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Kiwi Mark Brown Wins a Place in The Open

Mark Brown

Mark Brown / getty

Kiwi Mark Brown shot a course-record 62 on Wednesday to win the Australasian regional qualifying tournament for The Open at Muirfield in July this year.

Mark finished the two-round International Final Qualifying tournament at Melbourne’s Kingston Heath Golf Club at -10 under par, capturing one of three qualifying places available to the 72-strong field. Australian Steven Jeffress finished at -9 under par after a second round of 67 and compatriot Stephen Dartnall shot second round 69 to both finish at -8 under par and to claim the other two qualifying spots.

An Eagle and eight birdies in Mark’s round on Wednesday helped him to beat Ian Poulter’s course record of 64 set at the 2012 Australian Masters.

Mark said he knew early on that it was a serious round;

” Yesterday I was a fair way back, so today I wasn’t really thinking about it too much,  I just went out and tried to enjoy it. I made six birdies in the first nine, then it got serious and it wasn’t so much fun anymore,  but it’s massive. I love this place and I played well here in November. I’ve got so much respect for the place, it’s quite a thrill to hold the course record. If there’s one major you want to play for me, this would be it. I hope it’s a big thrill, it’s not every major New Zealand has someone playing. I hope we get another couple in, Cambo and maybe someone else through qualifiers.”

 Steven Jeffress  at 37 years of age will tee it up in his first Major championship thanks to a composed round, Steven said he was impressed with his achievement;

“It’s pretty impressive, it probably hasn’t even sunk in yet, it’s going to be great, it’s going to be unbelievable. I had a number that I wanted to get to, 10-under. I thought if I get to that then it’s going to be competitive. I had 2-under around the front nine and then I parred through to 15 which I was pretty frustrated at. I said to my caddy that we have to do something here because only the top-3 get in and then I birdied 15 and 16.”

Stephen Dartnell had two solid rounds, and is was good enough to get him qualified;

“I started off a bit scratchy actually, I was 1-over after six then made a few birdies and just played solid from there on in. It wasn’t quite as good as yesterday but it was enough, I guess. I have never played a major before so will be a good learning experience, to go there and obviously try and play well.”

The Australasian tournament is one of a series of regional events on five continents that give players a chance to qualify for The Open Championship at Muirfield from July 18 to 21.

Farmers Insurance Open, Tiger Wins

Logo Image

Sign of things to come

Tiger Woods / Stan Badz/PGA TOUR

Tiger Woods won the Farmers Insurance Open, to nobody’s surprise as he started the last few raining holes with a six shot lead. He finished the tournament at – 14 under par.

Tiger said he had played good all week;

I’m excited the way I played all week. I hit the ball well,  pretty much did everything well and built myself a nice little cushion. I had some mistakes at the end, but all my good play before that allowed me to afford those mistakes. It got a little ugly toward the end, I started losing patience a little bit with the slow play. I lost my concentration a little bit. I think a win always makes it special, especially the way I played, to have not won would have been something else because I really played well. Playing the way I did for most of this tournament, until the very end, the last five holes, I felt like I should have won this tournament. I put myself in a position where I had a big enough lead, and that’s basically how I felt like I played this week.I know I can do that, and it was nice to be able to do it. I’m excited about this year. I’m excited about what I’m doing with Sean Foley and some of the things that I’ve built. This is a nice way to start the year.”

Tied in second place at -10 under par were Brandt Snedeker and Josh Teater, and another shot further back were Jimmy Walker and Nick Watney.

Nick summed it up like this;

“I don’t know if anybody would have beaten him this week. He’s definitely on his game.”

Only time will tell if Tiger is really on his game or that he just had enough class to out last this field.

Lydia Ko @ New South Wales Open, Australia

 

 

 

Lydia Ko. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Lydia Ko / Brett Phibbs

Ladies World number one amateur, Lydia Ko, came really close to defending her title here at the New South Wales Open in Sydney on the Oatlands Golf Club course. Lydia made history last year when she won this title as a 14 year-old, becoming the youngest winner of a professional  event.

Lydia was beaten in the final two holes  by Swedish professional player Caroline Hedwall, the pair were level going into the last two holes of the tournament, with Caroline eventually winning by two shots. Caroline said it had been exciting;

‘ It was exciting the last time and it was quite exciting this time too,  it was fun, I enjoyed it. ‘I thought about the last time I was here two years ago, when Lydia was one-up going to the last one, so I knew I had to hit it close because she can make a birdie on this one and I can make a bogey so I hit a great shot and that set up for a nice birdie putt and put a lot of pressure on her for the last one, so it was a nice way to finish. ‘I really enjoy those situations. I love being under pressure, that’s what I practice for.”

image

Caroline Hedwall 

 

Lydia said in interview that she had been happy with the way she had played;

I think I did pretty good, I would have liked to have some more putts go in, but golf isn’t an easy game where everything goes the way you want it to. I play well here, I came second two years ago, first last year and second this year, so I think it’s a pretty good tournament. I haven’t played like this in one tournament before, so I’m pretty happy and I think I played some good golf out there.”

The trouble started when her tee shot hit a tree, and from that position the ball found the greenside bunker, and the normally unflappable Lydia admitted she may have been affected by the prospect of victory while standing over her par put.

” I was like, ‘oh my God, maybe I could win this’, but I think I got a little bit excited and a little bit tense in the shoulders and it went straight left. I had a good put and it just lipped out.”

Lydia will now head to the ladies masters in Queensland this week, before playing the New Zealand Women’s Open at the Clearwater Golf Club in Christchurch from February 8-10.

Farmers Insurance Open, Tiger Set to Close the Deal

Cruising into Monday finale

Tiger Woods / Getty Images

Tiger Woods is seven holes into his final round at the Farmers Insurance Open, and has opened up a six shot lead, only divine intervention can stop him from winning his eight title at Torrey Pines. Tiger is at -17 under par for the tournament. Brandt Snedeker and Nick Watney are six shots adrift of Tiger and honestly have no hope.  Tiger could win from here using nothing but a five iron, he could even use it for putting.

The rest of the field are so far behind they are not even worth mentioning. This scenario is probably not good for the sponsors, the only paying observers on the course will be Tiger fans, this will include the daft ones who shout, “Get in the hole” even when Tiger tee’s off on the par fives. To my knowledge no one on the PGA Tour has ever had a hole in one on a par five, please correct me if I am wrong.

Tiger said about playing 25 holes;

“It was a long day, and I played well today. Overall, I’m very pleased that I was able to build on my lead. I’ve driven the ball well, I’ve hit my irons well, and I’ve chipped and putted well,  I’ve hit good putts, they all haven’t gone in.”

Nick Watney remarked;

” All we can do tomorrow is go out and try to make him think about it a little bit and see what happens.”

Brandt Snedeker spoke about making up six shots on Tiger;

“I’ve got a guy at the top of the leaderboard that doesn’t like giving up leads. So I have to go catch him. “I’ve got to make some more birdies, I’ve got a long way to go. I did a great job today of staying patient and playing good golf.”

Probably not too much more to say, apart from give the trophy to Tiger.

Farmers Insurance Open, is Closed

The Farmers Insurance Open was Closed Saturday as a  thick fog shrouded the course along the Pacific bluffs on Saturday and essentially wiped out the entire days play at Torrey Pines Golf Course.

The Players are set to resume the third round Sunday morning at 7 a.m. local time and go as long as daylight allowed, and then finish the tournament on Monday.

Mark Russell, the Tour’s Vice President of competition said;

“When Mother Nature doesn’t want you to play, you can’t play.”

Billy Hoeschel, who is currently in second place, three shots adrift of Tiger is happy that the pairings will not change for the next 36 holes;

“I think the coolest thing that can come from it is that I think it looks like we’re going to be paired together for 36 holes. So it’s a pretty cool thing that’s going to happen. It’s just going to be a fun day tomorrow and Monday. So we’ll see how it goes.”

Tiger Woods is still in the prime position, with a three shot advantage over the field, and if the conditions remain inclement then that makes it all the more of a difficult task for them to catch him.

We will just have to wait and see what transpires, it could be very interesting , if somewhat unusual.

Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, Chris Wood Wins

Chris Wood won his first European Tour Title at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in Doha, finishing the tournament at -18 under par.

Chris Wood   (Getty Images)

Chris Wood / Getty Images

Chris had some problems during his last round, his three stroke overnight lead had been transformed into a two shot deficit by the end of the first nine holes. He clawed his way back into the match, but was still one shot adrift of Spaniard Sergio Garcia and South African George Coetzee.

Chris needed a birdie at the last hole to get into a play-off. He boomed his drive down the fairway and followed that with a six iron shot over water to the green. The perfect six iron strike flew 202 yards and finished just ten feet from the cup, Chris calmly rolled in the Eagle putt to claim his maiden victory. He said the win had lifted an enormous weight off his shoulders;

” There’s an enormous weight lifted off my shoulders today, I feel like I can go on and win more. I knew it was going to be hard no matter how I played, winning on The European Tour is not easy. I’ve been knocking on the door in previous times and it’s not happened. To get it today, to get my first win, it’s such an honor, I’m so pleased. It feels good, blimey, I’ve seen a few mates picking up trophies and I’ve been waiting patiently for my time. I felt like I was due to win for a couple of years. Nice way to finish!” 

Sergio Garcia and George Coetzee were forced to settle sharing second place at -17 under par, but must have thought they would be in a play-off for the title, until Chris sank his eagle putt.

Sergio would have regained a place in the Worlds Top Ten if had won, but the Ryder Cup star was gracious in his defeat;

” Chris hit a great drive and a great six iron and then a wonderful putt. Obviously he’s been trying for a while and he deserves it, and after the start he had today, it’s quite impressive for him to come back the way he did and win.  I gave it my best effort.”

The top three golfers were way ahead of the field, the next best score was -13 under par, five shots adrift. Justin Rose finished in joint 16th place, and remained at number four in the World Golf Rankings.

 

 

 

Farmers Insurance Open, A Bright Eyed Tiger Leads.

A bright-eyed Tiger Woods leapt into the lead at the Farmers Insurance Open, a tournament he has won six times before, and no one would bet against him doing it again after his second round of -7 under par 65 gives him a two shot lead over the chasing field.

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Tiger Woods / Jeff Gross / Getty Images

Tiger cruised around the easier North Course, and said leading the tournament made him feel good;

“I feel good right now, I’m leading the tournament. Drive the ball well here and you’re going to probably have four iron shots into the par fives.You sprinkle that in with probably four or five wedge shots in there, a round of  -6 or -7 under par is definitely conceivable. I’ve had beautiful practice sessions at home, if I can do it there, I can do it out here. Even though last week I played only two days, I felt like I hit the ball well enough to shoot a better score than I did. I had a couple of days to work on it, and I came out here and felt pretty good about it.”

In second place alone is Billy Horschel, at -9 under par for the tournament, he shot a round of 69 on the more difficult South Course. Billy said he is looking forward to the pairing with Tiger for the third round;

” It’s a good day and I’m excited about tomorrow,  I get to play with Tiger. I found out when I tapped in for par, I realized he was leading and I was in second place. So yeah, looking forward to that.”

In a packed leaderboard, Brad Fritsch, a rookie from Canada, had a 67 on the South Course to lead the group of six players at -8 under par. The others are Casey Wittenberg, Steve Marino, Jimmy Walker, Josh Teater and Erik Compton, who Tiger Woods referred to as being “remarkable” for being a two-time heart transplant recipient and being on the PGA TourBrandt Snedeker and K.J. Choi both struggled today, and have slipped back down the leaderboard.

Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, Wood Carves out a Lead

Chris Wood   (Getty Images)

Chris Wood / Getty Images

Chris Wood of England has carved out a decent chance of his first European Tour Title win at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in Doha.

Chris has previously had nineteen top ten finishes, but now has an excellent chance to secure his first win after his third round of -8 under par 64, for a tournament total of -15 under par, three shots clear of the field. Chris said he was very excited to be in this position;

“I’m very excited. I wouldn’t say it was one of my best rounds, but I played very solidly and was giving myself loads of chances. Going out today I thought as long as I kept myself in the mix going into tomorrow, then I was going to be really looking forward to it. Leading gives me a bit of a cushion, obviously it’s going to be hard, it’s hard to win any tournament on The European Tour, so it’s going to be difficult.”

There are three players at -12 under par for the tournament, Simon Khan, Alexander Noren and New Zealand’s Michael Campbell. Michael is continuing with his recent good form, and a win here would complete his come-back to perfection. Currently at 264th in the World Golf Rankings, 40 year-old Michael has not won since his HSBC World Matchplay Championship at Wentworth in 2005. He is amazed at the feelings he is experiencing right now;

“It’s been a tough couple of years since winning at Wentworth and it’s amazing that the feelings start to come back quickly.  The confidence is increasing every day. Six months ago, I was desperate, I think I made two cuts in about two years, 18 months or something, and now I have a chance of winning a couple of times last year and maybe tomorrow. We are just going back to what is working and what worked before, and going back with my coach Jonathan Yarwood six months ago definitely helped. That’s really one thing I’ve been working the last six months is just smile after each round of golf, whether it’s a good one or a bad one, and it’s working so far.  It’s really simple stuff. It’s just nice to be out here and having some fun at the same time and maybe have a chance of winning.”

Michael Campbell  (Getty Images)

Michael Campbell / Getty Images

Tied for fifth at -11 under par are Branden Grace and Sergio Garcia. Sergio slipping back down the leaderboard after going in the water with his third shot to the par five last and taking an undignified six.

Good Luck to Chris Wood, I hope he gets his first European Tour Win.

Farmers Insurance Open. K.J. equals Brandt Snedeker for Lead

K.J. Choi has never liked Torrey Pines. In fact, he even sat out last year’s Farmers Insurance Open, as Brandt Snedeker went on to win. This year though he opened with a -7 under par 65 to tie defending champ Brandt Snedeker for the first-round lead. K.J. took on the tougher South Course in perfect conditions, but the forecast is not looking too good with rain predicted for Friday.

K.J. said in interview;

” The course is pretty long, the greens are pretty hard, so I felt like the course didn’t really fit me too well before, but I found something on the range this morning. Surprisingly, today all of my iron shots were kind of stopping into the green.”

Brandt Snedeker is also bemused why he always seems to play well, although the course does not set up well for him;

“It’s funny, you look at all the golf courses I should play well on, this should not be one of them. This is a long, difficult golf course with lots of rough and hitting a lot of iron shots. My strength is driving and putting, so it doesn’t really add up well around here, but for some reason, it’s been good to me.”

Brandt SnedekerHelen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

By contrast Phil Mickleson could manage only even par on the easier North Course, and he is tied for 90th place with a round on the tougher South Course coming up. Phil has no illusions about the task ahead of him if he is to make the cut;

” I’ve got to shoot something in the 60s, and if I can get a couple of putts to go, I putted very poorly, I’ve got to get that putter going. If I can putt well, hopefully, the mid-60s. I’ve been playing better than this, and there’s no excuses. Very lethargic off the first tee, I’ve got to get my head a little bit more focused on the shots, and I haven’t been as mentally focused starting out. So, hopefully, I’ll be able to turn that around tomorrow and start a little bit more effectively in the future. It’s going to take some exceptional golf over on the South, but three of the rounds are on the South, and there are some low scores out there if you play the course right and effectively. There’s probably half the holes where you’ve got to play for par and the other half you can make some birdies. 

Tiger Woods said he thought he had done a good job shooting -4 under par 68 for his first round at the Farmers;

“After being 1 under and then 1 over, to battle back and get to 6 at one point was a good job. It is different this tournament, because we didn’t play this fast, we had some rain overnight last night, but still these fairways are zipping. At least the greens are receptive. The greens are a little more receptive than in the practice round. I knew I had two par fives on the front side so I could get it down to par, and then maybe get two or three on the back, I thought that would be a good score. And lo’ and behold, I get it rolling. Get to 6 and a chance to go to 7, so it can change quickly. But, we had the perfect conditions for it. We couldn’t ask for better conditions to score than we had today.”
There are eight players tied in third place at -6 under par, Josh Teater, Adam Hadwin, Luke List, Ross Fisher, Billy Horschel, Chucky Three Sticks, Mike Weir and Scott Stallings. Tomorrow’s bad weather will soon sort that bunched pack, it will be an interesting days play.

Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, at the Half Way Stage

Sergio Garcia   (Getty Images)

Sergio Garcia/Getty Images

Sergio Garcia is one of four players tied at the top of the leaderboard at the half way stage of the Commercial Bank, Qatar Masters tournament at the Doha Golf Course in Qatar. attaining a -9 under par total score for the tournament.  Joining Sergio at the summit are Ricardo Santos of Portugal, German Martin Kaymer and Marcus Fraser from Australia.

Of course Sergio and Martin are Ryder Cup Team-mates, who were part of the European Ryder Cup winning team in 2012 at  Medinah Country Club, Chicago U.S.A.

Sergio was happy with his first round of golf for this season, after his corrective eye-surgery;

“It was nice, I definitely felt I played a little bit better than yesterday. Obviously I would have loved to hit a couple of shots better, but I gave myself a lot of chances and I can’t be disappointed. The wind started picking up a bit and it made it tough enough to choose the right clubs. We tried to play smart and managed to do that fairly nicely.”

First round leader Ricardo  followed up his first round -7 under par 65 with a second round of -2 under par of 70 for his -9 under par total score. He made a fine up and down from the bunker at the par five last, while Marcus Fraser did the same on the long ninth to complete his 67. Marcus said he was a little scrappy down the last hole today;

” It was a little bit scrappy down the last hole but I managed to scramble a par. Overall I felt like I played pretty steadily most of the day. I made a few birdies once I got on to the back nine, which was the front nine, but I’m pretty happy with the day. It is definitely one of those courses where you need to be patient and just take your chances where you can get them.”

Ricardo Santos, the Madeira Islands Open winner was pleased with his efforts of the first two days,

I struck the ball very well today, I just missed a few shots but I’m still happy with the round. This afternoon the wind is a little bit stronger than the morning, so I’m happy with two under. It’s never easy, but I started really well, after four holes I was three under, so I told myself to just keep playing like that. I just want to play my game the best I can, and then we’ll see. I want to enjoy the weekend.”

World number four Justin Rose was penalised a shot on the opening day when his ball moved as he prepared to tap in on the 17th, but he still made his first cut in five visits to Doha, Justin joked;

“That’s almost like leading the tournament round here.”

Two rounds to go, I wonder if Justin is close enough to make an impact here at Doha,  if he does it would be for the first time.

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