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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.

Becalmed Van Tonder shows maturity to triumph at Glendower 0

Posted on August 31, 2020 by Ken

Danie van Tonder felt becalmed through the first four holes of the final round of the African Bank Championship at Glendower Golf Club on Friday, but he showed his ever-growing maturity as he held his round together and posted a bogey-free 68 to win the Sunshine Tour’s second Rise Up Series event by three strokes.

Van Tonder started the final day tied for the lead with in-form Martin Rohwer and rising star Jayden Schaper, but they fell away and his greatest challenge came from the experienced Neil Schietekat, who birdied three holes in succession from the second to briefly move into a one-shot lead on eight-under-par.

The 29-year-old Van Tonder, from The Els Club Copperleaf, even had to contend with hitting into the water on the par-five second hole. He managed to scramble his way up-and-down for a par and his patience started paying off once he birdied the par-four fifth.

He gained another shot on the seventh and birdies on the two par-fives on the back nine saw him saunter to victory as Schietekat (69) finished on eight-under, tied for second along with Adilson da Silva (67) and George Coetzee (68).

“I had to be patient because I made a slow start and hit it in the water on the second but managed to get up-and-down for par. But sometimes it’s just your week, to be honest I felt I played good golf the whole week, I was consistent and I was confident in my game. I kept the same aggression as the first two rounds but just made sure I missed in the right place.

“If you hit the ball well and putt well then this is the sort of course you will do well on, if you hit it straight then the course will give you a few birdies because the greens are so quick and true. And it feels special because of putting in all the hard work during Lockdown, getting those callouses back on my hands, gyming and training hard,” Van Tonder said after his fourth Sunshine Tour triumph.

Veteran Da Silva produced some marvellous golf to climb into a share of second, birdieing the 16th and 18th holes, both par-fours, to post a 67, joint best round of the day with Tristen Strydom, who lifted himself into a tie for 13th.

The 19-year-old Schaper endured a chastening day as he went after his first professional title, slumping to a three-over-par 75 to finish in a share of sixth along with Rohwer. Schaper started bogey-bogey and this marvellous prospect will have learnt much from being in the final group. Deon Germishuys (68), Luke Brown (69), Louis Albertse (72), Darren Fichardt (73) and Jaco Ahlers (74) were the other golfers to finish tied for sixth on four-under, while Dylan Mostert was alone in fifth after an excellent 68 lifted him to six-under.

Trio of exciting talents top the leaderboard, but Ahlers an obvious threat 0

Posted on August 29, 2020 by Ken

A trio of exciting talents topped the leaderboard after the second round of the African Bank Championship at Glendower Golf Club on Thursday, with Jayden Schaper, Danie van Tonder and Martin Rohwer all tied on seven-under-par as the second event in the Rise Up Series heads into the final round on Friday.

Jaco Ahlers is obviously also very much in contention after he fired the round of the day, a four-under-par 68, to climb into fourth place on six-under, just one stroke behind. And the experience and skills of Darren Fichardt (-5), the winner last week at Killarney, Neil Schietekat (-5), Jake Roos (-4) and George Coetzee (-4) also cannot be discounted.

The combination of a top-class course with slick winter greens and the vagaries of a blustery wind made for a particularly tough test in Edenvale on Thursday, and overnight leader Rohwer could only follow up his brilliant 65 on the first day with a level-par 72. That allowed Van Tonder and Schaper, who both shot two-under 70s, to catch him.

“It got tough out there with the wind blowing at about 30km/h and the greens are slick too. You’ve got to pick your lines carefully and not always go for the flags otherwise you open yourself up for three-putts. It’s about hitting fairways and greens, you’ve got to stick with your selection of club, hit it as hard as you can and just hope it goes on. With the gusts you’ve got to time it correctly,” Van Tonder said after roaring out of the blocks with four birdies on the front nine but then coming home in 38.

Rohwer regained the lead with an eagle at the par-five 15th, but then three-putted the last to slip back to seven-under. Nevertheless, the 27-year-old from Kloof Country Club was pleased with a day of solid ball-striking.

“I was really solid today from tee-to-green, I felt like I had control of the ball all through the round, but I just struggled on the greens. That three-putt on the last leaves a sour taste, but to be level-par with the conditions we were playing in, that’s not too bad. You were just not sure what the wind was doing so it was difficult to hit your numbers,” Rohwer said.

The winner of the Royal Swazi Open last year says he is up to the challenge posed by both the conditions and the likes of playing partner Van Tonder, who was on the charge early on in the second round.

“Sometimes you just have to play more conservatively, but there is still a fair share of opportunity out there. The wind is mostly across though and, with where the pins are located, it’s difficult to get close. It’s supposed to be windy again tomorrow, but I look forward to a third round in a row with Danie. I knew I was playing well today so I wasn’t too concerned about falling behind,” Rohwer said.

The 19-year-old Schaper showed enormous maturity as he held his round together after an up-and-down start in which he had two bogeys, a birdie and an eagle in the first five holes, before dropping successive shots around the turn.

“There was a lot more wind today, so it was a bit tougher, and the pins were all tucked in on the front nine, so I didn’t make a good start. I only hit three fairways in my first 12 holes and made a couple of three-putts, so I really put myself under pressure. But the back nine is much more accessible, I pulled myself together and finished well,” Schaper said.

But the hulking figure of Ahlers, who has won nine times on the Sunshine Tour, looms large, especially with the way he simply overpowered the par-fives on Thursday, collecting eagles on both the eighth and 15th holes, and birdieing the 13th.

Schwartzel bats for course that has caused him so many tears 0

Posted on September 24, 2018 by Ken


Glendower Golf Club was confirmed on Wednesday as the venue for next year’s South African Open … and a most unlikely golfer went in to bat for the Edenvale course that will host the second-oldest national open for the third straight year.

Charl Schwartzel has led in the final round of the two previous SA Opens held at Glendower, in January this year and in November 2013, but on both occasions it ended in tears.

Schwartzel squandered four shots in the last five holes of the 2015 SA Open and then lost on the first hole of the playoff to Andy Sullivan as his wayward tee-shot went miles off track. The previous Glendower SA Open saw Schwartzel leading by three shots four holes into the final round, before he faded to a 71 after a triple-bogey on the sixth and a double on 10, and finished three behind winner Morten Orum Madsen.

“I’m excited to come back here because I don’t see it as being two disappointments. I see it as a course that has treated me well, for two years in a row I had chances to win, but there are a lot of very good players out there. Glendower suits me well, and to know that I came so close to winning here is a positive because now I have another opportunity.

“You have to play cleverly here, think your way around, it requires a lot of strategy and thinking, which is right down my alley. Modern-day courses are often wide open and they allow guys to get away with playing badly, the course plays into so many hands. But you don’t have that freedom here, if you don’t stick to the right lines here then the course will catch you,” Schwartzel said at Glendower on Wednesday.

Schwartzel is known for putting in an enormous amount of preparation and strategizing when it comes to the major golf tournaments and he said he would be returning to Glendower a couple of weeks before the 105th South African Open tees off on January 7.

“The four Majors are by far the most important tournaments and you obviously focus more on those, but this tournament obviously has some degree of importance for me as well. Personally, it’s the same as the Majors and other big tournaments for me in that I prepare the same. Ninety-five percent of our tournaments are at sea-level, but here you’re at 5000 feet and it makes a big difference in club-selection.

“So preparation is important, I want to get comfortable with the course even though I know it well, make sure about the lines off the tee. It’s how I prepare for the Majors and if you do that then the expectation goes away and you’re able to handle the pressure.

“I hope it works out, but if it doesn’t I’ll try again. I can only control what I do and if someone plays better than me then so be it,” Schwartzel, who has never won the SA Open, said.

The 2011 Masters champion said he hoped the SA Open would remain the sort of tournament children are told about when they sit on the knees of their grandfathers.

“When you see the passion of Ernie Els [tournament host] to play in it, it’s inspiring for the future generations. I hope guys like Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace feel the same as me, because I’m going to keep coming back and give it my all,” Schwartzel said.

In the meantime, the 31-year-old will be back on the farm in Deneysville – his mom Lizette’s whole family is in farming, anything from corn to wheat to dairy to chickens and pigs – and, perhaps controversially, will not be playing in the first two co-sanctioned events, the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

“I’m not playing any tournaments in December, I didn’t get into the Nedbank Golf Challenge, so it will be a nice long break and I feel I need it,” Schwartzel said.

The 105th South African Open Championship will again be proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni, with a new title sponsor in BMW, and it will again have Els as tournament host/player.

“Sports such as motorsport, sailing and golf are key global sponsorship pillars for the BMW brand. With this in mind, this local sponsorship initiative – which mirrors the brand’s global sponsorship strategy – sees BMW become the overall naming rights partner of the SA Open Championship. In addition, it gives the brand the opportunity to consolidate its position in golf with a signature event that we hope will grow over time to become the biggest professional event in South African golf,” said Tim Abbott, the managing director of the BMW group in South Africa.



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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.

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