Monty in America.

dragon logo darkchampions tour logo

Monty in America is a great spectacle these days, especially as he has just won the  U.S. Senior Open, to go along with his victory at the Senior PGA Championship. That is two Majors in 2014 and he is looking forward to a battle royal against Bernhard Langer for the Charles Schwab Cup.

Monty won the U.S. Senior Open in a play-off against Gene Sauers, after he had come from four shots off Gene’s lead at the start of play to force the three hole play-off;

Monty and Trophy / USGA/John Mummert

“You talk about the Ryder Cup and one-on-one, I’m usually quite good. A play-off in a golf tournament is like a penalty shootout in the World Cup. You don’t know what’s going to happen.”

“It’s been a great summer, I’m really on top of the world right now. My play-off record is pretty weak, to be honest. I think I’ve been in 10 worldwide and won one of them up until today. I’ve lost in a play-off – 1994 – and been one shot behind a couple of times – in 1997 and 2006 – and you have to wait until you’re 50 to finally win one.”

“I have been made very welcome here on the Champions Tour and it’s a delight to come and play here on great golf courses. The weather is a lot better than it is at home and I’m enjoying it. I think if you enjoy something, you’re usually quite good at it, no matter what it is. I’m enjoying playing golf here in America in my latter years and thrilled and delighted that I’m able to do so.”

Monty has matured on the golf course these days, gone are the irritable diatribes against the gallery. A TV announcer once said that Monty could hear a fly fart from 4oo paces;

“I think I’ve matured on the golf course, I’m more patient than I was. I think I felt that in majors when I was contending that I had to play perfect golf, I had to go out and score 64 and it’s amazing the quality of the golf courses and the toughness of them, you don’t. You have to play intelligent golf and I think I’ve matured enough to realize that and play more within myself and sometimes to play away from some pins so you don’t make bogeys and you realize that in major golf pars are usually good enough, especially in USGA events.”

“To stay ahead of Bernhard Langer in any senior event you play in, you’re close to the lead. That was what I was trying to do all week was just stay one ahead of Bernhard Langer. And a great friend of mine,  Ryder Cup colleague of mine and great competitor. At 57 years old, all credit to him for keeping it going the way he does.”

BMW Championship at Easy Wentworth.

Drysdale dodges damp ending to lead with Lawrie

David Drysdale (Getty Images)

David Drysdale and Peter Lawrie both shot first round 66′s, for -6 under par on the first day of The BMW Championship at Wentworth. The Championship is being played on the West course, recently revamped by Ernie Els to make it easier to play, because he said some aspects of the old course were “unfair”. Since when has golf meant to be fair, if Ernie thought it was too difficult now  he should have tried to play it with old style clubs. It would appear that he has eased the difficulty a little too much, with two opening rounds of 66 and they were followed by five rounds of 67 and a further 13 rounds of 68.

David Drysdale used every trick in the book on the way to his 66, including a Barnes Wallis shot, bouncing the ball over the water on the eighteenth hole and achieved a birdie. He said of his magical shot;

 “You could hit 1,000 balls and never have it happen. I don’t know what it hit, maybe a fish. It was a massive break. I don’t think I can say what I would have thought if I had taken six or seven there.”

 Co-leader Peter Lawrie said:

“I played so well in practice that I was kind of very nervous starting out. I missed a couple coming in, but 66 can’t be sneezed at. The course is set up great for me, I’m not one of the longest hitters on Tour, but one of the straightest. You have to very patient and I’m quite a patient person. My wife wouldn’t believe that, but I am on the course!”

Luke Donald was one of the finishers tied at 68 with his -4 under par round, which included to bogies. Luke  has the chance to join Sir Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie as the only players to make a successful defense of The European Tour’s flagship event.

Justin Rose achieved his score of -5 under par, 67, after fearing he might have to withdraw before the round.

“An hour before my tee time, I thought: ‘I can’t play’. I guess it was some sort of vertigo, I was nearly falling over and was sitting in the doctor’s chair for a while. He gave me an anti-nausea or something and did a good job getting me ready. I felt fine all the way round.”

Lee Westwood managed to get round in -2 under par, 70, despite not even playing his B game. He remarked;

 “I didn’t have anywhere near my A-game and not even my B-game really.”

Lee’s play-off defeat to Donald 12 months ago cost him the World Number One position, was delighted with the days score in the circumstances.

Two big names who missed out on the day were Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell who both had rounds of  +2 over par, 74′s, and could not have been best pleased with their efforts on the day. Rory even managed to get out of bounds, albeit by only an inch as he ran up a six on the long par five 12th hole, the last of four bogeys in five holes and a double bogey at the 16th was to follow.

European Tour, 2nd round @ Reale Seguros Open de España in Seville

   

Gregory Bourdy  (Getty Images)

     Gregory Bourdy (Getty Images)

Gregory Bourdy leads after the second round of the Reale Seguros Open de España, in Seville. Gregory’s -6 under par round of 66 gives him just a one shot lead over four players with a tournament total of -5 under par. Right behind him at -4 under the card for the tournament are, Simon Dyson, Matteo Manassero, Robert Rock and local favorite Jorge Campillo. Anyone who is under par in this tournament is still in with a chance to win, the field is that close and so far no one has taken a grip on it.

Gregory said of the tough conditions;

“I’ve just been patient, I’ve not made a score like that for a long time in these conditions. It’s good for the confidence. I’m very happy about this round, particularly in these conditions. I made eight birdies and just two bogeys.  Yesterday one over was not so bad in that wind, but today I played really well, I felt comfortable and very solid, very consistent and I also made some important putts, so I’ll try to keep going like this.”

Simon  polished off  his 69 with a 12 foot putt for eagle, using his new belly putter;

“It appeared to bobble and I started walking, but it kept going and dropped.  I switched because I’ve just not been holing out well. It’s harder to get the pace, but I start it on the right line more consistently.”

Matteo was really very happy with his score, but thought he did not actually play that well;

“It wasn’t an easy day and I’m happy because I didn’t really play that well but managed to score.  Today I took the right side of the draw. Early morning we just had a little breeze and it’s certainly going to be more difficult in the afternoon. I didn’t play really well, but never put myself in serious trouble. I’ve scrambled well, I made some good up and downs at the beginning of my back nine, but the last four or five holes I started playing very good golf well and that gives me some confidence.  I’m really happy to be in contention, to be around the lead, and we shall see what happens.”

Notables missing the cut include; Michael Campbell, Alvaro Quiros, Rich Beam, Colin Montgomery, Paul Lawrie and amazingly Miguel Angel Jimenez, the Spaniard has never won his National title.

Volvo China Open, 2nd Round

It was a windy and cold second round of the Volvo China Open at Binhai Lake Golf Course at Tianjin, China. Gary Boyd of England leads the way with a second round -5 under par 67, for a total -11 under par. Joining him at the top of the leaderboard is Frenchman Jean Baptiste Gonnet, who also had a -5 under par 67. Alone at -10 under par for the tournament is Branden Grace who also had a -5 under par second round.

Mathew Baldwin, the first round leader had a very disappointing +1 over round of 73 and slipped to -6 under par for the tournament. Hanging in there at -4 under par for the tournament is Colin Montgomerie, who could not even raise a smile after a good  birdie at the 18th hole, maybe he was just too cold.

Getty Images

Squeezing in on the cut line 0f -2 under par was Ian Poulter, who made a great putt on the last to make it. Ian will have to have a very good round tomorrow if he is to contend the for the title on Sunday.

Getty Images

Notables missing the cut in China are;

Liang Wen-Chang, Ross Fisher, David Howell, Paul Casey and Stephen Gallacher. With them was 13 year old Guan Tian-lang, who had a tough two days on the golf course shooting rounds of 77 and 79.

 13 year old Guan Tian-lang

Volvo China Open, first round

Matthew Baldwin of England  shot a 7-under par 65 Thursday to lead the China Open at Binhai Lake GC, by one stroke after the first round. Mathew said about his day;

“The conditions were a lot calmer when I played then when we played a practice round early in the week. Then, I thought shooting four 72s around this course would be very good. But they did move some of the tee’s forward and some of the pins were very generous, which helped the score.”

Joost Luiten, Gary Boyd, Scott Strange, Jean Baptiste Gonnet, Fredrik Andersson and Jbe Kruger were all to return scores of 66 for the first round to be just one shot behind the leader.

Colin Montgomerie shot a 68 for his best round this year, and it would have been lower had he not three-putted on his last hole of the day. Colin said;

“I have been working very hard on my game because you have to say that I had lost my game completely. It feels better and it seems to be coming back.”

Guan Tian-lang of China, who at 13 years, 173 days made history by becoming the youngest player at a European Tour event had a poor start to the tournament, he was +5 over Par after six holes,  but recovered sufficiently to finished the last 12 holes in level par to shoot a 77. Lets hope he can relax and shoot a good score tomorrow to make the cut.

Volvo Golf Champions

An exciting mix in the  field of new stars and seasoned campaigners are this week preparing to line up in the second edition of the €2million Volvo Golf Champions at its new home, the Links at Fancourt, in South Africa. A €350,000 winner’s cheque will secured them a place in The European Tour’s ‘tournament of champions’. The 2011 Major Champions Darren Clarke and Charl Schwartzel lead the field and are joined by other major winners, including Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. Els commented;

“Obviously I love playing in South Africa and have won five of my European Tour titles there. I have great memories of playing at the Links at Fancourt, both in professional events and when on holiday there, and I’m looking forward to trying to win The European Tour’s first true ‘tournament of champions”.

“South African golf is in great shape at the moment, which is apparent by the number of South Africans in the field. Dr. Hasso Plattner’s vision in creating The Links at Fancourt will provide the perfect stage to showcase the wonderful golf opportunities offered in South Africa.”

Of the seasoned campaigners, two Ryder Cup captains are teeing up for this event. José María Olazábal and Colin Montgomerie will bring their enormous experience into the arena. By contrast in the experience on display, will be two of the more exciting youngtsers to grace the links in recent years. The new talents in European golf with 18 year old Italian Matteo Manassero and Englishman Tom Lewis 21, will be keen to compete against the old school players.

The Volvo Golf Champions is an exclusive, limited field event with no halfway cut, open only to European Tour players who have won an event on the previous year’s European Tour International Schedule. Joining them are the winners of the first two events of the 2012 season, the Africa Open and the Joburg Open. Other entries include current Tour Members, under the age of 50, with more than ten European Tour victories.

Three time major winner Ernie Els struggled on the greens last year which then affected his ability to have fun on the course, he bemoaned this loss saying,

“I’ve kind of lost my sense of humor, you know. When you don’t putt well your sense of humor doesn’t work very well. I’d like to get my sense of humor back. My work ethic and determination, especially this year, is better than ever because I had such a dismal season last year.”

“I would like to really turn things around this year and see if I can win some tournaments again.”

He needs to turn things around because he doesn’t qualify automatically for the Masters in April.

“I know where I stand and I know what I need to do. I have a couple of months to rectify that. I don’t want to be asking for an invite there.”

Padraig Harrington  also a three-time major winner, now ranked 89th in the world also finds himself in a similar position. He understands though that you can not win every year, talking about his two British Open titles and a PGA Championship victory.

“I certainly had a peak year in 2007 and another peak in 2008. It’s impossible to always have peak years. It doesn’t worry me in the greater scheme of things, because I know you can’t win them every year. You have to sit there and be patient and wait for your turn, and like 2007 and 2008, they all come at once.”

ALLAN HENRY / US PRESSWIRE