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Ken Borland

Oosthuizen & Schwartzel at their best as they set up another Leopard Creek showdown 0

Posted on December 09, 2023 by Ken

Louis Oosthuizen during his wonderful 63 in the third round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.
(Photo by Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour)

With Louis Oosthuizen shooting his best ever round at Leopard Creek and Charl Schwartzel feeling physically back to something approaching his best, the stage is set for a classic showdown between the two great friends and Major champions as they go into the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship tied for the lead.

Sunday’s closing round will take the tournament back a decade and more as Schwartzel and Oosthuizen re-enact a rivalry that was a dominant feature of the tournament back then. Schwartzel had the better of the exchanges, winning the title a record four times, in 2012, 2013 and 2015, in addition to his 2004 triumph at Houghton Golf Club.

Oosthuizen has never won the Alfred Dunhill Championship, finishing runner-up in 2005 and 2014. The famous prowling leopard trophy is one he dearly wants to raise, and he put himself into prime position with a tremendous, nine-under-par, course record equalling 63 on Saturday to go to 15-under-par after three rounds.

“That was good,” Oosthuizen grinned after his faultless round with seven birdies and an eagle on the par-four, 284m sixth when he drove the green. “I played really solid and did not make a lot of mistakes, and then rolled it nicely on the greens.

“But it was hot! I was close to getting a beer from someone on the side of the course! I just tried to walk in the shade as much as I could, because it was brutal out there. And this is such a tough course, there are certain holes you need to take on and you have to play good shots. This course can really bite you and I’ve been on the bad side of it.

“But this is one tournament I really want on my CV, I’ve come close to winning before and I’ve messed it up before too. So tomorrow I’m just going to stay calm and do the same thing as today,” Oosthuizen said.

Charl Schwartzel on his way to firing a 65 in the third round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.
(Photo by Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour)

Schwartzel has endured an injury-plagued year and is just delighted that the physios have managed to patch him back together so well that he feels like his old self again. That old self has been the dominant figure at Leopard Creek through the years, and the 39-year-old turned back the clock on Saturday as he produced a stellar back nine featuring four birdies and an eagle on the par-five 15th, posting a 65 that saw him reach 15-under shortly after Oosthuizen.

“I loved it, that was really nice. It’s so much fun to be healthy again after having constant niggles for the whole year. You don’t realise how much an injury hampers you because you are always working around it. It was just free-flowing again and I can hit all my shots again. The clubface is stable and I’m striking the ball so well. It makes me really happy.

“This heat is comfortable for me, it’s how I know Leopard Creek. The first two days it felt like a new course I was learning how to play, with the ball not going so far in the cool weather, making it very difficult to go for the par-fives in two.

“Louis had a great round and we’ve been friends for a long time. We’ve come a long way together and we will both just try our best in the final round and see what the outcome is. The one who makes the least mistakes will win,” Schwartzel said.

Heavy prices were paid lower down the leaderboard for errant tee-shots or impure iron shots, and for poor course-management, which combined to give Oosthuizen and Schwartzel a five-shot lead.

Two quality golfers, well-versed in winning in South Africa, are tied in third place on 10-under-par: Christiaan Bezuidenhout dropped a couple of shots on the front nine, but reeled off four birdies in a row after the turn to post a 68; Andy Sullivan had a double-bogey on the par-three seventh and dropped another shot on 17, but finished superbly with an eagle at the last to sign for a 69.

Overnight leader Casey Jarvis notched four birdies but made too many mistakes, four bogeys and a double-drop on the par-five 15th took him down the leaderboard with a 74 to finish on eight-under-par.

Marco Penge got himself to 12-under-par after 13 holes, but three bogeys in his next four holes saw him slip back to nine-under and in a tie for fifth with Ashun Wu (69).

Trio of exciting talents top the leaderboard, but Ahlers an obvious threat 0

Posted on August 29, 2020 by Ken

A trio of exciting talents topped the leaderboard after the second round of the African Bank Championship at Glendower Golf Club on Thursday, with Jayden Schaper, Danie van Tonder and Martin Rohwer all tied on seven-under-par as the second event in the Rise Up Series heads into the final round on Friday.

Jaco Ahlers is obviously also very much in contention after he fired the round of the day, a four-under-par 68, to climb into fourth place on six-under, just one stroke behind. And the experience and skills of Darren Fichardt (-5), the winner last week at Killarney, Neil Schietekat (-5), Jake Roos (-4) and George Coetzee (-4) also cannot be discounted.

The combination of a top-class course with slick winter greens and the vagaries of a blustery wind made for a particularly tough test in Edenvale on Thursday, and overnight leader Rohwer could only follow up his brilliant 65 on the first day with a level-par 72. That allowed Van Tonder and Schaper, who both shot two-under 70s, to catch him.

“It got tough out there with the wind blowing at about 30km/h and the greens are slick too. You’ve got to pick your lines carefully and not always go for the flags otherwise you open yourself up for three-putts. It’s about hitting fairways and greens, you’ve got to stick with your selection of club, hit it as hard as you can and just hope it goes on. With the gusts you’ve got to time it correctly,” Van Tonder said after roaring out of the blocks with four birdies on the front nine but then coming home in 38.

Rohwer regained the lead with an eagle at the par-five 15th, but then three-putted the last to slip back to seven-under. Nevertheless, the 27-year-old from Kloof Country Club was pleased with a day of solid ball-striking.

“I was really solid today from tee-to-green, I felt like I had control of the ball all through the round, but I just struggled on the greens. That three-putt on the last leaves a sour taste, but to be level-par with the conditions we were playing in, that’s not too bad. You were just not sure what the wind was doing so it was difficult to hit your numbers,” Rohwer said.

The winner of the Royal Swazi Open last year says he is up to the challenge posed by both the conditions and the likes of playing partner Van Tonder, who was on the charge early on in the second round.

“Sometimes you just have to play more conservatively, but there is still a fair share of opportunity out there. The wind is mostly across though and, with where the pins are located, it’s difficult to get close. It’s supposed to be windy again tomorrow, but I look forward to a third round in a row with Danie. I knew I was playing well today so I wasn’t too concerned about falling behind,” Rohwer said.

The 19-year-old Schaper showed enormous maturity as he held his round together after an up-and-down start in which he had two bogeys, a birdie and an eagle in the first five holes, before dropping successive shots around the turn.

“There was a lot more wind today, so it was a bit tougher, and the pins were all tucked in on the front nine, so I didn’t make a good start. I only hit three fairways in my first 12 holes and made a couple of three-putts, so I really put myself under pressure. But the back nine is much more accessible, I pulled myself together and finished well,” Schaper said.

But the hulking figure of Ahlers, who has won nine times on the Sunshine Tour, looms large, especially with the way he simply overpowered the par-fives on Thursday, collecting eagles on both the eighth and 15th holes, and birdieing the 13th.

Gibbs agonizing over Proteas’ World Cup all-rounder selections 0

Posted on April 16, 2019 by Ken


Herschelle Gibbs was South Africa’s leading run-scorer as they dominated the group stages of the 1999 World Cup, only to fall agonizingly short in their notorious tied semi-final against Australia, but he believes all-rounders were the key to their success in England that year and that is an area that has the potential to be a problem for the Proteas as the tournament returns there next year.

South Africa had Lance Klusener, named the player of the tournament, backed by Jacques Kallis and Shaun Pollock, in 1999 and the current Proteas obviously don’t have all-rounders of that proven quality and experience at the moment.

“In 1999 we had three all-rounders and that led us to probably our best chance of winning the World Cup. A strong one-day team always has good all-rounders, but I think at the moment, all-rounders are our biggest headache. The depth is not quite there; we have Chris Morris in and out the side and Andile Phehlukwayo and Wiaan Mulder blow a bit hot and cold for me.

“So that’s going to be a big question mark for the selectors. Conditions in England could suit a guy like Vernon Philander perfectly. He can bat, but there are question marks over how effective he is in limited-overs cricket. Otherwise the bowlers are pretty sorted and it’s nice to see Dale Steyn firing again, bowling in the late 140s and looking great,” Gibbs told Saturday Citizen at the Sanlam Cancer Challenge, where he was playing golf as one of the celebrity delegates.

Like politicians trying to impress the voters, those players who are not assured of their places in the World Cup squad will be mounting one last desperate push to impress the selectors in the next couple of months. Gibbs believes there are still enough matches before the World Cup to sort out any deficiencies in the team.

“There are enough ODIs before the World Cup and there’s still a chance for some new faces. We’re probably also still lacking a bit in specialist batting depth. Dean Elgar was given a chance, but the selectors have probably decided that he’s not a one-day player. So there’s more pressure on Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock, especially with AB de Villiers having retired, and Quinny is going to have to bear the brunt of the run-scoring I think.

“Our variety in the attack is also a bit short – Ngidi, Steyn, Rabada and Phehlukwayo are all right-armers, and then there’s Tabraiz Shamsi or Imran Tahir and JP Duminy to bowl a bit. So we might lack a bit of variety, but we might get away with it if the overhead conditions help us. But the all-rounders and the top-order are the two main question marks for me,” Gibbs said.

No super over calls integrity of entire RamSlam T20 Challenge into question 0

Posted on January 01, 2015 by Ken


The integrity of the entire RamSlam T20 Challenge competition was called into question at SuperSport Park yesterday when the Unlimited Titans and the Chevrolet Warriors tied their rain-affected match, but were denied the chance to play for full points in a super over due to the shortcomings of the playing conditions.

The fact that both teams have to settle for two points is obviously unsatisfactory when one considers their precarious positions at the bottom of the log and the fact that all other tied matches in the competition have had super overs in order for one team to get the four win points. Neither team were aware that there would not be a tie-breaker.

Match referee Barry Lambson confirmed that the playing conditions did not allow for a super over to be played “due to time constraints” as the start of the match was delayed by two-and-a-half hours because of rain. This time, the all-pervasive influence of television was not to blame as they found time for a televised presentation after a string of advertisements.

The chances of playing at all looked remote at the scheduled starting time of 12pm, but by the end of the match the weather had totally cleared up, although metaphorically a cloud will remain over the game.

The eight-overs-a-side match featured perfect final overs by both Rusty Theron and David Wiese.

Wiese’s was the more impressive because it secured the tie for the Titans after they had unravelled in the field in the sixth and seventh overs, leaving the Warriors with just six runs to win off the last six balls.

Wiese made the perfect start by removing Simon Harmer (24 off 13) off the first ball and Jon-Jon Smuts, who had anchored the chase with 37 off 22 balls, was then run out off the second ball after confusion with Yaseen Vallie and a pinpoint throw from the outfield by Eden Links.

Vallie and Theron could only manage three singles, plus there was a wide, leaving the Warriors to score one run off the last ball to win. But with wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen standing up and making a fine take, Wiese beat Theron outside off stump to snatch a share of the spoils for the Titans.

The Titans had posted 79 for five in their eight overs after being sent in to bat, and looked well on course to defend that when they restricted the Warriors to 39 for three after five overs. But a host of errors in the sixth and seventh overs, including Harmer being dropped as Shaun von Berg and Theunis de Bruyn collided in the covers, changed the course of the match.

Captain Darren Sammy also contributed a fine over, conceding eight that included an edged boundary, Ethy Mbhalati again bowled skilfully and Junior Dala delivered a brilliant first over, that cost just one run and included the wicket of Warriors captain Colin Ingram (4).

Henry Davids had given the Titans innings a positive start as he scored 23 off 11 balls, hammering three fours and a six off Basheer Walters in the second over before the bowler had the last say, having him caught in the covers.

But the Titans run-rate then nose-dived as Aya Gqamane, brought on to bowl the fifth over, removed Wiese (1) and De Bruyn (16) with his first two balls and spinner Smuts was bang on target as well.

Theron conceded just four runs in the last over and trapped Sammy lbw for 16 as he showed the sort of skills that suggest he perhaps should be performing again on a higher stage.


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