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Ken Borland



A day to test your patience at Leopard Creek 0

Posted on December 10, 2023 by Ken

MISERABLE: Louis Oosthuizen and his caddy trying to keep dry on the fourth day of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.
(Photo by Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour)

It was a day to test your patience at Leopard Creek on Sunday as thundershowers limited play to just over two hours of action, restricting the great title showdown between Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel to just seven holes which failed to break the deadlock between the two longtime friends.

Leaders Oosthuizen and Schwartzel, together with Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who began the final round five shots behind, teed off at 10am and were able to play four holes before the first storms moved over Malelane.

In that time, both Oosthuizen (2nd hole) and Schwartzel (3rd) managed to collect a birdie, while Bezuidenhout made his presence felt with birdies on the par-five second and par-four third holes to cut the gap to four strokes.

The lingering threat of lightning meant play was only able to resume at 4pm, and even then it only lasted 43 rather miserably wet minutes before thunder rumbled again and play was called off for the day.

Not much had changed in that time, although Oosthuizen must have had his heart in his mouth after he hit his tee-shot on the par-three seventh into the water. He showed his mettle, however, as he stroked in a 25ft putt to limit the damage to just a bogey.

Having just birdied the short par-four sixth after a lovely approach shot to six feet, it meant Oosthuizen dropped back to join Schwartzel on 16-under.

All three members of the final group began the final round smoothly, finding the fairways off the tee and hitting precision iron-shots. Bezuidenhout, however, had more success with the putter and he further cut the lead to three strokes as, straight after the lengthy weather delay, he rolled in a 20ft birdie putt on the par-three fifth hole.

Andy Sullivan was also cruising with two birdies in his first six holes, but he then bogeyed the par-four eighth to slip back to 11-under, five behind, alongside Germany’s Matti Schmid, who was three-under for his round.

Of the other South Africans besides the top three, Thriston Lawrence is accelerating up the leaderboard and is currently tied for eighth on eight-under, four-under for his round with three holes to play.

Jayden Schaper made a fast birdie-birdie start, but then went bogey-bogey and is level-par at the turn, also on eight-under overall.

Casey Jarvis sandwiched birdies at the first and third holes with a bogey at the par-five second, and then had a bit of a car crash on the ninth, with a double-bogey that dropped him to seven-under for the tournament, alongside Wynand Dingle.

The final round will only resume at 9am on Monday to allow the greenkeepers to ready the waterladen course.

It could have been brilliant or terrible, but it ended in tears of joy for Burmester 0

Posted on December 03, 2023 by Ken

Dean Burmester with the famous SA Open trophy at Blair Atholl.

Dean Burmester’s final round in the South African Open at Blair Atholl on Sunday began with him deciding to play aggressively, accepting that he would either post a brilliant score that would bring joy or a terrible total that would see him bomb out of contention. His round ended with him fighting back the tears as he claimed the title with a marvellous four-under-par 68.

Burmester began the last day tied for fourth, two strokes off the lead which was shared by young fellow South Africans Jayden Schaper and Ryan van Velzen. He ended up winning by three strokes as neither Schaper nor Van Velzen could stay under-par in the final round, and none of the other contenders could match a 68 on another torrid day of fierce heat and fast greens on the longest course in DP World Tour history.

“I told my caddie Jason Reynolds at the start of the day that I wanted to free it up today, it was either going to be a 65 or an 85 today because we were going to go for everything,” an emotional Burmester said after his biggest victory and his fourth on the DP World Tour. The 34-year-old also won last week’s Joburg Open, pulling off a rare double.

“Fortunately I just flushed it from the start and I could see the greens were really starting to firm up. I said to Jason that two hours from now, they would be nearly impossible to play so we should just post a score, sit back and watch.

“On the 18th green I was just trying not to cry. I’m still trying. I am super-emotional, it’s been a long road to get here. I have both my national opens now and it feels surreal, it’s just super-special to do the SA double,” the Zimbabwe-born Burmester said after being presented with the most prestigious trophy in South African golf.

On a tightly-contested final day in which the toughness of the course made it extremely difficult for someone to really pull away, it was going to need nerves of steel and the mettle to seize the key moment when it presented itself for the winner to separate himself.

For Burmester, that moment happened on the 16th. He had been hanging on to a one-stroke lead for most of the round after he sank a 40ft birdie putt on the seventh hole, but on the second-toughest hole on the final day, he hit a great approach to 10 feet and curled in the birdie putt.

He then rammed home his advantage on the par-three 17th, a beautiful pin-high tee shot setting up a second consecutive birdie.

“Sixteen is when things swung for me. I had a perfect number from the fairway and, having missed a shortish chance on 14, it was fantastic to sink a 10-foot double-breaker on 16,” Burmester recalled.

“On 17 I hit a pitching wedge, again a lovely number, and I must credit my whole team for their great work in preparing me to perform under pressure because it is not my favourite club.”

Being the classy person he is, Burmester was also full of praise and sympathy for the pair of 22-year-old East Randers, Schaper and Van Velzen, who certainly did not hand victory on a plate to their more experienced compatriot.

Van Velzen finished in the tie for second on eight-under with Renato Paratore (70) and Jesper Svensson (71), his five birdies being undone by two double-bogeys and a bogey. He fought hard though, until the 14th when he found both a fairway and a greenside bunker and then three-putted to drop two shots.

Schaper finished on seven-under in a tie for fifth after a 74 that included just three birdies but five bogeys.

“Winning is hard for young golfers and I know how Jayden and Ryan feel because I was there too. I feel for those two young guys at the back, it takes time and it takes a lot before you learn how to win.

“It was cool that I was drawn with Louis de Jager, he and I have a lot of experience and we were able to pull each other along. He’s been a prolific winner on the Sunshine Tour and we were both able to relax,” Burmester said.

De Jager played well but his putter did not help him much as he posted a 73 to also finish in the tie for fifth with Alejandro del Rey (68), Fredric Lacroix (69), Matteo Manassero (72) and Schaper.

Lack of experience a large part of the Proteas’ batting woes – Sammons 0

Posted on November 08, 2023 by Ken

Proteas batting coach Justin Sammons says a large part of his team’s batting woes this year is due to their lack of experience because they do not play enough red-ball cricket.

While South Africa already play less Test cricket than most teams – a situation which will worsen markedly in the next couple of years – Cricket South Africa have also cut the number of four-day matches the provinces play to just seven per season due to financial constraints.

It means the country’s top batting talent may only play ten first-class innings a season when the effects of the weather and innings victories are thrown into the equation. Senior Proteas have also been conspicuous by their absence in domestic cricket, which weakens both the batting and bowling standard of the competition.

“What’s very important to realise is that there is no substitute for experience and you only gain that from playing,” Sammons said on Friday in Sydney. “The more you play, the more experience you get and the more lessons you learn.

“As a country, we need to look at how we look after the four-day system going forward. With the way the world is going, it’s a tricky balancing act, but we do need to find a way.

“The bottom line is that the players need to play as much cricket as possible. We’ve got to think out of the box, whether that’s the board or the director of cricket.

“But there has to be a way. We can’t just resign ourselves to T20 dominating and not playing enough first-class cricket. I believe the key for us is playing more four-day cricket,” Sammons said.

While the batting coach admitted that the batsmen were suffering from a lack of confidence, one positive has been the form of wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne, who has proven himself to be a tenacious customer. Verreynne was one of only three Proteas batsmen to average more than 30 (32.12) in 2022, the others being Temba Bavuma (40.07) and Keegan Petersen (38.38).

“The growth in Kyle’s game has been tremendous, both technically and obviously mentally,” Sammons said. “The key I think is that he has figured out his own way of playing at his tempo.

“He has stuck to the tempo that allows him to be successful. He will continue to work on that, but he’s clear in terms of his identity as a cricketer, he understands how to go about scoring runs.

“He’s like Dean Elgar, Jacques Kallis or Graeme Smith in that you knew what you would get from them. I think he has that clear identity of who he is as a cricketer, which goes a long way.

“Following the England series, in tough conditions, our batsmen’s confidence was dented a bit. And then the first Test here the conditions really favoured the bowlers and naturally the confidence was hit even more,” Sammons said.

Half-day at the office for the Proteas, but already shaping to be toil 0

Posted on October 13, 2023 by Ken

It was not much more than a half-day at the office for the Proteas as they returned to action in the third Test against Australia, but it was already shaping up to be a day of toil as the home side reached 147 for two when bad weather stopped play at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday.

Only 47 overs were able to be played before the umpires controversially took the players off, for the second time, at 5.50pm, having earlier gone off at at 2.17pm local time. On both occasions the rain did then arrive, but the reluctance of the umpires to keep playing on a grey, overcast day was unfuriating.

That was far from the most contentious bit of decision-making on the opening day though. Shortly before the play was stopped, Marnus Labuschagne edged left-armer Marco Jansen low to first slip, where Simon Harmer seemed to have scooped up a fine catch.

Neither Labuschagne nor the umpires were 100% sure though, with third umpire Richard Kettleborough being called into play, the soft signal being out. Having watched numerous replays, the Englishman felt the ball had touched the ground, but the conclusive replay, zoomed in from the front, was strangely absent.

Labuschagne survived on 70, but five minutes later, the crucial replay suddenly emerged and showed that Harmer did get his fingers under the ball. One wonders why the host broadcaster could not have provided the telling replay when the TV umpire needed it.

Labuschagne added just nine more runs to his score before the lionhearted Anrich Nortje managed to drag some life out of a featherbed pitch, a phenomenal delivery with pace, bounce and away-nip being edged behind. His luck certainly turned as the umpires took the players off the field straight after his dismissal.

Usman Khawaja was playing a classy opening batsman’s knock with 54 not out, showing plenty of fine judgement in his stroke-selection, but also effectively putting away anything loose as he collected six fours. Steve Smith had just come to the crease but had not faced a ball yet.

Khawaja and Labuschagne added 135 for the second wicket in impressively efficient fashion, taking charge after lunch as they added 70 runs in 15 overs. In the morning session, Khawaja and Labuschagne had been focused on getting in and ensuring the advantage of winning the toss and batting on a dry, easy-paced pitch that offered little movement, was not squandered.

Nortje had been the supplier of South Africa’s other wicket on the first day, David Warner (10) edging high to Jansen at first slip as he played a rather loose slash outside off-stump.

The Proteas pacemen gave little away with the new ball, but the task became ever harder for them. Spinner Harmer provided some anxious moments for the left-handed Khawaja and he and Keshav Maharaj could be the key bowlers for the rest of the innings.

Harmer has replaced Lungi Ngidi in the attack, while South Africa have brought in Heinrich Klaasen for Theunis de Bruyn, who returned home for the birth of his first child.

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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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