Nambian Golfers Tee Off on Sand Dunes

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2006, 5:00 pm
WALVIS BAY, Namibia -- At this golf course, there's no way to stay out of the sand.
 
Aspirant young golfer Johnny Stiebel and his friends have fashioned an 18-hole course out of the golden red sand dunes that lie along Namibia's desert coastline, right outside their back doors.
 
The men are part of a development program at the Walvis Bay Golf Club, a misty port city where the desert meets the sea.
 
They work as caddies and get formal coaching as part of the club's mission to encourage the area's disadvantaged black youth to play sports.
 
When they get home they send sand flying with their practice swings on the dunes behind the township of Kuisebmond.
 
'It is harder to play on sand like this but it makes me a better player,' Stiebel said.
 
When the 21-year-old started caddying in 2002, he knew nothing about golf. Now he is the rising star of the program with a handicap of six.
 
'It is a way to stay out of trouble. Golf can take me somewhere. I would like to play professionally,' he said.
 
Nico Oberholzer, chairman of the Walvis Bay Golf Club, said the program, which has been going for four years with irregular sponsorship, has uncovered some excellent talent. Stanley Gawanab, 27, who is ranked fifth in Namibia, is one of their products.
 
'The raw talent is there. Their skills just need to be developed,' Oberholzer said.
 
But for Oberholzer the program is about much more than golf -- it is about giving the young men hope.
 
'It's not that we expect them to become professional golfers but they are winning competitions and they have a sense of achievement. That pride in themselves and the recognition they get is the main thing,' he said.
 
Oberholzer said the youngster's homemade 'greens' proved 'that where there is a will there is a way.'
 
The young players come from a poor community where there are few jobs or opportunities. The course they have mapped out is testament to their resourcefulness and love of the game.
 
They play with donated clubs and don't always have a full set. They play in sneakers or sandals with second hand gloves. Their carefully guarded balls are those they have found on the Walvis Bay course.
 
The holes are marked with rocks, they use a stick with an upturned plastic bottle as a flag and their scorecard is a piece of torn-off cardboard.
 
But for them it could be Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters, and they could be teeing off with Tiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros or Ernie Els.
 
'We named it Sun City,' said Manfred Geinub, referring to the famous South African course. 'It's all about dunes and the sun. It's challenging because you play under extreme circumstances.'
 
Geinub, whose 5-year-old son, Bobby, is already swinging a shortened club, explained that he and his friends decided to use the knowledge they had gained to design the course.
 
'We watch a lot of golf on TV and looked in some books,' he said.
 
Walking across the sand, clubs in hand, the players are quite a sight from the highway into Walvis Bay and have attracted the attention of passers-by. One was Joe Nawanga, a pioneering black Namibian pro golfer.
 
Samuel Kamitwata, 25, said one day Nawanga stopped his car and came to play a few rounds.
 
'He helped me with my grip. He shook our hands and said we must keep it up. It was great that this guy who is pro stopped to talk to us. I makes me happy,' he said.
 
A role model closer to home is Gawanab, quietly going about a round with other members on the silty soil of the Walvis Bay course beneath flying pelicans.
 
Gawanab, the youngest and only black person in the country's top five, wanted, like many other young African men, to be a soccer player. Instead, he found what he calls a gentleman's game.
 
'Golf has changed my life. It was my hope to play for my country,' he said.
 
Through the club he found a job in a woodworking factory, where the boss understands the demands of his sport.
 
'It would have been a different life for me. When I went on to the rank list, I stopped drinking and smoking,' he said.
 
Like Stiebel and his friends, Gawanab also started out practicing on the dunes.
 
'But we had nothing,' he said. 'For clubs we would weld water pipes together. These guys are lucky.'
 
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.