for quality writing

Ken Borland

Schaper well-bronzed after a sweltering day at Blair Atholl … & with the SA Open lead 0

Posted on December 02, 2023 by Ken

Jayden Schaper during the third round of the South African Open at Blair Atholl Golf & Equestrian Estate.
(Photo by Carl Fourie/Sunshine Tour)

Jayden Schaper is fairskinned and baby-faced, but he came off the Blair Atholl course on Saturday looking well-bronzed after a sweltering third round of the South African Open. More importantly, he also headed for a cold shower with a marvellous 67 and a share of the lead.

The 22-year-old Schaper started the SA Open in solid fashion but under the radar as he posted back-to-back 70s to sit with the pack of 10 other golfers in 15th place. But on Saturday when temperatures in the mid-30s and wicked pin-placements combined for the toughest round yet, he stood tall and emerged as the frontrunner, along with compatriot and buddy Ryan van Velzen, for the third oldest national title in golf.

And his third round did not even start auspiciously as he bogeyed the par-five first hole. But thereafter he was tremendously controlled as he collected consecutive birdies on the fourth and fifth holes and another at the par-four ninth to reach the turn on three-under.

He then birdied the three par-fives on the back nine – the 10th, 13th and 18th holes – to finish on nine-under-par.

Van Velzen, seven months younger than Schaper and also hailing from the East Rand, followed up his stunning 65 in the second round with a solid 70 on Saturday. He made a blazing start with three birdies in four holes from the second, but a couple of bogeys followed, before his only other birdie of the third day, on the par-three 17th.

South Africans could well dominate the podium after Sunday’s final round, with Louis de Jager (70) one behind on eight-under and Dean Burmester in a tie for fourth on seven-under after a terrific 65.

Whoever adapts best to what is expected to be another ferocious test at Blair Atholl on Sunday will take the spoils, and there is a dangerous overseas contingent, led by a resurgent Matteo Manassero (-7) also scrapping for the prestigious title.

“I have some good memories of this course and this event, but today it was a brute,” a sweating Schaper said shortly after his round. “It’s very long with massive greens and it was cooking today with a dry heat that fried the greens and made things even trickier.

“I would have taken a 67 with both hands at the start of the day. I just tried to keep focused, my hands dry and my body hydrated. It was never going to be too easy making birdies today. It’s a tough course and on moving day you expect some easy pin positions and the tee-boxes being moved forward so guys can make some birdies. But it was just the opposite today and it was brutal.

“I caught a few glimpses of the leaderboard and you just try to keep yourself in it. I’ve been in a lot of positions like this, you learn from them and now it feels pretty much normal. You always want to win your national open and this would be an awesome one to make my first pro win,” Schaper said.

The prevalent view of the leaders was that patience is going to be key on a testing final day.

“The biggest thing I’ve learnt in the last year is that golf is about patience,” Schaper, one of the rising stars of South African golf, said. “I’ve based my game on consistency and I’m more than happy to have top-10s every week.

“Because of my strong junior and amateur careers, I definitely know I can handle the pressure on Sunday. Golf is about constantly growing and developing and the more experience you get, the more comfortable you feel out there,” Schaper said.

“You have to play smart golf, stay very patient and be fine with making pars out there,” Van Velzen said. “Don’t go chasing birdies with those tough flags because that’s how bogeys are made.”

Nortje leads the way with ball, before Proteas fold again with the bat 0

Posted on March 02, 2023 by Ken

Anrich Nortje had it all in synch on the second day of the first Test against the West Indies as he took five wickets.

Anrich Nortje led a superb display with the ball by the Proteas, but South Africa’s top-order then folded again with the bat in a familiar story on the second day of the first Test against the West Indies at Centurion on Wednesday.

The Proteas reached stumps on a desperate 49 for four in their second innings, but with a first-innings lead of 130 their overall position is much more positive, with a lead of 179, six wickets in hand and a pitch that is starting to do the unexpected.

That sizeable first-innings lead was thanks to the excellent work of the bowlers, who dismissed the West Indies for 212, Nortje taking a wonderful five for 36 in 16 overs. Bowling with tremendous fire, but also ruthless control, Nortje spearheaded a dramatic collapse that saw the tourists, looking solid on 169 for three, lost their last seven wickets for 43 runs.

The hottest bowler in the country this season typically said he could not have done it without the help of his fellow bowlers and the support of some vociferous spectators.

“It was nice to have a bit of a crowd at my back, and most of the time something was happening with the ball, with the wind blowing across the right-handers also helping,” Nortje said.

“KG [Rabada] also bowled really well before me and I just tried to capitalise on that and take the momentum further. There was movement and that breeze, and that played into our favour.

“I think the attack did a pretty good job. We just tried to control the run-rate and still try to be attacking. It was nice to see Gerald Coetzee come in too and do his thing. I was very happy for him, he’s bowled lots of overs domestically at high pace and was with us in England and Australia. Charl Langeveldt [bowling coach] helped him a bit with some small tweaks.

“We could all see how happy he was to get his first Test wicket and I’m sure he will have a long career going forward,” Nortje said.

With the West Indies coming in to bat half-an-hour into the morning session, it was Rabada who provided the early pressure. He produced a peach of a delivery, pitching middle-and-off and hitting the top of off-stump to bowl Kraigg Brathwaite for 11. The captain might have saved himself with a better stride with the front foot.

But the West Indies, much like the Proteas on the first day, batted solidly up front. Tagenarine Chanderpaul (22), Raymon Reifer (62) and Jermaine Blackwood (37) saw them to 136 for three at tea.

With much caution against the probing attack on a helpful pitch, the West Indies top-order strung together partnerships of 22, 36, 64 and 47.

But from 3.36pm, when Marco Jansen, who did not seem to have his best rhythm, had Reifer caught behind with his best ball of the day, angling in and then just nipping away from the left-hander; until 4.06pm, when Alzarri Joseph (4) became Nortje’s fourth victim, the Proteas enjoyed a great half-hour. They took five wickets for 21 runs in the space of 28 deliveries.

The next ball after Reifer’s dismissal saw Rabada have Roston Chase (22) caught at first slip and Nortje then removed Josh da Silva (4) and Jason Holder (0) in the same over. The 29-year-old completed his fourth five-wicket haul in 19 Tests when he had Kyle Mayers caught at fine leg, top-edging a hook, for 18.

“Things can happen quickly here,” Nortje said, “you just have to try and do the basics for as long as possible.”

First-innings centurion Aiden Markram made a flying start to the South African second innings, racing to 35 not out off just 33 balls with six fours, but West Indies made inroads at the other end.

Dean Elgar (1) will be furious with himself for once again being caught at third man trying to ramp Joseph, totally unnecessarily, while Tony de Zorzi fell first ball to Kemar Roach and Temba Bavuma also suffered a golden duck, making him just the fourth player to make a pair in his first Test as captain, also being caught behind, off Joseph, who was probably still celebrating his career-best five for 81 in the first innings. The only consolation for De Zorzi and Bavuma was that they were both excellent deliveries, tough to get first up.

A busy day’s cricket – the Proteas had started Wednesday by taking their first innings from 314 for eight to 342 all out – ended with Holder trapping Keegan Petersen lbw for seven with a bit of a grubber that jagged back into the batsman.

All is not well in The Shark Tank 0

Posted on February 28, 2023 by Ken

All is not well in The Shark Tank down in Durban, with the sudden sacking of head coach Sean Everitt, as inevitable as it was, highlighting the pressures that come with having major outside investors.

Everitt is a coach who has grown up in Sharks rugby and they were a final-minute drop goal away from contesting the semi-finals of the United Rugby Championship last season.

But as soon as former Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell was brought in as director of rugby, it became inevitable that one of them would have to go, and the man with the lesser profile, but the greater institutional knowledge, was always going to be the most vulnerable.

Especially since the Board has shown they have an infatuation with big names, which does not always work when one is trying to put together a winning rugby team. So many of those Springbok stars have only been able to play in patches for the Sharks. It is often, as the Stormers and Bulls have shown, what lies in reserve that determines whether the trophy sits in your cabinet at the end of the season.

Powell was initially signed as the defence coach, but when he was suddenly, and without much clarity, elevated to the position of Director of Rugby, Everitt would have known he was in trouble. The talk in Durban is that it was at the insistence of the American investors.

For those with short memories, Everitt had taken the Sharks to the top of the Super Rugby log, after their overseas tour, when Covid struck in 2020. The lucrative equity deal was signed during the pandemic and the culture and vibrant counter-attacking style that Everitt had been building (similar to John Dobson’s success at the Stormers) began to change.

But before Powell’s arrival, the Sharks had given Leinster a memorable battle in Dublin and then produced an outstanding home win over Glasgow Warriors that lifted them to fourth on the log.

Powell then became the face of the team, in charge of selection and apparently very hands-on in terms of coaching.

The Sharks were then flat in going down to the Bulls in Pretoria, followed by last weekend’s traumatic performance against Cardiff, the worst at Kings Park in a very long time and the first time in 50 years the KZN team have not scored a point at home.

One wonders whether Everitt is, in fact, the right scapegoat?

Fox shows his class after Presidents Cup omission gave birth to plenty of controversy 0

Posted on February 10, 2023 by Ken

Ryan Fox’s omission from the International Presidents Cup team gave birth to plenty of controversy, and the New Zealander showed his class on the opening day of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City as he soared to the top of the leaderboard with an amazing eight-under-par 64.

At the time of South African – and 2007 Nedbank Golf Challenge winner – Trevor Immelman choosing his International team, Fox was ranked 47th in the world. But half-a-dozen players ranked below him were chosen, Immelman going as far down the rankings as No.114 Taylor Pendrith.

Fox is now up to 26th in the world rankings, the second-highest in the field behind No.25 and defending champion Tommy Fleetwood. The son of former All Blacks great Grant Fox was hurt by the fact he does not play on the U.S. PGA Tour and his major showings were poor in an otherwise stellar 2022.

But Thursday was a dream day on the Gary Player Country Club course for Fox, who leads veteran Luke Donald (65) by one thanks to five birdies and an eagle on the back nine.

“I don’t know what happened to be honest,” Fox said. “I couldn’t believe Louis Oosthuizen shot 64 on this course when Tommy won in 2019. I played okay on the front nine [-1] but from the 11th hole I felt that I pretty much couldn’t miss any shot.

“I’ve become better with the Driver, I have more confidence with it now and I wasn’t as intimidated off the tee as I used to be here. I kept the ball in play better and I had a lot of good numbers in, which makes a massive difference.

“You’re not between clubs and you don’t feel like you’re guessing. It was also easier to pick the wind today, it didn’t swirl so much.

“On the back nine I was in one of those zones you don’t get very often, and in that state you just need to get out of your own way,” Fox said.

Fox made just one mistake with a bogey on the par-four third, and being that error-free was an unattainable wish for most of the 66-strong field, even though it was a mild day at Sun City.

Only three golfers were bogey-free. Incoming European Ryder Cup captain Donald was one of them with an outstanding 65, where he also burnt up the back nine with five birdies.

Italian youngster Guido Migliozzi also had four of his five birdies on the back-nine, as he signed for a bogey-free 67 and third place.

Min-Woo Lee, Fabrizio Zanotti and Richard Bland finished on four-under, while the other bogey-free round came from another Italian, Edoardo Molinari, who shot 69. He is in a tie for seventh with Richie Ramsay, Lucas Herbert, Rasmus Hojgaard and Adrian Otaegui.

The leading South Africans were Branden Grace and Justin Walters, a shot further back on two-under-par 70.

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Thought of the Day

    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.


↑ Top