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Ken Borland



Oosthuizen shows the pedigree to jack up his game when required 0

Posted on December 11, 2023 by Ken

Louis Oosthuizen finally gets his hands on the trophy at Leopard Creek.
Photo: Ken Borland

When Charl Schwartzel drew level again on the 12th hole, Louis Oosthuizen knew his great friend and rival was not going to go away in the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship, and he realised he would have to jack up his game if he hoped to win the famous Leopard Creek trophy for the first time.

Showing his big game temperament, Oosthuizen played beautifully through the middle of the back nine, reeling off three straight birdies from the 13th hole. It meant he went into the daunting last three holes with a three-stroke lead, and he needed it in the sodden conditions.

Finding a fairway bunker on the par-four 17th led to a bogey, and then his drive on the par-five 18th found the water down the right, creating an exciting finish as four-time champion Schwartzel was just off the green in two. Oosthuizen laid up his third well, and then nervelessly rolled in a tricky 18-foot putt for par to seal a two-stroke victory, his closing 69 taking him to 18-under-par.

“I knew I had to play well because Charl plays very well around this place and Christiaan Bezuidenhout started well too. Fortunately I made a few putts in the middle that let me get ahead because this is such a good finishing course, you need to hold on and it’s tough to be aggressive,” Oosthuizen said after his first win since his memorable SA Open triumph in 2018.

“I was a bit in-between what to do off the 18th tee and I had to make par the hard way, because Charl hit a good drive and I knew he would go for the green in two. It wasn’t much fun after that tee-shot, but it feels good now!”

After Sunday’s play was limited to just seven holes for the leading group by thundershowers, Schwartzel started shakily on Monday with bogeys on the par-four eighth and 10th holes. But he would trade those in for back-to-back birdies on the 11th and 12th holes to draw level again. But six successive pars then followed as Schwartzel was just not quite sharp enough to put more pressure on Oosthuizen, closing with a 71 for 16-under-par.

Moving beyond the ins and outs of their respective final rounds, perhaps Oosthuizen was due to win at Leopard Creek, given his pedigree and how badly he wanted the title after twice finishing second.

“Since first playing in this event in 2004, this has been one of the tournaments I’ve always wanted to win, but it took me a while. Like the SA Open, which was my last win, I had to wait a while and now I’m very happy. It’s really special to win here, maybe I should play more in South Africa.

“I was very focused because I really wanted to win and I felt my game was good enough to do it and I’ve been putting well enough. But it was just a fight and I had to make it count with the putter in the end,” Oosthuizen said.

A beautifully curled-in 35ft birdie putt on the 14th hole was the 41-year-old’s highlight on the greens on the final day.

Bezuidenhout shot a four-under 68 to ensure he was always a lurking presence in the final round, eventually finishing third on 14-under-par.

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Jake delighted by Carr’s man-of-the-match return to the Bulls 0

Posted on February 28, 2023 by Ken

Coach Jake White was not only delighted by Nizaam Carr’s man-of-the-match return to the Bulls team because of the way it led them to a convincing 43-26 victory in their United Rugby Championship match against Ospreys, but also for the relief it brought after a very difficult time for the Springbok flanker and his wife and family.

Carr left the Bulls last year to rejoin Wasps, but the English club went into administration last month and the 31-year-old former Stormers star suffered the trauma of suddenly being without a job. But then the Bulls allowed him to be one of the dozen Wasps players who have found new clubs when they offered him a contract through to June 2024.

Carr has previously expressed his gratitude to White and Bulls CEO Edgar Rathbone for coming to his rescue, and he rewarded their faith with an outstanding display against Ospreys, linking superbly with the backline on attack.

“I’m very happy for Nizaam after what happened at Wasps. He has told us he is very thankful to be here and said he would repay us on the field, and what better way to do that by being man of the match in his first game back?” White said.

“The way Nizaam was running in the backline with Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe, linking on the outside, was great. That’s why I sign these older players, guys who’ve got experience, who have played SuperRugby before.”

Apart from some soft moments in defence that did mar the win and the way the Bulls went off the boil in the second half, after leading 31-14 at the break, White was very pleased with the display. He said some of the second-half struggles were down to him bringing on the bench early, but then he did not want to sell the replacements short in terms of game-time.

“We played really well in the first half and we should’ve scored quickly again in the second half. But instead we allowed them to get more confidence,” White said.

“We were a bit soft on defence, but then attack has been our focus, we love having the ball. But we need the same intensity, energy and excitement in defence. We need to catch them at halfway rather than five metres from our line.

“But I made some substitutions and we lost some rhythm, but I wanted to give the guys on the bench decent game-time. If you’re not going to bring guys on when you’re 31-14 up, then when are you?

“We were far ahead and it would not have been fair to not give the subs a decent run. But we lost a bit of cohesion and we didn’t gel as much as we did in the first half,” White said.

Boucher admits insipid batting, but batsmen on tour were the best 0

Posted on October 27, 2022 by Ken

Proteas coach Mark Boucher admitted that their batting had been insipid in the Test series in England, but said the natural remedy of just finding other batsmen to take the incumbents’ places in the Big Time was not applicable because the batters on tour were the best available.

“The batsmen here have consistently been the best in the country,” Boucher said after the series loss but before the shock announcement that he would be standing down from his post after the T20 World Cup next month. “We always knew we would be under pressure if the conditions made the ball go around a bit against a good English bowling attack.

“You have to be able to trust your defence, but our issue was that we weren’t able to keep out the good balls. Quite a few technical flaws were exposed.

“But it’s a fine line between wanting the batsmen to play the way that got them here and changing too much. And this is not an academy of learning, this is Test cricket.

“We were forced into positions where we had to give opportunities to others, you can’t just keep playing with the same guys who keep failing. There’s a mental side to it too, and it can become like quicksand – the harder you try, the deeper you sink.

“Hopefully these batsmen will get it right next time they come here. We played some very good cricket, but we just couldn’t put the runs on the board,” Boucher said at The Oval.

Although Boucher is now likely to become a franchise T20 coach, he made a plea to cricket’s global administrators for more Tests per annum to be played.

“The only way to get experience is by going out and playing, and losing sight of Test cricket would not be great. I’m a purist, I love it and for me it is the truest form of the game. We need to take care of it.

“The heads of the game need to get together and decide how best we can play more Test cricket, we need to find a way.

“Test cricket is exciting, you very seldom see draws anymore, it’s attacking and nice to watch. The more we see of it the better,” Boucher said.

Lack of resilience & poor batting on 1st day why Proteas lost – Elgar 0

Posted on October 14, 2022 by Ken

Proteas captain Dean Elgar knows as well as anyone that batting first at Old Trafford was not going to be easy, but he expected the batting line-up to show more resilience, saying the poor performance with the bat on the first day was why South Africa lost the second Test against England by an innings and 85 runs on Saturday.

Having selected two frontline spinners in their XI, it was almost inevitable that the Proteas would bat first after they won the toss to allow Keshav Maharaj and Simon Harmer to bowl on a deteriorating pitch in the fourth innings. But that plan was torn to shreds when South Africa were bundled out for 151 shortly after tea on the first day.

“Obviously the lack of first-innings runs was where the game was lost,” opening batsman Elgar said after the Manchester thumping that sends the series into a decider at The Oval from September 8. “That’s when you stabilise your game and scoring 300+ gives you the best chance of competing. We got half of that.

“We did not bat well. Sure, the ball moved around, but this is Test cricket and you must deal with it. Losing two wickets just before lunch was crucial. If we had been 80/3 then we would have been in a good position.

“But we were five down and then we were always playing catch-up. The pitch deteriorated like we thought it would and there was plenty in it for both seamers and spinners.

“It’s all been a bit of a blur since Day 1, it all happened so quickly after that. England’s batting let them down in the first innings at Lord’s and it happened in this Test as well. You set yourself up nicely if you score runs in the first innings,” Elgar said.

Before what should be an exciting finalé to the tour back in London, Elgar said it was important the Proteas don’t panic despite the horrible loss in the second Test.

“Sometimes you can go into panic mode after a defeat like that, but myself and the coach definitely won’t be doing that. We know we’re not suddenly a bad side.

“I know have a couple of days to process everything, but I won’t change my approach because to do that now would be letting myself down. And I think the players enjoy my honesty.

“Sometimes time away from the game is good, we will do things as a squad though, touch base again, get connected again. We need to pull ourselves towards ourselves and let the dust settle.

“It’s an adult environment and I won’t treat the players like schoolchildren because I know I would not have liked that as a young player. But there are a few tough decisions coming our way,” Elgar 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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