South African golfer, Hayden Porteous put himself on the golfing in style as he carded -5 under in his first six holes, with eagles on the par five four and six.
Hayden, who is ranked 249th in the world and qualified by winning the Jo’burg open, then followed that feat with a birdie on the seventh and left making fans in the process.
Porteous won many amateur tournaments in South Africa, including the South African Stroke Play in 2012 and 2013. He was the top-ranked South African player when he turned professional in 2013.
12 Jul From the sectionGolf
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Rory Mcllroy won the Open Championship in 2014
Rory McIlroy says golf must improve its drug-testing regime as he could “get away with” doping as it stands.
The most recent report from the World Anti-Doping Agency revealed 507 tests were carried out on golfers in 2014, with eight testing positive.
“I’ve been tested once this year but it was only a urine test,” said the Northern Irish world number four.
“You can’t really pick up HGH (human growth hormone) in a urine test, so I could use HGH and get away with it.”
The 27-year-old added: “If golf is in the Olympics it needs to improve the drug testing.
“On average, we get tested four or five times a year. It’s very little compared to other Olympic sports.”
A UK Anti-Doping spokesperson told BBC Sport: “UK Anti-Doping are currently in the process of carrying out a comprehensive testing programme for British athletes heading to the Olympic Games this summer.
“This programme includes golf and players who will form part of TeamGB in Rio this summer.”
The International Golf Federation, which is responsible for the testing programme, has not commented.
Wada carried out 283,304 tests worldwide, with banned substances found in more than 3,800 samples.
It told BBC Sport more than 10% of elite athletes could be using performance-enhancing drugs.
Golf had the fewest number of tests done out of all the summer Olympic sports.
I may not watch Olympic golf – McIlroy
Speaking in the build-up to the Open Championship at Royal Troon, McIlroy added: “Drug testing in golf is some way behind the other sports – but I don’t think there are drugs that can make you better across the board.
“There are drugs that can make you stronger and make you concentrate more, but not that can make you a better all-round golfer, as far as I am aware.”
Last month, McIlroy withdrew from the Olympic Games in Rio because of concerns about the Zika virus.
The Open begins on Thursday, and McIlroy has been paired in his first round alongside Hideki Matsuyama and Bubba Watson.
Full tee times for Thursday
The Open Championship
Venue: Royal Troon, Ayrshire, Scotland Dates: 14 July to 17 July
22/06/2016 | 09:36
Rory McIlroy has announced that he will not compete for Ireland at the Rio Olympics this summer over the threat of the Zika virus.
McIlroy was set to represent Ireland in Rio as golf returns to the Games for the first time since 1904, but revealed last month he was monitoring the situation in Brazil following his engagement to Erica Stoll and Zika’s links to defects in newborn babies.
In a statement released today, McIlroy confirmed that he would not be competing: “After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero.
-4 D Johnson (US); -1 S Lowry (Ire), S Piercy (US), J Furyk (US); level S Garcia (Spa), B Grace (SA)
Selected others: +2 J Day (Aus); +5 A Landry (US); +6 G McDowell (NI); +7 C Wood (Eng), A Sullivan (Eng), R Knox (Sco); +8 L Westwood (Eng); +9 D Willett (Eng)
Dustin Johnson has claimed his first major – but only after a farcical end to the US Open that drew criticism from Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.
Johnson played his last seven holes knowing he had to review a possible rules infringement after the round.
He shot 68 to finish five under but was then penalised a shot for making his ball move on the fifth green, despite being initially absolved of wrongdoing.
McIlroy called organisers “amateur” and Spieth said the decision was “a joke”.
Johnson’s score was amended to four under, but he still finished three shots ahead of Irishman Shane Lowry and American duo Jim Furyk and Scott Piercy.
England’s Lee Westwood, playing alongside Johnson, started the day on two under par but carded a 10-over-par 80 to finish on eight over.
What did Johnson do?
Standing over his ball on the fifth green, he made two practice putts. As he prepared to address the ball to take his putt, it moved slightly.
Johnson stepped away, claiming that he had not addressed the ball. Had he done so, he would have incurred a one-shot penalty.
Johnson checked with a rules official, who was happy that there had been no infringement, and went on to par the hole.
Another rules official then approached Johnson on the 12th tee and, after a discussion, decided they needed to review the footage of the incident after he had completed his round because he could face a one-stroke penalty.
The penalty stroke was eventually upheld and Johnson, whose victory moves him up to world number three, signed for a one-under-par 69.
Officials explain to Dustin Johnson that he may be facing a penalty
A rules official explained to Johnson on the 12th tee that he may be facing a penalty
Johnson claimed he was not affected by the intervention from officials.
“At that point, I just thought I’d deal with it when I’m done,” he said. “I tried to block it out and not let it bother me. Who cares, it doesn’t matter any more.”
The USGA’s director of rules Jeff Hall said he had watched video of the incident and decided Johnson’s actions “could have caused the ball to move”.
Hall added: “The first time we had the opportunity to speak to Dustin was the 12th hole. We asked if there was some other reason the ball could have moved. He didn’t state a reason. We decided not to review it with Dustin at the media tent on the 13th hole and instead wait till the end.”
But McIlroy and Spieth were not impressed.
McIlroy said Johnson should not have been penalised and said he would not have hit another shot until the “farce was rectified” had he been the American.
Spieth said the incident should not be overlooked just because Johnson went on to claim a “multiple-shot victory”, while Rickie Fowler called the incident “completely ridiculous” and “laughable”.
James Kamte made the most of moving day at the 2016 Zambia Sugar Open by carding a sensational third round, eight-under-par 65 at Lusaka Golf Club on Saturday.
On 14-under-par, Kamte leads a cramped chasing pack going into Sunday by three strokes.
The 33-year-old South African’s round included 11 birdies, three bogeys and only three birdies and he was almost left speechless in his post-round interview.
‘It was a special round today. I think I got stuck more into my game plan today. It just was a perfect round, you know. You don’t get too many like this. 11 birdies and three bogeys, I mean I don’t know what to say. It was a good round.’
Unlike yesterday, Kamte managed to take advantage of the par-fives around Lusaka Golf Club, and birdied four of the five.
‘I played the par-fives badly yesterday. I was one-over on them yesterday. Today I just told myseld that I needed to focus until the last hole. It’s great to see that I’m up there and that I’ve given myself a chance.’
Four players are three strokes further back, with Krugersdorp native Ruan de Smit making the biggest move of out of the bunch.
De Smit said: ‘I got off to a slow start, but played really nicely from there. I hit my driver the worst all week, but I think I had 10 putts on the back-nine which definitely helps a lot.’
De Smit was questioned about what it will take to take home with the trophy on Sunday and said,’Go low on the back-nine. Just take advantage of the four par-fives on the back-nine and hopefully it’s enough to beat the guys out there.’
Jan Hugo and Ulrich van den Berg join de Smit in second position on 11-under-par for the tournament. Hugo brought the gathering crowd to their feet on the 18th green with a chip-in eagle to card a back-nine of five-under-par 33.
‘It’s always nice to finish like that. It gives you a little boost for tomorrow. It shows you that you should never give up. That’s probably the motto for the week; you know “Anything can happen”. I’ll take that into tomorrow and we’ll see what happens.’
In typical moving day fashion, Merrick Bremner shot up the leaderboard froma share of 23rd to sole possession of sixth place. His third round six-under-par 66 leaves him four shots off the lead on 10-under-par. ‘I’m really pleased. I set it alight a bit on the back-nine and hit a few shots really close. I drove the ball well and gave myself a lot of opportunities.’
Round two leader Andrew Georgiou finds himself five shots off the pace after an unfortunate triple-bogey eight on the par-five 10th hole.
With an abundance of birdie and eagle opportunities on the back-nine, it will be a fascinating Sunday in Lusaka, and Kamte knows he will need to keep his cool to take home the trophy.
I’ve got one hand on the trophy now. I need to just keep my head and just keep going.’
205 – James Kamte (RSA) 66 74 65
208 – Ruan de Smidt (RSA) 70 70 68, Jean Hugo (RSA) 69 70 69, Ulrich van den Berg (RSA) 67 71 70, CJ du Plessis (RSA) 70 67 71
209 – Merrick Bremner (RSA) 73 70 66
210 – Jean-Paul Strydom (RSA) 71 72 67, Chris Swanepoel (RSA) 71 68 71, Andrew Georgiou (CYP) 69 66 75
211 – Jacques Kruyswijk (RSA) 73 71 67, Colin Nel (RSA) 69 72 70, Erik van Rooyen (RSA) 71 69 71
212 – JC Ritchie (RSA) 76 67 69, Louis de Jager (RSA) 70 72 70, Zander Lombard (RSA) 73 69 70, Doug McGuigan (SCO) 70 69 73
213 – Bryce Easton (RSA) 74 71 68, Teboho Sefatsa (RSA) 73 72 68, Jaco Prinsloo (RSA) 70 74 69, Christofer Blomstrand (SWE) 73 71 69, Lindani Ndwandwe (RSA) 72 70 71,Scott Vincent (ZIM) 71 70 72
214 – MJ Viljoen (RSA) 73 73 68, Tyrone Mordt (RSA) 74 72 68, JJ Senekal (RSA) 76 69 69, Ryan Tipping (RSA) 70 74 70, Keenan Davidse (RSA) 73 70 71,Steve Surry (ENG) 71 72 71, Morne Buys (RSA) 68 75 71, Ryan Cairns (ZIM) 72 69 73, Russel Franz (RSA) 71 70 73, Jonathan Agren (SWE) 71 70 73
215 – Rourke van der Spuy (RSA) 78 67 70, Le Roux Ferreira (RSA) 75 69 71, Calvin Pearson (RSA) 69 70 76
216 – Jaco Ahlers (RSA) 70 75 71, Danie van Tonder (RSA) 73 72 71, Oliver Bekker (RSA) 71 73 72, Madalitso Muthiya (ZAM) 70 73 73, Alexander Knappe (GER) 73 70 73,Stephen Ferreira (POR) 73 70 73, Jason Froneman (RSA) 69 73 74, Allan Versfeld (RSA) 68 73 75
217 – Andrew Curlewis (RSA) 74 71 72, Bradford Vaughan (RSA) 74 71 72, Etienne Bond (RSA) 73 72 72, Wallie Coetsee (RSA) 72 72 73, Lyle Rowe (RSA) 74 70 73 218 – Teaghan Gauche (RSA) 67 76 75, TC Charamba (ZIM) 75 67 76
219 – Jack Harrison (ENG) 68 70 81
220 – Lean Boezaart (RSA) 74 73 73, Jeff Hopkins (IRL) 73 73 74, Justin Harding (RSA) 74 72 74, Neil Schietekat (RSA) 69 76 75, Breyten Meyer (RSA) 73 71 76
221 – Kevin Rundle (RSA) 71 76 74, Stefan Engell Andersen (KEN) 73 74 74, Dayne Moore (ZAM) 70 77 74, Drikus van der Walt (RSA) 72 70 79
222 – Nemanja Savic (SRB) 71 76 75, Dwayne Basson (RSA) 71 76 75, Henry Featherstone (ENG) 73 73 76, Vaughn Groenewald (RSA) 72 73 77,Thanda Mavundla (RSA) 75 70 77, Heinrich Bruiners (RSA) 76 68 78
223 – Michael Hollick (RSA) 71 76 76, Steven Ferreira (RSA) 75 71 7
224 – Jared Harvey (RSA) 72 72 80
– See more at: http://www.sascoc.co.za/2016/04/24/kamte-fights-back-to-grab-the-lead-in-zambia-open/#sthash.S9gpR3rI.dpuf
By Jonathan Jurejko
5 hours ago From the sectionGolf
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Danny Willett’s best shots as he wins the title
Masters final leaderboard (US unless stated)
-5 D Willett (Eng) -2 L Westwood (Eng), J Spieth; -1 P Casey (Eng), JB Holmes, D Johnson; Level M Fitzpatrick (Eng), S Kjeldsen (Den), H Matsuyama (Jpn)
Selected others: +1 J Day (Aus), J Rose (Eng), R McIlroy (NI); +5 J Donaldson (Wal); +6 B Langer (Ger)
Danny Willett claimed a shock Masters win with a superb five-under-par 67 as 2015 champion Jordan Spieth crumbled during a thrilling final round.
The Englishman, 28, won his first major by three shots on five under to become the first British victor in 20 years.
Overnight leader Spieth, 22, led by five shots as he approached the 10th at Augusta, but the American dramatically dropped six shots in three holes.
He ended with a one-over 73, tying for second with England’s Lee Westwood.
Masters win ‘crazy’ says Willett
Relive all the drama at Augusta
Historic moment for British golf – 5 live podcast
Westwood’s three-under-par 69 gave him his second Masters runners-up finish on two under, with Paul Casey, another Englishman, one shot further back in a tie for fourth.
Spieth will be left ruing a remarkable collapse on the iconic par-three 12th, twice finding the water in front of the green as he carded a quadruple bogey seven – to follow successive bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes.
That catapulted Sheffield’s Willett, who was playing the par-five 15th, into the outright lead – one that he would not relinquish after signing for the joint-lowest round of the final day.
Willett’s rapid rise
Willett is one of the golf’s rising stars, having climbed from outside the top 100 to inside the top 10 in less than two years.
But few would have predicted a first major win in only his second appearance on the unforgiving Augusta course, especially because the Yorkshireman’s participation at the Masters had been in doubt, with his wife Nicole due to give birth on the final day.
Accuracy from the tee is underrated, and has become more necessary over the years but with approach shots it is absolutely essential.
“If you’re off with your tee shots, then you’re going to have a really long day,” explains the 2013 champion, Adam Scott. “But if you’re off with your iron play from the fairway, you’re going to have a long day on the greens putting from 40ft and not giving yourself a lot of chances.
“There are great opportunities here at this course but if the mistakes are made in the wrong areas, there’s a disaster waiting to happen on every shot.”
You cannot force anything around Augusta National. Rather, it is a case of taking opportunities when they arrive. And they will only arrive with a calm mindset.
The Forgotten Story of … the 1966 Masters
“You’ve always got to be patient when you’re playing major championships, and at Augusta in particular,” says Henrik Stenson. “It’s just that the margins for error are so small.
“I think the patience is even more necessary if you end up in trouble. You want to try and minimise it, make a bogey. Double bogeys are always hard to make up for in majors.
“And also, if you don’t get on a good run, you’ve just got to stay patient because you will have a good run at some point if you’re going to have anything to do with the final outcome.”
With the greatest will in the world, not many kids grow up harbouring a dream of winning the US PGA Championship. The iconic status of the Masters, even the Green Jacket itself, places an inevitable mental burden upon those who find themselves in Sunday contention.
Jason Day has spoken of wanting the Masters too much, to his detriment. Sandy Lyle, who won in 1988, adds: “Trying to win any major is stomach-churning. I had a two shot lead at the turn here and I am thinking: ‘Here we go, it’s all over in the next two-and-a-half hours.’
“It’s being like in a waiting room at the dentist. Your stomach is turning over at the thought of knowing you are going to have a painful experience. That’s about as a good way I can explain it.”
Augusta’s greens are notoriously quick and sloping. As Rory McIlroy puts it: “Sometimes you have 5ft left and would be happy with a two-putt.”
The Joy of Six: The Masters
Being blunt, it is impossible to win without putting well over four days. When you putt brilliantly, as shown by Jordan Spieth last year, there is scope for seriously low scoring.
“On Masters week, there is a progression with the greens,” says the 2007 champion, Zach Johnson. “The roll-out becomes more and more. It may not be drastic but there is a couple of feet difference on roll-out of putts. Every year when I get here, my focus is on work on the greens; as it should be.”
5: Par fives
Holes 2, 8, 13 and 15 historically play as the easiest on Masters week. Taking advantage of the chances as presented here can define a player’s position.
“There are no longer any holes outside of the par fives that are easy birdies, other than the 3rd,” explains Phil Mickelson. “The par fours now are so long and tough, that you’re coming in with mid and long irons more often than short irons. We used to hit a lot of wedges in here and now we don’t.
“That’s why the par fives are such a critical element; they give you momentum and opportunities. They’re the only ones that you’re going to have easy putts for birdies. You’re going to have to make a lot of 20- to 40-footers to make birdies on the other holes. So you have to play them smart and effective to be able to shoot under par here.”
PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) Coming up on five years since winning the Masters, Charl Schwartzel was starting to wonder if he would ever win again on American soil.
He didn’t have much reason to think that would change Sunday at the Valspar Championship.
Schwartzel was five shots behind going into the final round on an Innisbrook course that was tougher than ever, and still three shots behind as he approached the toughest part of the Copperhead course.
What followed were extraordinary shots, and a playoff victory over Bill Haas.
All it took was a 65-foot birdie across the green on the 13th. He got up-and-down for birdie from a tough lie in the bunker. His go-for-broke pitch from a dicey lie on the edge of the bunker on the 16th hole allowed him to save par. And he made a 25-foot birdie putt he couldn’t afford to miss on the 17th.
Schwartzel closed with a 4-under 67 – the best score Sunday – and won on the first extra hole when Haas made bogey from a bunker.
”I just needed to get over the hurdle of winning out here again,” Schwartzel said. ”And I think the way today played out with it being really difficult, you’re grinding just to make pars and keep the ball in play. I just needed to put it together on the weekend when it counted.”
He won for the third time in his last six events dating to December (the other two were in South Africa)
Haas had a two-shot lead with three holes to play, and he was torn between whether he let one get away or whether the South African simply won it. Schwartzel and Georgia senior Lee McCoy (69) were the only two players from the final nine groups to break par.
”Charl had the mentality of needing to shoot a good score, and he did, and that was a hard thing to do,” Haas said. ”I had the mentality, `If I shoot even par, I win.’ Pars were kind of good. … I won’t beat myself up too bad. I’ve got to give Charl credit.”
The difference was Schwartzel making two long birdies, and Haas making bogey on the toughest hole at Innisbrook on No. 16. In the playoff, Haas hit into the trees, came up short into a bunker, and blasted out of the soft sand about 20 feet away and missed the par putt.
”That stuff happens,” Haas said about Schwartzel’s birdies. ”That’s what winners do. And winners don’t bogey two of their last four holes they play.”
McCoy felt like as big of a winner as Schwartzel.
The 22-year-old in his final year of college grew up next to Innisbrook and made good on his first sponsor’s exemption. He played next to Jordan Spieth, the world’s No. 1 player, in the final round and looked like a pro on his way to finishing alone in fourth.
It was the best finish by an amateur in a PGA Tour event of top players since 17-year-old Justin Rose tied for fourth at the British Open in 1998 at Royal Birkdale. Robbie Shelton tied for third last year in the Barbasol Championship, held opposite the British Open.
McCoy would have earned $292,800 had he been a pro.
”It was even more fun than you can possibly imagine with it being my home course, being in contention on Sunday playing with the No. 1 player in the world who is an absolute gentleman all day long,” McCoy said. ”It was really, really special.”
Spieth fell behind early, never caught up and closed with a 73 to tie for 18th, seven shots behind. He couldn’t help but applaud McCoy when he finished his round.
Schwartzel and Haas finished at 7-under 277.
It was the highest score to par to win on the PGA Tour since the Spieth won the U.S. Open at 5 under.
”I think everyone’s goal is to keep bogeys off the card,” Schwartzel said when he finished his regulation round. ”You’re just surviving.”
That wasn’t easy to do.
Steve Stricker was two shots out of the lead until he made a double bogey on the par-5 11th and never recovered. Graham DeLaet of Canada, starting the final round one shot behind and determined to get his first PGA Tour victory, never made a birdie in his round of 75.
Ryan Moore hit the ball great and couldn’t figure out the greens, which were slower than normal. Moore was within one shot of the lead at the turn, but he closed with 12 straight pars for a 71 to finish two shots out of the playoff in third place.
It also was a tough day for Ian Poulter, who had a 75-75 weekend and tied for 67th.
That bumped Poulter down to No. 67 in the world ranking, which could knock him out of the Dell Match Play. This was the final week before the world ranking is used to determine the 64-man field (Jim Furyk and Henrik Stenson are not playing). PGA Tour rookie Patton Kizzire closed with a 72 and tied for 33rd, enough to move past Poulter.
WGC-Cadillac Championship final leaderboard:
-12 A Scott (Aus); -11 B Watson (US); -10 D Willett (Eng), R McIlroy (NI); -9 P Mickelson (US) Selected: -6 P Casey (Eng); -3 S Garcia (Spa); -1 J Rose (Eng), J Spieth (US), A Sullivan (Eng); +37 S Bowditch (Aus)
Australia’s Adam Scott recorded back-to-back victories on the PGA Tour as Rory McIlory’s challenge unravelled at the World Golf Championship at Doral.
The 35-year-old, who won the Honda Classic last week, began three shots adrift of McIlroy but closed with a three-under 69 to win on 12 under.
He holed a six-foot putt on the last to beat Bubba Watson (68) by one shot.
Northern Ireland’s McIlroy had a two-over 74 to join England’s Danny Willett (69) in a tie for third on 10 under.
Scott began his round with a birdie, but double bogeys on the third and fifth looked to have derailed his challenge as he fell six shots adrift of McIlroy, who opened with six pars.
However, six birdies in his next nine holes, as McIlroy dropped three shots, gave Scott a lead he did not relinquish.
“You have to push yourself so hard to beat the class of players that is out here right now,” said Scott.
“So I can’t believe I won back-to-back weeks. To win a world championship event is huge. I’m going to push hard the next few weeks.”
Australia’s Steven Bowditch, 32, recorded the worst ever score in a WGC event after a 12-over-par final round left him 37 over for the tournament.
(Reuters) – Tiger Woods seemed “very healthy” when he attended a dinner party at the home of Jack Nicklaus, the 18-times major champion said on Sunday.
Nicklaus and wife Barbara hosted the gathering for United States Ryder Cup hopefuls at their Florida home on Thursday, while the players were in town for the PGA Tour Honda Classic.
Woods, who has not played competitively since August, was there in his capacity as a Ryder Cup assistant captain. “He looked very good,” the 76-year-old Nicklaus told reporters on Sunday.
“He looked very healthy and he really misses playing. So that’s good. “He says he was feeling great, and he was able to stand over a putt and chip now without having any leg pain and so forth. We didn’t really talk a whole lot about it.”
Despite the upbeat comments, Nicklaus said a return to competition was not imminent for Woods, who underwent back surgery in September and had a follow-up procedure the following month.
There was a media report recently that Woods had suffered a setback from his most recent surgeries, and could not move well.
Woods responded by sending out a video that showed him smoothly swinging a nine-iron in a golf simulator. “He doesn’t have a timetable for returning or anything,” Nicklaus said.
Woods, 40, has won 14 major championships, second only to Nicklaus.
(Reporting by Tim Wharnsby in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Both)
National pride will take precedence when four of the country’s top juniors line up in South Africa’s title defence at the 2016 All-Africa Junior Golf Championship in Tunisia at the end of March. The South African Golf Association (SAGA) selected Herman Loubser from Boland, Central Gauteng pair Marco Steyn and Dylan Naidoo and new cap Dylan Mostert from Ekurhuleni to chase down the country’s 18th consecutive title in Africa’s most prestigious junior team championship at the El Kantaoui Golf Course in Sousse from 23’26 March. Loubser, Steyn and Naidoo were members of the victorious four-man team that marched to a commanding 55 stroke victory at Lusaka Golf Club last year. ‘We are pleased to welcome Herman, Marco and Dylan back for another tour of duty and very proud to see Dylan make a well-deserved national debut,’ said SAGA Golf Integration Manager Eden Thompson, who will accompany the team to Tunisia. ‘All four juniors performed exceptionally well in 2015 and I believe we have selected the strongest available quartet to take up our title defence. ‘Marco enjoyed a solid start to the 2016 season with victory the inaugural Leopard Trophy and he moved to third in the Open Amateur rankings after his victory in the Free State Open in late January. ‘Dylan Naidoo took a podium finish in Dr Bam National Order of Merit title, while Herman vaulted to fourth in the Open Amateur rankings with top 10 finishes in the Gauteng North and Southern Cape Opens and a tie for 12th in the South African Stroke Play Championship. ‘Dylan Mostert was one of the most consistent performers on the junior circuit last season. He broke through for his first provincial victory in the Central Gauteng Open in November and finished the season with a runner-up and two joint third place finishes. He will be a great addition to the team.’ The quartet will not only challenge to protect South Africa’s undefeated record, but the winners and silver medallists of the All-Africa Junior Golf Championship also qualify for the Junior Golf World Cup in Japan later this year. ‘It is a very big honour to be chosen to wear the green and gold and we all want to make a valuable contribution to the team,’ Mostert said. ‘We definitely have our eye on both prizes. There is a lot of pride at stake to keep South Africa’s winning record unbroken, but we also want to make sure we qualify for Japan.’ Thompson said the All-Africa Junior Golf Championship goes a long way in giving the best players in Africa a highly competitive platform to showcase their talent and gain experience. ‘The All-Africa Junior Golf Championship is the biggest stage for junior golf in Africa,’ Thompson said. ‘In the last decade, the championship has grown into one of the most prestigious amateur events on the annual calendar. It is an honour for our players to compete in this esteemed event and we believe our 2016 team will do us proud once again.’ – See more at: http://www.sascoc.co.za/2016/02/23/sa-quartet-off-to-all-africa-championships/#sthash.08pCzFp7.dpuf
Rory McIlroy showed little rustiness as he returned from an extended break to shoot a six-under 66 and stay two strokes clear of playing partner and world No 1 Jordan Spieth in the first round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship on Thursday.
Four-time major winner McIlroy’s last tournament appearance was in November’s DP World Tour Championship which he won to top Europe’s money list for a third season in four and put a gloss on an injury-interrupted season.
A year earlier, McIlroy launched his bid for the US Masters, the only major he has yet to win, but instead of sealing a career grand slam he saw Spieth, 22, take both the Augusta title and later the world No 1 ranking.
“It’s not about making statements or trying to lay down markers, it’s just about trying to play the best that I can,” McIlroy, 26, told reporters after a sizzling first round that opened with successive birdies.
“I felt in practice last week in Dubai I was swinging well. I keep saying there’s no reason why I can’t bring that confidence from the range and practice rounds into the real thing. Today I was able to do that.”
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Sixth-ranked Rickie Fowler completed an awesome playing trio that drew a crowd of more than 200 despite their near-dawn start.
There was little interaction between the players on their front nine, but they seemed more relaxed as the round grew on. Spieth and McIlroy, winners of four of the past six majors, amiably chatted as they walked the later fairways.
McIlroy’s early charge was briefly halted by a bogey on his fourth, but he responded with birdies at five and six to reach the turn on three under.
Spieth was a stroke adrift after picking up shots at his sixth and ninth holes.
McIlroy stretched his lead over Spieth with birdies at 10 and 12, the American sinking three birdies and two birdies in an erratic six holes, but the Northern Irishman then lipped out a 30-foot putt of the final green and Spieth responded with eight-foot birdie to narrow the gap.
A year ago, Jaco van Zyl wasn’t sure he could walk 18 holes!
But, after a seven-under-par 65 on Thursday, he found himself in the first-round lead of the BMW South African Open Championship proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni at Glendower Golf Club.
The opening round was scheduled to be completed on Friday after a storm halted play with 33 players still on the course.
Van Zyl played his first round without the assistance of knee braces after surgery to both his knees in 2014, and he picked up where he left off in the 2015 season with a round filled with an eagle, six birdies and a bogey which gave him a one-stroke edge over Shaun Norris, with Keith Horne and Jbe’ Kruger sharing third on five-under.
It was a satisfying start to a tournament Van Zyl badly wants to win. ‘It really felt good out there today. I felt very comfortable and there was not too much rust,’ he said. ‘It’s a very special week for South Africans, so we’re all going to try our best and stay in the mix.’
And if Van Zyl was satisfied, South African fans would have been pleased that, at the interruption, 11 of the top 19 players were South Africans: Justin Walters and Retief Goosen were on four-under, and Garth Mulroy, Branden Grace, Anthony Michael, Jacques Kruyswijk and Wallie Coetsee were all on three-under.
The scores were low on a course that made things tough for the player last year. But with a drought and a heatwave leaving the rough less punitive than it was then, there were birdies to be made for those who were careful. ‘It’s one of those golf courses that you go round and you think that it’s there for the taking but as soon as you let your guard down a little, it bites,’ said Van Zyl. ‘So you’ve always got to pick your targets off the tees, pick safe targets into greens and try and hole a couple of putts.’
Horne agreed. ‘There are a lot of holes here where you actually learn to be a little bit defensive and take your pars on them, and then you can take on others. If you can get that right then there are a lot of birdie opportunities, you’ve just got to keep the bogeys off your card.’
Kruger believes he knows the secret to scoring around Glendower. ‘The first thing you have to do is hit the fairways. It’s not a very long course and there are a lot of opportunities for birdies. Today I fortunately made a few putts which gets my score to five-under.’
There’s a long way to go yet, but for Van Zyl, it’s a quest for a big title that has been started well. ‘If I can get my first European Tour win here, it would just be so sweet,’ he said.
Picture of Van Zyl courtesy of Petri Oeschger/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images)
-7 – Jaco Van Zyl (RSA)
-6 – Shaun Norris (RSA)
-5 – Keith Horne (RSA), Jbe’ Kruger (RSA)
-4 – Tano Goya (ARG), Daniel Brooks (ENG), Justin Walters (RSA), Retief Goosen (RSA), Ross McGowan (ENG), David Drysdale (SCO) 
-3 – Nino Bertasio (ITA), Garth Mulroy (RSA), Branden Grace (RSA), Laurie Canter (ENG), Anthony Michael (RSA), Jacques Kruyswijk (RSA), Nicolo Ravano (ITA ), Wallie Coetsee (RSA) , Thomas Linard (FRA) 
-2 – Michael Palmer (RSA), Clement Berardo (FRA), Matthew Southgate (ENG), Ruan de Smidt (RSA), Robert Rock (ENG), Gregory Bourdy (FRA), Marcel Siem (GER), Chris Swanepoel (RSA), Johan Carlsson (SWE), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (RSA), Haydn Porteous (RSA), Dean Burmester (RSA), Brandon Stone (RSA) 
-1 – Doug McGuigan (SCO), Mark Williams (RSA), David Howell (ENG), Zander Lombard (RSA), Jean Hugo (RSA), Oliver Bekker (RSA), Edoardo Molinari (ITA), Alex Haindl (RSA), Trevor Fisher Jnr (RSA), Pelle Edberg (SWE), Ben Evans (ENG), Vaughn Groenewald (RSA) , Adrian Otaegui (ESP) , Oliver Fisher (ENG) , Pablo Martin Benavides (ESP) , Jeff Inglis (ENG) , Daniel Gavins (ENG) , Cameron Moralee (AMA) (RSA) , David Meyers (AMA) (RSA) 
Par – Jorge Campillo (ESP), Richard Sterne (RSA), Ockie Strydom (RSA), Jaco Ahlers (RSA), Merrick Bremner (RSA), Louis de Jager (RSA), JC Ritchie (RSA), David Dixon (ENG), Stuart Manley (WAL), Jason Scrivener (AUS), Matthew Baldwin (ENG), Graeme Storm (ENG), Craig Lee (SCO) 
+1 – Jaco Prinsloo (RSA), Nacho Elvira (ESP), Ernie Els (RSA), Andrew Georgiou (CYP), Michael Hollick (RSA), Colin Nel (RSA), Christiaan Basson (RSA), Daniel Greene (RSA), Darren Fichardt (RSA), Tyrone Mordt (RSA), Titch Moore (RSA), Daniel Im (USA),Lyle Rowe (RSA), Erik van Rooyen (RSA), Andrew Curlewis (RSA) , Jake Redman (RSA) , Danie van Tonder (RSA) , Peter Karmis (RSA) 
+2 – Le Roux Ferreira (RSA), Sebastien Gros (FRA), Jacques Blaauw (RSA), Gary Stal (FRA), Ulrich van den Berg (RSA), Madalitso Muthiya (ZAM), Jens Fahrbring (SWE), CJ du Plessis (RSA), Renato Paratore (ITA), Dylan Frittelli (RSA), Adilson Da Silva (BRA), Neil Schietekat (RSA), Chris Hanson (ENG), Jason Froneman (RSA), Daniel Hammond (RSA), Jade Buitendag (AMA) (RSA), Herman Loubser (AMA) (RSA), Lindani Ndwandwe (RSA), Romain Wattel (FRA), Bjorn Akesson (SWE), Tjaart van der Walt (RSA) , Jared Harvey (RSA) , Jamie McLeary (SCO) , Lasse Jensen(DEN) , Tyrone Ferreira (RSA) 
+3 – Ryan Evans (ENG), Teaghan Gauche (AMA) (RSA), Dwayne Basson (RSA), Trevor Immelman (RSA), Justin Harding (RSA), Matt Ford (ENG), Simon Dyson (ENG), Francesco Laporta (ITA), Richard McEvoy (ENG), Rhys West (RSA), Callum Mowat (RSA), Lee Slattery (ENG), George Coetzee (RSA), Andy Sullivan (ENG), Rhys Davies (WAL), Gary Boyd (ENG) , Heinrich Bruiners (RSA) , Albert Venter (AMA) (RSA) 
+4 – Eddie Taylor (RSA), Marcus Kinhult (SWE), Andrew Johnston (ENG), Hennie Otto (RSA), Dominic Foos (GER) 
+5 – James Busby (ENG), Rourke van der Spuy (RSA), Mark Foster (ENG), Derick Petersen (RSA), Louis Calitz (RSA), Michiel Bothma (RSA) , Darryn Lloyd (RSA) , Seve Benson (ENG) , James Robinson (ENG) 
+6 – Jeff Winther (DEN), PH McIntyre (RSA), Borja Virto Astudillo (ESP), Trevor Dodds(NAM), Lukas Nemecz (AUT) , Tristen Strydom (AMA) (RSA) 
+7 – Morten Orum Madsen (DEN), Joachim B. Hansen (DEN), Jack Kutumane (RSA), Jin Jeong (KOR), Daniel Young (SCO) (AMA), John Parry (ENG) 
+8 – Oliver Wilson (ENG)
+9 – Andre Nel (AMA) (RSA)
+10 – Jean-Paul Strydom (RSA)
RTD – Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL) , Richard Finch (ENG) 
– See more at: http://www.sascoc.co.za/2016/01/08/van-zyl-walks-tall-at-sa-open-championships/#sthash.Z219Hxyf.dpuf