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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.

Sharks looking to come to the boil quickly v Zebre 0

Posted on April 11, 2022 by Ken

The Sharks will be looking to come to the boil quickly against Zebre Parma in their United Rugby Championship match at Kings Park on Saturday evening, with coach Sean Everitt identifying this as a key aspect if they are to emulate what the Stormers did to the Italian side last weekend in Stellenbosch.

Zebre were hammered 55-7 by the Stormers, who raced into a 21-0 lead after just 11 minutes. The Sharks, meanwhile, have been steadily climbing the URC log after three successive bonus point wins.

“It was really important that Western Province played exceptionally well in the first 30 minutes and put Zebre to bed,” Everitt said. “So Zebre are not as bad a side as that final scoreline suggests.

“They ran Ospreys really close a couple of weeks ago, they are unpredictable and dangerous and we have got to be accurate with our execution from the start.

“We’ve got a full house of points from our last three games but it’s not about the points, it’s about our performance and the performance has not been where we want it to be.

“So our focus is on rectifying that and then we’ll be able to stay in the top eight and be a threat in the quarterfinals,” Everitt said.

Being on a winning run has allowed Everitt to gently curate his personnel and he will be hoping the presence of outside centre Ben Tapuai and scrumhalf Grant Williams in the starting backline assists their attacking efforts, which have not always been on-par with the sterling displays of their pack.

Against lowly Zebre, flyhalf Curwin Bosch also really needs to find his spark in directing the attacking play.

Other areas of focus which Everitt highlighted are:

  • Stopping the good Zebre maul
  • Making sure they have good width on defence to handle Zebre’s penchant for attacking on both sides of the ruck
  • Handling Zebre’s long kicking game, and making good decisions and executing well when it comes to counter-attacking off those kicks
  • Ensuring there is better accuracy in their own kicking game.

Bulls raring to go & rip into Benetton, but need to adapt to frustrations 0

Posted on June 25, 2021 by Ken

The Bulls are raring to go and eager to rip into Benetton Treviso, their Italian opposition, in the Rainbow Cup final on Saturday, captain Marcell Coetzee said on Wednesday.

But as pumped up as the Bulls are to deliver a typically rip-roaring display of ferocity against Benetton, they know that there will be much to adapt to in the strange surrounds of the Stadio Monigo and they have to ensure they do not get frustrated.

Refereeing interpretations in Europe can also be very different to what the players are used to in South Africa, which is another potential area of frustration the Bulls will need to adapt to.

“There’s a great deal of excitement and it’s awesome to be overseas and to be playing against a European team. We have a bunch of guys who are very hungry for success and this is an opportunity to win a trophy, that’s the main thing. But we have to be ready to adapt, the final is not going to be about individuals but about the team effort and pulling together.

“And you want all your personnel on the field, particularly in finals, so we have to adapt to things like the referees being very much more cautious about the height of tackles – your body height and where you make contact have to be squeaky clean over here – and the breakdowns are blown differently too. There’s not a lot of time for us to put too much emphasis on it, but champion sides have to adapt,” Coetzee said.

Just making the final has been quite the miraculous resurgence by Benetton Treviso, after they suffered the horror of losing 15 of their 16 games in the 2020/21 Pro14 season and drawing the other one.

“Benetton have changed a lot since I played against them a few years ago for Ulster and they are currently playing some incredible rugby and they have personnel doing great things for them. They play at a high tempo, their ball-carries are strong and they like to play a distribution game, off a very good set-piece platform. And they have a couple of former Bulls players so they’ll know what we bring.

“There’s a great energy in our squad, everyone was just so keen to hop on a plane for some long travel, but we’re not here on holiday but for business. If we can play with synergy then the result will come and it will be fantastic for the guys and for people back in South Africa for us to show we have the talent, the experience and the will to win over here,” Coetzee said.

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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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