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Euro Tour. BMW International Open. Els Excels

Ernie Els excelled at the BMW International Open in the first round, firing an opening gambit of -9 under par 63.

Ernie Els  (Getty Images)

Ernie Els / Getty Images

After a low-scoring opening round at the BMW International Open in Munich, Ernie Els has a one shot lead over Germany’s favorite, Martin Kaymer.

Ernie said he was really happy to be away from the torture of the U.S. Open at Merion;

” It’s really nice, and just a pleasure to play, not to go through a torture chamber like we did at the US Open, it’s a nice start.“It seems like it’s really a day of scoring today, if you shoot a really low one, it’s nice. It takes the pressure off the rest of the tournament a little bit. Although you’re leading, it doesn’t really mean much until Sunday, but if you get into the race, so to speak, early on in the tournament, it’s nice to be right in the hunt.
Guys will be shooting low this afternoon and tomorrow morning, so I probably won’t be in the lead by the time I tee off. But it’s nice to have got a good round under my belt and can start kind of going for Sunday. I’ve really been working hard at my game. Especially obviously going into the US Open and really around the PGA at Wentworth, I could feel things were coming around a bit. I had a bit of an iffy year up to now, but I really feel that my swing feels good and my body feels good, touch wood. So I can swing the club, properly.”

Martin was  the 2008 winner of this event, and was one of four players to complete the first round in -8 under par 64, joining him on that score were Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen, England’s Matthew Baldwin and Swede Alexander Noren.

Martin was also happy to be playing a different course than Merion;

” In general, the last few months, I haven’t had a low round at all, so obviously it’s a little bit of a different golf course that we play this week, so there are lots of chances. It’s a nice start. The expectations were very high, I put a lot of pressure on myself and obviously it’s the only tournament we play in Germany, so very pleased, I’m very happy. I just want to put myself in position. It’s not so much about really trying to win.  I try to put myself in position on Sunday, and then we will see and I think I will have an advantage with the people here and very good support. I had fun today and I had a good group, too, to play with.”

Robert, Matthew and Alex were all bogey free in perfect conditions at Golfclub München Eichenried, to stay one shot clear of the next group of three players at -7 under par. Dustin Johnson was a further shot back at -6 under par, and he was another player who expressed relief at being away from the tough Merion course;

” I drove it well, hit it well. I holed a couple putts but I missed quite a few short ones. Merion was playing really tough, so it’s nice to come here where, this golf course, you’ve still got to play good golf and hit good shots and get it close to the hole. But it’s a lot of fun and there’s a lot of birdies out there, I’m happy with where I’m at right now and I’m looking forward to coming back in the morning and playing better.”

Asides;

The weather here in Wellington was unimaginable last night, winds gusting over 100 mph and torrential rain. The golf course will be closed today, that’s an understatement.

Euro Tour. Nordea Masters. Mikko Makes A Move.

Mikko Ilonen, from Finland has made a move, on moving day, Saturday, to lead the European Tour Nordea Masters by two shots at the Bro Hof Slott Golf Course in Sweden.

Mikko Ilonen   (Getty Images)

Mikko Ilonen / Getty

Mikko shot a third round of -7 under par 65 to move to the top of the Nordea Masters leaderboard at -18 under par. He now has the chance to end his six-year wait for another Tour win, and is fully aware of the challenge in front of him. He also spoke about the luck he had with his Eagle at the 15th hole;

 It was a bit of a funny yardage for me, it was raining and I just tried to squeeze it in there and got lucky with it a bit. I need to shoot another low score and I can do it, but we’ve got eighteen holes to go and lots of other guys are still hunting me.”

Alexander Noren, a home favorite, is in second place after shooting a marvelous third round of -8 under par, 64 and is now just two shots back at -16 under par.

Alex was amazed by his putting prowess;

” I got lucky, I hit a lot of good putts and I holed a lot of them. I don’t know where it came from, amazing putting. I’ve played here a lot, I’m from an hour away, it’s the best course in Sweden and it is a beautiful place.”

A countryman of Alex, Jonas Blixt, and Italian Matteo Manassero, who had a quiet day, are tied in third place at -14 under par for the tournament.

Matteo looked to have overcome his slow start to the round when he had a hat-trick of birdies on the back nine. All that good work was undone on the 18th, going from rough to water and carding a double bogey six on the last.

Jonas fired in a bogey free round of -6 under par , 66 to give himself a chance of victory here. The crowd will be hoping one of the home boys will lift the trophy.

 

Ballantine’s Championship. Noren Noses in front

Alexander Noren noses in front of the pack at the Ballantine’s Championship at the Blackstone Golf Club in third round in South Korea.

Alexander Noren   (Getty Images)

Alexander Noren /Getty Images

Alexander has a one shot lead going into the final round of the Ballantine’s Championship after a hectic third day, where some players had to  make up for lost time after delays on Thursday and Friday, half the field had to complete their second rounds early this morning. Eventually, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and José Manuel Lara got up to join Wade Ormsby and Arnond Vongvanij at the top of the leaderboard at the completed halfway stage, all on -7  under par.

Alexander had a -3 under par third round, for a tournament total of -9 under par, which was good enough at the end of the day to keep him on top of the board. Alex said it had been a long tough day;

It was a nice way to finish, and it was a long, tough day, a lot of wind. My short game I think held it together, and I didn’t have that many chances but I took care of them when I got chances for birdies and made the important pars when I needed.  So it was a big fight day.  I’m just trying to play well tomorrow, and it’s going to be a really fun day.  I haven’t been in the lead in a long time, and I’ve had some good finishes, but it will be a lot of fun.  But I’m just trying to play good and make birdies and try to make more birdies than the other ones. It’s easier for a player to come back when you’ve done something good in the past, you know you can score well around the track and good memories are always nice to have with you.”

Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal and Scot Peter Whiteford are tied in second place at -8 under par. Pablo had the lowest round of the day at -4 under par 68.

Pablo said he had played beautifully, only missing one green in regulation;

” I hit the ball beautifully today, I’m very happy with the round and to be in the fight again. I only missed one green in regulation which was something special. It will be good to be in the final group again, it’s been a long time.”

Peter had to start the day early, and had to play 28 holes in a long day of golf;

I was on the 5 am bus, first bus in, last bus out it looks like. It’s been a long day but that’s the job every now and then. My form has been pretty average, poor to be honest. I was hitting it half decent on the range and just not taking anything to the golf course, but this week has been better.”

Two Aussies are tied in fourth position, Brett Rumford and Marcus Fraser finished at  -7 under par. Brett rounded off his third round in some style, carding five birdies in succession.  They both agreed that the influence of compatriot Adam Scott was the inspiration of their good play,  following Adam’s victory at Augusta National.

Brett summed it up;

” With Adam winning the Masters it has inspired us all. The last couple of days have been interesting. It’s been pretty frustrating but rewarding at the same time. Hopefully tomorrow I can just eliminate all the silly errors.”

Ballantine’s Championship, More Weather Delay’s.

Lightning on the  Blackstone Golf Course in South Korea has caused further delays during the second round at the Ballantine’s Championship. Round 2 is due to be completed on Saturday morning.

Ballantine's Championship - Day 2 - Arnond Vongvanij (-7)

Arnond Vongvanij / European Tour

 Wade Ormsby and Arnond Vongvanij are the current leaders in the clubhouse on -7 under par for their completed rounds. Wade had a -5 under par effort and -3 under par for Arnond.

Alexander Noren, James Morrison and Jbe Kruger are tied in third position, they are following very close behind on -6 under par. James Morrison had a marvelous -6 under par 66 round to put him in contention.

In a senior moment yesterday I wrongly stated that there were no Americans in this Tournament, due to the political situation between the USA and North Korea. I am grateful to Rodd D Starkey to point out that there are indeed Americans contesting here, despite the absence of the two big names Zach Johnson and Dustin Johnson, who decided not to travel. You can catch up with Ross and his blog here;  http://letstalkgolf.co.uk/

Of the Americans who are in South Korea, the best placed player is Berry Henson, a -2 under par round today has him tied in eighth place. Jason Knutzon is tied in 31st spot at -2 under par, with Peter Uihlein currently at +1 over par, tied in 66th place. Peter has four holes left tomorrow in his second round to find a birdie and make the cut, which is at par at the moment. Missing the cut will be American Johnathan Moore, who is sadly at +12 over par.

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.

Scottish Open, Molinari misses out in Play-Off

Francesco Molinari lost the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart in a play-off to Indian Jeev Milhka Singh.

Singh hits winning note

Jeev Milkha Singh (Getty Images)

Jeev Milkha Singh had set an early clubhouse target of -17 under par, and was drinking tea watching the rest try and catch him. Francesco finally did, forcing the play-off. Jeev won with a birdie at the first extra hole, the 18th, in the play-off against Francesco, Jeev calmly sinking a 15 foot putt. Francesco’s birdie attempt, from 25 feet had come up well short of the hole, giving the chnace to Jeev, which he took.

Both players had finished the tournament at -17 under par, Jeev shooting a final 67, -5 under par. Francesco could only manage a par round of 72, that’s 10 shots more than his opening round of 62.

With this win Jeev gains a place in the Open next week, and thinks God has been kind to him;

“I was just enjoying a cup of tea and some chocolate cake and watching it on television, and suddenly got excited. I think God has been kind, and I think the field came back and I put myself in a to go in for a play-off , I’m very fortunate.
I would like to thank a lot of people who have been by my side the last three, four years that have been a struggle for me with the injuries: My family, my friend who coaches me. Janet, who was on my bag, my sponsors who stood by me like Callaway, UPS, Societe Generale, golf in Dubai. All of these guys have been great and supported me through a tough time and I want to thank them all for this. It has been really tough, frustrating more than anything else. You feel like your game is coming back and another injury creeps up, but I just stuck myself in there and said that you need to work on the physical side, and I worked hard on that. Everything has paid off, and I just want to think about the good things and not what’s past and I want to look towards the future now.”

Francesco was obviously disappointed;

“It was a good week, positive. It’s obviously disappointing at the moment not to finish it off. The two putts at 15 and 16 that I missed made all the difference in the end.”

Alex Noren and Scotland”s Marc Warren were tied in third place at -16 under par. World Number One and defending champion Luke Donald  finished tied for 16th with, among others, Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington.

Scottish Open, Marvelous Molinari in Control

Molinari lights up Inverness to lead at Castle Stuart

Francesco Molinari (Getty Images)

Marvelous Francesco Molinari has taken control of the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart in Inverness, Scotland. Francesco had a sparkling third round of -5 under par, 67, to lead the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at -17 under par. Francesco has enjoyed arguably the best run of his career with the putter recently, which has been a key factor in his success this week in the first three rounds. He is obviously aiming to win tomorrow, but takes heart at the way he is playing going into The Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

” My golf and my form are getting better and better. Obviously it’s a very good time to be playing this well, and I’ll just see how it goes tomorrow. But however it goes, I know I’m going to be at Lytham playing well and so it’s just a case of keep doing the same stuff and see what happens. I think for the moment, obviously to win here is the first goal.  But it’s good to know, not only from this week, but from last week, as well, that I’m playing well and putting well.”

Dane Anders Hansen is in second spot on his own, thanks to a -7 under par, 65, third round score, and a total of -16 under par.      Anders said of his steady round;

“I played steady today and did not make many mistakes and just kept the ball in play and gave myself some opportunities, and so it was pretty steady. It’s a new day tomorrow.  We’ll see what is going to happen. Francesco is obviously playing very, very good golf at the moment. I had a great finish last week, so it’s going to be fun to play with him. It’s very, very difficult to pick a winner. The scores are so low. It’s very difficult to keep making putts and to keep making birdies.”

Soren Kjeldsen and Scotland’s Marc Warren share third place at -15 under par, Soren is aiming for a good day tomorrow as he targets the one qualification spot available for the Open. He reported;

“I would love to play. If I play well tomorrow and I get in, it’s a bonus, but I have plans to have a little bit of a rest and be away from the game a little bit. If I get the chance to go to Lytham, I will obviously smile and go at it.”

As a local boy, Marc would love to win his home tournament and admitted he had a lot of chances today;

” It was one of the most stress free days really. I felt really in control of everything I was doing, which was different from the first two days. I felt like I was fighting it a little bit, especially off the tee.  But today drove it really well and had a lot of chances. “

There are four players at -14 under par, including another two Scotsmen, Martin Laird and Peter Whitehead, who would also be very keen to win their home Championship. With the same score are American Phil Mickelson and Alexander Noren.

 Alexander, who was Francesco playing partner today, and was really matching Francesco shot for shot until he suffered the ignominy of losing a ball, due to a poor tee shot on the 12th hole. That mishap, which resulted in Alex carding an eight on the hole leaves him three shots off the lead at -14 under par. Martin Laird said he thinks his friends in the gallery will help him tomorrow;

“I did exactly what I needed to; to get myself back in the mix here. My goal was to shoot a low one, and I obviously did that and I’m happy. I’ve got friends and family in the gallery but also the local people cheering me on.  It was great, seemed like every birdie I made, I picked up a few more people and it was great to hear them willing you on.”

Everyone will still be acutely aware of the presence of Phil Mickelson, at just three shots back he is a fierce competitor. Also one shot further back is World number one Luke Donald, I think he will be firmly in the mix coming down the stretch Sunday afternoon.

Alstom Open de France, 2nd round, Marcel Siem Leads

 

 

Siem holds slender advantage

Marcel Siem (Getty Images

Germany’s Marcel Siem leads after the second round of the Alstom Open de France,  at Le Golf National in Paris. Marcel has a one shot lead over Alexander Noren of Sweden, who at one time joined Marcel at the top until he  found water at the last and made bogey.

Marcel is hoping he can keep going, after two rounds of -3 under par and tournament total of -6 under;

 “If you shoot a few under on the golf course, it doesn’t matter what are the conditions, it’s a good score. I’ve shot two times three under now, so I’m very happy and I hope I keep it going like that. “

A mid afternoon suspension of play for a lightning storm came at the right time for Marcel;

“I had just made double bogey before that. Then on 18, would have been my first shot after the lightning. I was a bit steamy there, and actually it was good for me I reckon that we got called off the course. It was nearly flat calm in the end. On the last four holes, there was a little breeze off the left, half a club of wind. It was very comfortable and nice to play and I’m really happy that I made something out of it.”

Alexander was also happy to be amongst  the later starters;

” It was tough the first nine holes, and then we got really lucky on the back nine. I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens, and then got a lot of good putts on the back nine coming in, so it was a steady round and I’m really pleased.”

Anders Hansen is just four shots off the lead, he said;

“I’m very proud of myself to keep doing what I’ve done, even though there’s a few shots that didn’t come as I wanted them to, but all in all, I’m still in the learning process of trying to figure this thing out. To go out on a course like this with a few new things in the golf swing is not exactly easy. When you get out there, you have to trust what you’re doing.”

Lee Westwood, at +1 over par,  is still having his problems with the course, but feels he is still not out of contention;

“It’s that kind of golf course.  You don’t have to be far off. I would liked to have played a bit better coming in but I’m not out of it.”

Westwood still in control in Sweden @ Nordea Masters

Westwood still in control

Lee Westwood (Getty Images)

Lee Westwood is still in control in Sweden at the Nordea Masters after the conclusion of the third round at the  Bro Hof Slott GC.  Lee retained his three shot lead after recording a -4 under par third round of 68, for a tournament total of -16 under par. The round did not reach the same classic heights as his stunning second round 64, but it did leave him three clear of fellow Englishman Ross Fisher.  Lee said in interview;

“I played well. I hit a lot of good shots and it was solid stuff. I didn’t get into too much trouble, I had a bit of a flyer on the second and that was the only bogey I made all day.”

Ross Fisher was a happy camper after his beautiful -7 under par third round of 65, and a total for the tournament of -13 under par;

 “I’ve played really nicely, I’m gradually getting better. Hopefully I can continue the trend tomorrow. I’ve gone head to head with Westy a couple of times, he’s a world-class golfer and that’s how we judge our game, against the best players in the world.”

Swedish hopes of a third consecutive home win in this event seemed to have stalled, with Peter Hanson now four shots adrift of the leader after his -3 under par third round of 69. He is the best placed Swede to make a challenge, but he will have to produce something really special to loosen Lee Westwood’s firm grip on this trophy.

Alexander Noren continued with his remarkable recovery from an opening round of 74, carding a second successive 66 to move into fifth on ten under, alongside compatriot Michael Jonzon. Six shots behind an inform Lee Westwood would really seem like an impossible task.

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