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Ken Borland

Hutchinson-Kay recovers from rollercoaster front nine to claim outright lead 0

Posted on May 10, 2024 by Ken

Sweden’s Ellen Hutchinson-Kay recovered from a rollercoaster front nine to come home in bogey-free three-under and claim the outright lead after the second round of the Fidelity ADT Ladies Challenge at the Blue Valley Golf Estate on Thursday.

Hutchinson-Kay, a product of the American College system, graduating from the University of Mississippi, shot a wonderful five-under-par 67 in the penultimate round to move to nine-under-par overall, two shots ahead of Frenchwoman Ariane Klotz.

The 25-year-old Hutchinson-Kay had a dramatic opening nine holes with a bogey, a double-bogey, three birdies and an eagle to reach the turn on two-under. But she showed her temperament with back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th, and then a birdie on the par-five 15th to ensure the lead was her’s alone. After the first round, Hutchinson-Kay shared top spot on four-under-par with England’s Georgia Coughlin and South African Kiera Floyd.

Hutchinson-Kay dropped her first shot on the par-three second, but then went racing into the lead with a run of birdie-birdie-eagle, making a three on the par-five fifth. But the 344m par-four seventh then proved her downfall as she made double-bogey.

Once again she bounced back, however, with a birdie on the par-three eighth and it was smooth sailing thereafter for a golfer who is taking her first steps into European golf and is in her first full year as a professional.

Coughlin endured an even more hellish time, going out in 40 with five bogeys and a lone birdie on the third, and things were no better coming home as she signed for an 80 with three more bogeys and a double on the par-four 14th. Not even a birdie at the last could save her from missing the cut.

Klotz dominated the Gary Player design, also shooting 67 and not dropping a shot in a superb display of controlled golf. Germany’s Helen Kreuzer was in third place a shot further back on six-under, after a 68 that had just one bogey, on the par-four 16th.

Germany’s Carolin Kauffmann (70) and Norwegian Tina Mazarino (68) shared fourth place on five-under-par.

Floyd went out in 34 despite making two bogeys, but she slipped down the leaderboard with three drops on the back nine, before a birdie at the last lifted her to four-under, in a tie for sixth with consistent Dutchwoman Romy Meekers and the other leading South African, Stacy Bregman (70).

SA prodigy among a trio of leaders 0

Posted on May 08, 2024 by Ken

Kiera Floyd, a 19-year-old South African prodigy and Englishwoman Georgia Coughlin, who took to the sport late, are leading alongside Ellen Hutchinson-Kay, a Swede who came through the U.S. College system, after the first round of the Fidelity ADT Ladies Challenge at the Blue Valley Golf Estate on Wednesday.

The trio all started on the 10th tee and posted four-under-par 68s on a sweltering day in Centurion, giving them a one-stroke lead over six golfers on three-under on a congested leaderboard.

Floyd won the Benoni Country Club Ladies Championship aged nine, she finished third in the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s Jabra Classic aged 14, and she won the South African Women’s Strokeplay Championship in 2022 before turning professional at the beginning of last year. She has already racked up three more top-10 finishes on tour.

On Wednesday Floyd birdied the 10th, 12th, 17th and 18th holes to go out in 33, and although the front nine proved more challenging, a birdie at the ninth saw her come home in one-under.

Coughlin only took up golf when she was 16 and living in Saudi Arabia, but by the time she was 23 she had a Ladies European Tour card.

The 28-year-old had a dramatic start with three birdies and a bogey in her first four holes, going out in 34 and then making further gains with birdies on the first and fourth holes. Coughlin closed bogey-birdie, as did Hutchinson-Kay and Floyd.

Hutchinson-Kay is a University of Mississippi graduate and she also turned pro last year. The 25-year-old finished just outside the top-10 in the previous Sunshine Ladies Tour event, the SuperSport Ladies Challenge.

On Wednesday, Hutchinson-Key did the bulk of her scoring in a fantastic run of four birdies in five holes from the 14th.

For Floyd, the back nine (her front) was also the time to capitalise.

“Today was a good day, I hit the ball really nicely and gave myself lots of opportunities, which you have to grab when you can. This course definitely suits us big-hitters, it’s always open and you can let go a bit. I was normally hitting seven-iron into the greens,” Floyd said.

“I didn’t give myself as much opportunity on the front nine, but I pulled through in the end, to finish with a tap-in birdie was really nice. I made two silly mistakes that cost me birdies, but that’s okay, you just have to move on. You need to keep level-headed and not get ahead of yourself.”

The Sunshine Ladies Tour golfers showed their talents in impressive fashion on Wednesday at the oblong Blue Valley Golf Estate, despite the heat, with 27 of the 61-strong field finishing under-par. The increased opportunities provided by the tour are clearly paying off, and are attracting strong international competition, and it is thanks to partners like Fidelity ADT.

Wahl Bartmann, the CEO of Fidelity Services Group, said “As Southern Africa’s largest integrated security solutions provider, we are committed to uplifting and supporting women’s professional sport. Our partnership with the Sunshine Ladies Tour allows us to show our support tangibly and help create more opportunities for women in sport.” 

Renier von Zeuner, the Group Sponsorship Manager, added “We have been involved with the SA Open, as well as the Senior Tour, for a number of years, so adding a Sunshine Ladies Tour event to our portfolio is a tremendous privilege. We are honoured to contribute to the work done by the Sunshine Ladies Tour team, and incredibly proud of our group’s commitment to women’s sport.”

Stenson sitting pretty in high-stakes SA Open 0

Posted on January 03, 2013 by Ken

Henrik Stenson has a lot riding on this weekend’s SA Open, the Swede needing to be extremely protective of his 59thposition on the Race to Dubai European Tour order of merit. That’s because only the top 60 qualify for the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai next weekend, which has a prize fund of $8 million.

And so far, Stenson is doing exactly what he set out to do as he fired a seven-under-par 65 at the Serengeti Golf Estate on Friday to soar to 13-under-par overall and top spot on the leaderboard.

Fellow Swede Magnus A. Carlsson, who went out just 20 minutes later in the early-morning stillness, shot a 67 to move into second place on nine-under, while overnight leader Merrick Bremner was one-under-par through 14 holes to join him, before Serengeti showed her capricious side and thunderstorms stopped play for the day.

Stenson has his eyes firmly set on a top-three finish at the co-sanctioned event and the 7096-metre Kempton Park course certainly seems to suit his length off the tee and his precision with his irons.

“Hopefully I’ll have a good result here to secure my spot for the Race to Dubai final. It’s hard to say what I need to do to get in, but I just knew that I had to play this week if I wanted to have a chance. It’s very tight and obviously with guys playing in Hong Kong at the same time, it’s like a bit of a hornet’s nest.

“So there’s no point sitting here trying to calculate what others do. It’s better to focus on your own game and a top three here will definitely take care of that,” Stenson said.

“I think it’s a great layout and it suits my eye and my game. That’s obviously a great combination when you come to a new course.

“I’ve hit a lot of good drives and it’s nice to get the feel back with the driver and get a bit of confidence back. I’m happy with the way things are going and I’m looking forward to the weekend,” the 2008 Nedbank Golf Challenge champion added.

South Africa’s Thomas Aiken was another to shine on Friday, playing in the same three-ball as Stenson and shooting a 66 to move into contention on five-under-par overall.

Aiken was another to impress off the tee and he hit all 18 greens in regulation, but he has struggled with his putter and took 34 putts in the first round and 31 on Friday.

“I’ve been hitting the ball great and I can’t complain about the ball-striking. But I can’t buy a putt and I missed a few short ones, and if I can just get the ball rolling a bit better on the greens then anything can happen on the weekend,” Aiken said.

The best rounds were recorded in the morning at Serengeti. With thunderclouds building up by noon, she unleashed a gusting, changeable wind on the afternoon golfers and the likes of Bremner (-9), Matthew Carvell (-7), Darren Fichardt (-6), Charl Schwartzel (-6) and up-and-coming Norwegian Espen Kofstad (-5) will be glad they will get to complete their second rounds early on Saturday morning when conditions should be more placid.

Bremner is still well-placed to threaten for the title even though he is unlikely to regain the lead, trailing Stenson by four shots with just four holes to play.

Then again, the South African did birdie the last three holes of the front nine in the first round and, as Stenson showed with his spectacular eagle on Friday, the par-five eighth is reachable in two for the long-hitters, and Bremner most certainly is one of those.

Schwartzel is also in a good position heading into the weekend. He may be seven shots back, but he will resume on the 15th on Saturday morning and the closing stretch at Serengeti has proven fruitful for all the leaders.

Martin Kaymer and Branden Grace will be less pleased with their positions and both will be looking for birdies when they complete their second rounds.

Kaymer, the highest ranked player in the field, shot 70 in the first round and is two-under through 14 in the second, trailing Stenson by nine.

Grace struggled to a level-par 72 on Thursday but has improved to three-under-par through 13 holes in the second round, although he will not be amused that he bogeyed the last hole he completed before play was suspended.

The cut is currently on par and 2011 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit winner Garth Mulroy faces an anxious night as he will resume on one-over-par with five holes to play on Saturday, while Warren Abery and Dawie van der Walt resume on level-par.

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