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Ken Borland



Pace unbeatable at home, now for the majors! 0

Posted on January 18, 2016 by Ken

 

 

Lee-Anne Pace will be the hot favourite to defend her title and win the bonus pool when she tees it up in this weekend’s Investec Cup for Ladies at the Millvale and Lost City golf courses in North-West, but South Africa’s top women’s golfer has her mind on making an impact in the majors this year.

The world number 31 is third in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies after her victory in Tuesday’s Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club made it a perfect three wins from three Sunshine Ladies Tour events this summer. Pace said on Tuesday that her preparations for the first major of the year – the ANA Inspiration from April 2 at the famous Mission Hills Country Club in California – could not have gone better.

“I’ve gained a lot of confidence from these last couple of weeks in South Africa, I’ve been striking the ball really well and I feel a lot more ready for the majors because I’ve been competing. This time last year I hadn’t played nearly as much and especially winning, no other feeling compares to that and hopefully I can carry that into the majors,” Pace told The Citizen.

Her best finish in a major is a tie for 21st at the 2010 British Open, but Pace will attack this year’s showpiece events with considerably more confidence, especially after her breakthrough win on the LPGA Tour last year at Blue Bay in China, beating the likes of Michelle Wie, Jessica Korda and Lydia Ko.

“I’d like to creep towards the top-10 in the world rankings and win again on the LPGA Tour, but I really want to attack the majors this year and my sights are set on the British Open at Turnberry in July. That win on the LPGA Tour last October was a big breakthrough because it was against the best in the world and I now know that I can do it in the majors,” Pace, a nine-time Ladies European Tour winner and twice their Player of the Year, said.

Stacy Bregman is South Africa’s second-highest ranked golfer at number 155 in the world and the Johannesburg Country Club star has also foregone overseas competitions in order to compete at home, with Pace saying this shows how the Sunshine Ladies Tour is growing into something that could make an impact on the global stage.

“It’s been important to me for a while to support the local tour and Stacy Bregman feels the same as well. We now have especially good sponsors on board like Investec, and hopefully the tour can get even bigger and we can get co-sanctioned events like the men.

“There are endless possibilities and this year’s tour has had a lot more exposure and interest and there’s been a lot more players, including a couple from England. Hopefully they can get the word out and even more overseas players will come,” Pace said.

Sunshine Tour executive director Selwyn Nathan said the success of the Sunshine Ladies Tour had surpassed expectations.

“The growth of the women’s tour has been unbelievable, even though it is still a work in progress. This tour is going to grow and we have fantastic plans for it. It’s been an absolute success and sponsors, fans and social media interest have all grown.

“And the appreciation from the women golfers has been amazing, there’s not been one tournament where the sponsors have received less than 30 letters of thanks from the players, and that’s from fields of less than 50,” Nathan said.

Bregman and Pace are both chasing Melissa Eaton for the R250 000 bonus pool prize for finishing first in the Investec Cup standings, with Eaton currently 33 points ahead of Bregman and 121.34 in front of Pace. With 1000 points on offer for the winner when the chase ends at the Lost City on Sunday, those deficits are negligible.

It is a tremendous coup for Investec and the Sunshine Tour that both South Africa’s top male and female golfer will be in action.

Ex-Masters champion Charl Schwartzel is taking part and, even though he has a 1160-point deficit to make up on standings leader Trevor Fisher Junior, his focus is on the serious business of preparing for another tilt at the Augusta title from April 9.

The Chase to the Investec Cup is a marvellous exposition of the most consistent South African golfers because it takes into account both the co-sanctioned events and the regular Sunshine Tour tournaments through the winter.

The likes of Fisher Junior, Jacques Blaauw, Danie van Tonder and Jaco Ahlers are the centre of attention as they lead the standings and look to claim the lucrative R3.5 million bonus pool prize this weekend.

It’s a nice reward for their consistency over a long period of time but Schwartzel and other international stars like George Coetzee and Denmark’s Morten Orum Madsen will be out to wreck their payday.

Fields (with points)

Men (1500pts for winner) – Trevor Fisher Jnr 2207.65; Jacques Blaauw 2095.92; Danie van Tonder 1800.69; Jaco Ahlers 1675.95; Dean Burmester 1515.87; Jean Hugo 1491.79; Keith Horne 1439.58; Wallie Coetsee 1435.99; Jaco van Zyl 1431.50; Ulrich van den Berg 1415.25; George Coetzee 1378.50; Tjaart van der Walt 1357.25; Jared Harvey 1161.04; Charl Schwartzel 1047.00; Neil Schietekat 1025.63; Titch Moore 982.51; Erik van Rooyen 978.53; Adilson da Silva 963.35; Morten Orum Madsen 959.17; Oliver Bekker 937.74; Merrick Bremner 929.96; Darren Fichardt 920.57; Rhys West 884.33; Haydn Porteous 879.74; Justin Harding 853.55; Louis de Jager 803.37; Jbe’ Kruger 801.00; Chris Swanepoel 726.58; Shaun Norris 714.26; Christiaan Basson 680.88.

Women (1000pts for winner) – Melissa Eaton 1021.34; Stacy Bregman 988.33; Lee-Anne Pace 900.00; Nicole Garcia 738.50; Bonita Bredenhann 588.00; Lucy Williams 568.10; Nobuhle Dlamini 559.48; Kim Williams 558.66; Monique Smit 482.50; Monja Richards 410.83.

 

Coetzee does not know which game will pitch up in Tshwane Open 0

Posted on December 06, 2015 by Ken

 

Local hero George Coetzee says he does not know which game is going to pitch up – the good one or the bad one – when he tees it up at Pretoria Country Club, his home course, in the first round of the Tshwane Open on Thursday.

The Tshwane Open, which has a purse of R18.5 million, is the last co-sanctioned event of the season in South Africa and Coetzee would obviously like to improve on his previous performances this summer – he missed the cut in the Alfred Dunhill Championship, the SA Open and the Africa Open, while only finishing T16th in the restricted-field Nedbank Golf Challenge and T24th at the Joburg Open.

But the world number 87 was not overly confident after practising at Pretoria Country Club on Wednesday.

“It’s great to have a tournament in Tshwane and unbelievable for me that it’s at my home course, where I imagined I was playing in the British Open growing up. I hope knowing this course as well as I do is in my favour, but at the moment I don’t know whether I’m going to play well or badly. I find out on Thursday morning on the first tee … ” Coetzee said.

The 28-year-old, who claimed a breakthrough maiden European Tour title in last year’s Joburg Open, has undergone some well-publicised changes to his game that have looked ill-advised given that he hasn’t come close to winning a strokeplay title since then. But Coetzee said on Wednesday that the changes are starting to work as they become imbedded in his game.

“There are a few things I’ve been working on, and every round I play, there’s a bit more of that coming through,” he said.

South Africa’s other main hope for the R2.9 million first prize is Trevor Fisher Junior, but it’s been a bit of a zoo for the first-time European Tour winner after his triumph in last weekend’s Africa Open at East London Golf Club.

“I’m still on a high, but it’s been tough with all the calls and messages and with all the excitement I’ve hardly slept. But last week is now in the past and I just want to get out on to the first tee and play. I don’t want to get comfortable, I want to try and win again as soon as possible,” Fisher Junior said. “If it will take a week or 10 months, I don’t know. There are such small margins in golf.”

Englishman Ross Fisher is the defending champion after winning the 2014 Tshwane Open at Copperleaf by three strokes, and he said the key to playing well at Pretoria Country Club was strategy off the tee.

“It’s a very different course to Copperleaf, a lot shorter and more fiddly, there’s a lot of positional play off the tees so you’re hitting a lot of irons and not many drivers. Being strategic is going to play a critical role,” Fisher said.

Fisher has the build and good looks of a model and “driving for show” is probably the strong point of his game. The world number 66 realises that he’s going to have to play a much more tactical game at this parklands course.

“I prefer quite long and tight courses because driver is my strength, but I’ve come up with my own game plan,” he said.

Fisher can also take confidence from his excellent recent form and, having finished strongly with rounds of 71-69-72 for tied-23rd in last weekend’s WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral’s tough Blue Monster, he can expect the going to be a bit easier at Pretoria Country Club.

“It’s been a very good start to the season. Finishing second at Sun City was a great start, I had a decent three weeks in the desert and I’m really pleased I came back well at Doral.

“This course should be easier because the winds were pretty strong and there was a lot of water at Doral, but there’s still trouble out there,” said the third-placed golfer on the Race to Dubai.

Matteo Manassero, the youngest winner on the European Tour, is another overseas talent to watch because he clearly likes the course.

“It’s a good course, a fun course, that’s opened out for an old type of course. You can shoot really low or make a mess of it, so it’s a really well-designed golf course. It’s enjoyable and my type of course,” Manassero said.

Conversely, Coetzee may be at home, but he does not feel entirely comfortable.

“I didn’t build my game at this golf course. I putted well to shoot good scores here, but it’s a drawers’ golf course. There is a lot of risk and reward and on a lot of holes you can take it on. There are some advantages to knowing the course as well as I do, but it suits a certain type of golfer. Hopefully I make enough putts to make up for that,” Coetzee admitted.

Other locals to watch are Jean Hugo, who finished in the top-20 in last week’s Africa Open and celebrated a win at Pretoria Country Club in the last Sunshine Tour event played here – a  2011 Vodacom Origins of Golf event; Jaco van Zyl, who was strongly in contention at East London Golf Club, and Keith Horne, who has the experience to know when to attack and when to box clever.

Englishman Andy Sullivan, the winner of back-to-back titles in the SA and Joburg Opens, is sitting at the top of the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit and is ninth in the Race to Dubai, and has proven himself to be lethal at altitude, while the other strong overseas contenders are Morten Orum Madsen, the 2014 SA Open winner down the road at Glendower, Gregory Bourdy, the four-time European Tour winner from France, and Korea’s Byeong-Hun An, the youngest winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship.

http://citizen.co.za/342188/toss-up-before-tshwane-open-tee-up/

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