Legend Golf & Safari Resort has been awarded No. 1 golf resort status on the African continent

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Legend-Golf-Safari-ResortLegend Golf & Safari Resort has been awarded No. 1 golf resort status on the African continent by the respected African Business Review magazine.
The multi-award-winning leisure venue, situated at the heart of the Big 5 Entabeni Safari Conservancy in the Waterberg area of Limpopo, has added yet another prestigious accolade to its portfolio of industry acknowledgements.

Legend was hailed as the Continent’s Best Golf Resort in the February 2011 edition of African Business Review and its world-class Signature Golf Course was declared “truly spectacular” by the acclaimed industry publication.

Beating off illustrious competition from Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa, Sun City’s Gary Player Country Club, Egypt’s Taba Heights and Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate in the Review’s rundown of the top 10 golf resorts in Africa, Legend Golf & Safari Resort scooped first place thanks to its “thrilling” world-famous Extreme 19th golf hole as well as its innovative 10-hole Tribute Course.

The continent’s No 1 golf resort title is just the latest in a long line of awards for the South African sporting destination. It scooped the World’s Best title in the category of best golf course at the highly prestigious and fiercely contested 2010 International Property Awards and was named Africa’s leading sports resort and South Africa’s leading golf resort at the 2010 World Travel Awards.

For more information about Legend Golf & Safari Resort go to www.legendgolfsafari.com

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Nigeria to see big boost in golf by Young Masters Golf (YMG) announcement

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YMG Junior GolfGolf in Nigeria has received a boost with news that Young Masters Golf (YMG), the popular youth development course, will launch there soon.
The license to spread YMG across the West African country has been secured by 2AT (To A Tee Nigeria Ltd), which plans to deliver the programme in schools.

Seyi Badmos, a director of 2AT, explained: “We aim to introduce golf in a fun and accessible way to as many children as possible, while increasing the popularity of golf tuition among the Nigerian youth and growing and sustaining golf in the country.”

There are currently 43 golf clubs in Nigeria, but the sport is gaining in popularity.

Badmos added: “Golf in Nigeria is gradually developing with a surge in the development of new golfing facilities, but unfortunately not many youths are involved in the game owing to a lack of appreciable knowledge about the sport, which inadvertently makes most people term it as elitist. There is, therefore, a need to bring more youths to the sport.”
The YMG programme is already used in South Africa and the Sudan – just two of an expanding list of 13 countries using the training course.
Developed by a team of highly experienced PGA professionals, the YMG programme is the ultimate solution for boys and girls from the ages of six to 14-years-old who want to start playing golf or, if they already play, to improve.

The programme has recently been overhauled and improved to offer a focused approach to golf development, but its ethos is as it always was: to encourage youngsters to participate in golf and to teach them the basics, rules and etiquette of the sport, through the auspices of PGA-trained professionals.

Chris Smith PGA, sales director for YMG in the UK, said: “We are delighted to welcome Nigeria to our list of participating countries and feel sure it will help to develop the game in a country where youngsters are always so enthusiastic about sport.

“We will continue to work hard to take YMG to any part of the globe where golf pros believe it may help improve participation.”

To discover more about delivering the Young Masters Golf programme to juniors or for information on clubs providing the scheme in your area visit www.ymg-golf.com

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Goosen takes lead in style at Commercialbank Qatar Masters

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Commercialbank Qatar Masters

Commercialbank Qatar Masters

South Africa’s Retief Goosen celebrated his 42nd birthday in style yesterday (Thursday) by taking a slim early lead in the Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy at Doha Golf Club.

While biting winds of up to 50kmph blew away the early chances of many of the star names on display in the third leg of The European Tour’s famed Desert Swing, Goosen was calmness personified as he opened with a three under par 69 to take a one-shot lead on a day when just seven players shot under par.

“It was tough out there today,” said Goosen, whose last Tour win was in the same tournament back in 2007.

“I drove it nicely off the tee, so I hit a lot of shots off the fairway. But it was tough to get it close to the flags because of the windy conditions. Putting wasn’t easy as you’re getting blown all over the place, so it’s tough. It’s not a bad birthday present – I was born in 1969 and I shot a 69 so it’s a good opening score on a tough day.”

Considered the toughest of the four Middle East European Tour events, the Doha course again bared its teeth as the biting desert winds played havoc with the score cards.

Goosen posted five birdies and two bogeys to end the day just one stroke ahead of defending champion Robert Karlsson of Sweden, 2003 champion Darren Fichardt of South Africa and unheralded Englishman Richard Finch, all on two under par (70).

“Around here you never know what’s happening with the weather forecast or what the wind is going to do,” admitted Karlsson, after starting his bid to become the first man to successfully defend the Commercialbank Qatar Masters.

“You just have to keep patient – you’re going to get your odd bogeys and missed putts – so it’s not easy to just keep going. You need to keep your head up, keep going and try to enjoy it as much as possible.”

World Number One Lee Westwood found the going tough carding a one over par 73 as did fellow big guns Sergio Garcia and Open Champion Louis Oosthuisen. Other star names struggling with the conditions included World Number Two Martin Kaymer (77), two-time Major winner John Daly (77) and fellow American and World Number Seven Steve Stricker (76).

Thanks to the weather slowing up play, not everyone in the 132-man field managed to complete their opening rounds. The suspension of play means a handful of players will return to complete their opening round first this morning, including Swede Niclas Fasth who was on three under par after sixteen holes.

Organised by the Qatar Golf Association (QGA), the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) and title sponsors Commercialbank, the 14th Commercialbank Qatar Masters resumes at 6.30am today (Friday).

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Three tied going into final round of Joburg Open

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Charl SchwartzelDefending champion Charl Schwartzel and his compatriots Thomas Aiken and Garth Mulroy share the lead going into the final round of a wide-open Joburg Open.

The South African trio all had similar efforts on day three, with Schwartzel and Mulroy – both part of a three-way tie for the lead at the halfway stage – going around the par 71 East Course of the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club in two under 69s.

Aiken, who was a shot behind at the start of the day, managed the best round of the trio, a 68, as the leaders ended on 15 under overall.

Their closest challenge was coming from Scotland’s David Drysdale after his four under 67 put him a shot further back, while English pair Ben Evans (67) and Jamie Elson (71) were tied on 13 under – the latter amongst the top trio after two rounds.

Jean-Baptiste Gonnet from France was tied with them to sit two shots of the leaders, with Welshman Jamie Donaldson recording the round of the day score of 65 to move onto 11 under.

Four other players were with him – Swede Oscar Floren (66), Antti Ahokas (68) of Finland and South African duo Allan Versfeld (70) and Branden Grace (71).

The big battle, though, looks set to take place at the top of the leaderboard as the co-sanctioned European and Sunshine Tour event reaches its climax.

Aiken, who led for most of the day after carding four birdies and a bogey on the par three 16th, believes someone outside the leading trio could produce a sting in the tail.

“Golf’s a funny game, you can get someone shooting a 62 to come from behind, so you never know,” he said.

“You need to concentrate on what you need to do, go out there and whatever happens out there happens.”

Trying to explain why low scoring was hard to come by today, the 27 year old, a seven-time winner on the Sunshine Tour, added: “There were two difficult things out there today. One was the wind and the other thing was the pin placements, which were in some really nasty positions.

“I did what I needed to do, didn’t do anything ridiculously bad, but it just didn’t want to go in the hole. Hopefully tomorrow it will go the other way.”

Schwartzel missed several putts along the way as he ended with his worst score of the week so far – he shot 68 and 61 previously.

The 26 year old also felt that the wind had been in a factor in keeping scoring in check.

“It was a tough day out there today,” he said. “The wind blew a lot and this course is not in one direction, it’s in different ones, so it makes things difficult.

“It always swirls and makes it difficult to choose clubs.”

The World Number 32, who is the highest ranked player in the field, also lamented his putting, adding: “I know I hit the ball well, but I left a few putts out there.

“I missed a few short ones, which weren’t really bad ones, but just misread.

“Then I three-putted 15 and all of a sudden I knew I’m now on the back foot when I could have had quite a bit of momentum going my way.

“But no one really got away and I’m right in it for tomorrow.”

After the overnight leaders all dropped early shots – Elson starting with a double bogey six – Aiken got his nose in front with an easy two-putt birdie on the sixth.

Schwartzel responded with a hattrick of gains approaching the turn, starting with an approach to six foot on the seventh.

Aiken hit a great third at the par five eighth after finding sand off the tee to set up a two foot birdie and retain his lead, and fired in a 15 footer at the tenth.

Mulroy refused to allow the tournament to develop into a two-horse race and fired his tee shot to six feet on the par three 12th, before holing from 20 feet at the next.

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Brenden Grace sets early pace at the Johurg Open

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Brenden Grace

Brenden Grace

Branden Grace set the early pace at the Joburg Open after a blistering eight under par 63 in the opening round put him two shots clear midway through the first day.

The 22 year old South African recorded six birdies and an eagle in his bogey-free round on the West Course at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club – a start that enabled him to sit comfortably ahead of the chasing pack.

Welshman Stuart Manley was next best on six under, alongside Dutchman Floris de Vries and South Africa’s PH McIntyre.

Qualifying School graduate Manley, who had football trials at Manchester United as a youngster, had four birdies in his first six holes.

His good progress continued, until he missed a ten foot par putt at the last for his first dropped shot of the day, missing the chance to finish only one behind in the process.

De Vries mixed eight birdies with two bogeys in his 65, with the leading trio all playing on the easier West Course.

The field play both courses over the first two days before action reverts to the more difficult East Course for the weekend.

Going best on the East Course was Thomas Aiken, who was six under through 14 holes.

Grace was thrilled with his effort, saying: “I thought beforehand that one of the keys was to go low on the West and fortunately I managed to do it today.

“I played really well, I didn’t make any mistakes out there and everything went to plan, so I’m pretty pleased with that.”

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Man who turns in Villegas getting not so nice feedback

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camilo-villegas-golf-swing

Camilo Villegas golf swing

The man who drew some ire from the golf world after contacting the PGA Tour about an infraction by Camilo Villegas in the first round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Kapalua Plantation Course on Thursday explained himself Saturday.

Dave Andrews, a retiree from New Hampshire, said he was watching the tournament with some friends in Florida, where he spends his winters, when he saw Villegas move a divot on the 15th hole with his club while the ball Villegas struck was still rolling.

Villegas should have assessed a two-shot penalty, but instead signed an incorrect scorecard and was subsequently disqualified.

Andrews said he sent tweets to the PGA Tour and The Golf Channel before Villegas finished his round.

“I was hoping to at least inform somebody with the tour or The Golf Channel to make a decision, hopefully before the end of the round, so maybe if it was a penalty, he could just be given the penalty,” Andrews said via phone Saturday. “It happened on the 15th hole, though, so it was late in the round, and it probably took me 15 or 20 minutes to send the e-mail out, or actually the tweet.

“I wasn’t sure what I saw, and there was probably less than half an hour or so before Villegas could finish his round. That’s when I sent the tweets out to The Golf Channel and the PGA Tour. I doubt, though – they probably didn’t see them until after he was done.”

Of the players in the Maui field this week, Ian Poulter may have been the most outspoken critic of Andrews. Poulter posted close to a dozen tweets about what happened. Among them:

* “An armchair official tweeted in to get Camilo DQ, what is wrong with people have they got nothing better to do.”

* “Yes the rules r the rules it was a mistake on Camilo’s behalf, he didnt know he had done wrong, but people calling in, no 1 likes a snitch.”

* “Case closed yes he should have been punished but it’s a shame it wasn’t before he signed his card. Came down to an armchair official.”

Andrews said: “I wasn’t trying to be a rules official. People have criticized me saying that I was trying to do that. To be honest, I was just stunned that no one had said anything. In that regard maybe I was trying to be a rules official, but I wasn’t trying to impress myself into the tournament. My intent was good.”

Andrews said he believes the rules calling for an immediate disqualification for signing an incorrect scorecard should be loosened.

“At least extend the period until the guy tees off the next day to give him an overnight grace period so it could be raised and not disqualify him,” he said. “Not disqualifying the player for a mistake he hadn’t realized he had made.”

Ernie Els, the 2003 champion at Kapalua and currently in a tie for 13th, said after Friday’s round that something should be done to avoid the situation from happening again.

“Maybe that should be – if you sign your scorecard and somebody sees something in South Africa after we have already played and they have shown it there and the guy goes, ‘Yeah, I’ve seen a rules violation,’ and calls it in and after he signs his card, maybe because of that there should be a little thing in our rule book that says, ‘OK, even though he has signed his card, because of this call after the fact, he gets a two-shot penalty instead of being disqualified.’ “

Villegas was gracious in his statement after the decision.

“While it is obviously a disappointing way to start the season, the rules are the rules, and when something like this happens, it’s important to me that you’re respectful of the game and the people involved,” he said.

Andrews was encouraged by Villegas’ reaction.

“His comments were very gracious,” Andrews said. “He realized when he saw the tape.

“I wasn’t trying to do anything except try to help, but no good deed goes unpunished, I guess.”

Andrews said that Poulter’s comments weren’t the most critical ones he’s seen.

“Some of the rank-and-file golf fans, they have been a lot more harsh,” he said. “I try to let it roll off my back. It doesn’t bother me. I don’t take it personally. I would say that probably 70 percent of the people I’ve seen comments from probably disagree with what I did, and maybe 30 percent agree. I can see the other side of the coin, too, and I don’t have the answers. I think a better system to address what is probably going to happen again is important.”

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Oosthuizen wins African Open title in sudden death

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OosthuizenandSouthAfricanTrophy

Oosthuizen with trophy

Louis Oosthuizen birdied the first play-off hole to win the Africa Open and deny Chris Wood and Manuel Quiros a maiden European Tour title.

All three had finished tied on 16 under par at East London Golf Club after an enthralling last round which saw no fewer than seven different leaders on the final day.

Playing the 18th as the first extra hole it was Oosthuizen who looked to be in trouble off the tee as he hooked left, but, after finding a fortunate lie, he showed the class that made him Open Champion to fire his approach to eight feet.

And when Quiros narrowly failed to chip in from the fringe and Wood fractionally missed his 25 foot birdie effort, Oosthuizen calmly holed out for a third European Tour title.

Oosthuizen had led overnight along with Austrian Markus Brier, and it was his playing partner who stormed out of the blocks with three consecutive birdies.

But a lost ball on the sixth saw Brier bogey and he never really recovered.

As Oosthuizen continued plugging away, Wood set the clubhouse benchmark with a round of 68.

With clear skies and little wind low scoring always looked likely, but nobody managed to match Wood’s effort until Quiros birdied the last three for a round of 69.

Oosthuizen drew level with an eagle on the 15th, and had to match only one of Quiros’ three late birdies for victory.

But he parred the 16th, 17th and 18th to set up a dramatic 73rd hole.

Scotland’s Steven O’Hara finished level with defending champion Charl Schwartzel and another South African, Jaco Van Zyl, on 14 under.

“The whole day was a bit of a struggle,” Oosthuizen said. “I didn’t get anything in the hole and made that putt on 15 which helped.

“Then I made this one (in the play-off ) which was nice. I hit a terrible tee shot and then hit a full go sand-wedge to get close. Then I made the putt, it was great.”

Reflecting on his start to the year, Oosthuizen conceded he would need to improve on his putting going forward.

He said: “It’s been one of those weeks where the putter was very cold, but my caddie kept me calm and said it would go in eventually.

“So I kept on trying and made that nice one on the last which I will remember.”

As for his debut in the tournament where he picked up the €158,500 top prize, he added: “It’s always nice playing in South Africa and you want to perform.

“This week there was a great field here and playing with Retief (Goosen) and (Darren) Clarke was really special. If you look at the leaderboard there were just big names up there so I think it was a great tournament.”

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Know Your Pro – Pablo MARTIN

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Pablo MARTIN

Pablo MARTIN

Made European Tour history by becoming the first amateur to win a European Tour event when he captured the 2007 Estoril Open de Portugal at Quinta da Marinha, Oitavos Golfe. Turned professional a few months later but found the transition tough, struggling for form for almost two years before rediscovering his form and then adding a second European Tour title at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa, the first event of The 2010 Race to Dubai. Announced himself on the world stage at Canarias Open de España in 2003, when, as a 17 year old schoolboy, he became the first amateur to lead a European Tour event after 54 holes before finishing in a tie for 22nd place. Two years earlier, in 2001, he equalled Mark Mouland’s record as the youngest winner of the British Boys Championship, aged 15 years and 120 days.

That was the first victory of an impressive amateur career both in Europe and in American college golf where he represented Oklahoma State University. Whilst at college he won the Big 12 Championship Player of the Year in 2005 and 2006 and won both the Jack Nicklaus and Fred Haskins awards, presented annually to the nation’s best college golfer. Made his professional debut in the 2007 US Open Championship at Oakmont, finishing tied 30th.

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African Open welcomes European Ryder Cup vice-captain

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Darren_Ckarke

Darren Ckarke

European Ryder Cup vice-captain Darren Clarke can expect a warm welcome when he returns to the Eastern Cape to compete in the €1 million Africa Open at the East London Golf Club from January 6-9 2011.

The popular Clarke has been a regular visitor to South Africa since 1991 and is no stranger to East London.

In the 2009 Africa Open, he challenged South Africa’s Retief Goosen over the closing holes of the tournament. Although he couldn’t quite recapture that sizzling form at last year’s event, he still attracted one of the largest crowds on the final day.

His affinity to start his season in South Africa is well documented and the Ulsterman hopes his fond memories of East London will put him back on the winning track.

“I have enjoyed starting my season with the Africa Open the last two years,” said Clarke. “In 2009 I had a pretty good result and last year’s Africa Open sparked a return to form for me, so I’m really looking forward to playing in East London.”

“It will be fun catching up with everyone again. Hopefully this time, I will be on the winning side of the final putt.”

It has been a slow climb back for the former world top 10 player after a couple of tough years, but a tie for third at the South African Open and a fourth at the Joburg Open in 2008 sparked his return to form. He went on to capture the 2008 BMW Asian Open and KLM Open to end a five-year winless drought and finished the season ranked 13th in Europe.

In 2009, he missed out on the end-of-season Dubai World Championship by just one spot after finishing 61st in the inaugural Race to Dubai, but a runner-up finish at the Joburg Open in January signalled another return to form.

This time, the 12-time European Tour winner finished the season ranked 30th and recorded four top ten finishes, including a second at the Joburg Open and Barclays Scottish Open.

Now back in the world’s top 100, the Ulsterman is chasing world ranking points to return to the Majors.

“It’s been two years since I won but I am determined to break back and I hope the Africa Open will give me the kind of kick start it did in 2009,” he said. “It’s always great to start the season with a solid result and I’m looking forward to getting on the right track in East London.”

Clarke will be joined by rising European Tour star Chris Wood, double US Open champion and 2009 Africa Open champion Retief Goosen, defending champion Charl Schwartzel and reigning Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.
The field will be further boosted by 2009 European Tour champions, Ross McGowan, Michael Jonzon and Anthony Kang, as well as South Africans James Kingston and Richard Sterne.

McGowan of England captured the 2009 Madrid Masters, Sweden’s Jonzon the 2009 Castello Masters while Kang from the United States won the Maybank Malaysian Open in the same year. Kingston secured his second European Tour title in a playoff triumph against Anders Hansen at the 2009 Mercedes-Benz Championship in Cologne and Sterne achieved a triple triumph by winning the Joburg Open, SA Open and Alfred Dunhill Championship in 2009.

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Els edges out Goosen to capture the South African Open Championship

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ErnieElswinsSouthAfricanOpen

Ernie Els wins South African Open

Ernie Els held off the challenge of Retief Goosen to capture the South African Open Championship for the fifth time in his career on a fascinating final day in Durban.

In the 100th staging of the event, it was fitting that Els, who shot a final round six under par 66, edged out fellow former champion Goosen by a shot, as arguably the two greatest South African golfers of the modern era went toe-to-toe.

Two rounds were played at the Durban Country Club after rain earlier in the week had washed out almost the entire first day, while further showers in the early hours of this morning delayed play and also made the par three fourth green unplayable.

It meant that instead of 36 holes, only 34 were played, with all players given a nominal par to avoid confusion.

And three-time Major winner Els, who fired a 67 earlier in the day, followed it up with another excellent display as he carded five birdies, an eagle and a bogey to end on 25 under overall.

He by no means cruised to victory, though, as Goosen rallied late on with four birdies in his last five holes.

But the charge proved too late for the championship winner from 1995 and 2005, and despite emulating Els’ 66, he fell just short on 24 under overall.

Another Major winner, Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen, ended four stokes further back after a 66 in the final round, while rising youngster Charl Schwartzel (67) finished on 18 under to make it a top four for South Africa.

Robert Rock was the highest placed European thanks to successive 64s that saw him end on 16 under to complete the top five at the co-sanctioned European and Sunshine Tour event.

Els, who picked up a prize of €158,500 after securing his third title of the year, said: “It was a wonderful choice to come here. This really makes the year very good now.

“Playing under a lot of pressure, with really good players in the field on a great golf course. It was a great championship.”

The title added to his previous ones in 1992, 1996, 1998 and 2006 and was made even more special considering it came at the centenary of the tournament.

Els, 41, described playing two rounds in a day during such a big competition as an “incredible feeling”.

He continued: “I’ve been playing the game for quite some time, 20 years now as a professional player and I’ve never had a day like that.

“I had a two shot lead at the start of the day and then after five holes I was three behind and then I was one up again after 18 holes. So it was just an incredible day.”

He also felt that securing an eagle from 15 feet on the par five 14th hole was crucial in helping him edge out Goosen – a man whose two titles were won with Els as his main final round rival.

He added: “Obviously 14 was a big putt, making eagle there. I knew Retief was going to come, but I never thought he was going to do it at 16 and then he had a great finish.

“I think right from the start (it’s going to be a head-to-head). I knew Retief was going to be the guy I had to beat.

“Obviously Louis and Charl were there, but Retief was the main one.

“He’s beaten me coming down the stretch quite a few times, so I really wanted to play well. It was really important. He made it really tough for me.”

French Rookie Romain Wattel (68) ended on 16 under overall, along with Rock, while fellow Frenchman Victor Riu (69) and Alexander Cejka (68) were a further shot back.

The top 10 was completed by Robert Dinwiddie (68) from England, Dane Thorbjorn Olesen (69) and South African Tim Clark (69) – all tied on 14 under.

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