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Ken Borland

Mowat starts well & continues on that high for a feel-good round 0

Posted on July 06, 2022 by Ken

SUN CITY, North-West – Callum Mowat began with two birdies and just continued on that high as he shot a 67 to lead the SunBet Challenge hosted by Sun City after the first round on Wednesday, saying afterwards it was a round that “made me feel good about me”.

Mowat’s five-under-par score included just one bogey on the testing Gary Player Country Club layout and he came home in three-under 33. That gave him a one-stroke lead over Rourke van der Spuy on four-under, while MJ Viljoen and Harry Konig were tied for third after shooting 69s.

“I’ve been inside a deep hole and I needed to figure out how I felt about myself,” Mowat said. “It was nice to feel I belong out here and I am competitive, it was good to feel good about myself and where my game is trending. It made me feel good about me.

“I just tried to be aggressive, just let fly and stop trying to steer the ball around, let it run! The demanding thing about Gary Player Country Club is off the tee, but I was more aggressive than usual.

“That meant I could hit a lot more greens with shorter irons. My game-plan was to just get as far as possible off the tee, it worked well and then I just stuck to the plan,” the 30-year-old Mowat said. The Glendower golfer had not broken 70 yet in four rounds this season at the FBC Zimbabwe Open and the Sishen Classic.

The 27-year-old Viljoen looked like catching Mowat as he raced to four-under through 14 holes, but a weak finish saw him drop a shot at the par-four 18th to finish two back on three-under.

Van der Spuy started his round with eight pars, but he caught fire around the turn with birdies on the ninth and 10th holes, and he picked up further shots on the 13th and 17th holes in a bogey-free round.

Konig, hailing from Devon in England, is in his first season on the Sunshine Tour and he also dropped just one shot, making a four on the par-three 16th, in his 69.

Hypocrisy angers me as great summer of sport being threatened 0

Posted on January 10, 2022 by Ken

What should have been a great summer of cricket, golf and rugby in South Africa is being threatened by the Omicron variant of Covid, which is an annoyance us sports lovers are getting used to, but what really angers me is the superior, hypocritical attitude of many overseas administrators and professionals.

The bio-secure bubbles that South African sporting bodies have put in place have proven to be exceptionally safe, a credit to the outstanding scientists and doctors we have in the medical sphere. But for many of those in the West, we are in Africa and therefore all the old stereotypes of being backward and unadvanced apply. It is an insulting and bigoted attitude.

Plus South African society is probably safer than many in Europe and America, where most people are ignoring preventative measures like masks, hand sanitising and social distancing. In America, there has also been a sizeable section of the population who have refused to get vaccinated.

It was the United Kingdom who began all the trouble by rushing to implement travel bans before they had even received all the scientific information about Omicron. The fact that the boorish Boris Johnson and his ill-informed medical advisors, who have grossly mishandled Britain’s Covid response over the last couple of years, are setting the tone for the global response is infuriating. We have someone who has presided over a country that now has more than 50 000 cases a day declaring South Africa, with 11 500 cases a day, a pariah.

And it’s not just those three major sports that have been affected: The U21 Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup was set to be held in Potchefstroom, the first time the sport would have staged a world cup in Africa, but that has been called off, and the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships, to be held this weekend in Pretoria, have also been deferred indefinitely.

The United Rugby Championship and the Sunshine Tour golf organisation have already seen their December events grossly disrupted by the Omicron panic, while Cricket South Africa will be hoping against hopes that the Indian tour, which is worth $100 million to the financially-strained organisation, will go ahead as scheduled.

The problem for all local sports bodies is that overseas competitors will now start using Covid fears as an excuse not to fulfil their commitments. India’s cricket players, safe in the knowledge that no-one in world cricket dares to ruffle the feathers of the BCCI, will do whatever they want, and we can only hope captain Virat Kohli’s love of Test cricket and desire to win a series in South Africa sways the day.

As we have seen in previous waves of Covid, things will happen quickly as the number of cases rises exponentially. But will overseas sportsmen be safer back home, where this variant almost certainly originated, or in a bio-bubble in South Africa?

Will the travel bans be lifted now that there is compelling evidence that Omicron did not originate in Southern Africa but was merely detected here first? One day the identities of the overseas diplomats who brought it into Botswana at the beginning of November will be revealed. The fact that the Munster rugby team had 14 positive cases by the start of this week, having been in a bubble since their arrival in South Africa, suggests they probably arrived with Covid, possibly catching it on the plane coming over, and have now been spreading it amongst themselves.

Of course it will always be the African countries that are at fault in the eyes of many of our Western visitors.

Cardiff rugby player Matthew Morgan ranted on social media about being dragged to South Africa in the middle of a pandemic and called the whole situation a “shambles”. Instead of being so privileged, perhaps he should be reading more of what leading scientists are saying.


Posted on August 14, 2018 by Ken



Woodland Kingfisher

Woodland Kingfisher

by Anthony Stidolph

I am not a man who deliberately courts disaster or intentionally goes looking for bad experiences. By the same token, I am not such a fool as to think the odd mishap won’t occasionally befall me. And when you go travelling with my birding partner Ken, rotten luck does have a habit of following you around.

For example: on a recent trip to Marakele National Park we found ourselves being chased down a narrow, twisting mountain pass in reverse by a very angry elephant who clearly resented our presence in his private domain.  Luckily – I have a feeling some benevolent deity saw fit to intervene – we survived that harrowing encounter. What I did not realise was that more trouble with elephants lay ahead…


From Marakele we had followed a circuitous route that took us to Blouberg Nature Reserve and then cut east along the base of the Soutpansberg range to Punda Maria in North Kruger. We planned to camp the night here and then press on to Pafuri the next day, where we hoped to get in some good birding.

Up until now the weather had been kindly – more spring than summer and I had even found myself wearing a jacket in the evenings and early mornings. In Kruger, however, the hot weather we had been expecting all along finally caught up with us, with the temperature soaring up to 39 degrees. The air around us was heavy and listless and steamy, almost tropical, perhaps hardly surprising since we had crossed over the Tropic of Capricorn some days before.

Eager to be off, I was up early the next day although I had to first wait for Ken to complete his complicated early-morning-ablution rituals. Once he was done with that, we set off northwards through the familiar vastness of flat grassland and mopane trees. On the way we stopped to allow the biggest herd of elephants I have ever seen cross the road. Shortly afterwards we were forced to repeat this exercise for an even bigger herd of buffalo.

The common bird in this neck of the woods – or at least the most vocal – is the Rattling Cisticola. There seemed to be one trilling its silly head off on top of virtually every second tree we passed.

Cisticola, Wailing, Kruger

The highly-vocal Rattling Cisticola – Can rub some people up the wrong way

As you draw close to Pafuri, the terrain starts to break up and rearrange itself and you are suddenly confronted by the arresting sight of Baobab Hill, with its commanding views over the Limpopo Valley. In the early days this iconic hill served as both a landmark and sleepover point for the ox-wagons travelling up from Mozambique.

By the time we got to Pafuri the sun was high and blazing. There had obviously been no rain here this season and the grass was pale and dry, although the trees had mostly come out in leaf.

At the crossroads we turned left down the Nyala Drive, which takes you into some wonderfully hilly country before taking a lazy loop back to the main road. Ken likes this less-used drive because, he says, it often throws up unexpected surprises.

There wasn’t much on offing this time around besides the usual suspects – Meves’s Starlings, Arrowmarked Babblers, Whitefronted Bee-eaters and Emeraldspotted Wood Dove. We passed a solitary elephant but he paid us no mind.

On the top of the small, baobab-clad hillock, directly above where the road swings back, is the Thulamela archaeological site, a restored Zimbabwe-type ruin. Unfortunately you can only go up with a guide and because of our tight schedule we did not have time for that.

One of the commanding Baobab trees of northern Kruger. This painting by Stidy is available for sale. 42x60

One of the commanding Baobab trees of northern Kruger.
This painting by Stidy is available for sale. 42×60

From the Nyala Drive we crossed back over the main tar road and followed the dirt track that takes you to Crooks Corner, where the brown waters of the Luvuvhu collide with the blue of the Limpopo. The combination of water, sun and rich alluvial soils has led to a proliferation of vegetation along the rivers’ banks so that you drive through a glittering tunnel of Sycamore Figs, Nyala trees, Jackal Berry, Ana and Fever trees.

Crooks’ Corner, where you can get out of your cars, marks the border between South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. In the early 1900s this remotest of places gained its moniker and dodgy reputation with gun-runners, fugitives and others on the run from the law, using it as a safe haven because it was easy to hop across the border whenever the police from one country approached.

Distinctly, there was a sense of a frontier on that lazy meandering river, although I don’t think the solitary Saddlebilled Stork fishing in its waters gave a fig where the international boundary lay or as to who held sovereignty over the country he was standing in.

Normally, it feels like you can’t get much further away from civilization than here, but we had chosen a busy weekend to visit so it was like a major thoroughfare with a steady stream of traffic passing through. Many of the visitors didn’t even bother to wind down their windows or get out of their luxury 4x4s because it would mean switching off their air-conditioners. They just drove in, stopped, glanced around and drove out again, leaving me to wonder why they had bothered to come all this way …

Needless to say Ken – who, contrarily, makes it a rule to ALWAYS switch off his air-conditioner when he enters a park because he likes to experience Africa in all its extremes –  and I did get out.

Rich plant life invariably means rich animal and bird life and Pafuri is no exception. In the past the storied riverine forest has provided both of us with some good sightings. It was here I saw my first Gorgeous Bush Shrike, Bohm’s Spinetail and Ayre’s Hawk Eagle. I have also recorded Lesser Jacana, Greencapped Eremomela, Hooded Vulture, Tropical Boubou and the palm-dwelling Lemonbreasted Canary.

This time, we could hear both the Gorgeous Bush Shrike and a melodious Whitebrowed Robin-Chat calling from the depth of a nearby thicket but could not entice either of them out.  Instead we had to make do with a bunch of waders and a noisy party of Trumpeter Hornbills who, I think, were off to join the celebrations in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

It was now well past lunchtime so we doubled back to the Pafuri picnic site on the edge of the Luvuvhu. Feeling somewhat dehydrated, I was desperate for an ice-cold coke but had to wait patiently in queue behind an American who was explaining to the bemused coke seller-cum bird guide – who, I suspect, knew the answer but was too polite to say so – what a turkey is (“It’s a big black bird with a red head”).

At this juncture of its journey the Luvuvhu is always a ruddy brown colour such as might be achieved by mixing cans of tomato soup with cans of chicken soup. There was an enormous crocodile lying directly opposite us, not, as one would expect, by the water’s edge but high up on the bank under some trees. I had a feeling some unsuspecting animal was in for a nasty surprise.

On the way back to Punda Maria, we took the shortcut via Klopperfontein Dam, another place which can throw up some unexpected treats even though the area around the dam has been grazed as smooth as a billiard board. Sure enough, we were rewarded with a wonderful sighting of a Painted Snipe snooping around in the shallows of the nearby stream.

It was getting on for late afternoon by now. Ken consulted Emily, his prissy, admonishing Satnav, and worked out how far we had to go and what time we had to do it in. What neither factored into their calculations was our old nemesis, the elephant.

The first one, which we encountered just after Klopperfontein, kept us waiting for ages, while it feasted on the side of the road, before moving off into the surrounding bush. A little later we passed him siphoning water by the trunk load out of the top of a reservoir.

We ran in to the second one on the home stretch with the hills around Punda Maria in plain sight. Although this bull appeared much more amiable then the one who had chased us down the mountain in Marakele, he had obviously decided he held all the rights to this road.

The whole thing quickly degenerated into a stage farce. We kept reversing and reversing and he kept trundling on towards us. I suspect he was headed for his evening sundowner at the same reservoir where the other elephant was sloshing water around.

One of us had to blink and we did so first. Muttering angrily to ourselves about the beast’s poor road etiquette, we turned around and headed back to the tar and took the much longer route home to Punda Maria.

In Kruger, as in other parks, you are not supposed to arrive in camp after dark, which we now did, finding the gate locked on us. Fortunately, the guard was still at his post but Ken had to use all his silky skills as a sports writer and commentator to try to convince him it wasn’t really our fault. I am not sure he bought our explanation, but he let us through without imposing a fine.

So we drove into camp feeling like a pair of naughty schoolboys who had just been caught bunking …

But we were not done yet. We arrived to a scene of utter devastation – in our absence a troop of baboons had ransacked the place, flattening my tent, breaking its poles and ripping gaping holes in the fly-sheet (even though there was nothing inside but my bedding and clothes), as well as scattering our possessions far and wide.

To tell you the truth I was getting seriously tired of this. I had just bought the tent to replace the one that got ripped by monkeys in Mapungubwe on my last trip which, in turn, I had bought to replace the one that had suffered a similar fate at the hands of baboons when I attended a wedding in De Hoop Nature Reserve in the Western Cape. At the rate I was getting through tents, it would have been cheaper to have just booked into a luxury lodge!

I am not sure what one does about this menace. The problem is both monkeys and baboons have become habituated to both human beings and human beings’ food.

We did discover afterwards that there was supposed to be a guard on duty to stop these opportunistic raids but, even though the campsite was virtually booked out, he had decided to take the Sunday off …

I was still sulking about my poor tent the next morning when we drove out of the gate, destination Mapungubwe. There to wish us on our way was the scruffiest Ground Hornbill I have ever seen. It flew up into a tree from where it regarded us quizzically through its girlishly-long eyelashes.

For some reason the sight of that lugubrious bird, peering around its branch, cheered me up no end. It made me realise that on the Richter Scale of Travel Disasters we had got off relatively lightly compared to what other great explorers, like David Livingstone or Scott’s Antarctic expedition, had been forced to endure…




More injury woe for Bulls coach Nollis Marais 0

Posted on February 11, 2016 by Ken



Nollis Marais could be forgiven for shouting “Woe is me!” from the top of the Loftus Versfeld grandstand given the way injuries have hampered his pre-season preparation and the Bulls coach suffered another blow on Wednesday when highly-rated prop Lizo Gqoboka went down with a groin injury.

Following hot on the heels of the devastating news that flyhalf playmaker Handre Pollard has been ruled out for the season with ruptured knee ligaments, Gqoboka pulled out of this weekend’s warm-up match against the Lions in Polokwane with a groin strain an hour after being named in the squad.

Gqoboka will be out of action for a couple of weeks, joining senior loose forwards Lappies Labuschagne and Deon Stegmann, as well as youthful flank Roelof Smit, on the sidelines.

“You nurse Handre Pollard for weeks with his shoulder injury and then in a normal passing drill he hurts his leg. He was obviously a huge part of our plans, and Lizo too, plus Lappies and Steggies are out too. But the other guys must now step up. It’s a mind switch and the other guys must just get on with it,” Marais said at Loftus Versfeld on Wednesday.

Marais announced his best available team for Saturday’s match against the Lions with Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss, named as the Super Rugby captain, set to lead the franchise for the first time.

“It’s a great privilege for me and I seem to play better when responsibility is on my shoulders. We’ve lost Handre and Deon, who are both great leaders, but Rudi Paige has made a massive step up in terms of leadership. The team has a lot of respect for him, he has a lot of authority and he makes great calls,” Strauss said.

Jesse Kriel, who played fullback when he announced himself to the world stage in last year’s Super Rugby competition, has been named at outside centre by Marais, with the exciting Warrick Gelant in the number 15 jersey.

“I see Jesse as a number 13, he played there when I coached the U21s, and he is the Springbok outside centre, so that was the easiest position to slot in, he understands what we’re trying to do. I’m not too keen on him at fullback. Bjorn Basson is also an option at 15, and Jamba Ulengo could move into 11. Maybe we’ll do that for the last 15 minutes on Saturday,” Marais said.

When Francois Brummer returned to Loftus Versfeld in November for the first time since 2010 on loan from the Pumas, the 26-year-old could not have foreseen how vital he would be for the Bulls’ Super Rugby plans. But the former Waterkloof High School star is now the starting flyhalf with Tian Schoeman on the bench.

Team – Warrick Gelant, Travis Ismaiel, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Francois Brummer, Rudy Paige, Arno Botha, Hanro Liebenberg, Nic de Jager, Grant Hattingh, RG Snyman, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane. Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Lizo Gqoboka, Jason Jenkins, Jannes Kirsten, Piet van Zyl, Tian Schoeman, Burger Odendaal, Werner Kruger, Pierre Schoeman, Jamba Ulengo, Jade Stighling.


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