Twitter

2 hours ago
He just loves it here. JC Ritchie is 6-under 66 and leading in Round One of the @zimgolfopen. https://t.co/1BE0fzKaHE Sunshine_Tour photo
8 hours ago
. @VersieA is among the early leaders in round one of the @zimgolfopen. He is currently 3-under thru 6 and tied at the top with Pieter Moolman.
#zimopen2018

Follow here: https://t.co/ePat8adQ9R https://t.co/diFCQSQD7P
Sunshine_Tour photo

YouTube

Coetzee leads SA efforts in MoroccoGeorge Coetzee, whose record in three appearances on Moroccan soil speaks for itself, can do better than he has done before when he tees up for the European Tour’s Trophee Hassan II at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam, on Thursday. There is no doubt that the 2017-18 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit winner has found a recipe for success in the northern part of the African continent which shows by his three top 11 finishes, although they were all at different courses. The 2018 Tshwane Open champion – that was his fourth European Tour title – goes to Morocco his confidence high following his fourth-place finish in the Open de Espana which put him four shots behind the winner Jon Rahm on Sunday. A superb final round of 63 there was Coetzee’s ninth sub-70 round in his previous 12 and gives him an impressive scoring average of 67.6 in that period. Only Tommy Fleetwood (14) has had more top-10s since the start of 2017 than Coetzee (11); the signs are stacking up that this could be yet another good week for the Pretoria Country Club player, says the European Tour website. Another South African in the field with Coetzee is the 2017 Hainan Open winner Erik van Rooyen who is also performing well. He’s been particularly strong with the irons and is currently second in greens in regulation this season on the European Tour, hitting 78.7% in 24 rounds. Van Rooyen started the year in South Africa on a good note as he finished tied 18th in the Dimension Data Pro-Am in February and that was followed by 10th the Tshwane Open last month.  
Confident Senekal out to improve Zimbabwe showingWhile JJ Senekal missed the cut at last year’s Zimbabwe Open, he admits that last week’s win at the Zanaco Masters has injected a lot of confidence in him and that he’s looking forward to putting that to work this week when the Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open tees off on Thursday at Royal Harare Golf Club. At the corresponding event last year, it was JC Ritchie and Trevor Fisher Jr who stole the show, with Ritchie needing a playoff hole to claim his first win on the Sunshine Tour. Senekal shot a total of 150 that week and was not around for the weekend. This week, however, he returns on the back of a solid performance which required grit and patience and says that’s exactly what’s needed if he is to play well in Harare. “The confidence is high,” he admitted, “but this course is tricky, the greens are a bit quick. Here, you’ve got to knuckle down and keep the focus up. Normally on easier golf courses, you tend to lose focus a bit but on tougher golf courses like this one, you have to tune up your focus and stick to your game plan.” Having claimed both of his Sunshine Tour victories via a sudden-death play-off, Senekal knows just how long a week it can turn out to be when the field is as strong as the field assembled here this week. And, with the course as tough as many have said this Royal Harare layout can be, a few aspects of any player’s game have to be in top condition. His immediate assessment is that mental strength will play a big role in deciding who walks away with a win at this R2 million event. “Mental strength,” he said, “I think one has to be strong mentally here because it will not be easy at all. “You are going to have to hit it straight off the tee here,” he said of what he thought of what part of his game has to be in top shape here. “The greens are pretty big. Your iron play might not be that great but off the tee, you have to be solid, and of course, you will need to putt very well. But, I think the fittest players will do well here.”  
Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open: What's whatThe tournament The Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open has picked up a new title sponsor and has increased its prize fund by over 10 percent to R2-million. It was first played in 1984 and was part of what was known as the Safari Tour, a collection of events in Africa that were played by professionals based on the European Tour during their winter. As a result, it became an event on the European-based Challenge Tour in 1991, where it remained for two seasons before moving onto the FNB Summer Tour, which became the Southern Africa Tour and later the Sunshine Tour. The tournament was also played 10 times at Harare’s Chapman Golf Club before it was affected by the economic instability of the country and was not held between 2002 and 2009. It returned in 2010, and has been a fixture on the Sunshine Tour since then. It boasts two former winners who once held down the number one spot on the Official World Golf Ranking in Vijay Singh and Nick Price, and other luminaries to have won it include local heroes Tony Johnstone and Mark McNulty. The 2015 champion Dean Burmester could also almost be called a local: His mother owns the course record for women at Royal Harare and Burmester has a four-way share of the men’s record of nine-under 63 with Price, Francesco Laporta and Trevor Fisher Jnr. The field 156 players – the full list here The defending champion JC Ritchie The course The players always say they love going to Royal Harare Golf Club, and the reason for that – besides the hospitality of the Zimbabweans – is because the greens are possibly the best that the Sunshine Tour plays on all year. Royal Harare was founded in 1898 by a group of golf lovers who played on conditions far removed from the course that we know today. The course was established on the current location in 1901. The original course had sand greens and was unlike the current design. It was links-like, maintained by grazing livestock and hard-working committee members. Originally known as Salisbury Golf Club, the club was granted royal patronage in December 1929. The name changed again to Royal Harare Golf Club in 1980 at the independence of Zimbabwe. In 1979, Golf Digest voted Royal Harare one of the 50 best courses in the world outside of the United States. After a redesign in 1996 by Nick Price and Steve Smyers, the course was rejuvenated and lengthened with some major re-routing of holes. Despite its manicured lush appearance, Royal Harare is no pushover: the course rewards shrewd shot choice and course management. The form player Jaco Ahlers came close in last week’s Zanaco Masters in Lusaka, Zambia, losing out in a four-man play-off which was eventually won by JJ Senekal. He finished fourth in last year’s tournament in Harare, so he knows what it takes to do well on the course. He also carries recent memories of his big win at the Dimension Data Pro-Am with him, so he’ll be tough to beat this week. The sentimental pick Ryan Cairns is always one to watch on his home course, and it’s even more of a home to him now that he has moved back to Zimbabwe, works out of the club, and, presumably, gets more play on it than he has over the past few years. His recent form is encouraging, with a 12th place finish last week in Zambia. That will give him much more to work with than his 2017-18 Sunshine Tour season, as will some enthusiastic and vociferous hometown support. The bolter Anton Haig regained his card at the Sunshine Tour’s Final Stage Qualifying School, and he started the season will with a share of 14th in Lusaka last week. So the man who wasn’t yet 21 when he won the European Tour’s Johnnie Walker Classic back in 2007 has made a solid first step to regaining what was a very promising career. With the second of his two Sunshine Tour wins now in the distant past in 2006, he would be overwhelmed by a win this week. Television There won’t be any live coverage of the tournament, or a highlights package, but Sunshine Tour Weekly will have footage from the Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open next Wednesday.
Missed cut not deterring Lambrecht from learningErhard Lambrechts missed the cut for his first tournament as a pro, but the experience he got at Zanaco Masters at Lusaka Golf Club in Zambia, last week, was priceless. “I didn’t start as I wanted to, but it was an amazing experience,” the 21-year-old player who came through the Sunshine Tour Final Stage Qualifying School said. “It is very nice. The people here are spectacular. I didn’t expect them to be so nice. I enjoyed it very much.” The Stellenbosch Golf Club player missed the cut after shooting rounds of 77 and 75 for 11-over-par in the tournament which was won by JJ Senekal at 14-under-par 274. His first tournament as a pro with the big boys was a bit intimidating for Lambrechts. “I was a bit nervous for the first few holes. I had a rough start and I was seven-over after four, but after that, I re-grouped well. I finished five-over-par. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but there’s no real difference. The guys you play are definitely better, but they’re still human,” he said. Lambrechts also learnt a thing or two about the course. “The course reminds me a little bit of Durban courses, the greens, especially. I struggled with my chipping a lot around the greens. It’s quite firm, so you need to know where to bounce and where to stop and I struggled with that mostly.” His aim for his first season on the Sunshine Tour? “I just want to make as many cuts as I can. The main goal is to keep my card, not go back to Q-School. That is probably my main goal,” he said. He is also impressed with the standard of competition on the Sunshine Tour. “Everybody here can play golf. There isn’t a guy who will shoot 10-over. Everyone would come back with a better score and everyone is the same. There is no guy that is a lot better than the other guys,” The next stop for Lambrechts is the Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open at Royal Harare Golf Club this week, which he is looking forward to. “It is a great experience. I am still learning a lot. I am still young,” he said.  
Fast Spanish finish for Coetzee seals good weekCoetzee’s new record at Open de Espana George Coetzee fired a flawless final round of nine-under 63 to secure fourth place at the Open de España at Centro Nacional de Golf, Spain, four shots behind the winner, Jon Rahm, 23, on Sunday. The 2018 Tshwane Open champion came to the event for his first start after winning his home-town event and sealing the 2017-18 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit. The Pretoria Country Club player opened the tournament with a level-par first round of 72, carded a second round of 66, that was followed by a round of 71 and he fired a bogey-free final round which put him right into contention. He took home of €75,000 from the €1,5-million purse. Coetzee moved up to 86 from 100 this week on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR). Other South African golfers in the field with Coetzee were Jacques Kruyswijk who finished in a share of ninth on 14-under-par 274, Christiaan Bezuidenhout who came in a share of 28th at 11-under-par 277, Richard Sterne who finished 34th, Brandon Stone on 39th, Darren Fichardt 58th, Trevor Fisher Jnr in 67th and Dean Burmester who finished 71st. South African players who won the tournament since its inception in 1912 are Dale Hayes in 1971 and 1979, Charl Schwartzel in 2007 and Thomas Aiken in 2011. The 2017 Zambia Sugar Open winner Oliver Bekker opted not to defend his title last week and instead played at the Challenge Tour’s Belt and Road Colorful Yunnan Golf Open, in China, where he finished three-over-par 287 and secured position 48 which he shared with four other players.  
Wild scenes as Senekal wins in LusakaIt took four play-off holes to get the job done, but JJ Senekal finally won his second Sunshine Tour title on Sunday when he chipped in for eagle to defeat Jaco Ahlers and take the Zanaco Masters at Lusaka Golf Club. Senekal and Ahlers had finished regulation play in 14-under-par 274, together with Andre de Decker and Alex Haindl. The first trip back over the 18th – the designated play-off hole – saw De Decker and Haindl fall by the wayside, but Ahlers clung on grimly. Senekal’s approach on that final trip up 18 was wayward and hit a spectator to go into the greenside bunker. And then he got mobbed after he chipped in. “First my caddie hugged me, and then the rest of the crowd hugged me,” he laughed. “I lost my cap and a pair of glasses, but it was a special moment. It was the end to a draining hour. “It was way too long for me,” said Senekal. “I told Jaco coming up 18 for the third time that I was not built for this. It was long, it was draining, it was a long week. We played together for the third and fourth rounds. It was a good battle for a couple of days.” The victory gave him his biggest pay cheque on the Sunshine Tour, and his second title, like his first back in 2013 in the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final at St Francis Links, also came in a play-off where he bested Titch Moore. Senekal opened the tournament with a one-over-par 73, which seemed to put him out of contention early on. His second round of 63 catapulted him back into the fray, and, after a third-round 70, his closing 68 got him into the play-off. He made two birdies early on to turn in two-under 33 in the final round, but then a bogey on 13 – which had been changed from its normal par of five to four for the week – seemed to indicate that he was slipping up. “The final round was tough,” he said. “I got off to a good start to be two-under through nine. I didn’t hit a good tee shot on 10, but I got lucky with the lie and made par. And then I made a stupid bogey on 13 when I went for the green and I probably shouldn’t have. It was only a wedge, but I went for the green when I shouldn’t have, and I hit it in the water.” Senekal responded in the best way possible, with a birdie on 14, and then two more – one on 15, and the other on 18 which got him into the play-off as Haindl, who looked for all the world to have the victory sewn up going down the stretch, let it slip with an error on 16. “I feel for Alex, because he made double on 16 which brought us all back into the game. One slip-up can cost you a tournament and we all know that,” said Senekal. For Senekal, the victory was just reward for a year of hard work last season in which he finished 27th on the Order of Merit – his best-ever performance – without being able to win. “I really tried to win last year,” he said. “I had a couple of top-10 finishes and it was frustrating not to win, but I can tick that box this season now, I guess. This sets me up for a good season.”  
Haindl maintains slender Zanaco lead 1Alex Haindl maintained his spot on the summit of the leaderboard in the Zanaco Masters after he shot a 70 on moving day, which took his total to 11-under for the tournament and a single shot away from the chasing pack on Saturday. Despite playing well at Lusaka in the third round, Haindl found little joy in the way of birdies and only managed to make two of those on the front nine. They were, nevertheless, canceled out by the shots he dropped on his very first hole and the par-three third. His back nine was a lot better despite not making any birdies there because the eagle he made on the par-four 15th was just what he needed to bounce back after failing to make gains on the par-five 14th. “I was a bit frustrated with myself for not birdieing the par-five,” Haindl said of the eagle he made. “but, they had the tee up so we can go for the green and I hit it. So that was one good thing that happened today.” He was happy with the way he has played in Zambia this week and isn’t too worried about not scoring as well as he playing. “I would rather have it the other way around,” he said. “I wouldn’t like to be scoring well while I’m not playing well. But you have to be patient because somewhere some putts will go in” He will be going into the final round aiming to strike a healthy balance between a full-on attack and a conservative approach but refuses to get ahead of himself. “If you are hitting it well and making a few putts, you can go low here,” said Haindl, “but like I said earlier in the week, this course can also punish you. So, there’s a balance between being over-aggressive and being over-conservative but its always possible. I’d love to win, we all would, but there are a lot of guys around the lead who have won big events so for me, I’m just going to go out and play as well as I can.” He is experienced enough to understand that the competition is only about to get tougher. Current Dimension Data Pro-Am champion, Jaco Ahlers, along with JJ Senekal and Stephen Ferreira are lurking dangerously behind him in a share of the second spot. And they are just one back. Ahlers’ round three 69 means he has shot three consecutive rounds in the 60s in Zambia, a show of good form by many standards. “Three rounds in the 60s, and unfortunately not as low as I want but still in with a shot tomorrow and that’s all you would like to have on a Sunday,” Ahlers said. “Tomorrow, I’m going for everything. We all want to win. Nobody wants to finish second. We all want to have trophies in the cabinet.” It was the trio of Keith Horne, Titch Moore and Andre De Decker, however, which made moving day count in Lusaka. They all signed for 67s but it was Horne who was more clinical on day three, shooting a flawless round to get to a share of eighth with the same duo plus Lyle Rowe whose round could have been much better had he not made a double-bogey on the 13th. With the weather forecast showing heavy winds for Sunday in Lusaka, and with things as tight as they are on the leaderboard, the final round will prove to be a stern test.  
Flawless Haindl takes Zanaco leadAlex Haindl carded an unblemished eight-under-par 64 in the second round of the Zanaco Zambia Masters at Lusaka Golf Club to total nine-under for the tournament and take a one-shot lead into the weekend. He was among the lucky players who teed off in the afternoon when the gusting wind had died down a little, and he took full advantage of the conditions in style on Friday. Teeing off on the 10th, Haindl wasted no time in getting down to business with a birdie on the first hole that was followed by a par. Another birdie on the 12th, his third, was followed by five straight pars and another birdie to go three-under on the front nine. “I played nicely today and I played nicely yesterday too,” he said, “I just had a few bad lies yesterday and kept going birdie, bogey, birdie and so on. I just kept the bogeys off the card today and I managed to stay away from the bunkers which are really challenging, but other than that, I just did the same things I did yesterday.” Haindl didn’t relent on the homeward nine as he made another birdie to keep things tight. The eagle he made on the next hole was probably what he needed to continue his onslaught because, despite the four consecutive pars he made from the 12th through to the 15th, he made further gains when he birdied his 16th and 17th holes before making par on the last. He acknowledged that playing in a three-ball – with JJ Senekal who carded an impressive nine-under on Friday, and Tyrone Ferreira didn’t play bad either despite the score saying the opposite – where all three players were doing great was another form of motivation as also another motivator. “It was definitely nice,” he said of the group in which he played, “the three of us get along very well and JJ and kept going at each other and we kept pulling each other along. So, it was a really nice day.” Tied for the second spot a single shot behind Haindl is the duo of Stephen Ferreira and Senekal. Ferreira carded a second successive 68 to total eight-under. But unlike Haindl who teed off in the afternoon, Ferreira had to endure the wrath of the strong wind that made it even tougher to navigate around this tree-lined layout in Lusaka. “It was playing very tough out there,” Ferreira bemoaned the tough conditions. “It was swirling around again like yesterday, and a bit cold. But I am happy with my score. I just tried to stick to the same game plan as yesterday, because of the wind, you have to make sure you come in from the fairway then go middle-greens. Don’t try to attack too many flags but it was good.” Jaco Ahlers played himself to fourth on the leaderboard with a four-under-par 68 finish while Daniel van Tonder kept his composure in testing conditions to sign for a level-par second round and take the fifth spot behind Ahlers. He shares that spot with Lyle Rowe, Christiaan Basson and Merrick Bremner who rallied to a respectable two-under on Friday.  
Van Tonder consistent in LusakaDaniel van Tonder played himself into the weekend of the Zanaco Masters despite the tougher conditions due to the wind and the high rough, as he a carded a level-par second round at Lusaka Golf Club, on Friday. “The conditions are getting tougher and the wind was blowing a lot than yesterday,” said the 2014 Investec Royal Swazi Open winner. “I think the rough played quite hard, but when you tee off early, the wind is going to a factor in the morning because it is cold and the wind is quite high. So, some holes were almost a full club length difference, but other than that it was not too bad out there.” He is happy though that he managed to maneuver around the tree-lined layout, despite the double-bogey he made on the 17th hole. “It wasn’t too bad. In the beginning, I had myself in a few silly positions, that was quite silly. That was where the drops came from. Other than that, the birdies are out there to make. I think I made four or five today (actually six). They are doable. Just don’t miss again in the wrong places,” He admitted though that trying not to make mistakes in such conditions can prove difficult. “It is hard because you have to deal with the wind and the trees. There are a lot of trees here. The previous years, you could have hit it in the rough and some places and you would be fine. But this year if you are in the rough, you are quite dead,” The Durban Country Club player was happy with his game today. “I am happy about everything. I am hitting everything consistently. I am driving the ball well, on the greens, and I am chipping and putting quite well. I haven’t been in this place for a while. Every time I played I came from behind, I want to change that a bit this season. So, I want them to chase me,” Van Tonder finished third last year in the tournament which was then known as Zambia Sugar Open, three shots behind the winner Oliver Bekker.  
Sabbatini with early RBC Heritage leadFrom PGATour Rory Sabbatini shot a 7-under 64 for his lowest round ever at Harbour Town Golf Links and a two-stroke lead Thursday in the RBC Heritage, with top-ranked Dustin Johnson five shots behind. The talk leading up to the tournament was of the return of Johnson, the South Carolina native who grew up about three hours northwest of here yet had not played in the Palmetto State’s lone PGA TOUR stop since 2009. But it was Sabbatini who quickly moved to the top in perfect, windless conditions on what’s typically one of the most wind-swept layouts of the year. Matt Kuchar, Billy Horschel, Chesson Hadley and John Huh shot 66s. Johnson had a run of four straight birdies in the middle of his round, but ended up with a 69. He was tied for 20th. Sabbatini, starting on No. 10, birdied four holes on his front nine. He made a 52-foot putt on the par-3 14th and put his approach on No. 18 — the Pete Dye course’s signature hole with the lighthouse in the backdrop — to about 7 feet to set up another birdie. “I think anytime you can birdie 18 on this golf course, it’s key because 18 is not a very forgiving hole,” he said. Sabbatini, the last of whose six PGA TOUR wins came in 2011, kept up the strong play with three more birdies coming in. He closed the round with consecutive birdies on his final two holes, the eighth and the ninth. “All things considered, the course is probably as easy as I’ve ever seen it play,” Sabbatini said. Sabbatini wasn’t sure he’d even tee it up after hurting his back Sunday while working on his stance. He received treatment every day since and decided to go as long as he good. Turns out it was all the way to the end. Sabbatini even got a bonus on his final tee box when he finally got his back to pop after stretching on No. 9 to make himself feel better. “And it kind of releases everything for the closure of the last hole,” he said. Sabbatini surpassed his previous Harbour Town low of 66 in the 2009 final round when he tied for eighth, his best showing in eight previous appearances. Johnson, ranked No. 1 for more than a year, won at Kapalua and has four other top 10s since January including last week at the Masters where he tied for 10th in the year’s first major. He looked to continue his strong play at Harbour Town where he posted 10 birdies to one bogey during Wednesday’s pro-am. However, things did not come as easily for Johnson in his first time here since 2009. Johnson took bogey on his second hole, the 11th. He caught fire in mid-round, starting a run of four straight birdies on the 18th hole. But Johnson missed 8-foot par putts on the fifth and sixth holes and took one more bogey on his closing hole, the ninth. “I haven’t played here in a while, so it’s definitely a little bit different being here,” Johnson said. Kuchar, playing with Johnson, took advantage of the mild conditions to get himself in early positon for his second tartan winner’s jacket. Kuchar, ranked 21st in the world, stood at 1 under after his first 11 holes before birding four of his final seven — all on putts of 15 feet or less — to move into second. Kuchar said the move from Augusta National’s massive greens to Harbour Town’s tiny greens was a big difference. “Once you get on these greens, you feel like you have a chance to make putts,” he said. “To come from last week where getting on the green doesn’t mean much, you still have a lot of work to go.” Kuchar tied for 28th at the Masters last week.  
Step in the right direction for AndersenStefan Engell Andersen carded an impressive opening round of 69 as he teed off for the Zanaco Masters at Lusaka Golf Club in Zambia, on Thursday, which he sees as a good step in the right direction to better the poor performances he has displayed lately. “Surprisingly I haven't been playing very well lately,” Andersen said with a record of 16 missed cuts last season attesting to his statement.  “I just want to keep it simple. I am very happy with the start today. 69, I think is a very good score I got here today.” With the breeze picking up quite dangerously in the morning, the man said “It is weird. It is like the only place in the world where the wind blows very hard in the morning. Usually, it dies out by 10 o’clock, but it just kept on getting strong and stronger which made it difficult, because the rough is up. So, hitting the fairway was key today,” the Kenyan said. Besides the shots he did not like, the 27-year-old found some fulfilling aspects of his game on Thursday. “I thought I was pretty good off the tee, most of the day. A couple of loose ones, but my short game and putting kind of kept the game together today.” Starting the 2018-19 season on the right note was a good thing for the Els Club, Copperleaf player. “It is exciting. Usually, I am a slow starter, but it feels good to kind of get the first round of the season underway and a good score as well. I am excited about the season ahead,” he said. Andersen missed the cut last year in the tournament which was then known as the Zambia Sugar Open. In 2016, hee finished 53rd, with five others, which was his best finish in the tournament.  

Twitter

2 hours ago
He just loves it here. JC Ritchie is 6-under 66 and leading in Round One of the @zimgolfopen. https://t.co/1BE0fzKaHE Sunshine_Tour photo
8 hours ago
. @VersieA is among the early leaders in round one of the @zimgolfopen. He is currently 3-under thru 6 and tied at the top with Pieter Moolman.
#zimopen2018

Follow here: https://t.co/ePat8adQ9R https://t.co/diFCQSQD7P
Sunshine_Tour photo

Facebook

Play Suspended

{{live_message_text}}