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Ken Borland

Bradbury exhibits all the airs of disbelief one would expect after winning Joburg Open 0

Posted on February 28, 2023 by Ken

Englishman Dan Bradbury on Sunday exhibited all the airs of disbelief one would expect of a golfer who comes into a co-sanctioned tournament like the Joburg Open on a sponsor’s invite without any tour status, and ends up winning.

Bradbury clinched the Joburg Open title by three strokes at Houghton Golf Club on Sunday, shooting four-under 67 in the final round to finish 21-under-par overall.

Having been at the top of the leaderboard from the first day, when he shot a 63, there seldom seemed any doubt on Sunday that the 23-year-old Bradbury would win as he produced a superb round of controlled golf. Whenever he made a mistake, Bradbury quickly rectified it and his only dropped shot came when he three-putted the final hole, but he already had a three-shot lead.

The U.S. College golf system may not receive much attention in South Africa, but it clearly produces golfers of great temperament. With all the massive prizes on offer, including a guaranteed spot on tour four months after turning pro, Bradbury did not blink when the pressure was on.

“It’s amazing, I can’t tell you how it feels because it still hasn’t sunk in and I’m sure it won’t for a while,” Bradbury said half-an-hour after his triumph. “I just went out there today to enjoy it.

“I played a lot of good golf and I was able to draw on my experience of College golf, I tried to win a lot there and I learnt from my mistakes. I just tried to play solid golf today and not do anything different.

“I just tried to not compound errors because on these greens bogey is never too far away and I just tried to keep the doubles away. My swing and irons were good all week and we picked good lines and hit good shots.

“It is life-changing because I’ve gone from not knowing where I will be playing to now being able to play everything, which I will do because I love playing. This is a silly game because I have been hurting may times after final rounds,” a beaming Bradbury said.

Finland’s Sami Valimaki shot a two-under-par 69 on Sunday to finish second on 18-under-par, while South Africans Christiaan Bezuidenhout (66) and Daniel van Tonder (68) were tied in third place on 17-under. Both played well off the tee and the fairways, but just could not make the crucial birdie putts coming down the back nine.

Bezuidenhout, who had a run of birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie from the third hole, Van Tonder and Valimaki all put Bradbury under early pressure, but the Yorkshireman chipped in for a crucial par on the sixth, when double-bogey looked possible, and also made vital par-saves on the 14th and 15th holes.

And now Bradbury has a lot of new plans to put in place. Starting with some shopping because he will be playing in the SA Open at Blair Atholl next week, instead of flying home as planned, and only brought one set of golf attire with him.

Invitee Bradbury leads after fairytale first round that showed his own brilliance in seizing whatever opportunities he gets 0

Posted on February 28, 2023 by Ken

Dan Bradbury has career earnings of just €32 537.50 and no playing status on the DP World Tour, but he is in the Joburg Open owing to a sponsor’s invitation, and on top of the leaderboard after a fairytale first round because of his own brilliance in seizing whatever opportunities he gets.

The 23-year-old Bradbury fired a superb eight-under-par 63 to take the lead after a weather-disrupted opening day at the Houghton Golf Club, leading Germany’s Nick Bachem by one stroke. Two Frenchmen are on six-under-par, Romain Langasque having completed his round and Clement Berardo having gone through 11 holes when play was suspended due to lightning at 5.11pm and then called off an hour later.

Bradbury, from Wakefield in Yorkshire, England, turned pro in July after five successful years as an amateur on the U.S. Collegiate system, playing for the Lincoln Memorial and Florida State university teams. He made three promising Challenge Tour appearances, but then three-putted his final hole of DP World Tour Qualifying School to miss advancing from the First Stage by one stroke.

Bradbury has played in a DP World Tour event before as a late replacement, making the most of an 11th-hour invite to the Open de Espana last month and finishing tied-13th. Not even the expensive flight could stop him from taking up another last-ditch call to compete in the Joburg Open, and he made the most of his chance on Thursday.

“I was given a spot on Friday night, flew out here on the weekend with my mum Sandra, just to see what we can do,” Bradbury said after his stellar round, which included seven birdies and two eagles, as well as a double-bogey and a dropped shot on his last hole, the par-three ninth.

“It was lovely to have my mother walk the fairways with me, it was as good a start as I could have wished for, but it’s the end of the week that is most important.

“It’s up there with my best days in my career, but I had some pretty special ones too during my American college days. I’ve still got work to do though,” the genial Bradbury said.

Thunderstorms always seem to come into play on the highveld in summer and Bradbury felt his momentum was disrupted by an earlier delay in mid-afternoon.

“I got some momentum going on my back nine, but the thunderstorm stopped that. It made me think a bit more about leading. I had hit great drives on three and five, and had nine-irons in on both, 180 and 188 metres, flags at the front of the green and I made the eagles.

“This is not the longest course and a good drive is key, and then the main thing is to have the confidence that you can hit that far at altitude, the ball was going miles.

“It’s my first time playing at real altitude, but my South African caddy, Keegan Snalam, has been great helping me,” Bradbury said.

South Africans have always contended hard at the Joburg Open, with nine local winners in the 14 events, and this time defending champion Thriston Lawrence and veteran Jaco van Zyl are leading the charge on five-under.

Casey Jarvis, Dylan Mostert, Louis de Jager, Wilco Nienaber and Jbe Kruger, who still has six holes to play, are all on four-under.

SA franchises need to show they are top-class to get a seat at Europe’s top table 0

Posted on May 31, 2021 by Ken

The Springboks face a hectic 2021 schedule in which their world champion status will undoubtedly be closely scrutinised, while our four franchises will need to prove they are top-class teams when they make a first foray into Europe.

Unsurprisingly (given how often it has happened through the years), there has already been plenty of dissing of the Springboks, even though they have not been able to play a game since that heady triumph in Yokahama. They will get their chance to prove their mettle soon, with nine Tests to be played between July 3 and October 2.

That includes an epic series against the British and Irish Lions and four Tests in Australasia, where South Africa have just three wins against their hosts in the last decade.

With the relationship with Sanzaar starting to get a bit old and tired, accompanied by not unexpected bickering, there has been a great deal of excitement over SA Rugby’s moves into Europe. That relationship is still new and there is still some wooing to be done before we can say we’ve scored a try, so to speak, but it did come as a shock when the Director General of European Professional Club Rugby, Vincent Gaillard, was rather dismissive of South Africa this week.

For South African rugby’s move to the northern hemisphere to be successful in the long run, they have to be playing at the highest level of European club rugby, which is the Champions Cup. SA Rugby have been negotiating on the basis that their teams can qualify for the Champions Cup through their performances in the Pro16, just like the leading teams of Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy.

But this week, Gaillard was quoted by international news agency AFP as saying: “There will be no South African clubs in the European Cup next season, that’s for sure. In the Challenge Cup, theoretically, it is possible. We are looking at the possibility, but it is quite unlikely. There are details to settle, especially at the Pro16 level.”

In the same breath, Gaillard announced that EPCR had signed a new deal with the countries involved that would run through until at least 2030 and would see the competition include 24 teams in two pools of 12. How can they make such long-term plans without even considering the involvement of their new partners, who just happen to be world champions?

Fortunately, Martyn Hindley, the EPCR communications director, confirmed on Friday that their competition formats “remain under discussion”.

But these days all professional rugby revolves around the financial bottom line and the only way for our franchises to assure themselves of a place in the elite European competitions is by proving that their involvement would be of great service to their game.

If our franchises, fielding global drawcards such as Lukhanyo Am and Siya Kolisi, Duane Vermeulen and Marcell Coetzee, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Steven Kitshoff, and some really exciting young Lions players like Wandisile Simelane, can produce rugby of sufficient quality then they can make themselves indispensable. If their market value is high enough, then the Champions Cup will be clamouring to get them involved.

So when the winners of our local Rainbow Cup competition travel to Europe to play their champions of the same Pro-14 based league on June 19, it is going to be vital for them to put up a great showing. If our best are not going to be dominating the Pro16, then there is not going to be much incentive to get them involved in the proper European tournaments.

But I am going to go out on a limb and say I expect our teams to do very well in Europe. There have been critics of our domestic standard over the last year, but there have also been definite mitigating factors, due to Covid, for some of the uninspired rugby.

But having watched matches from both sides of the equator over the last few weeks, I think the physicality, intensity and tempo of our teams is going to really trouble their European opponents.

They were the qualities that took the Springboks to World Cup glory and hopefully they are going to take our franchises to the top table in Europe as well.

Not even the service of government enough to save Aussie tour 0

Posted on February 05, 2021 by Ken

Not even calling in the service of government to grant the Australian cricket team VIP travelling status to South Africa was enough for Cricket Australia (CA), as they pulled the plug on their scheduled three-Test series against the Proteas on Tuesday.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) released a statement on Tuesday recording there “immense disappointment” at CA’s decision, which they described as “regrettable”. In the diplomatic world of corporate press statements, this was a strongly-worded criticism.

Which was not surprising considering how CSA have bent over backwards to try and accommodate the Australians.

Apart from granting the Australian touring party VIP passage to and from the airport, CSA had also offered up the Irene Country Lodge for their exclusive use, meaning the Proteas would have moved to a different hotel. They have also altered their travel plans for the ongoing Pakistan tour, bringing the Test squad back early and sending a second-string outfit for the T20 series.

“The protocols we had proposed to CA were unprecedented. Firstly, we had agreed that our own Proteas team would enter the bio-secure environment [BSE] 14 days prior to the arrival of the Australian team, thus altering our planning during the current tour of Pakistan. Amongst some of the other key arrangements made were that all four areas – two hotels and two venues – had a protocol to implement a strict BSE with no contact with anybody outside this area. 

“We subsequently agreed to two separate BSEs and had granted Australia full and exclusive use of the Irene Country Lodge, which we shared with Sri Lanka, with a minimum staff present on site. In terms of the arrangements, the Proteas were to move to a separate hotel altogether. Furthermore, all hotel staff, match officials and even bus drivers were to enter the BSE 14 days prior to Australia’s arrival. 

“In addition, CSA had also committed to importing an Australian tracking system at great cost to ensure proper tracking of close contacts in the event of a positive test. The touring team was also going to be granted VIP access through the airports, after government intervention to ensure this privilege. These are just some of the protocols that CSA was to put in place. We had really gone the extra mile to make sure that the tour would proceed,” CSA’s chief medical officer Dr Shuaib Manjra said.

Given the suspicion of CSA’s BSE protocols, which have enabled them to host a Test series against Sri Lanka without incident, and a visit by England in which none of the touring players contracted Covid-19, as well as stage the Momentum One-Day Cup in Potchefstroom without a single positive test, it seems South African cricket’s station in global cricket in the near future will be a long way removed from the Big Three of Australia, England and India.

“It is indeed sad that after all the engagements and effort made to ensure a secure visit by our Australian counterparts, the tour has been derailed. CSA has incurred significant costs related to the planning stages and the cancellation of the tour represents a serious financial loss. In this challenging period for cricket and its member countries, we believe the stance taken by CA is regrettable and will have a serious impact on the sustainability of the less-wealthy cricket-playing nations,” CSA acting chief executive officer Pholetsi Moseki said.

Given how late CA have pulled out – they were due to arrive in two weeks time – those losses are estimated to be around the R50 million mark.

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