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Ken Borland

SA pros eager to grab silverware after overseas conquest 0

Posted on May 07, 2024 by Ken

CENTURION, Gauteng – South Africa’s Sunshine Ladies Tour professionals are eager to grab the silverware after the overseas contingent’s conquest of the opening two tournaments this season, when the third event, the Fidelity ADT Ladies Challenge, gets underway at Blue Valley Golf Estate from Wednesday.

Scotland’s Kylie Henry opened the season with victory in the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am at Fancourt, and India’s Tvesa Malik then triumphed at the SuperSport Ladies Challenge presented by Sun International at the Lost City.

Lejan Lewthwaite will lead the local challenge as the highest-ranked South African in the order of merit playing in the R250 000 tournament, currently in 16th position.

“It’s only a matter of time, I believe, before we have a South African winner this season. There are a lot of really good local golfers and this is only the third event, so we are still getting into the season,” Lewthwaite said.

“I’m definitely confident in the talent we have and any one of us can win this week. But there are a lot of European golfers over in South Africa at the moment, a lot of the top players in the order of merit will be playing, so it is still a very strong field. We will have to keep our games on point.”

Both Henry, who leads the order of merit, and Malik will be teeing it up on the Gary Player design, while Romy Meekers, Lauren Taylor, Ana Dawson and Helen Kreuzer are all in the top-10 of the standings and have entered this week.

Lewthwaite finished 20th at both Fancourt and Lost City and her autopsy of her performance so far makes her feel that a strong performance is around the corner.

“I’m hitting the ball quite well but things have just not gone my way yet. That can be the difference between finishing 20th or top-10 and even contending, you need things to fall your way.

“But the game is there and I just need to build some momentum and I’ll be on my way. I enjoy Blue Valley, it’s a very nice course and should be in good condition. It’s pretty open off the tees and I just want to play to my own strengths, which is a sharp short game. I read the greens well so I’ll be pretty confident around Blue Valley,” Lewthwaite said.

A contingent of 11 Saffas tackle PGA layout that favours top-class approach play 0

Posted on June 20, 2022 by Ken

A contingent of 11 South African golfers will tackle a daunting Southern Hills layout from Thursday in the PGA Championship, the second Major of the year, with the 7556-yard course favouring those with top-class approach play.

Tilted greens with fast run-off areas that repel wayward approach shots, combined with heavy bunkering, make for a difficult challenge that will put a premium on accurate approach play and good putting.

Erik van Rooyen is the leading South African on the PGA Tour in terms of the Shots Gained on Approach statistics but he has a love-hate relationship with the PGA Championship. His best finish in a Major was his tied-eighth finish in the 2019 event at Bethpage Black, but last year at Kiawah Island he smashed a tee-box marker on his way to missing the cut.

Although he withdrew for unexplained reasons from last weekend’s Byron Nelson Classic, Van Rooyen is South Africa’s second-highest ranked golfer at No.61 in the world.

Louis Oosthuizen (15th) is still South Africa’s highest-ranked performer, but a cloud of uncertainty hangs over a golfer who has perennially flattered to deceive at the Majors, having six runners-up finishes to go with a solitary win – at the 2010 Open Championship.

Oosthuizen has been strongly linked with the breakaway LIV Golf Invitational Series backed by Saudi Arabia, which starts in June, so this could be a swansong at the Majors for the 39-year-old.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout is third in the rankings amongst South Africans at 67th and also good around and on the greens. He has been consistent, making 13 of 15 cuts on the PGA Tour this year, without being a regular contender.

For a real dark horse, look no further than world number 68 Shaun Norris, who has been the best putter on the DP World Tour this year and strong in his approach play as well. This week could be a great opportunity for him to improve on his Major record of five missed cuts in seven events, with a best finish of tied-61st in the 2018 Open.

The other South Africans in the field – Justin Harding, Garrick Higgo, Dean Burmester, Oliver Bekker, Charl Schwartzel, Danie van Tonder and Branden Grace – can all be considered long shots, although Southern Hills was the venue for two memorable Southern African Major triumphs with Nick Price winning the 1994 PGA Championship by a lengthy six shots and Retief Goosen triumphing in a nervewracking playoff for the 2001 U.S. Open.

Not only is Southern Hills long, but it will be playing to par-70 and there are normally tricky winds to deal with in the rolling hills of Oklahoma’s Green Country, as well as a creek that runs throughout the course. It requires precise planning and execution, especially on the lay-ups, and the winning score is not expected to be much under-par.

Most of the overseas field missing, but winning SA Open still won’t be easy 0

Posted on January 04, 2022 by Ken

This week’s South African Open at Sun City may be missing the vast majority of the overseas contingent, but claiming the title of the second-oldest national open in golf is still not going to be easy with four golfers ranked inside the world’s top-100 leading the field at the Gary Player Country Club from Thursday.

Defending champion Christiaan Bezuidenhout is the highest ranked of those at No.48, but Garrick Higgo will be breathing down his neck, as he is on the rankings in 57th place, as the duo battle for the unofficial crown of being South Africa’s hottest young golfer.

Current form will probably count for more than the rankings though and the other two top-100 players in the field – Dean Burmester and Shaun Norris – are both in fine form and should pose a serious challenge.

Norris, who finished tied for third in last weekend’s Joburg Open, has been wonderfully consistent over the last few months. In 11 events on the Japanese Tour, he won the Japan Open, had three other top-10 finishes and five in the top-20. Norris has enjoyed considerable success in Asia through the years, but will want to show just how good he is on home turf in the SA Open.

Burmester finished in the top-10 at both the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, finishing in a career-best 18th place on the European tour’s order of merit. He is another who is a better golfer than many may think.

Another contender to look out for is world number 111 Dylan Frittelli, who plays alongside Bezuidenhout and Higgo on the U.S. PGA Tour and will be angry with his second and final round in the Joburg Open, when he shot one-over-par and dropped out of contention after his first-round 67 in the event that was reduced to 36 holes by the weather and Covid travel restrictions.

Those travel bans from South Africa have decimated the field in terms of overseas competitors, but there are still a few who will be teeing it up at Sun City.

Welshman Rhys Enoch is a regular Sunshine Tour competitor and he won the Cape Town Open in 2018 and the KitKat Group Pro-Am in March this year.

Scotsman David Drysdale and Brazil’s Adilson da Silva are also seasoned Sunshine Tour campaigners, Johannes Veerman is an American who won the Czech Masters on the European Tour this year and played in both the U.S. Open and the Open Championship.

There are even still a couple of Englishmen in the field in Steve Surry and Chris Cannon.

Englishmen dominant, but SA contingent eager to maintain Africa Open stranglehold 0

Posted on October 01, 2015 by Ken

It has been a summer season dominated by English golfers but it could change at the Africa Open that starts at East London Golf Club on Thursday with the South African contingent eager to maintain their stranglehold on the title.

The Africa Open started in 2008 and it has had a South African winner on every occasion – Shaun Norris, Retief Goosen, Louis Oosthuizen (twice), Charl Schwartzel, Darren Fichardt and Thomas Aiken – and, with locals winning just two of the last six co-sanctioned Sunshine Tour/European Tour events, it is a record they are eager to maintain in the Eastern Cape.

It has been Andy Sullivan who has struck the biggest blows to South African dominance at home as the Englishman has claimed back-to-back titles at the SA and Joburg Opens, and he is one of the favourites at East London Golf Club.

Sullivan is the highest-ranked golfer in the field at 58th in the world and victory in the Africa Open would lift him into the top-50, ahead of the cut-off for Masters qualification on April 2.

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