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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.

Gabba pitch aside, years since SA batting was so weak 0

Posted on June 09, 2023 by Ken

The consensus among former Australian players in Brisbane was that they had never seen a Gabba Test pitch that was so green as what was prepared for the first Test against the Proteas this weekend; it has also probably been years since they saw such a weak South African batting line-up.

Those two factors, plus the sheer quality of both bowling attacks, were the reasons behind the astonishing two-day Test match in Brisbane, the second-shortest ever in Australia and the second-shortest anywhere since 1935.

The Proteas batting was already at a low ebb when they arrived in Australia. Their entire squad boasts just 17 Test centuries and captain Dean Elgar has scored 13 of them. It is a far, far cry from previous South African touring teams Down Under which saw batsmen like Faf du Plessis, Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers boast great individual performances. Previously, stars like Eddie Barlow, Aubrey Faulkner, Graeme Pollock and Colin Bland wowed Australian crowds.

There will be many different opinions as to why South African batting is at such a nadir; mine is the lack of top-quality first-class cricket played by the batsmen, yours may be different.

Elgar seems reluctant to make changes for the vital second Test in Melbourne from Boxing Day, but the Proteas have to bring something different to stay in the series. Selection does not seem to be a strong point of their’s at the moment and in Brisbane, in the most bowler-friendly conditions imaginable, they went in with five frontline bowlers instead of playing the extra batsman. Between them, Lungi Ngidi and Keshav Maharaj bowled just 11 overs.

Rassie van der Dussen has scored just 295 runs in his last eight Tests at an average of only 21.07, having not reached fifty in that time, and would appear to be most in danger of losing his place. Theunis de Bruyn and Heinrich Klaasen, both in-form domestically before going on tour, are next in line.

Meanwhile Ryan Rickelton is back in South Africa and looking invincible whatever is going on in his ankle.

It’s been an eon since Bavuma spent decent time at the crease 0

Posted on January 13, 2023 by Ken

Another side-effect of the Proteas’ unfortunate washout in their opening T20 World Cup game against Zimbabwe was that Temba Bavuma only got to face two balls and it now seems like an eon since the captain was able to spend decent time at the crease.

Bavuma scored two not out but sending him in to open in what was then a nine-over game raised some eyebrows given his own comments the day before about how important nett run-rate is. But coach Mark Boucher, even though he said “the World Cup is cut-throat”, added that the skipper will continue to be in the team until he finds his groove.

The last time Bavuma faced 30 balls for the Proteas was eight innings ago when he scored 35 against India in a T20 in Cuttack on June 12. Since then he suffered an elbow tendon injury and then fell ill when South Africa returned to India for white-ball series earlier this month.

“It’s tough on Reeza Hendricks,” Boucher admitted, “but Temba is back in his place, he was injured, he owned the spot before and he is the captain as well.

“He hasn’t been in great form and we wanted him to get game-time in India, but he got sick. And then today [Monday] he was out there a long time but he didn’t face many balls because Quinton de Kock maximised his time.

“But he’s been batting really well in the nets, these conditions suit his game a lot more and hopefully he will find some good form. We will keep giving Temba opportunities to find some rhythm.

“There might have been a thought about sending another hitter in to open, but you don’t play for rain. It was nine overs and I thought it was a really good opportunity for Temba to go out and express himself,” Boucher said.

Spinner Tabraiz Shamsi was also unfortunate to be on the sidelines in Hobart and he could well return for Thursday’s game against Bangladesh in Sydney, if the weather is clear and the usual long boundaries, especially straight, are in play at the SCG.

“There are other players in the 15 who are also on the sideline, we’ve got good depth and options,” Boucher said. “Playing the extra seamer against Zimbabwe was quite hard on Shamo, but I think it was the right decision.

“We selected the team knowing that there was rain around, giving ourselves the best opportunity if the game was shortened. But all 15 warrant selection, we have great back-up.

“We have a good idea of the venue, we know the conditions and the boundary sizes. Bangladesh made a good start to their campaign, they bowled really well, although they stumbled a bit in the middle of their innings.

“You just need one or two players to really come off in T20 and you win, and we believe we have good quality batsmen and bowlers, so quite a few chances of someone coming off,” Boucher said.

Years since Australia had such volumes of rain & Proteas warm-up falls victim 0

Posted on January 04, 2023 by Ken

It’s been many years since Australia experienced such volumes of rainfall as they are at the moment and the Proteas fell victim to the inclement weather on Wednesday when their second and final warm-up match for the T20 World Cup, against Bangladesh in Brisbane, was abandoned without a ball being bowled.

South Africa will open their World Cup campaign on Monday in Hobart against the top qualifier from Group B, in which Scotland, Zimbabwe, West Indies and Ireland are all locked on two points.

The abandonment of the Bangladesh game happened without there being a toss, so we don’t know whether appointed captain Temba Bavuma was going to play or not. But his form in a year so badly disrupted by injury and illness has been the biggest talking point in South African cricket of late, and there is no doubt he would have loved to have gathered some much-needed runs under his belt.

For the rest of the Proteas team, the weather was a mild irritation and Rilee Rossouw, such a well-travelled T20 player these days, said they are ready for when their curtain comes up on Monday.

“Some guys might be frustrated that we couldn’t play today, but for the others, we’re pretty much ready to go,” Rossouw said. “It’s something we couldn’t control and it’s unfortunate that we did not play today.

“But the guys put in a good shift in the indoor nets and the team is very confident, we have played a lot of cricket over the last month, we’ve had a lot of game-time.

“The boys are ready, playing good cricket and excited for that first match,” Rossouw said.

While Bavuma’s woes would almost certainly see him left out of Monday’s starting XI if he were not the captain, at least the Proteas know they have a ready-made, in-form replacement in Reeza Hendricks. Either him or Rossouw could comfortably open the batting with Quinton de Kock.

In the absence of both Bavuma and De Kock in the first warm-up game – the nine-wicket hammering of New Zealand – Hendricks and Rossouw opened the batting and put on 66 at 10-runs-an-over. It’s been six-and-a-half years since they played together in the Free State Knights team and Rossouw is hoping his former provincial team-mate can really announce himself on the global stage considering the great form he is in at present.

“Reeza and I go a long way back and it’s always nice to bat with him, he always brings something special,” Rossouw said.

“I hope he gets the chance to show the world what he’s about. We are all much better players than we were in those Knights days, we’ve learned from experience and from each other. And he is world-class,” Rossouw 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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