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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.

Even more lux now shining on Bok Covid protocols 0

Posted on July 20, 2021 by Ken

The spotlight is once again on the Springboks’ Covid protocols and the amount of lux shining on them will only be higher this time as Lood de Jager has now returned a positive Covid test, causing the team’s training on Monday to be cancelled and the entire squad returning to isolation.

SA rugby issued a statement on Monday confirming that lock De Jager, who is currently rehabilitating from a broken tibia, had tested positive and had had close contact with several members of the squad, leading to the complete shutdown of activities, pending the results of further PCR testing and a review by the Medical Advisory Group.

Monday’s positive test follows three players suffering the same fate the previous weekend. One of those tests – that of scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies – was later shown to be a false positive and he played off the bench in the first Test against Georgia, but Vincent Koch and S’bu Nkosi both had to go into quarantine and close contacts such as Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi were ruled out of last weekend’s match.

But on that occasion the Springboks were able to resume training on the Monday afternoon.

De Jager is one of the overseas-based players and was meant to be making progress in his rehabilitation to the extent that the management expected him to return to full training soon.

The desperately unfortunate 28-year-old will now have to be kept apart from the team he has worked so hard to rejoin.

The Springboks are meant to be playing the second Test against Georgia on Friday night, with the series against the British and Irish Lions starting on July 24.

Wickets in the middle overs still crucial for Proteas under an autumnal sun 0

Posted on April 06, 2021 by Ken

An autumnal sun may be shining over SuperSport Park on Friday and the pitch could be a bit slower than usual, but Proteas coach Mark Boucher is still expecting good conditions and for wicket-taking firepower to be crucial in the middle overs of the first ODI against Pakistan.

The last time South Africa played a home ODI series in April was against Australia in 2009, the Proteas winning the rubber 3-2. While spinners played a big role in the series, the most interesting result came at Centurion when Australia were destroyed by early-morning swing, Dale Steyn and Wayne Parnell sharing eight wickets, to be bowled out for just 131. Friday’s match has a 10am start time.

“It’s certainly cooling down, it’s why I’m wearing my tracksuit top and a couple of the guys have come down with a bit of flu,” Boucher said in his virtual interview on Thursday. “Generally, the colder it gets up here the slower the pitch, but it still looks pretty good. There hasn’t been as much cricket played on it this summer so it probably is a bit fresher than usual. And it’s a day game so I expect good conditions, but just a touch slower to what we’re used to.

“We’ve got the pace though and we need wickets in the middle overs. From overs 11-40 we want to be nice and aggressive, make the play and not just sit back and wait for things to happen. So I hope the quicks run in and be really aggressive. You tend to win games if you take wickets in that period and we’ve got the firepower and the spinner to do that.”

Boucher confirmed that all 22 members of the ODI squad are fit and available, including all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo, who injured his ankle in the first game of the domestic T20 competition and has not played since February 19.

The last time the Proteas played ODI cricket was when they whitewashed Australia 3-0 a year ago, but not all of those star performers are going to be in the starting XI on Friday.

“A lot of guys were rested from that series and there were a couple of injuries, plus it was a long time ago. So by rights certain players will come back and have got to fill their spots again, but we will also take form into consideration. It’s nice to have a full-strength squad to choose from and the guys who were given an opportunity really performed. But there will be honest conversations about who is first in line.

“Temba Bavuma will probably bat three and we see Aiden Markram as someone we can juggle, but he will probably start up front although he can bat three or four. We’ve selected a squad in line with what we want to do in the 2023 World Cup, but it’s more important to win now and we want give guys opportunities where they have really done well for their franchises,” Boucher said.

Sunny skies still over the Wanderers, says CEO 0

Posted on June 01, 2020 by Ken

Winter may be upon us and the country still in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, but according to Central Gauteng Lions Cricket chief executive Jono Leaf-Wright, there are still sunny skies over the Wanderers and the floodlights will metaphorically keep shining bright through the crisis.

Leaf-Wright said the Johannesburg-based franchise is in a good position to hit the ground running when cricket resumes when he spoke in an online press conference to introduce the new Central Gauteng Lions board.

“The financials were in a great place back in February, but nobody envisaged then the impact Covid would have and we have lost many revenue streams. But it was to our benefit that the virus hit at the back end of our season and we are still in a decent place with no real long-term impact to the organisation. We are all working really hard on returning to work, training and playing.

“But we’re also working on mitigating the risks so we can return as quickly as possible and as safely as possible. It’s full steam ahead for our operations team and we’ve had exciting interest from our sponsors. Hopefully a lot of us will be back at the Wanderers in the next week or two and the floodlights are staying on to show people we are ready to return as soon as government allows,” Leaf-Wright said on Friday.

Leaf-Wright said they were hopeful that domestic cricket would be able to resume in November, but said they would be able to weather the storm if they had to wait until the new year.

“The plans we have discussed with Cricket South Africa are to have matches in November and there are still international tours that need to go ahead before that. There may be some problems if we don’t start as planned, but obviously we have to put safety first, we have a duty of care to the players. It’s not essential that we get back to playing in November, but we would need to if we are going to fit everything into the season.

“There are new tournaments that we want to launch but we won’t be able to if the schedule is full. The three existing events, the four-day series, One-Day Cup and the new-look Mzansi Super League, are key for us and our sponsors though. It’s just about how jam-packed we can make the season. In the meantime everybody on the team is working hard to stay fit and strong,” Leaf-Wright 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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