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Ken Borland



‘Moving Day’ not about building a lead for Homa but consolidation 0

Posted on November 11, 2023 by Ken

Max Homa of the USA plays his second shot on the 13th hole during the third round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Gary Player CC on Saturday.
(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

The third round of a golf tournament – colloquially known as ‘Moving Day’ – is often about building a healthy lead heading into the final round, but for Max Homa, Saturday at the Gary Player Country Club was all about consolidation and the world number eight has fought off numerous challengers to end the penultimate day of the Nedbank Golf Challenge with a one-stroke lead.

Beginning the third round tied for the lead with Matthieu Pavon, Homa dropped just one stroke on Saturday and that was the key to his pre-eminent position heading into the final round. What he described as a “squirrelly” start saw the American bogey the par-three fourth hole, but he immediately birdied the fifth to cut Pavon’s lead back to one shot.

The key moment of the day came on the par-five 10th as Homa holed his bunker shot for eagle. Another birdie for the 32-year-old on the next par-five, the 14th, ensured he would lead alone after Pavon dropped shots on 15 and 16.

Homa posted a three-under-par 69 on Saturday to finish on 13-under overall, with Pavon’s 70 leaving him on 12-under. Nicolai Hojgaard’s 69, containing three bogeys as well as six birdies, lifted him to 11-under-par with Thorbjorn Olesen, whose only bogey came on the 16th, as he also shot 69.

“I didn’t swing so well to start, it was all a bit scrappy, but I hit the ball really well for the last 10 holes, I just didn’t sink anything,” Homa said after his round. “It felt like I was hitting good shots but not capitalising, things weren’t going my way before that nice bunker shot on 10, that was a lovely boost.

“I gave myself a lot of looks today and the plan tomorrow is to make a few more putts. It’s a dream and an honour just to have the opportunity to win this tournament, which has a tremendous history. Every day we walk past the winners’ plaques at the ninth green, it’s an impressive list and I would love to add my name to that legacy. All I can do is put myself in the best position to do that,” Homa said.

Pavon was okay with his position after a boiling hot, gruelling day at Sun City, nestled like a kiln between the Pilanesberg mountains. Before his late bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes, the Frenchman had been four-under for his round, not bad going in the testing conditions with the wind also having picked up.

“It was nice to start well with three birdies in the first seven holes, but overall it was a real grind today. It was hard, the pins are in tricky places and it was all about managing your game. It was also a very long day – five-and-a-half hours, which is too long in that heat and intensity, you drain a lot of energy.

“It was good to walk away with two pars, that was a very solid finish. It’s always nice having won a few weeks ago [the Spanish Open on October 15], so my confidence is pretty high and my game feels good,” Pavon said.

The chances of a South African winner, for the first time since Branden Grace in 2017, seem to be drying up with Hennie du Plessis still the leading local, but on five-under, eight shots off the lead. Three birdies in the first five holes on Saturday were considerable hops up the leaderboard, but he then slumped back with five bogeys leaving him with a 74.

Dan Bradbury, whose rapid rise from nowhere to prominence is one of the stories of the season, had a day of astronomical ups and downs, a bogey at the last leaving him on 10-under-par in fifth place.

On the 195m, par-three foirth, he was inches away from claiming a hole-in-one, but he followed up that birdie with another one on the fifth. The Joburg Open winner went out in two-under 34 after a bogey on the par-four eighth and a birdie on the par-five ninth.

The back nine was an epic rollercoaster for the Englishman. He left his birdie putt on the par-five 11th just short and then bogeyed the par-three 12th. He missed another birdie opportunity on the par-fibe 14th with a terrible close-range miss, but them made a marvellous 25ft putt for par on 15, followed by a massive 34-footer for birdie on the 16th.

Like many others, he then found himself in trouble on the 18th, the toughest hole in the third round, when he missed the green right and chipped out of the rough, 17 feet past the flag, failing to make the par-putt.

Comment: Who wins and who loses in great ‘merger’ 0

Posted on June 07, 2023 by Ken

Rory McIlroy is probably feeling like he has been thrown under the bus.

by Mike Green

There will be more rubbish spoken about this than there will be at a conspiracy theorists’ convention. But in the end, neither of the protagonists in the great golf culture war can with any certainty at all claim to be the winners with this great ‘merger’.

The PGA Tour and their ‘strategic partners’, the DP World Tour, have climbed into bed with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. The PIF was the monetary force behind LIV Golf, so, naturally, all the headlines are that the PGA Tour and LIV Golf are ‘merging’. In truth, there appears to be much still to be worked out. So it’s not entirely clear what the merger entails.

Reading and re-reading the press releases, and watching the ‘interview’ video of Keith Pelley of the DP World Tour (it was patently and painfully staged), and the MSNBC interview of the PGA Tour’s Jay Monahan and PIF’s Yasir Al-Rumayyan, there is not a single word about the continued existence of LIV in any shape at all after its 2023 season.

To quote Eamon Lynch (I realise that doing so might not sit well with some people, but so be it): “If this were a genuine victory for LIV’s concept, the announcement would have featured Greg Norman, the league’s chief executive and propagandist. Instead, he was not mentioned. Still, not the first man disappeared after his utility for the Saudis concluded.”

Of course, Norman’s is not the only ‘big’ name conspicuous by its absence from the announcement. If ever anyone went out on a limb (forgive the expression in this Saudi-soaked context) for his cause, it was Rory McIlroy. Quite what this sudden rapprochement has done to him can only be imagined. And as the cosying up between Monahan and Al-Rumayyan appears to have been about seven weeks in the making, perhaps it is no surprise that McIlroy slow-marched his way through two turgid performances in the Masters and the PGA Championship. And withdrew from an ‘elevated’ PGA Tour event, the virtues of which he himself had so evangelically extolled. His career might have looked very different had he not taken on himself the leadership role – or was it forced on him? – in the battle against the godless LIV. Someone owes him something that will be, at very least, an apology.

How will all of this kissing and making up change the face of golf? It would appear that the long-ballyhooed ‘global schedule’ might, at last, make an appearance, at least in rudimentary form, from 2024.

In that global schedule, it seems probable that there will be a nod to LIV’s alleged ‘selling point’, the team concept. If it takes place in a small window – say from September to December – Ernie Els will feel vindicated for his suggestion for accommodating Norman’s fantasies (I believe he might have used the term ‘hit and giggle’) in the ‘silly season’ before the end of the year.

It also seems probable that several of the DP World Tour’s events will enjoy some sort of elevated status, both in terms of prize-money and in having the week to themselves, or at least unchallenged by a PGA Tour event of remotely similar status.

Lost between those broad brushstrokes is the position of a circuit like the Sunshine Tour. There is hard work to be done to make the co-sanctioned tournaments it has with the DP World Tour retain a status that justifies the interests of the newly-born behemoth. Perhaps the PIF people will pour some of their money into a tournament like the South African Open to help it retain its status as one of the prestigious titles around the world. Perhaps the lure of increased visibility on a global stage will entice local commercial support too – and not just for the flagship of the local schedule.

As for the players that have been caught in the crossfire, the only winners seem to be those who kept their powder relatively dry. Brooks Koepka, for example, will emerge from this with his reputation and ability to compete at the highest level (that’s neither LIV nor the PGA Tour, if you were wondering) intact. Koepka has never been much of a stoker of animosities – other than with Bryson DeChambeau, and wasn’t that fun? He stayed true to himself and his belief that the LIV jump was of personal benefit to him on a number of levels, and he didn’t waste his energy on the pettiness that characterised much of the conversation about the great divide. There are one or two others like him, but they haven’t shown much yet. Much golf, that is.

The most vocal of the anti-establishment critics have been players who were already in the process of riding off into the sunset. Many of them will stay on the edges in the new dispensation, and probably remain outside consideration for Ryder Cup captaincies, for instance. Their golfing relevance is in any case tending towards the PGA Tour Champions, or the Legends Tour, now.

To their credit, the South Africans playing in LIV this season have remained admirably uncommunicative about their situations. But it will be good to see them able to participate in the mainstream again. All of them have international success in their futures, and now, perhaps, that can be achieved without the wretched dogfight that was the golf landscape over the last two years.

With details conspicuously absent from what we know so far, it’s premature to celebrate anything just yet. But it does seem sure that LIV Golf as we have come to know it is winding down.

First published on the SA Tour Golf website – https://satourgolf.co.za/2023/06/06/comment-who-wins-and-who-loses-in-great-merger/

Jarvis closer to big-time breakthrough with Denmark runner-up finish 0

Posted on May 31, 2023 by Ken

Casey Jarvis

by Mike Green

Casey Jarvis came so close to a maiden professional golf title last weekend as a final round of five-under-par 67 saw him fall one stroke short of forcing a playoff in the Challenge Tour’s Copenhagen Challenge presented by Ejner Hessel at Royal Golf Club in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Six birdies and a single, irritating bogey on the 13th saw the 19-year-old South African sensation move to 11-under-par for the tournament. In the end, a birdie on the 18th by Matteo Manassero took the experienced Italian to 12-under and a narrow victory which signalled his return to the youthful form which gave him his last victory 10 years ago.

But Jarvis has certainly served notice that he is going to make big waves in the professional ranks.

Together with the second-place cheque of over R580 000, Jarvis, already up inside the top 20 of the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca rankings, climbed two places to 13th as he edges closer to securing his DP World Tour playing privileges for next season through the route that promotes the top 20 players on the Challenge Tour. Of course, his form suggests he may also be able to win three times on the Challenge Tour to short-circuit that process and step directly on to the bigger stage.

Also of note for the ambitious Jarvis, there is now a route directly to the hugely-lucrative PGA Tour from the DP World Tour on which Jarvis can set his sights – perhaps from next season. The top 10 players on the DP World Tour not already exempt on to the U.S.-based circuit are able to take up their playing rights there too from the end of this season.

That may all prove to be moot, as Jarvis seems to have the ability and temperament to excel given the slightest opportunity, and, like Garrick Higgo before him, he may just be able to grasp the opening provided by a sponsor’s invitation into a tournament on one of the big tours – or a fortuitous place in a major championship – and find himself catapulted into the big-time with a strong performance.

Jarvis’ week in Denmark was characterised by eight bogeys and a double-bogey, counterbalanced by the 21 birdies he made. Those figures speak to the attacking nature of his play and to his never-say-die approach to tournament play.

Some of those bogeys will fall by the wayside as he gains more experience, and that will come at the same time as more birdies as he keeps attacking.

South African golf fans can sit back and look forward to the Jarvis ride that lies ahead.

Coetzee has the experience, composure & skill to get the job done despite golf being a capricious mistress 0

Posted on February 06, 2023 by Ken

ST FRANCIS BAY, Eastern Cape – Golf is a capricious mistress and George Coetzee has been in the game for long enough to know the swing he has one day might not be around the next, but the two-time Sunshine Tour order of merit champion had the experience, composure and skill to get the job done on Sunday as he clinched his second PGA Championship title at the St Francis Links.

Coetzee had just a one-stroke lead going into the final round, but a polished four-under-par 68 on Sunday, which included two eagles and almost a third, carried him to 15-under-par and a three-stroke victory in the prestigious R1.2 million tournament.

“I was pretty much under pressure all day, I didn’t really feel comfortable and my swing wasn’t 100%,” Coetzee said after claiming his 14th Sunshine Tour title.

“But golf is one of those games, it’s not like cycling where the more you cycle the better you get. You can have one swing on one day and then the next day another swing.

“So I was putting pressure on myself, but I stuck to the game-plan, made good choices and hit good shots, and luckily it was enough in the end,” Coetzee said.

Some of those shots were better than good as an eagle on the par-five third hole brought some early pleasure, and he holed out with a sand-wedge for an eagle-two on the par-four 10th hole. In between those highlights, he could also have eagled the 350-yard par-four fifth hole after driving the green, but his putt was narrowly wide.

“We were put on the clock on the fifth and I didn’t have time to read my putt properly,” Coetzee laughed.

Unusually, Coetzee made bogey on the following hole on both occasions he registered an eagle.

“I was really happy with my two eagles after I saw a lot of chances in the third round. But then it was a bit hard to calm down and get back into my rhythm, get my head back into a good space,” Coetzee admitted.

But back-to-back birdies on the 12th and 13th holes put him firmly in control of the tournament and he parred his way in from the 14th for a comfortable victory in the end.

Rookie Casey Jarvis produced his best Sunshine Tour result as he finished second after a final-round 69, and the experienced duo of Hennie Otto and Jake Redman were tied in third place, one stroke behind on 11-under-par, both shooting two-under-par 70s on Sunday.

Coetzee will now head to Sun City and this week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge, which is like the AGM of South African professional golf, assured that he has the game in place to contend for that massive title.

“The confidence I take from beating the field here is a big boost and I’m generally pretty happy with the swing that has shown up for the last couple of weeks,” Coetzee said.

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    Mark 7:8 – “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”

    Our foundation must be absolute surrender, devotion and obedience to God, rising from pure love for him. Jesus Christ must be central in all things and his will must take precedence over the will of people, regardless of how well-meaning they may be.

    Surrender yourself unconditionally to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then you will be able to identify what is of man with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Then you will be able to serve – in love! – according to God’s will.



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