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Ken Borland



Taylor focuses on first & foremost being herself in 1st round, & finishes in 1st place 0

Posted on April 05, 2024 by Ken

SUN CITY, North-West – England’s Lauren Taylor concentrated on first and foremost just being herself in the opening round of the SuperSport Ladies Challenge presented by Sun International at the Lost City Golf Course on Wednesday, and it paid off as she finished in first place on the leaderboard.

Taylor fired a four-under-par 68 to enjoy a one-stroke lead over Vanessa Knecht, Ana Dawson, Pasqualle Coffa and leading South African Kaleigh Telfer.

The 29-year-old Taylor played the back nine at Lost City first, and made the perfect start with birdies on the first three holes and another on the 15th. A bogey-birdie finish to the back nine saw Taylor go out in 32, and she then came home in level-par thanks to a birdie on the ninth making up for a bogey on the par-five seventh.

“I was just trying to be myself out there and take it hole by hole,” Taylor said. “It was a good day. I made a hot start, it’s always nice to get three birdies first up, so then I just tried to keep being aggressive.

“All parts of my game were pretty good, but the best part was that I hit every fairway. My irons were also good and that’s always a good combo which will always give you chances. So I was hitting good shots and making birdies.

“I still gave myself some chances on the front nine but I just didn’t hole the putts. But I was very happy to finish with a birdie. I was feeling confident after a good week at Fancourt in the Dimension Data Pro-Am, but anything can happen in golf and you never know how it’s going to be on the day,” Taylor said.

The in-form Dawson, who led for most of the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am before eventually finishing tied-third, continued her fine form, her 69 including just one bogey – on the par-three 13th.

Telfer, who enjoyed an excellent Sunshine Ladies Tour campaign last year, posted five birdies with two bogeys to position herself just behind the leader.

Two South Africans – 2022 champion Paula Reto and amateur Isabella Ferreira, were two strokes back after shooting 70s, along with Romy Meekers of the Netherlands and Sweden’s Ellen Hutchinson-Key.

Ferreira also started on the back nine and reached the turn on one-over-par, but she was excellent on the front nine, collecting three birdies.

‘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.

SA make 311-7 as Wanderers pitch flat like Sharjah & then seaming & turning 0

Posted on March 08, 2023 by Ken

Tony de Zorzi was ruthless through square on the off-side.

The Wanderers pitch went through several character changes on Wednesday, the opening day of the second Test between South Africa and the West Indies: for much of the day it seemed as flat as one of those batting beauties in Sharjah, but it ended with medium-pacer Kyle Mayers toying with the batsmen with movement off the seam, while the pitch had also been spinning.

Through all that, having won an important toss and batted, the Proteas closed on 311 for seven. That solid total was built around an excellent display by the top-order, which took them to 247 for two at tea. The final session belonged to the West Indies as Mayers claimed two late wickets and the South African middle-order again faltered.

The opening hour, under overcast skies, saw the new ball move around, but the West Indies did not bowl particularly well and Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram’s positive approach saw them prosper.

As the skies cleared and the moisture burnt off, Elgar and Markram took control. They added 76 for the first wicket to go with their 141 on the first day of the first Test, and it was totally against the run of play when Elgar was dismissed for 42. It was a fluent rather than a fighting innings by the left-hander, coming off just 54 balls with seven fours.

Elgar’s propensity to get himself out in this series will worry him a little, and on Wednesday he swept a delivery down leg from left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie to short fine-leg diving forward.

The best batting of the day then followed as Markram, driving and pulling imperiously, and Tony de Zorzi, ruthless through square on the off-side, added 116 for the second wicket in a little more than an hour-and-a-half.

Markram was on the brink of a second successive century midway through the second session and was so dominant he probably felt he could get to three figures with some cute improvisation. Trying to scoop-sweep Motie, he did not connect properly and Jermaine Blackwood ran from slip to the leg-side to take the catch. Markram was out for 96 off only 139 deliveries, having struck 17 fours, another innings of undeniable class as the 28-year-old resurrects his Test career.

De Zorzi, the youngster of the batting line-up, batted for longer than anyone else on the first day: 219 minutes. He saw, and adapted to, all the challenges of the changing pitch. Having scored 85, he was in position to push for a maiden Test century in just his third innings, but Motie obtained some sharp turn to bowl the left-hander through the gate as he looked for an aggressive drive.

It was an innings that showcased defiant defence as well as some fine strokeplay, evidence that this former SA U19 captain has a game that is now maturing.

“Obviously it was a good opportunity to get a hundred, Dean and Aiden having given the innings a nice base,” De Zorzi said after the close of play. “So I was disappointed not to get over the line, I just tried to be too greedy against that particular ball.

“The pitch did change through the day, it was a bit soft in the morning because of the moisture, but after lunch it was harder because of the sun and a bit quicker, and the nicks started carrying. There was also a bit of turn.

“From my SA U19 days, a lot has changed. I may have been the captain but I was not the star of that side and I went back to club cricket afterwards. It’s been a long process and I’ve done a lot of dirty work to get there. Things are starting to happen and I’m just really happy to be here,” De Zorzi said.

From 247 for two, the rest of the day became a bit like hard admin for the Proteas. Temba Bavuma (28) notched the third successive fifty partnership as he put on 56 for the third wicket with De Zorzi.

But Bavuma then suffered a misjudgement, shouldering arms to a Jason Holder delivery that pitched on the large bare patch at the Golf Course End and was trapped lbw.

Ryan Rickelton scored 22 but then tried to cut an Alzarri Joseph delivery that he should have left with the second new ball imminent.

Then Mayers returned to produce two beautiful deliveries and two late wickets that left the West Indies feeling good about the last session in which they claimed five wickets for 64 runs in 27.2 overs.

Wiaan Mulder (12) was bowled through the gate by a ball that zipped back into him, while Simon Harmer (1) received a wobble-seam delivery that nipped away just enough to find his edge and have him caught behind for a single, off what became the last ball of the day.

Heinrich Klaasen will be batting with the tail on Thursday morning, having reached 17 not out.

Grace passes a long day with banter & not letting his cold putter get to him 0

Posted on February 13, 2023 by Ken

Branden Grace passed a long Saturday on the Gary Player Country Club course by bantering with his caddy and not letting his cold putter get to him, and his relaxed approach worked as he will go into the final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge just one stroke off the lead.

Due to the torrential rain on Friday, Grace had to complete 11 holes of his second round on Saturday morning, birdieing the ninth hole and then four of the first five holes on the back nine to rapidly climb the leaderboard. Although he struck the ball beautifully in the third round on Saturday afternoon, he only made two birdies and had to settle for a one-under 71. But it worked in terms of consolidating his position, and he and fellow South African Thriston Lawrence will start Sunday’s final round just one behind Thomas Detry and Rasmus Hojgaard.

“I feel good and I’m hitting the ball really good, probably as well as I have ever hit it around here,” Grace, the 2017 Nedbank Golf Challenge champion, said. “But I just could not get the pace of the greens.

“Every putt was probably a foot out, and it was probably because there was a bit of drizzle every now and then on the greens. But I will keep the same process in the final round.

“I have a mate on the bag and we talked a lot of nonsense out there, but sometimes taking your mind off the golf puts your head in a good space. Like when I won here, I’ll just try and go bogey-free in the final round.

“There’s always someone who comes out with a six or seven-under score, but if I can shoot five or six-under then I will definitely have a shout. But there’s no pressure on me, I’ve won it before and I’m just enjoying life and my golf,” Grace said.

It is little wonder that the 34-year-old is relaxed because he took away R304 028 130 from the six LIV Golf events he completed.

Lawrence was another who walked away from the Gary Player Country Club on Saturday evening extremely satisfied with his work, a seven-under-par 65 which was the best score of the third round. Beginning on the 10th, he had a birdie-bogey start, but then reeled off three successive birdies from the 13th hole. He gained back-to-back shots on the 18th and first holes, and then capped an outstanding round with birdies on the sixth and ninth holes.

“From the first round, my tee-to-green play has probably been my best all year, but my putter just wasn’t there,” Lawrence said. “But I stayed calm and patient and started to sink a few putts today.

“It was probably my best ever round on this course, and I couldn’t have asked for better than to be a shot back in my first time playing the Nedbank Golf Challenge. So it is exciting times,” Lawrence said.

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