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Ken Borland

Viljoen lost for words after ending 5 years of terrible tantalisation 0

Posted on November 07, 2022 by Ken

PORT EDWARD, KwaZulu-Natal – MJ Viljoen has been through the terrible tantalisation of not winning for five years on the Sunshine Tour but feeling very close to it, so when he finally returned to the winner’s podium at the SunBet Challenge hosted by the Wild Coast Sun on Friday, he was a little lost for words.

Viljoen, who led by one stroke going into the final round at the Wild Coast Country Club, played the steadiest of golf to seal the deal on Friday, shooting a two-under-par 68 to win by three strokes, even with a bogey at the last.

His last victory came at the Sun Fish River Challenge on September 6, 2017, but he has certainly had some near misses since then, with six top-five finishes, including being runner-up twice. Last week he began working with a new coach in Dougie Wood.

“It’s been a long time and I’ve just been so focused on winning again that I now don’t really know what it means,” Viljoen said after his triumph. “But I’m going to enjoy it and embrace it and take the weekend to think about it.

“I’ve been struggling for a long time, but I kept feeling that I was so close. I made some changes in the last week and they just sparked the feeling on the course that I have been looking for for so long.

“It sounds almost magical and I think it is quite magical. It feels like the start of a new chapter,” Viljoen said.

The 27-year-old had his game-plan in place from the start of the round, wanting to start well and not have to push too hard on a challenging course. Birdies on the second and third holes were like popping to the shops down the road and getting all the groceries you need.

“When I saw what the wind direction was going to be today, I thought two and three would be ideal birdie opportunities. I managed to get those birdies and then I was able to play par golf all day after that.

“It just set me up perfectly for my game-plan. I was never in trouble, I didn’t really hit a bad shot. I kept it simple and kept my targets big.

“Even though it was tough on the back nine, it came easy for me and I was able to par seven of the holes and birdie the par-five 16th. On the 18th I was happy to do nothing fancy, take bogey and get out of there,” Viljoen said.

Portugal’s Stephen Ferreira tried valiantly to grab the win as he fired a 64 that saw him finish tied second on 10-under-par, three behind Viljoen, alongside Pieter Moolman (67).

Change of coach for Viljoen obviously brings dividends 0

Posted on November 07, 2022 by Ken

PORT EDWARD, KwaZulu-Natal – A change of coach for MJ Viljoen obviously brought dividends on Thursday as the 27-year-old surged to the top of the leaderboard in the SunBet Challenge hosted by Wild Coast Sun, shooting a six-under-par 64 to go into the final round with a one-stroke lead at the Wild Coast Country Club.

Viljoen started his second round on the 10th hole and blazed his way to the turn in just 29 strokes, collecting six birdies, including three in a row from the 16th. Although the strengthening of the wind meant his score of six-under stayed where it was on his inward nine due to one bogey, on the par-three sixth, being cancelled out by a birdie on the par-five seventh, the Serengeti Golf Estate representative had still done enough to hold off the challenge of Keenan Davidse.

Viljoen is on 11-under-par for the tournament, while Davidse had a more up-and-down day, with five birdies, three bogies and an eagle on the par-five 16th, leaving with him an excellent 66 that lifted him to 10-under overall.

“I was solid all day and I didn’t make mistakes. But I enjoyed my front nine a lot today, I was just hitting the ball so nicely and I felt in such control of things,” Viljoen said. “And then I got a bit excited and the wind got up on my back nine and put me on the back foot a bit.

“But I’ve been struggling for a couple of years now and I just had to make a change last week because I was putting myself under so much pressure. So I worked with a different coach in Dougie Wood, just for a different perspective.

“The change obviously paid off today so I will stick with it. How I felt on the golf course was more favourable,” Viljoen said.

Viljoen, who won his only Sunshine Tour title at the Sun Fish River Challenge in 2017, said his approach in Friday’s final round will be to try and replicate his outstanding form on holes 10 to 18 on Thursday.

“I was just focused on not making any mistakes, I hit the ball good and my putting and chipping were good too. So I will go out in the final round and try do what I did on the first two days.

“The big thing is I’m not worried about the outcome because I know I’ve improved, I’ve got something out of the last couple of weeks, and that’s more than enough for me. That gives me a head start, I reckon,” Viljoen said.

Apart from Davidse, Martin Vorster and Jaco Ahlers are also chasing hard on nine-under-par after they both shot 65s on Thursday, and Madalitso Muthiya (68), Heinrich Bruiners (67), Casey Jarvis (66) and Christiaan Burke (65) are just three strokes back on eight-under.

Overnight leader Jacques Blaauw had a tough time on Thursday and just could not get going, 16 pars and two bogies leaving him with a 72 that saw him slip down to six-under-par and a tie for 13th.

Blaauw in inspired form to go into 2-stroke lead 0

Posted on November 07, 2022 by Ken

PORT EDWARD, KwaZulu-Natal – Jacques Blaauw was in inspired form on the opening day of the SunBet Challenge hosted by the Wild Coast Sun at the Wild Coast Country Club on Wednesday, his eight-under-par 62 putting him in a two-stroke lead.

Two eagles and eight birdies, meaning successive bogeys on the ninth and 10th holes barely mattered, saw Blaauw go to the 18th tee with the legendary 59 in his sights. But after a good drive, he misjudged the wind and his second shot was on-target but way short.

So Blaauw ended with a double-bogey six, but he was still two ahead of four golfers who shot excellent 64s – Jordan Duminy, Neil Schietekat, Keenan Davidse and Madalitso Muthiya.

“On the last hole, I knew walking up the fairway that a birdie would give me a 59. But I didn’t feel under any pressure and I hit a good second shot  but it was just way short,” Blaauw said.

“I played for nine metres past the hole but I was about 20 yards short, so we must have misjudged the wind. But it was good fun and I obviously played some unbelievable golf.

“It all started with me holing out for eagle on the second hole from 46 yards, and then a nice birdie at three meant I went on a roll, I just didn’t miss a shot.

“I played some unbelievable irons into the greens, birdieing three of the par-threes, and my tee-shot on the eighth was my shot of the day – the flag was on the left by the water and I hit an eight-iron 174 yards to three feet,” Blaauw said.

The 36-year-old, who has won four times on the Sunshine Tour, missed his last two cuts, so Wednesday’s phenomenal round marked a spectacular return to form.

“It’s very weird, I actually felt before my round that my luck was going to turn. I feel I’ve been playing good golf, but I just couldn’t get it all together in a round,” Blaauw said.

“With my coach Eugene Schwartz, we’ve been working on getting my body moving better. It’s also about getting sharp around the greens, you need those up-and-downs and I did not miss many today.”

Schietekat was in the same three-ball as Blaauw and was also on fire on Wednesday and was seven-under through 15 holes, but then he double-bogeyed the par-five 16th. He did well to bounce back from that shock, his first dropped shots of the day, and birdied the par-three 17th to ensure he joined the four-way tie for second.

And there are another nine golfers tied for sixth after shooting five-under-par 65s, including veteran Jaco van Zyl, who won two weeks ago up the coast at Selborne.

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