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Ken Borland



Van Tonder happy to divulge the frustration he overcame on his way to ERPM victory 0

Posted on September 28, 2020 by Ken

Danie van Tonder was happy to divulge he felt his fair share of frustration on the final day of the Vodacom Championship Unlocked, but the 29-year-old showed his ever-growing maturity as he nevertheless sealed a second victory in the Rise Up Series with a five-under-par 67 at ERPM Golf Club on Friday.

Van Tonder finished on 13-under-par overall, his brilliant final round lifting him one stroke clear of MJ Viljoen, who led after the first two rounds but battled gamely to a 73 on Friday.

The Boksburg-born Van Tonder began the final day five shots behind Viljoen, but that quickly changed to just a one-stroke gap as Van Tonder started birdie-birdie and Viljoen double-bogeyed the par-five second after struggling in a greenside bunker.

But Van Tonder went on to bogey both par-threes on the front nine, a shifting, inconsistent wind making life hard for the golfers. But birdies on the crucial eighth, 10th and 11th holes got last year’s Sunshine Tour order of merit runner-up back on track.

“The wind made it hard, but I like it when the weather is tough. I made a few bogeys [3] but quite a few birdies [8] so it didn’t matter, I’m always aggressive and it pays off most of the time. Sometimes I got frustrated, especially when I short-sided myself on the two par-threes on the front nine, those were silly bogeys, and I three-putted the par-five fourth, but in this weather most of the field have bogeys on their card,” Van Tonder said.

“Overall I’m very happy, I’ve been playing well, putting the hard work in and getting some results. I’m trusting myself and my caddy – my wife Abigail –  and I know that if I don’t hit the right shot then I will be punished, especially in this wind. It would be nice to win the order of merit, but I won’t think about that, just playing well and then the order of merit automatically takes care of itself.

Van Tonder goes into the final event of the Rise Up Series, at Huddle Park next week, leading the order of merit by more than R37 000 from Darren Fichardt, who finished tied-fourth at ERPM GC after finishing with a level-par 72.

Viljoen suggested after the penultimate round that firm, bouncy greens were his pet hate and the ERPM greenskeepers did no watering overnight, making conditions extremely tricky, especially with the fickle wind. Viljoen went out in three-over 39 with further bogeys on the seventh and eighth holes, and then bogeyed the 11th, but kept his composure well and came storming back with a birdie on the par-three 12th and an eagle on the 13th. A birdie on the par-five 17th meant he remained in contention and needed a birdie on the last to force a playoff. The par-four 18th was a tricky hole to birdie though, with a tough approach, and just three threes were recorded there on Friday. But Viljoen patted his 25-foot putt short.

Pieter Moolman will also feel he let slip a golden chance for his maiden Sunshine Tour win as he bogeyed the last to finish third on 11-under-par. Understandably going for birdie, he went over the green, chipped back to four feet but then missed the par putt.

Louis de Jager, fresh off an eagle on 17, needed a birdie as well for a share of what was then the lead, but also overshot the 18th green, settling for par, and a 67 to finish in a tie for fourth on 10-under-par with Ulrich van den Berg (68) and Fichardt (72).

Viljoen tames prestigious ERPM for 2nd day in a row 0

Posted on September 25, 2020 by Ken

ERPM Golf Club is one of the most prestigious courses in Gauteng but MJ Viljoen tamed it for the second day in succession on Thursday as he fired a five-under-par 67 to go to 13-under overall, enjoying a two-shot lead going into the final round of the Vodacom Championship Unlocked.

ERPM has been home for such famous golfers as Denis Hutchinson, Neville Sundelson, Neville Clarke, Dean van Staden, John Bland and Brett Liddle, but the 25-year-old Viljoen, who played much of his junior golf here, is seemingly the new darling of the Boksburg club judging by the warm reception he received when he arrived at the clubhouse in late afternoon with a handy lead over Jake Redman, who also shot a 67 on Thursday.

Viljoen’s round was built around a blazing run around the turn, which includes some of ERPM’s most notorious holes, as he collected five birdies in six holes from the water-lined eighth. It was a fabulous addition to the superb 64 he shot in the opening round.

“The whole front nine was actually very nice, I played brilliant golf but the putts just didn’t go in. And then I was a bit scruffy on the last five holes when I lost focus a bit, this is a little course but it takes it out of you. I felt I could have birdied every hole on the front nine, that’s how close I was hitting it, even though it was quite windy and gusty as well today, and the greens are starting to get firm.

“So I started playing five metres short because the greens are getting bouncy, tougher and tougher. I had a couple of good lines with the putter but my stroke did not feel as good as yesterday, I was pulling or pushing a couple of putts. It’s not easy backing up a 64, but I told myself to play like I was two-over-par, so I was in the mental state to do something good,” Viljoen said.

Apart from Redman, who eagled the par-five second, Viljoen will also have the evergreen order of merit leader Darren Fichardt, three shots behind after a brilliant 66, and the experienced duo of Danie van Tonder and Neil Schietekat, who both shot 70s to lie five shots back, to worry about in the final round.

Viljoen’s previous Sunshine Tour title came when he came from behind with a 65 to win the Sun Fish River Challenge three years ago, so now he is going to have to lead from the front if he is to become a multi-winner on tour.

“I’m just going to go out and enjoy myself. I feel I’m on the right track so I’m not going to be hassled if I’m having a bad round. I haven’t been in this position before, I like to think that I’m well-controlled under pressure, but that’s something I’ll think about when I go to bed this evening,” Viljoen said on Thursday afternoon.

“Hopefully they’ll put some water on the greens overnight and I’m going to come half-an-hour earlier to try and get my putting stroke again, that sort of thing you need to fix as soon as possible but I know exactly what I’m doing wrong. I’m not going to chase a good round, but just try and hit greens and get the putts in.”

Daily gym work has paid off for Fichardt 0

Posted on September 23, 2020 by Ken

So far Darren Fichardt’s daily gym work during Lockdown has paid off and now the 45-year-old order of merit leader is looking to sharpen up his short game as the Sunshine Tour’s Rise Up Series goes into its penultimate event, the Vodacom Championship Unlocked, at ERPM Golf Club in Boksburg from Wednesday.

Fichardt is on top of the order of merit after the first three tournaments thanks to his great consistency: after winning the Betway Championship at Killarney Country Club, the first tournament after Lockdown, he finished in a tie for sixth in the African Bank Championship at Glendower and then fourth in the Titleist Championship at Pretoria Country Club. That has given him earnings of R148 757.14, just over R2000 more than George Coetzee, who is not playing this week because he is campaigning – with great success – in Europe.

That leaves Danie van Tonder, on R120 650, as his chief challenger to win the Rise Up Series, but the likes of young Tristen Strydom and veterans Adilson da Silva, Ulrich van den Berg and Jaco Ahlers, all of whom have won more than R70 000, cannot be discounted either if they win in Boksburg.

“My golf has been pretty good so far, in the long Lockdown I was able to work on quite a few things I really wanted to, like getting fitter and stronger and that has paid off. Being on top of the order of merit, ahead of all the youngsters is exactly where you want to be, it’s always lekker. It’s also nice to have been able to play at home and sleep in my own bed for more than two weeks.

“It would mean a lot for me to win the order of merit, to win any of those is always awesome. To perform like I am, so consistently, is very satisfying. But I definitely need to sharpen up my putting and chipping, I’ve been working hard on that in this two-week break. I just feel I haven’t made enough putts and there have been soft bogeys when I have just missed the green but have not been able to get up-and-down,” Fichardt told The Citizen on Tuesday.

Although the 117-year-old ERPM Golf Club is one of South Africa’s top courses, Fichardt is yet to compete there as a professional, but he believes the eighth, ninth and 10th holes will be key to the outcome of the event. A water hazard makes for an intimidating tee-shot on the eighth and the 396-metre ninth features a long carry over the same large body of water for the approach shot, while the 10th is a short par-four of 342 yards and driveable as long as one is willing to take on the oak tree, as John Bland famously did in 1981 in scoring one of his remarkable 32 career holes-in-one.

“I’ve only played there as an amateur, never as a pro. It’s a pretty short course with really good greens. In the final round, those three holes around the turn could provide a big turnaround when you’re in the thick of things and in contention. But the fun of playing is back now for me and I’m really looking forward to teeing it up again,” Fichardt said.

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    Philemon 1:7 – “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”

    “Every disciple of Jesus has a capacity for love. The most effective way to serve the Master is to share his love with others. Love can comfort, save the lost, and offer hope to those who need it. It can break down barriers, build bridges, establish relationships and heal wounds.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech

    If there’s a frustrating vacuum in your spiritual life and you fervently desire to serve the Lord but don’t know how you’re meant to do that, then start by loving others in his name.

     



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