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Ken Borland

Floyd’s game and mentality keep improving as she claims the lead 0

Posted on July 08, 2024 by Ken

KEMPTON PARK, Ekurhuleni – Young Kiera Floyd’s game and mentality seemingly improves with every event as she fired a wonderful five-under-par 67 on Thursday to claim the lead after the first round of the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s Absa Ladies Invitational at Serengeti Estates.

Floyd has produced back-to-back top-10 finishes in her last two tournaments and also contended strongly in the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am at Fancourt before an 84 in the final round saw her slip down to a tie for 15th place. The 19-year-old is also playing at her home course at Serengeti and there is certainly a lot of expectation that the prodigy can notch up her breakthrough professional win this week.

She successfully managed that external pressure, and also composed herself brilliantly after an unfortunate double-bogey at the 122m par-three fifth hole, not dropping another shot as she finished with seven birdies in all. Three of those came in her first four holes, before her mishap on the first par-three, and then a birdie on the par-five eighth was followed by three more on the back nine.

“I know there is a lot of expectation on me this week and I know there are a lot of people who want me to do well here, but I put all that to the side. I just played like I had not played the course before, I started like it was a fresh round on a new course this morning,” Floyd said.

“And I was very happy with the way I played. The double-bogey was a bit unlucky because I hit my tee shot into a bunker where there was no sand, and then played a bit of ping-pong over the green.

“But I came back nicely and I am really happy with my performance. Off the tee and my putting were the best parts of my game, I sank a few nice ones, which definitely helps. It was not easy out there, but I gave myself a lot more opportunities to make birdie. But it is just the first round and I need to keep going,” Floyd said.

The 2022 SA Women’s Strokeplay champion is one stroke ahead of fellow South African Casandra Alexander, who provided the sort of birdie-birdie finish to her round that had the spectators recording the action on their cellular phones.

The 24-year-old Alexander’s 68 also included a double-bogey, at the par-five eighth, but she immediately pulled a stroke back by making a birdie at the par-three ninth. She was level-par at the turn, but birdies at the 11th and 15th holes, and then her two threes to finish saw Alexander soar up the leaderboard.

In a momentous day in this season’s Sunshine Ladies Tour, every place in the top-five is filled by a South African, breaking the overseas dominance that has been apparent in the previous four events.

Perennial winner Lee-Anne Pace, Tara Griebenow and Stacy Bregman all shot 70s on Thursday to share third place. Another South African, Nicole Garcia, was leading on four-under through 10 holes, but she struggled to a 39 coming home, finishing her round on the front nine, to join a dozen other golfers on level-par 72.

Capricious Cape winds toy with the field, but Henry is comfortable 0

Posted on June 06, 2024 by Ken

While the capricious Cape winds toyed with most of the field, only nine golfers shooting under the par mark of 74, Kylie Henry flourished, posting a five-under-par 69 to lead after the first round of the Standard Bank Ladies Open at Royal Cape Golf Club on Wednesday.

Coming from Scotland, Henry ought to be comfortable in the wind, and it showed in a top-class round that featured an eagle on her second hole, the par-five 11th, followed by four birdies and just a single bogey.

The winner of the opening event in this year’s Sunshine Ladies Tour, the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am at Fancourt, also in the Western Cape, went out from the 10th and reached the clubhouse in four-under, before coming home in one-under as the wind became stronger on her back nine.

“It was pretty windy today, but it does that here and I’ve had quite a lot of experience in the wind, most of the time I manage to judge it well. I do enjoy these good, strong courses. Royal Cape is a great layout and in really good condition, and Fancourt was amazing, a brilliant test.

“Some holes were really quite tough today, with crosswinds or the wind into you, but I played really good golf. I gave myself lots of birdie chances because my iron play was really solid, and then my putting was the best part of my game. It’s quite a tight course, so I drove the ball well too.

“Both nines are similar, but the wind just got stronger when I was on the front nine, so the back nine was slightly easier for me and I hit a lot of good shots,” Henry said.

South Africans Shawnelle de Lange (71) and Lora Assad (72) are Henry’s closest challengers, while compatriot Kiera Floyd is one of the six golfers who posted one-under-par 73.

Like a flower opening up its corolla to show the beauty within, this Sunshine Ladies Tour season has really seen Floyd unveil her huge talent. The 19-year-old finished tied-fourth in last week’s Fidelity ADT Ladies Challenge at Blue Valley, she was in contention after the first round of the SuperSport Ladies Challenge at Sun City, and she was tied-second going into the final round at Fancourt.

De Lange dropped only one shot, on the par-four 10th, but finished superbly with three birdies in the last four holes.

Assad began her round on the 10th and immediately dropped a shot, but she fought back brilliantly with birdies on the 13th, 14th, 16th and 18th holes. The 31-year-old suffered a couple of bogeys on the front nine, but finished well with a birdie to post two-under.

Floyd began a rollercoaster round on the 10th with a bogey, but reached the turn in two-under, before making one birdies and two bogeys coming home.

Frenchwomen Emie Peronnin and Ariane Klotz, Norway’s Maiken Bing Paulsen, Florentyna Parker of England and India’s Tvesa Malik, winner of the SuperSport Ladies Challenge, are the other golfers on one-under-par.

Coetzee seemingly cruises to a 67, but says it was a struggle 0

Posted on January 30, 2023 by Ken

ST FRANCIS BAY, Eastern Cape – George Coetzee shot a five-under-par 67 with just two bogeys to seemingly cruise into a share of the lead after the first round of the PGA Championship, but the multiple winner on both the Sunshine and DP World Tours said it had actually been a struggle on a typically testing day at the St Francis Links on Thursday.

Coetzee began his round with a bogey on the par-four 10th, but then went to the turn with four birdies. On the front nine, his only other drop came on the par-four fifth, with birdies on either side of it, and the 36-year-old completed his round with an excellent birdie on the par-four ninth.

Coetzee, who won the 2011 PGA Championship at Country Club Johannesburg after finishing runner-up the year before, is tied for the lead with Danie van Niekerk, the 34-year-old Lichtenburg golfer who produced a brilliant bogey-free round with three birdies on the front nine, after he also started on the 10th.

“It was definitely tricky out there and I’m happy with my score,” Coetzee said. “All-in-all, I’m happy just to be in the mix and to be in a good rhythm. I made a lot of putts on my last nine holes when it was really quite tricky, and that kept my scorecard together.

“But it was a hairy last bunch of holes into the wind,” Coetzee said.

The winner of a second consecutive Vodacom Origins of Golf Series De Zalze title when he last played in South Africa in August, Coetzee said that his two bogeys had come from a lack of familiarity with the seaside course.

“My two bogeys were basically down to a lack of knowledge of the course, taking the wrong club off the tee or playing to the wrong part of the green, like on my second on the 10th hole. Hopefully I learn quickly and make better decisions tomorrow,” Coetzee said.

The top-10 on the leaderboard at the end of the first round is filled with experienced or in-form golfers that will ensure Coetzee and Van Niekerk are kept on their toes.

Jake Roos and Hennie O’Kennedy are one shot behind on four-under with Casey Jarvis, JJ Senekal and Rhys West.

Hennie Otto, who was the runner-up in the PGA Championship in both 2002 and 2008, is with Stefan Wears-Taylor and Samuel Simpson on three-under.

The PGA Championship is South Africa’s second-oldest professional tournament and Otto would dearly love to add that title to his 2011 SA Open win at Serengeti Estate.

Mitchell, daring to take Driver, races up the leaderboard & will be having fun in final round 0

Posted on October 28, 2021 by Ken

GQEBERHA, Eastern Cape – Malcolm Mitchell dared to take Driver on a dozen holes on Friday in the second round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series at Humewood Golf Club and quickly reaped the rewards as he raced up the leaderboard with a five-under-par 67 lifting him into a share of the lead heading into Saturday’s final round.

The wind was still up on Friday but Mitchell dropped just one stroke on his way to a total of four-under-par after the first two rounds, tied with 27-year-old Richard Joubert and veteran Hennie Otto.

Collecting six birdies, three on each loop, suggests an aggressive approach by the former Eisenhower Cup representative, but apart from backing himself with Driver, Mitchell felt his strategy was pretty risk-free.

“The two parts of my game that have been good for a while have been my driving and putting, which really helps on a links course. There were only two holes where I did not take Driver, but I’ve only missed four or five fairways on the first two days, so I’ve pretty much always been in a good position and my putting has been very good over the last while.

“In terms of being aggressive, in the moment there might be one shot that I might feel I can have a go at, but then there are others where I’ll aim 20 feet right or short. So I don’t go at it too much, I don’t change game-plans and I just try to stay in the moment and enjoy it,” Mitchell said after his round.

And being focused on the present and having fun is exactly what Mitchell will be doing in the final round, having learnt some lessons from his runners-up finish in August in the SunBet Challenge at Wingate Park Country Club in Pretoria. In that tournament he also went low in the second round, a 65 lifting him to second, but then he closed with a 72 to leave him three adrift of Estiaan Conradie.

“It’s funny how life teaches you different things. You work so hard to stay in the present but then sometimes you mess it up and get ahead of yourself or start thinking of the past. But winning three times in 2019 always sits there. Those memories are there to go back on, they can only help. It means I’ve been there, even though it was the Big Easy Tour, and knowing how to win definitely sticks in the back of your mind,” Mitchell said.

One man who is unlikely to have any trembling knees if he stays in contention on Saturday is Otto, because he has done it all before with 13 wins on the Sunshine Tour, the most recent being at the Sibaya Challenge in October 2019. The 45-year-old also finished in a tie for second in the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Sishen at the end of August.

Otto has had a run of four successive top-30 finishes on tour and the former SA Open champion was looking dangerous as he fired a four-under-par 68 on Friday.

Joubert was just one stroke off the lead after the first round and, starting on the 10th, he soared into the lead with an eagle on the par-five 11th and then holed out for an eagle-two at the par-four 16th. Bogeys at 17 and 18 undid some of that amazing work though, and he dropped two more shots on the front nine, but finishing with three straight pars gave him a 71 and he is far from done-and-dusted in this race.

Overnight leader Tristen Strydom shot a 73 on Friday and is one stroke back on three-under for the tournament, alongside Michael Palmer (68) and Daniel Greene (69).

There are three golfers two shots back on two-under-par who will need to be watched carefully as well – Christiaan Basson (68), Jean Hugo, who fired a brilliant 66, and Jayden Schaper (69).

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