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Ken Borland



Beaming Manassero lights up the Glendower gloom with redemptive triumph 0

Posted on March 10, 2024 by Ken

A beaming Matteo Manessero holds the Jonsson Workwear Open trophy in the dark at Glendower Golf Club after his first DP World Tour triumph in nearly 11 years.
Photo: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour

Matteo Manassero’s beaming smile lit up the gloom at Glendower Golf Club on Sunday evening, almost shining as brightly as the not-so-distant lightning strikes as the Italian won the Jonsson Workwear Open by three strokes to win for the first time on the DP World Tour since May 2013.

Manassero had every reason to be ecstatic, considering the journey he has traversed. And while a three-strokes win sounds like an easy victory, his triumph was as dramatic as they come with the 30-year-old having to conquer not only a large chasing pack but also the weather. Manassero had just gone into a one-stroke lead with a 15-foot birdie on the 16th hole when play was suspended due to the threat of lightning. After a two-and-a-half hour delay, he returned to complete the job in near-darkness and with plenty of thunder still around Glendower.

His finish was just as thunderous as Manassero went birdie-birdie to close with four birdies in a row, posting 26-under-par after a 66 in the final round. It was what was needed to hold off the staunch challenge of Thriston Lawrence (63), Shaun Norris (68) and Jordan Smith (68), who tied for second on 23-under.

To understand the magnitude of Manassero’s achievement, one has to know where he has been. The world’s top amateur in 2009, he broke a host of records for the youngest to achieve certain landmarks and in 2010 he became the youngest ever winner on the European Tour when he won the Castello Masters in Valencia aged 17 years and 188 days.

In May 2013 he won the PGA Championship at Wentworth for his fourth title and entered the top-30 in the world rankings, all before he turned 21.

And then his career nose-dived. By the end of 2018 he had lost his European Tour card and ended up on the Alps Tour, two levels down.

He gave up pro golf for a while but then won on the Alps Tour in 2020 and made his way to the Challenge Tour. He won twice last year, opening up a return to the main DP World Tour. On Sunday at Glendower, his redemption was complete.

“It is the best day of my life,” Manassero said as lightning flashed behind his head on the 18th green. “It’s been a crazy journey and I’m so incredibly happy to be here holding this trophy. It feels like it was written somewhere, to finish with those birdies.

“Glendower will stay in my heart forever and I just feel incredible right now, it’s really difficult to put it into words, but I am very proud after what I have been through. I don’t want to think about the tough times now, but there is a lot of emotion.

“Forty minutes ago we were almost coming back tomorrow to finish, so there has been a lot of tension. But I am so happy to be feeling these emotions again out on the golf course. It’s strange, we live for these emotions that take us out of our comfort zone and are difficult to handle,” Manassero said.

The par-three 15th hole was where Manassero’s winning surge began, moments after Lawrence had eagled the 17th to go into the lead on 23-under. But it was also where his challenge looked as if it might have been headed for a watery grave as his tee shot just cleared the water it was heading for, leaving him with a 12-foot birdie putt which he nailed.

“On 15 that could have been in the water. I just tried to hit an easy six-iron, but in golf you cannot predict anything. Sometimes a shot that doesn’t feel great leads to the birdie opportunity that changes everything. But that was more than two-and-a-half hours ago and I have been through a lot of emotion since then!”

Before the weather delay, the co-sanctioned tournament with the Sunshine Tour seemed inexorably headed for a fascinating finish. Manassero admitted that his many challengers were in his thoughts.

“The guys behind me on the leaderboard were playing some incredible golf. Every time I looked at the leaderboard, there was a different guy and more birdies. There was always someone chasing me.”

And Manassero himself was chasing a DP World Tour victory of enormous personal magnitude. Having fallen into the trap of chasing results and outcomes, instead of focusing on process, during his first career as a professional golfer, the product of Verona also admitted that, of course, he had thoughts of winning right through the final round.

“There’s always a bit of back-of-forth in your mind, that is normal. But you also try and think other thoughts, really anything that is positive, things that I say to myself to help me play more freely. But to think about the result is normal, just not constantly because then it becomes really hard to express yourself and hit the ball straight,” Manassero explained.

While Lawrence and Norris led the South African challenge, Oliver Bekker was also a member of the chasing pack, a birdie on the 17th putting him one shot off the lead. But the 39-year-old then hit his approach on the 18th into the water next to the green, finishing with a double-bogey that left him in a tie for sixth on 21-under-par.

‘We are finding it harder to win at home’ – Pace 0

Posted on February 26, 2024 by Ken

FANCOURT (Western Cape), 14 February 2024 – “It’s nice to see the overseas support of the Sunshine Ladies Tour, it has grown a lot, but we are now finding it harder to win at home,” the prolific Lee-Anne Pace said with a chuckle on the eve of the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am that kicks off the new season at Fancourt from Thursday.

Played on the great Montague and Outeniqua courses at Fancourt, the tournament has a R2.5 million prize fund which 44 professionals are fighting over. It is the second year in which the ladies will play alongside the men’s event being held at the same time, on the same courses.

Of the 44-strong field, 28 are from overseas, highlighting the strength of the nine-event Sunshine Ladies Tour and the value it offers women professionals.

“There’s a really strong overseas contingent coming to play and the fields on the Sunshine Ladies Tour seem to get stronger every week,” Pace, a 14-tme winner, said.

“It’s a really good field this week and I think the scores are going to be quite a lot lower than last year. The courses are quite a bit softer than usual, and on the shorter side, so we can attack a little bit more. I think there are going to be a lot of birdies and as always, it’s going to come down to putting.”

There is an important pro-am aspect to the event, with 44 amateurs each playing with a pro in the team event. Pace, who won the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge at nearby George Golf Club in 2014, said the format will provide a fun side for the professionals.

“Nowadays we are so used to playing in pro-ams with all the Aramco events on the Ladies European Tour. So it will be quite a lot of fun to get to know some of the top women in business. I’ve made some really good friends from playing in pro-ams.”

Even though it is the start of the South African season, Pace is one of the players to bring some form into the event, having finished in a tie for 11th at last weekend’s Kenya Ladies Open, the first event of the new Ladies European Tour season. The 42-year-old shot a brilliant 68 in the final round to ensure she comes to Fancourt with some confidence.

“I felt really good on the last day and played really nicely. That’s after feeling really sick on the first day. So I feel I do have a bit of form on my side,” Pace said.

Compatriot Cara Gorlei also finished in the tie for 11th, and was leading the tournament before a 77 in the third round pushed her down the leaderboard.

France’s Anne-Lise Caudal, a two-time LET winner, is among the stronger foreign contenders, along with Germany’s Carolin Kauffmann, who finished fifth in last year’s Dimension Data Pro-Am and Englishwoman Lauren Taylor, who has two top-10 finishes in this event.

Former champions from South Africa in Stacey Bregman and Lejan Lewthwaite are also in the field.

JSK overwhelm Paarl, need 1 more win to book place in SA20 final 0

Posted on February 08, 2024 by Ken

Sam Cook of Joburg Super Kings celebrates one of his four wickets at the Wanderers during his record spell for an SA20 debutant.
Photo: Shaun Roy (Sportzpics)

The Joburg Super Kings just need to win one more game to book their place in the SA20 final after they threw everything at the deflated Paarl Royals and hammered them by nine wickets with 40 balls to spare in their Eliminator at the Wanderers on Wednesday evening.

Having just scraped into the playoffs with victory in their last round-robin game, the Super Kings will now face the Durban Super Giants in Qualifier 2 at the Wanderers on Thursday, the winner going on to play defending champions Sunrisers Eastern Cape in the final at Newlands on Saturday.

Before their almost complete victory over the Royals, Joburg’s best showing in the tournament had been in the previous game when they registered a rousing win in the final over against the selfsame Super Giants last weekend.

Wednesday was a night when just about everything went according to plan for the Super Kings, starting with winning the toss and sending Paarl in to bat first, which has generally been tougher this season at the Wanderers.

And then Sam Cook, making his SA20 debut because strike bowler Lizaad Williams picked up an injury, struck twice in his second over, removing Paarl’s two leading run-scorers going into the game, Jos Buttler (10) and Mitchell van Buuren (0).

Van Buuren’s dismissal was courtesy of a sensational catch by Imran Tahir, who showed that age is just a number by racing back from short fine-leg and diving to take a catch over his shoulder. At 44 years old, Tahir has been “poor in the field” this season, JSK coach Stephen Fleming admitted, but he took a second fantastic catch when he intercepted Dane Vilas’s sweep that was looking like being a low, flat six, at fine leg off Nandre Burger.

Burger also dismissed Jason Roy (24) and Wihan Lubbe (4), finally getting the wickets his excellent bowling this season has deserved.

While fast bowlers Cook, whose four for 24 in 3.5 overs were the best ever figures by an SA20 debutant, and Burger (4-0-26-3) shared most of the wickets, spinners Moeen Ali (4-0-26-1) and Tahir (4-0-33-2) were able to tie the batsmen down and strike, while seamer Dayyaan Galiem bowled two tidy overs for 11 runs.

From 43 for four, Vilas (21) and David Miller were able to double the total with their stand of 44 off 34 deliveries, and the Royals were relying on captain Miller for a big finish to give them a competitive score. But Miller was caught behind off a Tahir googly at the end of the 17th over with the total on 126.

Eventually Paarl finished on 138, bowled out in 19 overs, setting them on track for their fifth successive defeat.

Joburg Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming.
Photo: Shaun Roy (Sportzpics)

“We weren’t 100% with the ball, but we were on the right areas for long enough and we had a bit of luck,” a smiling Fleming said after the triumph. “It’s a very fine line, on certain days you can do everything right but it just doesn’t work.

“The word momentum is over-used, sometimes it’s just slightly different training or words beforehand that can turn things around, and we were nicely in the moment this evening.

“Imran has been poor in the field for us this season, and then he takes a couple of catches like that! That’s when you know it’s your day,” Fleming said.

Faced with a potentially tricky target if they lost early wickets, the Super Kings were on fire from the start of their chase.

In the briefing before their innings, the importance of a good start would have been emphasised, and once Leus du Plooy had lashed 68 off 43 balls, JSK were always going to make short work of the chase.

Du Plooy’s innings, laced with seven fours and two sixes, was a fine example of dominant strokeplay and clever shot options.

With Faf du Plessis giving perfect, sensible support at the other end, they raised their century partnership for the first wicket in the 10th over, Du Plooy falling soon after, stumped off Tabraiz Shamsi.

But by then Du Plessis was giving the Royals bowlers a battering as well, and he finished with 55 not out off 34 deliveries.

When your best performance of the season comes at the start of the knockout rounds, your coach is going to be well-pleased, and Fleming was certainly chuffed.

“That was right up there as one of our most complete performances, and also with the status of the game. It’s a great time to have the sort of performance we aim for.

“The start of the chase was so good, it just killed the game, we polished off that target. It was a really good win,” Fleming said.

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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    John 15:16 – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

    Our Christian experience begins when the Holy Spirit starts working in our imperfect lives. An inexplicable restlessness and a feeling that nothing can give you the satisfaction you yearn for, could be the Spirit working in you.

    Even when God calls you and chooses you to serve him, there may be inner conflict and confusion because you are not always willing to do what God is asking of you.

    But this inner struggle is part of spiritual life … Commit yourself to God and open yourself to the inflowing of the Holy Spirit.

    It is by great grace that you were chosen by God to serve him and to live to the honour and glory of his name. Surrender unconditionally to the Lord and you will discover that your life gains new meaning and purpose.



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