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Ken Borland

Move to Lost City a boost for McCallum 0

Posted on April 03, 2024 by Ken

SUN CITY, North-West – This year’s SuperSport Ladies Challenge at Sun City from Wednesday has been moved from the Gary Player Country Club to Lost City, and Tandi McCallum reckons that is a boost for her chances, even though she finished runner-up in this event at GPCC in 2020.

That year, McCallum was edged out in a playoff by Lejan Lewthwaite, but the Johannesburger won the Sun International Ladies Challenge at Lost City in 2014.

“I’ve actually done better at Lost City, I won there in 2014 and I prefer it to the Gary Player Country Club, which I know a lot of connoisseurs will frown on. I just enjoy being there, it suits my eye and it rewards golfers who hit it very straight and putt well,” McCallum said.

“Lost City demands that you be a bit more strategic, it’s very firm on the side of the mountain and the undulating fairways mean you have got to be in good positions. The key is to be on the fairways, but they are so hard that you can’t overpower the course. I find Gary Player Country Club has more generous fairways.”

Fortunately for much of the field playing in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge, they will be coming from the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am at Fancourt, which required some advanced golfing skills and would have battle-hardened the Sunshine Ladies Tour contingent.

McCallum played solidly enough to finish in a tie for 13th on 10-over-par, the winning score being Kylie Henry’s three-under-par 213. The Scotswoman is teeing it up again at Lost City, but many of the other European golfers have moved on to the Ladies European Tour, which has an event in Morocco starting on Thursday.

“I didn’t play super-well on day three when there were fantastic conditions but a very challenging set-up,” McCallum said. “But it was good to shake off any rust and I was very happy to make the cut.

“It’s great for us South Africans to be able to compare ourselves with the international players, but this week there is an overlapping LET event. Generally our tour has international players who don’t have full cards in Europe, so if they get a start over there then they will take it. But we will still have a very competitive field at Lost City.”

Veteran Lee-Anne Pace, who charged up the leaderboard on the final day at Fancourt to finish second, will be looking to go one better this week and LPGA star and 2022 SuperSport Ladies Challenge winner Paula Reto is also in the field.

A young up-and-coming talent to watch is 19-year-old Gabrielle Venter, who finished tied-fifth at the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am, her best ever Sunshine Ladies Tour result.

Hot weather & the ball flying miles the norm, but Detry masters different conditions 0

Posted on February 13, 2023 by Ken

Hot weather and the ball flying for miles is always the norm at Sun City, but Belgium’s Thomas Detry managed to master the different conditions in this year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge and soar into a share of the lead after the third round with back-to-back 67s on Saturday.

Heavy showers on Friday meant the second round could only be completed on Saturday morning, with the golfers then only having a half-hour break before heading out again for their third rounds. Although there was occasional drizzle on Saturday, mercifully there was no disruption to play with the rain not nearly as heavy as forecast.

Detry began his round on the 10th and immediately gathered back-to-back birdies and then another shot on the par-five 14th. His next birdie came via a lengthy, curling putt on the par-three fourth, and he then finished his round in superb style with three successive birdies from the seventh to the ninth holes. The 29-year-old dropped two shots, on the 17th and sixth holes, both par-fours.

His tremendous finish lifted him to nine-under-par for the tournament, the mark Rasmus Hojgaard got to on a sensational run that saw him eagle the famous ninth hole and pick up birdies on the par-five 10th and par-three 12th holes. The exciting Dane then parred his way home to shoot another 69, just as he did in the first two rounds.

Detry is a leading player on both the DP World and U.S. PGA Tours, and so he has had to learn to be adaptable, especially when it comes to the considerable travel demands and the different courses and conditions he has to handle. It is no surprise then that an unusual day at the Gary Player Country Club did not catch him offguard.

“With all the rain, the course is playing longer. We’re used to hitting Driver 330 metres and seven-iron over 220, but with the colder weather, we’re now hitting five or six iron and I think that surprised some of the players a little,” Detry said.

“It’s also wetter so the rough can be a bit harder to get out of, so it is easy to drop shots here and there. It’s usually hot, so the course is playing much longer than we’re used to.

“The travel between tours is tough, but I really wanted to make these last two events on the DP World Tour, so I flew from Mexico on Sunday night and only arrived here on Tuesday night.

“I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather, so to be able to rest most of Friday was massive for me to play 27 holes today so consistently. Getting a lot of rest and eating a lot of food out there gave me energy,” Detry said.

South Africans Branden Grace and Thriston Lawrence are both just one shot off the pace heading into the final round. Lawrence had the lowest score of the third round with a brilliant seven-under 65 and, starting his round on the 10th, he had three successive birdies from the 13th and then another two back-to-back on 18 and the first hole. The 2021 Joburg Open champion completed a bogey-free front nine with two more birdies on the sixth and ninth holes.

Grace lifted himself into contention with a brilliant 67 on Saturday morning, and then struck the ball beautifully again in the third round, but a cold putter meant he had to settle for a one-under 71. But he is in hot form and has the confidence of his 2017 Nedbank Golf Challenge triumph to bolster him.

Persistent rain leaves NGC organisers under pressure as leaders could only complete 3 holes 0

Posted on February 10, 2023 by Ken

Leaders Ryan Fox and Luke Donald were only able to complete three holes on the second day of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City on Friday as thundershowers and persistent rain washed out play, leaving tournament organisers under pressure to finish the second and third rounds on Saturday.

Overnight leader Fox birdied the par-five second hole, but then immediately gave the stroke back with a bogey-five on the third to sit at eight-under-par when play was suspended at 11.49am due to lightning. Steady rain had already been falling for some time and it never relented, leading to the course being waterlogged.

Donald had joined Fox on eight-under as he birdied the second hole and parred the first and third holes.

“We would need two hours of no rain just to start to get the course reasonably playable,” tournament director David Williams told media after play was called off for the day at 3.30pm.

“If we could have got a couple more hours in today then that would have been great, but we felt it was better to make a decision. We will start again at 7.45am on Saturday and the third round will be played in the same groups.

“The golfers will get a half-an-hour break after the second round and then go again. That way we can save two hours, maybe more, with the forecast not being marvellous for Saturday either.

“Sunday morning is also not so good, so we need to get as much completed on Saturday as we can. Hopefully we get the third round done, but there’s a lot in the air at the moment,” Williams said.

Perhaps the golfer most frustrated by the delay was Englishman Ross Fisher, who had a great round going and had climbed into a tie for third place on six-under-par with Rasmus Hojgaard and Guido Migliozzi.

Fisher birdied the first two holes and then the ninth, and had just eagled the par-five 10th when the golfers were pulled off the course. Being five-under through 10 holes has lifted the five-time DP World Tour winner to just two strokes off the lead.

Hojgaard was also going well on three-under through six holes.

Veteran Richard Sterne is the leading South African, birdieing the first two holes to go to three-under.

Fox shows his class after Presidents Cup omission gave birth to plenty of controversy 0

Posted on February 10, 2023 by Ken

Ryan Fox’s omission from the International Presidents Cup team gave birth to plenty of controversy, and the New Zealander showed his class on the opening day of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City as he soared to the top of the leaderboard with an amazing eight-under-par 64.

At the time of South African – and 2007 Nedbank Golf Challenge winner – Trevor Immelman choosing his International team, Fox was ranked 47th in the world. But half-a-dozen players ranked below him were chosen, Immelman going as far down the rankings as No.114 Taylor Pendrith.

Fox is now up to 26th in the world rankings, the second-highest in the field behind No.25 and defending champion Tommy Fleetwood. The son of former All Blacks great Grant Fox was hurt by the fact he does not play on the U.S. PGA Tour and his major showings were poor in an otherwise stellar 2022.

But Thursday was a dream day on the Gary Player Country Club course for Fox, who leads veteran Luke Donald (65) by one thanks to five birdies and an eagle on the back nine.

“I don’t know what happened to be honest,” Fox said. “I couldn’t believe Louis Oosthuizen shot 64 on this course when Tommy won in 2019. I played okay on the front nine [-1] but from the 11th hole I felt that I pretty much couldn’t miss any shot.

“I’ve become better with the Driver, I have more confidence with it now and I wasn’t as intimidated off the tee as I used to be here. I kept the ball in play better and I had a lot of good numbers in, which makes a massive difference.

“You’re not between clubs and you don’t feel like you’re guessing. It was also easier to pick the wind today, it didn’t swirl so much.

“On the back nine I was in one of those zones you don’t get very often, and in that state you just need to get out of your own way,” Fox said.

Fox made just one mistake with a bogey on the par-four third, and being that error-free was an unattainable wish for most of the 66-strong field, even though it was a mild day at Sun City.

Only three golfers were bogey-free. Incoming European Ryder Cup captain Donald was one of them with an outstanding 65, where he also burnt up the back nine with five birdies.

Italian youngster Guido Migliozzi also had four of his five birdies on the back-nine, as he signed for a bogey-free 67 and third place.

Min-Woo Lee, Fabrizio Zanotti and Richard Bland finished on four-under, while the other bogey-free round came from another Italian, Edoardo Molinari, who shot 69. He is in a tie for seventh with Richie Ramsay, Lucas Herbert, Rasmus Hojgaard and Adrian Otaegui.

The leading South Africans were Branden Grace and Justin Walters, a shot further back on two-under-par 70.

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