Accenture Match-Play. Garcia’s Gentlemanly Conduct. G-Mac King of Comebacks

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 Sergio Garcia was guilty of serious gentlemanly conduct in his loss to Rickie Fowler, conceding a seventeen foot putt. G-Mac came back from the dead once again, a resurrection indeed.

No regrets: Garcia concedes 17-footer in loss to Fowler

Sergio & Rickie / Getty Images

 Rickie Fowler defeated Sergio Garcia, 1 up, Friday at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship , but that included the conceded putt of seventeen feet. The incident took place took place at Dove Mountain’s seventh hole, Sergio felt that he  had taken too much time to take a drop at No. 6, and conceded the halving par putt to Rickie. Sergio’s 7-foot par was conceded in return.

Sergio explained the extraordinary event like this;

I don’t regret it at all. I think that this is a gentleman’s game and lately, it hasn’t felt like it’s been like that. This is the way I was brought up by my dad. I felt like my drop on six took too much time. If I would have been in his position, I wouldn’t have enjoyed waiting so long to hit my birdie putt after the great shot that he hit. I thought that was the only thing I could do on seven to make myself feel better and not feel guilty about anything.”

The real problem was bee’s, Sergio asked for a drop away from the bee colony, saying;

 “I don’t want to hit the shot, I’ve had bad experiences with bees.”

Rickie was confused for a while;

“I had to kind of find out what he was asking or offering there, it took me a minute to figure it out.  It would be stupid not to take a half. He said, ‘You wanna halve’ I didn’t know what he meant. I thought maybe he had a sandwich”

For a the third day on the trot, Graeme McDowell came from behind to win. Claiming victory in  his quarter-final clash with Victor Dubuisson at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Graeme McDowell  (Getty Images)

G-Mac / Getty Images

Graeme was again on the ropes at two down with two to play, he rallied with two closing birdies, which saw the former US Open Champion force extra holes, and a 15 foot birdie putt at the third extra hole, after Hunter had found a greenside bunker. The victory sealed a last-eight spot for the Volvo World Match Play champion.

Graeme was amazed to still be in the tournament;

 “It’s entertaining for sure but I’d much rather have it much easier, believe me. I can’t get my head around it. I was pretty sure I was beat against Gary Woodland, yesterday I thought I had a chance and today walking off the 16th green I thought I was beat again. The par save on the second play-off hole was just ridiculous, he holed from 20 feet there. I can’t believe it really, I have just robbed three players at this tournament and I can’t believe I am still in it.”

Victor Dubuisson avoided a comeback by Bubba Watson, clinging on for a one up victory after being three up with four to play. Making his World Golf Championships debut, Victor feels he is ready to join the next Ryder Cup team;

“I’m definitely ready because I have good experience of match play as an amateur. I hope the three matches I have won will help me get into the team.”

Ernie Els came up with a brilliant approach shot to within two feet at the 18th to see off Jason Dufner 1 up, while the other South African Louis Oosthuizen dispatched Webb Simpson 5-4.

Jason Day defeated George Coetzee 3-1, and Jordan Spieth beat Matt Kuchar 2-1. Jim Furyk defeated Harris English 1 up.

So far this week I have manged to avoid using the word bracket, but thought I had better mention it just in case you thought I was not aware.

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

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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.

Joburg Open. George Grabs His First Title

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George Coetzee grabs his first title by winning the Joburg Open at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.

George Coetzee celebrates with the trophy after winning the Joburg Open at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.

George Coetzee and first Trophy/ Getty Images

George put together a final flawless round of -6 under par 66, for a tournament total of -19 under par, a comfortable three shot victory on the East Course.

This was his 107th attempt at victory, and said he was lost for words;

“ I’m ecstatic, I don’t know what I’m feeling , I’m lost for words. I’ve been waiting a while and I started doubting, so I’m very happy. I got to share this with my family and my friends. It was my mum’s birthday yesterday and I wanted to do it for her as I forgot to buy her a present!” 

As I remarked yesterday sometimes Lady Luck lends a hand at winning a tournament, George had his slice of luck;

“You need a little bit of luck to win these things. On fifteen I pulled my driver and that was the decider, because it should have gone into the water but instead it hit a tree and bounced back into the fairway. You always have this plan in mind for yourself when you’re coming down the stretch and it never goes the way you think it will. I’m very happy to have finished the job,” 

George also wins one of three places at The Open Championship, which were offered up as part of the new Open Qualifying Series that was incorporated into the Joburg Open.

Tied in second place, at -16 under par were  Justin Walters, Jin Jeong,  and  Tyrrell Hatton, who was unfortunately edged out of a place at The Open, based on world ranking.

Tyrrell was naturally disappointed to come so close;

“Beginning of the week if you gave me second place I would have put my feet up and taken it, but given the situation I’m a little disappointed. It’s bittersweet, though, because I’ve earned a place at The Open and that’s the major we’ve all dreamed of playing in since we were kids.”

Joburg Open. Edoardo Molinari & Craig Lee Share the Lead

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Edoardo Molinari and Craig Lee share the lead of the Joburg Open at  Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club.

Edoardo Molinari  (Getty Images)

Edoardo Molinari / Getty Images

Edoardo feels his game is in a good place as he continues his return to form by claiming a share of the Lead at the Joburg Open with a second round -4 under par 68 on the tougher East Course, for a total of -11 under par;

“It was another very good round of golf, and I hit the ball very well, maybe not as well as yesterday, but I gave myself a lot of chances, which is what you have to do around the East Course. I am very pleased with four under today. You just have to play your best. There are a few less birdie chances on the East Course, but all of the par fives are reachable, so you can make a good score.”

“I think I drove the ball really well. I’ve been driving the ball like that for the last few months and it’s making a big difference, because I am hitting a couple of clubs less than I am used to and most times I am on the fairway. It’s still two rounds to go, but I like the way I am hitting the ball. I made a few putts today, but the most important thing is to keep hitting the ball like this. I’m very happy with pretty much everything. I am very happy with my position and my game right now.”

Craig shot a -4 under par on the easier West Course to also get to -11 under par, and stay at the top of the leaderboard;

“The goal was to not fall back and there’s a strong field behind you, so it was important that I didn’t slip back. I had a pretty good chance early on to distance myself from the rest of the field, but I didn’t really capitalise on the back nine.”

 David Horsey -8 under par 63 on the West Course and the home town favorite George Coetzee -4 under par on the East Course, share third place, both just one shot back at -10 under par for the tournament.

David enjoyed the conditions and the easier course, he also mentioned this new qualifying system for The Open;

 “The conditions were a bit breezier than yesterday, but they were made for scoring out there today. I’m very pleased with the day’s work. I was a little bit more aggressive, but I made a whole lot of putts and that was it, hey presto!

“It’s an added bonus, I think it’s a good system, a good change from the R&A to do that. It makes the qualifying a bit fairer and spreads it out over a longer period rather than making it a 36-hole sprint. It’s at the back of my mind at the moment, but it’s certainly a bonus to consider near the end of the week.”

George knows the East Course and knows what to expect;

“I know what to expect and tomorrow I’ll try to stay patient and make a few putts on the way home.”

 The whole field have now played both courses during the first two rounds, and will now revert to the more demanding East Course for the conclusion of the tournament at the weekend.

Abu Dhabi. Pablo Larrazábal Lifts The Trophy

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Pablo Larrazábal lifts the  trophy in the desert at Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

Pablo Larrazabal  (Getty Images)

Pablo Larrazábal / Getty Images

Pablo won the title by one shot from Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club. He held his nerve, rolling in a five foot birdie putt at the last hole after leaving his eagle effort well short,  carding a final round of -5 under par 67, giving him a tournament total of -14 under par.

Pablo remembered his first two wins, and was elated to have beaten the two big guns here;

“The first win in France my brother says was the win of talent. I had 100 putts in 72 holes, not even the best Tiger Woods could have beaten me that week. The second win in Munich (in a play-off with Sergio Garcia) was one of belief. This is the win of hard work and team work. I worked so hard for the last two years and over the winter and I beat two of the three most talented guys in my era.”

“It feels great, only me and my team know how much we’ve worked during the last three years. I want to thank so many people starting with my brand Callaway,  they set up a driver I hit 20-25 metres further. Then I want to thank my team and my girlfriend. It’s just unbelievable. The birdie at thirteen gave me the confidence to keep it going and I hit great shots coming in. The five wood at eighteen is maybe the best shot of my golfing career.”

World Number Seven Rory tried hard to recover from the silly two shot penalty,  producing a final round -4 under par 68 to finish tied for second at 13 under par. He said it was frustrating about the penalty but it was a good week overall;

“It’s frustrating, I’ve played well the whole week.  It’s a very positive start to the season so I’m not going to let one little negative ruin that. I came in here telling everyone that I’m really happy with my game and done some good work and felt like it was coming together for me at the end of last year. I’ve continued that on, so I’m really excited for the rest of the season.  I’ve got a week off now to prepare for Dubai and give it another run there and see if I can get the win there.”

Sharing second place at -13 under par was Phil, who recovered brilliantly from a triple bogey seven on the unlucky 13th hole, to birdie three of his last five holes, for a last round of -3 under par 69.

Tied in fourth spot were George Coetzee and Rafa Cabrera-Bello, the pair of them on -12 under par.

Craig Lee limped home, eventually signing for a +5 over par 77 final round, to finish in a tie for tenth. His dreams of a maiden tour win cruelly dashed, after putting together three good rounds to lead the tournament starting the final day, he collapsed under the pressure.

BMW PGA Championship. Francesco Molinari Leads at Wet Wentworth.

Francesco Molinari leads at the BMW PGA Championship after the conclusion of the second round at the Wentworth Club on the West Course.

Francesco Molinari   (Getty Images)

Francesco Molinari / Getty Images

On a wet and cold second day at Wentworth Francesco Molinari leads the BMW PGA Championship by just one shot after his second round of -4 under par, for a tournament total of -6 under par.

Francesco is happy to be at t he top, but is under no illusions as to how hard it will be to stay there on this difficult West course;

” I’m really happy with yesterday and today. The conditions were quite tough but I hit the ball well and the putter is working well so I am really happy at the moment. Six under is a good score given the conditions, I live over here now so I am used to it,  and I’m in a great position going into the weekend, but it’s a really tough course so anyone six or seven behind is still in it.”

Tied in second place is George Coetzee, at -5 under par, the South African has fared better than his compatriot James Kingston, who topped the leaderboard yesterday but collapsed today with a second round 77. Ten shots worse than his 66 of yesterday, he now has a tournament total of -1 under par.

Joining George at -5 under par are Alejandro Cañizares, Marc Warren and Mark Foster.

Lee Westwood is lurking at -3 under par and thinks he could be dangerous if his short game keeps improving, and his long game comes together;

 ” My short game’s been red-hot. I played some nice pitches and walking off the back of the 12th green, where I pitched to about four feet, Ernie said ‘Bit of a short-game wizard now.’ I also got up and down on 18 after hitting it in the hazard and those sorts of things can make a big difference to your week and going into the weekend with momentum. If my long game starts to come together, I could be dangerous.”

Lee’s Ryder Cup team-mate Luke Donald made a premature exit in his bid for a hat-trick of titles and fellow heroes of the Miracle at Medinah also made an early departure from The European Tour’s Flagship Event, with Rory McIlroy (75), Graeme McDowell (75), Ian Poulter (76) and Paul Lawrie (72) all joining Luke in missing the halfway cut.

Tampa Bay Championship. It’s Tight at the Top.

It’s tight at the top of the Tampa Bay Championship after the conclusion of the third round at the Innisbrook Resort, Copperhead course. Kevin Streelman, Justin Leonard and George Coetzee share the lead at -6 under par.

Anyone's Sunday at Tampa Bay

Kevin, Justin and George /Chris Condon/PGA TOUR

Kevin Streelman had the best round of the day, a -6 under par third round that catapulted him to the top of the leaderboard as yesterdays leaders fell away to leave the tournament wide open.

At the start of play today Shawn Stefani held a slender one-shot lead over Aussie Adam Scott and K.J. Choi. Both Adam and K.J. fell back with third rounds of +5 over par 76s, and Shawn made the turn at +4 over par before rescuing his round by salvaging a 74 that leaves him two shots back of the leaders.

Right behind the three leaders are four players on -5 under par, they are Jim Furyk, Ben Kohles, Greg Chalmers and Tag Ridings.

Jim Furyk could have stayed at home to  handle the details for Monday’s upcoming event that benefits the charitable foundation that bears his name, along with wife Tabitha.

Jim joked;

” I really avoided all the work this week, being here. I made a couple of mistakes here and there, but I really feel like my game has gotten stronger every day. I feel more confident with the putter in my hand. I’m seeing a couple more putts go in, and I think that’s giving me confidence as well. That’s why my scores are getting better.”

Another shot back and you have the quality of World Number 3, Luke Donald making his presence felt with a bogey free -4 under par. Luke is tied at ninth position along with, Bryce Molder, Jordan Spieth, Brian Harman and Shawn Stefani.

Luke said there is a fine line between the top spot and 30th place;

” It’s a fine line between success and finishing 30th, I think a lot of my fans and myself, you know, have always expected to see me in the Top Ten, and up at the top of the leaderboard every week and sometimes golf is just not that easy. It was nice to go around this course and not make a mistake, not drop a shot, and you know, I wanted to shoot five or six under, nearly got there, a couple missed putts and didn’t birdie any par fives. Could have been a really low round today. But yeah, certainly moving in the right direction, as I said, I feel like my game has been close, and obviously starting to show with some results”

It will be a big shoot out tomorrow, and I expect one of the more experienced players to master the conditions and lift the trophy.