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European Tour. Volvo Golf Champions. Louis Lifts Trophy.

 

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Louis Oosthuizen lifts the European Tour Volvo Golf Champions trophy at Durban Country Club in South Africa. A final round of -4 under par 68 was good enough to see off the competition.

Oosthuizen starts 2014 in style

Louis and some local fans / Getty Images

Louis had some nervy moments towards the end of his round, a poor shot on 16 where he was lucky to be able to chip out, but still made bogey, and then he needed to make a birdie on the last to win;

“After my tee shot on sixteen I was lucky that I could chip it out and nearly made a great par. But when I stood over the ball on seventeen I saw that Branden had made birdie on eighteen so I knew that second shot was crucial to give myself a good opportunity and I hit it really close.

“And then eighteen, everyone thinks you just need to make a birdie but around that green it’s not easy and luckily I was far enough past where I could pitch it back into the grain and get it close. It was nerve-wracking through the round but I finished strong and I’m just happy that I got it done. It’s an awesome start for the year. Confidence-wise it’s great. I haven’t really played well last year with all the injuries so hopefully I can build from here on and just go better next time.”

Branden Grace captured second place, he also carded a -4 under par 68 in his final round, finishing with a -11 under par total, one shot adrift. He admitted it was terrible watching Louis pass him on the final green;

 “It was terrible watching it. But the winner at the end of the week is going to be the true champion and he played well so he deserves it. I thought I played some superb golf today. I let a couple slip out there which was unfortunate but if you had told me my first event I would start off with a second place, I would have taken it. This really gives you a push in the right direction so I’m really stoked.”

Tommy Fleetwood was the leader at the start of play, but he unfortunately could only produce a par last round of  72, which dropped him into a tie for third place with Joost Luiten, both at -10 under par.

Tommy said he hit the ball better off the tee, but it was the rest of his game that let him down at the crucial stage;

“Today was the best I have hit it off the tee all week and it was a shame the rest of the game let me down. After the long birdie putt on the second my putter went cold and it was not meant to be. It’s always great when you can be leading going into the final round of such a big event. I could have been four under, shot 66 and finished on the same score and not learned half as much. You have to take the positives and I have finished tied third in the first event and overall it’s been a very good week.”

Padraig Harrington and French duo Raphaël Jacquelin and Victor Dubuisson were another shot back on -9 under par.

Scottish Open. Phil;s Presence Prevails.

Phil Mickelson made his presence felt in the Highlands by winning the Scottish Open in a dramatic shoot-out with Branden Grace on the Castle Stuart Golf Course in Scotland.

Phil Mickelson  (Getty Images)

Phil Mickelson / Getty Images

Initially Phil  required just a par on the par five 18th hole  to secure victory in regulation play, but he  uncharacteristically took three from the edge of the green, to set up a play-off. Both Phil and Branden finished on -17 under par for the tournament, but Phil managed a birdie next time around on the last hole, to claim his first victory on British soil. He was rightly ecstatic;

This is really cool, I have been coming here for some time and had some opportunities and I almost let it slip away today. To come out on top was terrific. I was so mad at myself for mentally losing my focus that I came out on that 18th pretty focused to make a four. I started coming here around 2000 or so and spent a lot of years here enjoying my time in Scotland and enjoying this competition, I’ve come close a couple of times, and to finally win, that feels great. It’s important to me, and it’s probably the biggest challenge of my career hitting the shots that are required here. And so to win here and to play well here, finally win on a links golf course, it really means a lot to me, and it also builds my confidence heading into future Scottish and British Opens.”

Tied in third place at -15 under pat were Henrik Stenson and J.B. Hansen.

Volvo World Match Play Championship

Results after the opening round of the Volvo World Match Play Championship on the European Tour at the Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort in Bulgaria. The biggest upset of the day was Thongchai Jaidee beating Ian Poulter 3&2 in the Pool Gabrielsson.  Poults now has to beat Thomas Aitken tomorrow to progress through to the knock-out rounds. Although it must have come as a bit of a shock to Poults, regarded as the King of match-play, he said it was no drama;

“No dramas. He’s a great player but I gave him holes today and you don’t do that in match play, it’s dead simple. It’s a tough golf course where if you hit a couple of errant shots then you’re going to be struggling to be back in the hole. If you miss a couple of shots then it’s very penal and it’s hard to put your opponent back under pressure. But I’ll be fine. It’s not often you lose in match play and everything is fine.”

Ian Poulter lost to Thongchai Jaidee on Thursday in the first round at the Volvo Match Play, but is still alive due to the group format of the event.

Ian Poulter / Getty Images

Another player with work to do is Nicolas Colsaerts, the defending Champion,who lost his opening match to Branden Grace. He has to beat Kiradech Aphibarnrat to progress. Nicolas also remarked that he was lucky the first matches were not knock-out;

” I know that if I have a good game tomorrow then at least I’m in a playoff. I’ve got the possibility to go through, that’s the consolation of the format.”

Other results are as follows, winners in blue:

ESPGonzalo FDEZ-CASTAÑO 1 up Jamie DONALDSONWAL

DENThorbjørn OLESEN 4&3 Carl PETTERSSONSWE

SWEHenrik STENSON 2&1 Francesco MOLINARIITA

RSABranden GRACE 4&3 Nicolas COLSAERTSBEL

USABo VAN PELT Match Halved Richard STERNERSA

SWEPeter HANSON 2&1 George COETZEERSA

ENGIan POULTER 3&2 Thongchai JAIDEETHA

NIRGraeme MCDOWELL 5&3 Chris WOODENG

Honda Classic, Camilo Villegas,Surprise Leader,

Back on track

Camilo Villegas / Chris Condon / Getty Images

Camilo Villegas is the surprising first round leader of the Honda Classic at the PGA National Champion Course,Palm Beach Gardens, with a round of -6 under par 64. It is  four years now since his back-to-back wins in the FedEx Cup Playoffs events, when he  rose to as high as No. 7 in the world. The  31-year-old Colombian then plunged  into a slump that  was so bad that over the last 18 months he lost his card last year. Camilo won The Honda Classic in 2010 at PGA National, so he at least has that to build on. But despite the good start, he wasn’t afraid to risk ruining the day on the last hole. Even his caddie asked what he was thinking of when he was addressing a shot on the last hole;

“My caddie said, where are you going to go with this one,. And I said, I’m looking straight at that flag. And I hit a great shot.”

Tiger Woods saved his round with a shot from out of the water on the par 4, sixth hole, taking his shoes off to enter the hazard, he finished the day at even par;

“I was 1 over at the time, and if that ball is not playable from where it’s at, where I crossed was pretty far back, looking at six, three over and all of a sudden I flip it, make par there and birdie the next.”

Charles Howell 111, Chucky three-sticks,  opened with a -3 under par, 67. He has just until the end of the month to go from No. 64 to the top 50 in the World Ranking to qualify for the Masters in his hometown of Augusta.

Branden Grace,  Rickie Fowler, Graham DeLaet  and Robert Streb, are all tied in second place at -5 under par for the opening round of this tournament.

 

Joburg Open, 1st Round. Sterne and Kieffer Lead.

Richard Sterne   (Getty Images)

Richard Sterne / Getty Images

Richard Sterne and Maximilian Kieffer lead the Joburg Open with fabulous first rounds of -8 under par of 63 on Royal Johannesburg & Kensington’s par 71 West Course. Both players now face three rounds on the tougher par 72 East Course, but Richard knows this course pretty well, the South African had a victory here in 2008, the five-time European Tour winner said:

” I had three good rounds around the East Course that year. If I can do that now I’ll have a chance on Sunday.”

Richard suffers from a dodgy back, which held him back during the last two years, he said he never knows when its going to be good;

” Some days it feels good and everything kind of happens, golf is strange, you’ve got to hit the right kind of shots at the right time. I hit 17 greens today, so I was never really in trouble at all.”

Germany’s Maximilian Kieffer continued the impressive start he has made to his rookie year campaign, having already finished tied for fourth in Durban and tied for 17th in Dubai. Maximilian said he enjoyed his great first round here;

” When you come from the Challenge Tour everyone says that you have enough to play out here, but you still want to prove it. It’s a new world and you don’t really know what to expect, so I’m happy that it went pretty good so far. That round was great,  I’ve been playing well the last few weeks and I just tried to stay positive on the golf course, and luckily today was another good round.”

Bryce Easton of South Africa, had a hole-in-one on his way to posting the best round on the tougher East Course, a 65, which gave him third place on -7  under par. Speaking about his hole in one, Bryce said;

” It’s one of those things, you don’t think about it when you’re playing the hole, but when it goes in it takes a couple of seconds to realise that it’s actually disappeared.”

The defending champion Branden Grace, and two-time winner Charl Schwartzel also played on the East Course on day one, but while former Masters Tournament winner Charl opened with a four under 68, Branden could only produce a level par 72.

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.

DP World Tour Championship, Its Luke and Rory Tied at the Top

Luke Donald v Rory McIlroy at the DP World Tour Championship  (Getty Images)

Luke & Rory/ Getty Images

The World number one Rory McIlroy and World number two Luke Donald are tied at the top of the DP World Tour Championship after three rounds at the Jumeirah Golf Estates Earth Course in Dubai. Both of these splendid players have a Tournament score of -17 under par, attaining that number with third rounds of -6 under par 66′s.

 Luke  has amazingly extended his bogey free run at Jumeirah Golf Estates’ Earth Course to 100 holes, that was good enough to distance himself from the rest of the field, with the exception of the World number one Rory, who started with a bogey at the first, but that was cancelled out by five birdies and an eagle at the long 14th.

100 holes without a bogey at this tournament, Luke could not believe it:

I’m not sure I can believe that, that’s pretty good. I guess that’s my style, I don’t make too many mistakes. It’s going to be fun, great for the crowd and everyone watching around the world. Hopefully we can make some birdies.”

Rory said he had suffered another bad night with his fever, it did not show his golf;

I woke up at four and was not feeling great, but I guess the adrenaline keeps you going when playing, “

When informed about Luke’s wondrous  run without a bogey, Rory smiled and replied,

He must be due one. I think everyone is looking forward to the Number One and Number Two duel tomorrow, and that’s the way it’s panned out. I know I’m excited about it, and I’m sure a lot of people are. It will be a great way to finish the 2012 European Tour season.”

Joint halfway leader Marc Warren could only manage a par round of 72 to stay at -11 under par, now six shots behind Luke and Rory. Tied in second place at -14 under par are South African Major Champions Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, with four-time European Tour winner Branden Grace and Dutchman Joost Luiten two shots further back at -12 under par.

Given the Status of the leading pair, everyone else is probably too far back to make an impact in this Tournament, so it’s down to Luke and Rory to put on a show for the watching and waiting World.

 

DP World Tour Championship, Luke has Rory and Marc for Company at the top.

Luke Donald shot a second round -4 under par 68, to remain at the top of the leaderboard at the DP World Tour Championship on the Jumerirah Golf Estates course in Dubai. He was joined at the top by Rory McIlroy who shot a second round -5 under 67, and Marc Warren who matched Rory’s score on the day. All three players are at -11 under par for the Tournament.

Rory McIlroy  (Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy/ Getty Images

Rory thinks he was suffering from a bit of sunstroke, and said although he took some medicine he was not feeling too good out on the course;

“I got off the course yesterday and had a really sore head and a fever, I think it was a bit of sunstroke. I took a few things and felt better, but I’m not feeling great again. The sun’s taking it out of me a bit.”

Luke thought he was not as sharp on the greens today, but is looking  forward to a fun weekend;

” Obviously I haven’t dropped a shot in 36 holes so feel good about that. I wasn’t quite as good on the greens today. I had some opportunities, ten to 15 footers on a few holes that I just misread, but that was a solid round of golf. It was reasonably straightforward. I didn’t put myself in too much trouble today, but certainly when I gave myself a little bit of trouble out on the course, I was able to recover with the putter. It’s a great field in general and it usually produces a really exciting weekend. The last tournament of the year, we are looking forward to going out on a high note, and obviously Rory is playing well and a bunch of other guys are playing well, so should make for a fun weekend.”

Marc said he was happy to be the Scot amongst all the high quality people near the top of the leaderboard;

“It was nice to be the Scot in that pack with the Englishman and the Northern Irishman. It’s great to be in contention with guys like that, and looking down the leaderboard, it’s a high-quality leaderboard and doesn’t get any better anywhere in the world really. It’s great for The European Tour and it’s great for The Race to Dubai, and it’s great to be a part of that.”

Two South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace are only a stroke behind, lurking with intent at -10 under par.

Round of the day went to Sergio Garcia, who shot one of golf’s most remarkable course records in Dubai – two eagles, nine birdies, two bogeys and a triple bogey seven, to match the course record. We have to assume the operation to remove that astigmatism has helped him see things more clearly now;

Sergio Garcia  (Getty Images)

Sergio Garcia/ Getty images

Sergio was amazed at his record equaling round;

“It was unbelievable, wasn’t it? I’m still kind of getting used to it, my sight’s not changed immensely, but the main reason was that with contact lenses I was feeling very uncomfortable.”

It is still a very tightly packed leaderboard, and it is indeed going to be a great weekend, and a fine finish to the regular season, with the World number one and two battling it out between them. I trust they will both stay focused and not lose sight of the others in this field who are perfectly capable of winning this tournament.

European Tour Money Title for Rory ?

Rory McIlroy /thesidelinesagenda.com

Rory McIlroy can wrap up the European money title this week if he puts in a good performance at the Singapore Open. All his closest rivals will not be competing, and he already leads the race going into the tournament. Rory has already claimed the U.S. PGA Tour money list, and would love to repeat Luke Donald’s 2011 win on both sides of the Atlantic. Rory said he would like to have a strong finish to the season;

“I’m in the lead at the moment and it would be nice to increase that,” McIlroy said Wednesday, a day before the tournament. “There’s still a lot to play for in the next three weeks and I want to finish off the season as strong as possible.”

His nearest rivals, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, who won last week at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China, and Branden Grace, have strangely decided not to compete this week. The field is still going to be a strong one, with the likes of Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Padraig Harrington, Colin Montgomery, John Daly and Miguel Angel Jimenez all teeing it up for the tournament at the Serapong Course at Sentosa Golf Club.

The winners prize cheque this week is $1 million, and Rory will also be playing next week at  the Hong Kong Open, while most of his rivals again will not be competing. Rory did not play at the WGC event last week, because he watched his girlfriend, Caroline Wozniacki, play in a tennis tournament. A poor decision which bought him world-wide criticism, and especially by the golf tournament sponsor. Rory has admitted that the criticism against him was fairly laid.

“I think the criticism is fair. Shenzhen is a World Golf Championship event, one of the big ones. It was a tough one to miss. But I can’t play every week.”

He then went on to say;

”  If I had I would have played five in a row finishing the season and after playing Turkey and Ryder Cup and all the FedEx Cup stuff, it’s just too much. You have to say no and you have to be selfish sometimes and look after yourself, ; it doesn’t make you a bad person. You have got to put yourself first and foremost, and try to fit in the things you want to do. I’m in the fortunate position where I can dictate where I want to play, what I want to do, where I want to go.”

Seems that is what all the youngsters say these days; I do want I want, when I want to do it.

 

European Tour, BMW Masters, China

 

 

Jamie Donaldson  (Getty Images)

 

Jamie Donaldson/ Getty Images

Jamie Donaldson leads the field after the first round of the BMW Masters at Lake Malaren Golf Club, in Shanghai China, shooting a -10 under par 62, to lead by four shots from the chasing pack. Jamie who had a victory at the Irish Open in July, it was his first win in 255 European Tour events. Jamie was well pleased with his great round;

“It was one of those rounds where you hit every shot where you want to and every putt where you want to. I played great from the word go, hit a lot of fairways and put myself in really strong positions and capitalised when I had putts. I didn’t have many long putts, just played really well, and one of those days where everything went for me. It’s been a really good day. The course suits me. The fairways are quite generous and if you miss the bunkers you can play aggressive golf. It’s an awesome field, so I need to keep playing like that to stay ahead of them. The strength and depth across The European Tour nowadays seems to be very strong , it’s just particularly strong this week. I’m just going out there trying to play my own game and whoever I play with, I’m just trying to do what I do and control what I can control. I’ve just got to play well for the next three days to finish on top.”

There are two players tied in second place at -6 under par, they are Peter Hanson and Francesco Molinari, they are just one shot ahead of winning Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal, who is without a top ten finish since January, World Number One Rory McIlroy and  Michael Hoey, they all signed cards for -5 under par, 67s. José said he needed to improve his driving;

“It’s great to shoot a low round, hit a lot of good iron shots and had quite a few birdie chances, that’s why I managed to score well. Tomorrow and the next few days if I want to score well I will have to improve the driving.”

Justin Rose was round in -4 under par, 68, and Branden Grace shot a -2 under par, 70. Rory McIlroy can be leapfrogged by either Rose or Grace this week, but was delighted to steal a march on the pair after an impressive first round. Rory was especially pleased with his 9 iron shot to the last green;

Definitely a nice way to finish, I hit probably my best drive and my best iron shot of the day into the last, so always nice to finish like that.”

Luke Donald and Lee Westwood were in the group on -2 under par. Jamie has a real march on the rest of the field, but there is still a long way to go, it will be interesting to watch him and see if he can survive at the top for the next three days.

 

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