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Ken Borland



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.

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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.

SA Open has a great friend of golf & a new venue on board 0

Posted on June 15, 2022 by Ken

The South African Open has an exciting new venue in Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate and a long-term sponsor in Investec, a great friend of the Sunshine Tour, as the second-oldest national open in the world unveiled the details of the 2022 event.

The 112th edition of the SA Open will be held in early December, with the exact dates still being negotiated with the DP World Tour, and Investec will be title sponsors for the next four years, putting up a minimum prize fund of $1.5 million this year. The financial services company are now the patrons of both men’s and women’s national opens, over and above their support of four leading female professionals and the Sunshine Tour Transformation Class.

Blair Atholl, north of Johannesburg, is the former farm of Gary Player, who won the SA Open a record 13 times, and he designed the course which, at 7527 metres is one of the longest in the world. Water features on 11 of the holes and its closing stretch is considered particularly tough.

“It’s very exciting that the SA Open is back on the DP World Tour schedule after taking a big hit last year because of the pandemic and the world shutting South Africa down,” Sunshine Tour commissioner Thomas Abt told The Citizen on Monday.

“The second-oldest national open deserves to be on the DP World Tour and it’s very exciting to have Investec on board, their investment in golf is very positive.

“Blair Atholl is a new venue, but it has prestige, history and heritage. We had the Blair Atholl Championship there last year and they have an eagerness to bring the tournament there and show what they can do.

“It’s a wonderful layout, a big course and there is lots of space for spectators and activations. Investec’s slogan is ‘Out of the Ordinary’ and they wanted to change it up and do something that is not the norm,” Abt said.

Last year’s SA Open was only a Sunshine Tour event, with Danie van Tonder triumphing at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City.

Blair Atholl certainly passed its test as a venue for professional golf last October, a blustery, shifting wind blowing between the rocky hills of the Magaliesburg and through the Crocodile River Valley to add to the challenge. Apart from its sheer length, the layout requires long and accurate shots and precise game-management.

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