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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.

Tremendous Bachem makes it seem like Euro Tour wins are not retailing for much these days 0

Posted on March 26, 2023 by Ken

Nick Bachem is all smiles after his dominant victory in the Jonsson Workwear Open at Steyn City.

The way Nick Bachem cruised to victory in the Jonsson Workwear Open at Steyn City on Sunday, it may have seemed that DP World Tour titles are not retailing for much these days.

But don’t be fooled by the ease with which the 23-year-old German soared to 24-under-par and a four-stroke victory with a tremendous final-round 64; this was high-quality golf overpowering a field boasting plenty of strength in depth.

Having won his DP World Tour card for the first time at qualifying school in November, Bachem claimed his first title in just his 10th start in the 2022/23 season. The engaging youngster admitted that he did not expect to be winning tournaments quite so soon.

“It’s just amazing, this is just my 10th start. I believed I could win, but just to be playing here is actually pretty overwhelming. I don’t really understand what has happened over the last couple of days, in fact over the last year-and-a-half,” a beaming Bachem said.

“Today was just my day. I thought it was going to be super-close, but I was still chilled and so relaxed. But then on the 15th I saw a scoreboard and saw I was four ahead. And then I got super-nervous! I knew I just needed three pars and I would win, but suddenly that felt so hard!

“But I had to tell myself that it is just golf I am playing and a missed putt or something is not the end of the world. And then it was a nice finish.

“Getting my tour card is always in mind when I’m playing, and now I’ve got the job done pretty early. Now I can just enjoy playing all the events and letting all the experiences sink in.

“It feels unreal right now, it’s definitely a dream come true. I felt it would take more time,” Bachem said.

Beginning the final day one stroke behind leader and fellow German Alexander Knappe, Bachem was struck with terrible bad luck right from the outset, a decent opening tee-shot ending in a plugged lie. He had to take a drop and did exceptionally well to still get a par-four.

From there he reeled off four birdies in the next five holes, which sent him soaring to the top of the leaderboard. Four more birdies on the back nine sealed the deal, the second-placed South African duo of Zander Lombard (65) and Hennie du Plessis (68) left in his wake on 20-under-par.

Another South African, Ockie Strydom, finished in a tie for fourth on 19-under with Scotsman Ewen Ferguson.

The genial Bachem showed he has the bottle to win on the main tour and he said making sure he enjoyed himself on the course was a vital part of handling the pressure.

“I was leading a tournament for the first time a couple of weeks ago in the Kenya Open and I just wanted to win so badly, I wanted to shoot course records, and I ended up nearly finishing last.

“But yesterday I was really calm, I just felt like if I finished top-20 I would be happy. And then my goal today was to just enjoy myself and enjoy as much as possible having the chance to win.

“It’s definitely something I have to keep telling myself because it is not always easy out there. But I just reminded myself that I am in sunny South Africa while it is winter in Germany, playing on a beautiful course. So life is actually pretty good and you need to try and remember that in the tough times.

“I don’t believe there is anything better that I could be doing, playing golf just brings me so much fun and joy. Even when there are bad weeks, it is nice to be able to enjoy them as well, because that is when you learn. In Kenya I learnt so much and without that experience I would have had no chance of winning here,” Bachem said.

It’s been a crazy 18 months for Bachem and now he has even more exciting possibilities in store to look forward to.

“When I was still an amateur, I played a few events on the Pro Golf mini-tour and then I turned pro. Playing on the Challenge Tour in 2022 was pretty good, but I just missed winning my DP World Tour card. Qualifying School was then a real rollercoaster, I was four-over after the first round but then shot 10-under. Just a couple of months later, here I am having won my card for the next two years. So I am pretty excited about the future,” Bachem said.

In his immediate future, there is a trip to France next week. Bachem does not just enjoy riding the waves of fortune and misfortune in the golfing world, he is also a keen surfer of literal waves.

Between the Kenya Open and the Jonsson Workwear Open, Bachem spent time at South Africa’s surfing mecca, Jeffrey’s Bay.

“My family used to go to the west coast of France for holidays on the Atlantic and I started to get into surfing since I was young. I’ve been doing it more and more since I turned 18. Now I can drive a car and I spent six weeks in Portugal recently in a campervan. Maybe there is a career in surfing after golf for me … ”

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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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