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RBC Heritage. Luke Leaps to the Top.

dragon logo darkRBC Heritage

Luke Donald leaps to the top of the RBC Heritage leaderboard at Harbour Town Golf Links.

Donald surges to top with 66

Luke Donald / Getty Images

Luke posted another round of -6 under par 66, low round of the day, to sit comfortably on top of the leaderboard at the RBC Heritage at -8 under par, and a two shot lead. He spoke about the weather conditions;

“I’ve always liked this golf course, and the conditions were pretty manageable, for the front nine at least. I think we’re in for a very windy day tomorrow, so I’ll need to control the ball even better.”

John Huh is in second place, a third round of -3 under par 68, and a -6 under par total, would have been better if he had not three putted the last hole. John said his tee shot was OK, it would be difficult to miss the eighteenth fairway, it is the widest on the course, but the second put him in a bad spot;

“I hit a good drive, had about 200 yards and hit my rescue over, put myself in the wrong spot. Believe it or not, I’ve been playing really good, but I just wasn’t able to put everything together. I think this is the week that I’ve put pretty much everything together.”

Nicolas Thompson is in a four-way tie for third place, at -5 under par. Joining him on that score are Jim Furyk, Charl Schwartzel and Ben Martin.

Nicolas was upset at his putting performance today;

“The only thing that was really off was my speed control, I might have had a missed read or two here or there, but that happens. I don’t think I hit one putt too short today. This golf course is the ultimate patience test. You have to be so patient out here, because how many golf shots are you going to hit in the perfect spot off the tee, so you think, and not have an exact shot on the pin?”

Charl thinks he will have a chance if he just continues with the good ball striking;

“I think if I can continue the ball striking and giving myself chances I can make a few birdies tomorrow and give it a shot.”

First-round co-leader Matt Kuchar bounced back from Friday afternoon’s rough start, to finish in a tie for seventh place at -4 under par. He was happy with that result after a long day, he had played 29 holes;

“It helps to be in contention, it helps to really have an incentive to go out and play some good golf.”

Accenture Match-Play. Rose & Rory Out. Magic McDowell Survives Again.

dragon logo darkAccenture Logo

Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy crashed out of the Accenture Match-Play tournament at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Course on Dove Mountain. Graeme McDowell survived another match where he looked like losing, once again.

Graeme McDowell  (Getty Images)

Survivor G-Mac / Getty Images

Justin went down to Ernie Els, 1 up, while Rory lost to Harris English, on the 19th hole. G-Mac went three down after six holes against  Hideki Matsuyama, of Japan. He then birdied the seventh and eighth to get within one hole, only to then lose the 14th to be two down with four holes to play. Graeme won the 15th and the 17th, and rounding off with  a ten foot putt on the final green to seal a one up win.

He joked afterwards;

“Why do it the easy way when the hard way will do. I just got off to a slow start again, probably less so today. I was quite proud of myself when I got a half on three, so I was only two down after three, as opposed to three down. I tried to go out there today and execute my game plan and try not to give him any room, try not to make any mistakes, try not to give him anything, and he kind of played the same kind of golf back. He played very, very well. 

“I made big putts on 15 and 16. The 16th especially was a massive putt to give me the opportunity.I feel very fortunate again today. I’ve certainly expended all my energy and emotions the last couple of days, but thankfully it’s early in the season and I’ve plenty left in the tank.”

Louis Oosthuizen dumped out Henrik Stenson 4-3, and Webb Simpson dispatched Brandt Snedeker by the same score.

George Coetzee is still doing fine, winning the 21 hole battle with Patrick Reed. Jason Day took even longer to overcome Billy Horschel, 22 holes.

Sergio Garcia is going along smoothly, a 3-1 victory over Bill Haas, while Jason Dufner eliminated Matteo Manassero by 2-1. 

Sergio said he had fun out there today;

“It was good fun, we both played hard. We both tried to play as well as we could to beat our opponent and I was fortunate to be just a little bit better than him today.”

A resurgent Rickie Fowler beat Jimmy Walker 1 up, Matt Kuchar beat Ryan Moore by the same score. Jim Furyk took care of Charl Schwartzel 3-2, and Jordan Spieth was too strong for Thomas Bjorn, beating him 5-4.

Victor Dubuisson continued to impress on his World Golf Championships debut as he overcame Peter Hanson 3 -1 to progress to face former Masters Tournament winner Bubba Watson, who saw off Jonas Blixt at the 17th hole when Jonas lost his ball under a bush. ( would have been ironic if Jonas had got a free drop, wouldn’t it)

Some good match ups tomorrow and any of the remaining players could win, as Graeme McDowell said yesterday, this is a brutal format.

Accenture Match-Play. Who Lost on Day 1

dragon logo dark (2)

The Accenture Match-Play tournament was most noted for who lost on day 1 of the competition, at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain.

Day 1 recaps: Accenture

Ricky Fowler / Getty

It was a great victory for Ricky Fowler, defeating legendary matchplay exponent Ian Poulter 2-1. Even Ricky thought Poults was on a winner;

“I was definitely an underdog coming in. Heck, if I was filling out a bracket, I would have picked Poulter, too.  It feels like a big win after those missed cuts, it was nice to be the underdog. I had nothing to lose.”

Another Englishman on the wrong side of the leaderboard was Lee Westwood, he was defeated by Harris English 5-3.

George Coetzee, fresh from his win in South Africa, defeated Steve Stricker, an unlikely result at the start of play.

Zach Johnson, coming back from a layoff, lost to Richard Sterne 5-4. Everyone must now wonder if the unenforced rest period was a disaster, as Zach was playing really well beforehand. Another loser on day 1 was Keegan Bradley, falling to Jonas Blixt 2-1. Luke Donald also packed his bags, losing 5-4 to Matteo Manassero.

G-Mac only just made it,  he was four down through seven holes, and still three holes behind with three to play, when he staged an improbable rally against Florida neighbor Gary Woodland

Daily Wrap-up

Graeme McDowell / Getty

Graeme said he was surprised to get through;

“I’m sure he’s extremely disappointed right now, and I’m extremely elated. I’m surprised to be sitting here, having won. Yeah, I hit a couple of quality shots down the last couple of holes, but he had mistakes, as well. It’s a brutal format. I thought it was over, you’re not coming back from 3 down against a guy that’s playing as well as him. Yeah, I’m still going to try to hit my shots. But it required a mistake from him to give me half a sniff, even. It feels like a Sunday afternoon on Wednesday.”

The big names that made it safely through include, Henrik Stenson, the number one seed here, Webb Simpson, Rory McIlroy, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, albeit after 22 holes, Jimmy Walker, Justin Rose, Ernie Els, Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson.

     

Northern Trust Open. William McGirt the New Leader.

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William McGirt is the new leader of the Northern Trust Open at he end of day 3 at the Riviera Country Club, in Pacific Palisades, California.

William McGirt / Getty Images

 William  accumulated 8 birdies in 13 holes at Riviera County Club on moving day, to sign for a third round -6 under par 65, giving him a tournament total of -12 under par.

He said he really appreciated playing on the TOUR;

“When you’re around mini-tours for eight years and go through a bunch of heartaches at Q-school, once you finally get here, you really have to appreciate it. I’ve just got to go play my game tomorrow and hope that it’s good enough.”

In second place at -10 under par are Charlie Beljan and George McNeill,  George had a -5 under par third round of 66, while Charlie carded -3 under par 68.

Tied in fourth spot are Jason Allred and Brian Harman, both at -9 under par.

Jason is another player who is soaking up the atmosphere playing on the Tour, especially the reaction he got when sinking a ten foot putt on the last hole to card a -4 under par 67. He also spoke about his expectations;

” Making the putt on eighteen is probably the most excitement I felt from the crowd ever in my career.I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be able to be at a place in my life. I just have so much to be thankful for with my amazing family. It just feels great to be out here and soak it up.”

“I need to be honest, it’s totally blown them out of the water, but also to be honest, even when I go out to practice, whether it’s to prepare for a gate way tournament or this week, I still have that belief in me that I have it in me to win big golf tournaments. At times, even I have a hard time believing that over the years, but it sure is fun to be out here and be able to have a chance.”

There is a bunch of formidable players sitting on -8 under par, Jordan Spieth (67), Dustin Johnson (69) and Jimmy Walker (67), who is going for his fourth win of the season after winning last week in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-am. Also in that group are a pair of Masters champions, Bubba Watson (64) and Charl Schwartzel (68).

Bubba had the round of the day, -7 under par 64, the boys at the top had better not look back over their shoulders, the sight of one of these top players coming after you is likely to give you a case of the colly-wobbles.

The chasing top class players with William in the middle / Getty Images

Thailand Golf Championship. Garcia Grabs Win.

 

Sergio Garcia stays steady and grabs the win at the Thailand Golf Championship, shooting a last round -4 under par 68 for his winning total of -22 under par.

Sergio and Trophy / Getty Images

Sergio with girlfriend  Katharina Boehm  on his bag at  Amata Spring Country Club collected his first this year, the last victory coming at the Johor Open, an Asian Tour event in Malaysia last December.

Sergio was happy with his amazing week’s work;

“It was great, an amazing week, I’m very, very happy and I can’t wait to go back home to Switzerland and kind of sleep on it a little bit. I knew Henrik was going to make it difficult for me. He’s been playing so amazingly great, and he did. I started well, but he also did. He kept hitting good shot after good shot.”

Henrik Stenson, finished in second place, he also had a final round of -4 under par 68, to finish the tournament on -18 under par, four shots off the pace. A couple of missed chances and then Sergio got away;

“It was a good week. Especially because I’ve had a great year but coming here really on the fumes left in the tank, not too much going for me to perform this week in that sense. But I was hanging in there and I was just coming up a couple short. I needed something really, really good to happen there. I had a couple of chances to get a little bit close around 8 and 9 but I didn’t make those two birdie putts and Sergio was hanging in there, made one or two good saves and then he made three birdies in a row, and then he pulled away, and then really I would need something spectacular to happen the last four or five holes.”

In third place was Alexander Levy of France, he shot a final round -3 under par 69 to finish at -14 under par .

Last year’s winner, Charl Schwartzel  with had a second straight -5 under par 67, and finished in joint fourth place, along with Yuki Kono of Japan, US Open champion Justin Rose, and Anirban Lahiri of India.

Best placed Thai golfer was Nirat Chapchai, tied in eighth place at -11 under par, in his effort to win his National Championship.

Alfred Dunhill Championship. Schwartzel Repeats Triumph.

Defending champion Charl Schwartzel repeats his triumph at Leopards Creek Country Club by retaining the Alfred Dunhill Championship title.

Charl Schwartzel  (Getty Images)

Charl and his Trophy / Getty Images

Charl completed his retaining mission at Leopards Creek by shooting a final round -4 under par 68 for a tournament score of -17 under par, a comfortable four shot winning margin. After carding a double bogey on the tenth hole of his first round, Charl then went 62 holes without dropping another shot;

“I had that hiccup in the first round through 17 and the first hole, and after that pretty much flawless with no bogeys from there on in. Most of the time if you play 60 holes or whatever it may be without bogey then hopefully you’ll win. It’s always nice to get a win and get some confidence up. It’s been one of those years where I have played well and just didn’t get the wins. Whenever you win and you’re playing well is great, whichever time of the year it happens. I’ve got two tournaments left and last week I played just as well as this week. It shows that I’m playing nicely and I’d like to see if I can continue.”

Richard Finch, from England, finished in second place at -13 under par, he played well but could not match Charl’s flawless golf. His runner-up cheque of €172,500 is likely to go a long way towards helping him getting his card back for the 2015 season. Richard said that Charl started hot;

“He got off to a fantastic start and mine was a little shaky. I know with this golf course, out of experience, that it’s a long way from over and you just have to keep hitting good shots.”

Returning to golf competition for the first time since the officials laid a ridiculous cheating charge against him, Simon Dyson, who is still waiting for the outcome of that charge, finished a creditable third. Simon fired a competitive final round of -5 under 67, to share third place at -10 under par with Ross Fisher and Romain Wattel.

It would be good for the animal kingdom of South Africa if the likes of Charl Schwartzel, Ernie Els, Gary Player Etc, got on the bandwagon for trying to stop the slaughter of endangered species by South African tourist company’s. These people rear Giraffe, Rhino, Leopards and Lions, all endangered creatures, to be shot by so called big game hunters. The animals have no chance, they are kept in enclosed area’s. This practice is Not Illegal in South Africa, the World should put pressure on them to stop what is known as Canned Hunting. Sign the petition HERE.

Alfred Dunhill Championship. Charl Charging Towards Title Defense.

A determined Charl Schwartzel is charging towards his defense of the Alfred Dunhill Championship title at Leopards Creek Golf Club in South Africa.

Charl Schwartzel  (Getty Images)

Charl Schwartzel / Getty Images

Charl fired in a third round of -5 under par 67, to take a two shot lead going in to the final round of his defence of his Alfred Dunhill Championship Title. His tournament total is -13 under par following his bogey free third round effort.

Charl said he felt comfortable on this course, and if he had putted better the lead would have been greater;

“It’s one of those courses where I’m comfortable with all of the right lines. A lot of golf courses you need to hit it on lines that you feel awkward with, but this course is mostly right in front of you. And I think it helps that I’ve had good success here too. If I had really putted well today it could have been very low, the good thing is that I know it’s there. It very easily could have been low, but it was still a solid round of golf and this is still a tough golf course. I felt a lot more comfortable and consequently I was hitting a lot more positive shots. I felt a little more in control than the last few days. Sometimes those things are unexplainable. It’s just human nature and you go through those waves. I hope a good round like this picks me up and I go out tomorrow and have the same.”

England’s Richard Finch is the player closest to the leader, he is at -11 under par after he also carded a bogey free -5 under par 67 third round. Richard lost his European Tour card after a disappointing 2013 season and failed to regain it at Qualifying School, but a victory here at Leopards Creek would hand him the reprieve of a place on The 2014 Race to Dubai. Although the prize of a reprieve is within sight, he has no illusions about the task in front of him;

“If he goes out and shoots a 65, it’s done and dusted, he’s one of the best players in the world.”

Victor Riu, in third place at -10 under par, would have been level with Richard in second place but for a bogey six on the 18th. He explained the circumstances of the unfortunate, unnecessary and costly mistake;

“I took a pitching wedge in instead of a 56-degree wedge, I went right over the pin, and I had a very difficult putt from off the green, so I ended up three-putting.”

 

Alfred Dunhill Championship. Madsen and Schwartzel Tied at the Top

Charl Schwartzel and Morten Ørum Madsen are tied at the top of the leaderboard in the South African Open at Leopards Creek Country Club.

Charl Schwartzel  (Getty Images)

Charl Schwartzel / Getty Images

Charl shot another -4 under par 68, this time bogey free, in the second round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship to reach -8 under par and join Morten at the top of the leaderboard. Morten achieved his maiden European Tour victory at last week’s season-opening South African Open Championship, playing alongside former Masters Tournament champion Charl in the final group on Sunday.

Last year Charl won this title by a margin of twelve shots,and although he now shares the lead he was not happy with his round;

“Last year was quite a high standard, but I must say the course is playing more difficult. Towards the end I hit the ball a little bit better, but in the beginning I wasn’t very comfortable with the whole thing. You just adapt a little bit and hit slightly different lines. They’re not necessarily going to give you birdies, but they also keep the bogeys off the card. If I can feel a bit more comfortable, then I’ll hit more aggressive lines then I might make a few more birdies. It’s just one of those courses where the targets I look at are all in the right places, and also, I’ve got comfortable on these greens.”

Overnight leader Morten is full of confidence following last weeks win, but could only manage to record a -1 under par 71 in the second round. Two bogey’s and two double bogey’s took care of his otherwise decent round;

“I’ve got a bunch of confidence right now, I really believe that I’m going to hit good shots on pretty much every shot. I’ve heard it’s tough to come out the week after you’ve won and play well. I felt pretty good building up to this week and I just wanted to go out there and put some solid shots together. I wasn’t expecting to go out and shoot 65 today. I knew I was playing well, so I wanted to put a decent round together. I won last week and I’m over the moon happy, so everything that happens this week is icing on the cake. I’m just trying to enjoy the ride.”

Tied in third place at -7 under par are Søren Hansen and Ross Fisher, the former Ryder Cup pair climbing up the leaderboard with rounds of -7 under par 65, which is a great improvement from the opening rounds of even par they carded yesterday.

The leaderboard is nicely squeezed together here, making this a very interesting competition, unless somebody scores well on moving day tomorrow, Saturday, the final round will be a nervous affair. There is a good chance that Charl and Morten will be together again in the final round.

Alfred Dunhill Championship. Morten Ørum Madsen Maintains Form.

Morten Ørum Madsen maintains his early season form by leading the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club in South Africa.

Morten Orum Madsen  (Getty Images)

Morten Ørum Madsen /Getty Images

Morten, from Denmark, fired an opening round of -7  under par 65 to lead the Alfred Dunhill Championship on day 1, this is just one week since his win in the South African Open.

He carded eight birdies and a single bogey at Leopard Creek Country Club and that was good enough for a one shot first round lead over South African Allan Versfeld and Portugal’s Ricardo Santos, who finished the day at -6 under par.

Morten had plenty to say after his excellent start to this tournament;

” I wasn’t expecting to shoot 65 today, I knew I was playing well but I won last week so everything that happens this week or next week is going to be icing on the cake. I am just trying to enjoy the ride.”

“Today it seemed easy but it definitely wasn’t, it was pretty tough out there and the course was playing long with the wind. I played really solidly, I gave myself a lot of looks at birdie and a lot of shorter ones which was nice. I have a lot of confidence right now, I really believe I am going to hit good shots on pretty much every shot. I don’t pull off all of them, I hit my tee shot on the seventh in the water, but the majority of them came off well and I rolled in some nice putts.”

“I’m really, really happy with how I played, I heard it’s tough to come out the week after you have won and play well but I felt pretty relaxed in the days leading up to the tournament and I just wanted to go out and see if I can put some solid shots together and I managed to do that today and put myself in a good position. Hopefully I can keep it up.”

The defending champion, Charl Schwartzel, was two shots further back on -4 under par, and was joined on that score by England’s Richard Finch, Scotland’s David Drysdale and France’s Victor Riu.

Victor was playing last week, and unfortunately missed the cut, so he was really pleased with this weeks first round effort;

” Last week was my first event on The European Tour for this year,and I was on a break in France for two weeks and I couldn’t train a lot because it was very cold. So it was a tough start for me, and after I missed the cut, I had last weekend and Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to practice and it was much better today. I’ve got a bit more confidence.The course was playing very long, because the ball wasn’t running while it was cool this morning, but I was very happy with my driving. I was consistent and I was very straight.”

South African Open. Schwartzel Leads In S.A.

Charl Schwartzel leads in the South African Open going into the final round tomorrow.

Charl Schwartzel  (Getty Images)

Charl Schwartzel / Getty Images

Charl  holds a one shot lead going into the last round of the South African Open  after his third round of -3 under par for a total of -15 under par gives him a narrow advantage over the field. He said it could have been better, a couple of missed opportunities;

 “It was a bit up and down but I think I did what I needed to do. You always think some things could have been better. I had a chance to separate myself from the field a little bit at 12, 13, two birdie opportunities, but the greens are starting to speed up and, like I said yesterday, there are a few bumpy spots around the holes, 69 overall is a good round. I’ve won the Dunhill and one or two others here in South Africa. The South African Open, being the second oldest golf tournament in the world and being our national open, it would be fantastic.”

Tied in second place at -14 under par are Italian Marco Crespi, the joint overnight leader with Charl and the man from Denmark, Morten Ørum Madsen.

Hennie Otto, the 2011 home winner, produced the round of the day, carding seven birdies from the last eight holes for a -7 under par 65, for his -13 under par total. Two shots of the lead and just one behind Marco and Morten and importantly two in front of the chasing pack.

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