Tuesday, 17 September 2013
Knut Borsheim (pic by Phil Inglis) (Phil Inglis)
Knut Borsheim (pic by Phil Inglis) (Phil Inglis)
Knut Borsheim describes his runner-up finish in the 2011 Kazakhstan Open at Nurtau Golf Club as a “career-changer”, so who better to run you through the ins and outs of the stunning mountain-side course in Almaty ahead of this week’s edition.

The Norwegian rose from way down the Challenge Tour Rankings to The European Tour in the space of just three months in 2011 and it was all down to a shock runner-up finish at the Kazakhstan Open at this week’s venue.

Before he runs through some of the most crucial holes at Nurtau, Borsheim takes up the story of that incredible, career-changing period:

“It was my last invite in Kazakhstan and I remember sitting on the bus on the way to the course and some of the players were talking about how Johan Edfors always pulled off big wins and results when he had to, so I was thinking, ‘how cool would it be to be remembered as the guy who just pulled off big results when he had to’.

“So I figured I would have loved to have done it that week and pull off a big result. I wanted to be that guy. It was my last invite of the year so if I didn’t finish top three there I was straight back to first stage of Qualifying School, so it would have been so much different and more difficult for me.

“I finished second behind Tommy Fleetwood. I gave myself a chance but Tommy was too good at the 18th, holed a really tough putt. It changed my whole career though and I got into the Grand Final. It all went really fast.

“I didn’t really play that well at Grand Final but then I got into Final Stage of Qualifying School and got my European Tour card that way. From having nothing and just turned professional to getting onto The European Tour, it was crazy.

“So I was pretty pleased to hear that they were holding the Kazakhstan Open at Nurtau this year. I know what shots I needs out here and I like the course so it should fit me pretty well.”

Favourite hole…

 “I'm going to be biased saying this because at the tenth last year I made an eagle in the final round in 2011.

"It’s probably not the best hole on the course but it gives me the best feelings when I think of it. There are tonnes of good holes here.

“It’s a nice par five and you can’t really hit driver so you hit a three wood down because there is a little water crossing the fairway and you want to be short of that. Then you have a five iron in.

“I hit a pretty good second shot in there in 2011 and that shot on the Challenge Tour show was probably the first time I saw myself on TV! So that was nice.”



 Most picturesque hole…

“The tee shot at the 13th is really nice. It sets up nicely in front of your eye. It’s a pretty awkward tee shot but it’s beautiful, you have trees to the right and some problems to the left with high grass, so you just need to shape a little fade from the tee.

 “That tee shot just comes back to my mind as the nicest tee shot out there. It’s intimidating but not in a really bad way, it’s just really challenging. You have a little bit of water in front of the green too and a bunker to the right.”


Most difficult hole...

“It has to be the 15th. It’s such an awkward tee shot. The fairway slopes left to right and it’s so tight. The rough is so high there too so you could hit a perfect tee shot to the fairway but it could roll through and suddenly you can’t make the green.


“I was lucky one day in 2011 because I found the bunker from the tee and then I found a greenside bunker and got up and down from there for par. 

"If you’re in the rough you will still have maybe 170 yards to the green from heavy stuff so it’s difficult to advance it that much.

“That is probably the hardest hole. The fairway is firm and sloping from left to right but it’s a dog-leg left so it messes up your mind. I hit a fade last year so you have to take it over lost ball territory and shape it back in. Definitely the toughest hole.”


The 18th as a closing hole...

“It’s not the hardest hole on the course but it’s a really nice closing hole. It’s more a position hole; you play a three-iron from the tee and then maybe an eight or nine iron in.

“But again you have to hit the fairway and you have to clear the left side, where there is a bunker, so that you have a shot into the green. It’s a really good finishing hole. A lot of finishing holes tend to be long par fours where it’s all about your drive and hitting six iron in and just getting some luck from there but I think this hole is really good.

“You play for position and give yourself a mid to short-iron in and you can take a more aggressive line if you want to but I didn’t do that last time out. You just need to hit the fairway.

“Under pressure it’s a really good hole. I bogeyed in the final round in 2011. I was on the fairway and I was two shots behind. I had the perfect distance in, exact same distance as I had two holes before where I hit it pin-high.

I was a little bit pumped though so I said I might as well go for the flag. My playing partner hit to the middle of the green, which is the play there. But I figured this is a play-off situation and I'm going to go for it. 

"I hit it beautiful, right at the pin. The pitch mark was within inches of the pin and it was a sky-high eight iron. But it bounced and released about four yards and just went into the back bunker. I mean, all week it was drop-and-stop.

"I don’t know what happened. That was the hard part, it was such a good shot so when I hit it everyone was clapping but then all of a sudden they stopped. 
I knew something was weird about it then. I had a bad feeling.

“I asked Espen (Kofstad) after but he said it got a weird kick but I did all the right things and went for it. I’d rather not win doing that then not win playing safe. As long as you’re aggressive you can sleep well that night without thinking about how you chickened out!”


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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1CARLSSON, JohanSWE18-18
T2OTAEGUI, AdrianESP18-11
T2STEWART, DuncanSCO18-11
T2HATTON, TyrrellENG18-11
T5WILSON, OliverENG18-10
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