confidence I take from beating the field here is a big boost and I’m generally pretty happy with the swing that has shown up for the last couple of weeks,” Coetzee said.

KZN batsmen neutered by impressive Free State pace attack 0

Posted on December 02, 2021 by Ken

The Free State Knights’ impressive pace attack neutered the KZN Dolphins batsmen and clinched a seven-run victory in the CSA Provincial T20 Knockout final in Kimberley on Friday.

Having been sent in to bat, Free State posted a strong total of 176 for five thanks to opener Patrick Kruger’s anchoring half-century and the powerful strokeplay of Pite van Biljon, Farhaan Behardien and Rilee Rossouw.

The Knights pacemen then took regular wickets as they restricted KZN to 169 for six.

Fast bowler Migael Pretorius (4-0-30-3) struck in the first over by bowling Protea Keegan Petersen for two and he then removed Bryce Parsons (35) and Ruan de Swardt first ball in the penultimate over to all but seal victory for Allan Donald’s team.

Alfred Mothoa (4-1-27-2) provided superb support as he trapped Marques Ackerman lbw for 11 in the third over and then claimed the big wicket of Sarel Erwee for 27 midway through the innings.

Khaya Zondo teared his way to 43 off 28 balls but was then caught behind off seamer Neulan van Heerden, a new face to top-level domestic cricket who nevertheless stepped up in the final with one for 24 in his four overs.

Jason Smith (36* off 23) launched a last-ditch effort to get KZN over the line, but had too much to do.

The Knights struggled to 37 for two inside the powerplay, the imposing figure of Rossouw, very much the alpha male in the Free State batting line-up, departing off the last ball of the sixth over for 28 off 18 balls.

But skipper Van Biljon stepped up with a commanding 42 off 25 balls, clearing the boundary three times, and Kruger played sensibly as he batted through to the penultimate over, scoring a vital 61 off 53 deliveries.

Behardien delivered his usual finishing brilliance with 29 not out off 18 balls.

The Dolphins attack were too dependent on their two fast bowlers – Daryn Dupavillon (4-0-24-2) and Ottneil Baartman (4-0-24-0) – with the other bowlers conceding 124 runs in their 12 overs.

Proteas women break half-a-billion Indian hearts 0

Posted on March 14, 2021 by Ken

Winning a series against India, not just because they are a country of half-a-billion women but also because they are one of cricket’s superpowers, especially on their home turf is a magnificent effort and South African batter Lara Goodall was quite right when she called it a “statement win” after the Proteas clinched a 3-1 series triumph with a game to spare with their seven-wicket win in Lucknow on Sunday.

To clinch victory, South Africa had to mount their highest ever successful run-chase – a daunting 267 was their target – and they did it style with eight balls to spare as the top four of Lizelle Lee (69), Laura Wolvaardt (53), Goodall (59*) and Mignon du Preez (61) all scored half-centuries.

The 24-year-old Goodall, who only returned to the Proteas team this year after being in the international wilderness following South Africa’s hammering on their last visit to India in October 2019, calmly steered them home in the company of veteran Marizanne Kapp (22*).

“It’s been nice to come here and make a statement because the last time we came to India we got clobbered a bit, so we had a point to prove. We knew it would not be easy, there was a lot of uncertainty, but we wanted to show that the batting unit has that belief and it was a massive chase against a world-class team. It showed we are a lot more mature in our game, especially the batting.

“It feels very good to be there at the end with Marizanne, to get us over the line after grafting so hard. We have a world-class opening partnership that we can always rely on with Lizelle and Laura, but we haven’t always backed them up. But the entire top four scoring fifties just shows all the talent and experience that is there. The batting really came to the party today,” Goodall said.

This was no mundane triumph and no-one would blame the Proteas for celebrating into Monday, especially since the fifth and final ODI is only on Wednesday.

“We’re definitely going to enjoy this one and we owe the win to the backing of the coaches and to ourselves for what happened last time we were here and we were down and out. Personally it put me out of the international game for a while, but I worked very hard in Lockdown. Two years ago I wasn’t sure how to play spin, what my options were.

“But having been a bit half-hearted about it, I looked at myself deeply and I knew I had to improve a lot if I wanted to have a regular place in this team. I want to keep my spot in the middle-order and it just required a mental shift. I’ve always had the shots and the ability, but there was some sort of disconnect whenever I had to go out into the middle,” Goodall admitted.

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