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Ken Borland

Beaming Manassero lights up the Glendower gloom with redemptive triumph 0

Posted on March 10, 2024 by Ken

A beaming Matteo Manessero holds the Jonsson Workwear Open trophy in the dark at Glendower Golf Club after his first DP World Tour triumph in nearly 11 years.
Photo: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour

Matteo Manassero’s beaming smile lit up the gloom at Glendower Golf Club on Sunday evening, almost shining as brightly as the not-so-distant lightning strikes as the Italian won the Jonsson Workwear Open by three strokes to win for the first time on the DP World Tour since May 2013.

Manassero had every reason to be ecstatic, considering the journey he has traversed. And while a three-strokes win sounds like an easy victory, his triumph was as dramatic as they come with the 30-year-old having to conquer not only a large chasing pack but also the weather. Manassero had just gone into a one-stroke lead with a 15-foot birdie on the 16th hole when play was suspended due to the threat of lightning. After a two-and-a-half hour delay, he returned to complete the job in near-darkness and with plenty of thunder still around Glendower.

His finish was just as thunderous as Manassero went birdie-birdie to close with four birdies in a row, posting 26-under-par after a 66 in the final round. It was what was needed to hold off the staunch challenge of Thriston Lawrence (63), Shaun Norris (68) and Jordan Smith (68), who tied for second on 23-under.

To understand the magnitude of Manassero’s achievement, one has to know where he has been. The world’s top amateur in 2009, he broke a host of records for the youngest to achieve certain landmarks and in 2010 he became the youngest ever winner on the European Tour when he won the Castello Masters in Valencia aged 17 years and 188 days.

In May 2013 he won the PGA Championship at Wentworth for his fourth title and entered the top-30 in the world rankings, all before he turned 21.

And then his career nose-dived. By the end of 2018 he had lost his European Tour card and ended up on the Alps Tour, two levels down.

He gave up pro golf for a while but then won on the Alps Tour in 2020 and made his way to the Challenge Tour. He won twice last year, opening up a return to the main DP World Tour. On Sunday at Glendower, his redemption was complete.

“It is the best day of my life,” Manassero said as lightning flashed behind his head on the 18th green. “It’s been a crazy journey and I’m so incredibly happy to be here holding this trophy. It feels like it was written somewhere, to finish with those birdies.

“Glendower will stay in my heart forever and I just feel incredible right now, it’s really difficult to put it into words, but I am very proud after what I have been through. I don’t want to think about the tough times now, but there is a lot of emotion.

“Forty minutes ago we were almost coming back tomorrow to finish, so there has been a lot of tension. But I am so happy to be feeling these emotions again out on the golf course. It’s strange, we live for these emotions that take us out of our comfort zone and are difficult to handle,” Manassero said.

The par-three 15th hole was where Manassero’s winning surge began, moments after Lawrence had eagled the 17th to go into the lead on 23-under. But it was also where his challenge looked as if it might have been headed for a watery grave as his tee shot just cleared the water it was heading for, leaving him with a 12-foot birdie putt which he nailed.

“On 15 that could have been in the water. I just tried to hit an easy six-iron, but in golf you cannot predict anything. Sometimes a shot that doesn’t feel great leads to the birdie opportunity that changes everything. But that was more than two-and-a-half hours ago and I have been through a lot of emotion since then!”

Before the weather delay, the co-sanctioned tournament with the Sunshine Tour seemed inexorably headed for a fascinating finish. Manassero admitted that his many challengers were in his thoughts.

“The guys behind me on the leaderboard were playing some incredible golf. Every time I looked at the leaderboard, there was a different guy and more birdies. There was always someone chasing me.”

And Manassero himself was chasing a DP World Tour victory of enormous personal magnitude. Having fallen into the trap of chasing results and outcomes, instead of focusing on process, during his first career as a professional golfer, the product of Verona also admitted that, of course, he had thoughts of winning right through the final round.

“There’s always a bit of back-of-forth in your mind, that is normal. But you also try and think other thoughts, really anything that is positive, things that I say to myself to help me play more freely. But to think about the result is normal, just not constantly because then it becomes really hard to express yourself and hit the ball straight,” Manassero explained.

While Lawrence and Norris led the South African challenge, Oliver Bekker was also a member of the chasing pack, a birdie on the 17th putting him one shot off the lead. But the 39-year-old then hit his approach on the 18th into the water next to the green, finishing with a double-bogey that left him in a tie for sixth on 21-under-par.

Oosthuizen shows the pedigree to jack up his game when required 0

Posted on December 11, 2023 by Ken

Louis Oosthuizen finally gets his hands on the trophy at Leopard Creek.
Photo: Ken Borland

When Charl Schwartzel drew level again on the 12th hole, Louis Oosthuizen knew his great friend and rival was not going to go away in the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship, and he realised he would have to jack up his game if he hoped to win the famous Leopard Creek trophy for the first time.

Showing his big game temperament, Oosthuizen played beautifully through the middle of the back nine, reeling off three straight birdies from the 13th hole. It meant he went into the daunting last three holes with a three-stroke lead, and he needed it in the sodden conditions.

Finding a fairway bunker on the par-four 17th led to a bogey, and then his drive on the par-five 18th found the water down the right, creating an exciting finish as four-time champion Schwartzel was just off the green in two. Oosthuizen laid up his third well, and then nervelessly rolled in a tricky 18-foot putt for par to seal a two-stroke victory, his closing 69 taking him to 18-under-par.

“I knew I had to play well because Charl plays very well around this place and Christiaan Bezuidenhout started well too. Fortunately I made a few putts in the middle that let me get ahead because this is such a good finishing course, you need to hold on and it’s tough to be aggressive,” Oosthuizen said after his first win since his memorable SA Open triumph in 2018.

“I was a bit in-between what to do off the 18th tee and I had to make par the hard way, because Charl hit a good drive and I knew he would go for the green in two. It wasn’t much fun after that tee-shot, but it feels good now!”

After Sunday’s play was limited to just seven holes for the leading group by thundershowers, Schwartzel started shakily on Monday with bogeys on the par-four eighth and 10th holes. But he would trade those in for back-to-back birdies on the 11th and 12th holes to draw level again. But six successive pars then followed as Schwartzel was just not quite sharp enough to put more pressure on Oosthuizen, closing with a 71 for 16-under-par.

Moving beyond the ins and outs of their respective final rounds, perhaps Oosthuizen was due to win at Leopard Creek, given his pedigree and how badly he wanted the title after twice finishing second.

“Since first playing in this event in 2004, this has been one of the tournaments I’ve always wanted to win, but it took me a while. Like the SA Open, which was my last win, I had to wait a while and now I’m very happy. It’s really special to win here, maybe I should play more in South Africa.

“I was very focused because I really wanted to win and I felt my game was good enough to do it and I’ve been putting well enough. But it was just a fight and I had to make it count with the putter in the end,” Oosthuizen said.

A beautifully curled-in 35ft birdie putt on the 14th hole was the 41-year-old’s highlight on the greens on the final day.

Bezuidenhout shot a four-under 68 to ensure he was always a lurking presence in the final round, eventually finishing third on 14-under-par.


Powell is Sharks’ public-facing spokesman for 1st time & announces team densely populated with Boks 0

Posted on January 09, 2023 by Ken

Neil Powell was the public-facing spokesman for the Sharks for the first time on Thursday as he announced a starting line-up densely populated with Springboks for their United Rugby Championship clash with Ulster in Durban on Saturday.

Powell is the new director of rugby at Kings Park and took over team announcement duties from head coach Sean Everitt for the first time on Thursday. The former Springbok Sevens coach said that would now be the norm, and while he has the final say in selection, Everitt and the other coaches are extensively consulted.

And so the Sharks will run out on Saturday with eight Springboks, including the entire front row, two other forwards and three backs, to take on the powerful Ulster outfit. It is a mirror image of last weekend’s game against Glasgow Warriors, when there were five Springboks on the bench and they produced a spectacular finish to turn a one-point lead after 50 minutes into a 40-12 win.

“I talk a lot with Sean about selection, especially when it came to how to introduce the Springboks. They were on the bench last weekend, but now we’re bringing them into the starting line-up,” Powell said.

“It’s always great to have them and the URC is always a squad effort. We are fortunate to have the Boks for the last two weeks because they go back to the national set-up after this game.

“They’ll come back just before our game against Harlequins in the European Cup [December 10], so we had to make sure they integrated well now, because that competition will be a massive challenge.

“And it’s also given us the opportunity to rest some of the guys who have played the last four/five matches in a row. We have to make sure we manage the whole squad well,” Powell said.

While Powell said his focus is on upskilling and improving aspects of the URC team’s play, he is also concentrating on making the academy the sort of place to which rugby legends would be happy to send their son.

“My job is about building the brand and the team, and that can only happen if we have success on the field, so that’s my focus,” Powell said.

“But I’ll also look after the academy and make sure we get juniors coming through from the U20 competition to the Currie Cup and through to the URC.

“We don’t want to have to buy players from outside our system, so we need to change things up there. I’ll also be looking at the coaching structure at senior level.

“But it’s not a one-man show, it’s going to be a combined effort,” Powell said.

Sharks team: Aphelele Fassi, Werner Kok, Marnus Potgieter, Ben Tapuai, Makazole Mapimpi, Boeta Chamberlain, Jaden Hendrikse, Phepsi Buthelezi, Vincent Tshituka, Siya Kolisi, Hyron Andrews, Eben Etzebeth, Thomas du Toit, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche. Bench – Kerron van Vuuren, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Carlu Sadie, Reniel Hugo, James Venter, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Cameron Wright, Anthony Volmink.

Coetzee always wants to win trophies so Bulls have not completed their job 0

Posted on July 25, 2022 by Ken

Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee always wants to win trophies, which is why even in his delight after beating Leinster for the first time at the weekend, he stressed that his team had still not completed their job.

Coetzee, who suffered playoff pain at the hands of Leinster during his five years with Ulster, made it clear that there was one remaining task for his team: To now beat the Stormers in the United Rugby Championship final in Cape Town on Saturday.

“My emotions are running high, four or five times I have come up short against Leinster,” Coetzee said after their epic semi-final win in Dublin. “So it’s a proud moment and definitely a highlight of my career.

“But we want to lift the trophy in any competition we play in. So we still have one more job to do. Our job is not done yet, there is still one game to go and we will go 100% in the final.”

The loose forward star, undoubtedly one of the best players in the URC this season, also knows that prowess in the scrums and lineouts is always crucial in semi-finals and finals. Having blunted the might of Leinster, the Stormers pack will now present another formidable challenge.

“If you’re going to have a chance of winning in playoffs then your set-piece has to function,” Coetzee said. “Credit to our forwards coach Russell Winter and the other coaches because we had done our homework.

“Leinster are all international stars and we said we have to play at that level, we had to win physically. Mentally we were also switched on.

“Our lineout was exceptional and we managed to adapt at the scrums. The pack showed their composure and we were able to get in the right positions, which is what we’ll need again,” Coetzee said.

Like the best choirmaster, Bulls coach Jake White has his charges singing in unison with perfect timing and blending of talents, and they undoubtedly played their best game of the season in the semi-final against Leinster.

“It was all about the plan, executing that correctly, getting in their faces, making sure our kicking game was good and getting our chase-line going,” Coetzee said.

The Bulls will no doubt bring the same strategy to Cape Town, as Stormers coach John Dobson mints a new generation of heroes to play in the blue-and-white.

The Stormers’ decision-making under the pressure the Bulls will exert on them on the gain-line is going to be the key factor in the final.

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    John 15:16 – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

    Our Christian experience begins when the Holy Spirit starts working in our imperfect lives. An inexplicable restlessness and a feeling that nothing can give you the satisfaction you yearn for, could be the Spirit working in you.

    Even when God calls you and chooses you to serve him, there may be inner conflict and confusion because you are not always willing to do what God is asking of you.

    But this inner struggle is part of spiritual life … Commit yourself to God and open yourself to the inflowing of the Holy Spirit.

    It is by great grace that you were chosen by God to serve him and to live to the honour and glory of his name. Surrender unconditionally to the Lord and you will discover that your life gains new meaning and purpose.

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