The Ryder Cup. European Glory at Gleneagles.

Ryder Cup Gleneagles The Ryder Cup

The European Ryder Cup Team tasted Glory at Gleneagles by lifting the trophy once again.

World number one Rory McIlroy lead by example as he put the first point of the day on the board when he defeated good friend Rickie Fowler 5-4.

Rory was full of praise for Captain McGinley;

“I can’t say enough about the Captain. Paul McGinley has been absolutely immense this week. He has left no stone unturned. He has given this week a lot of thought over the last two years. I am just glad it worked out for him.”

Ryder Cup

Jubilant Rory / Getty Images

Graeme McDowell then recovered from three down to hand rookie Jordan Spieth his first defeat at this Ryder Cup, G-Mac won 2-1.

There was a brief interlude as Team USA fought back, Patrick Reed beat Henrik Stenson on the 18th, Phil Mickelson took down Stephen Gallacher and Matt Kuchar beat Thomas Bjørn.

The European Team responded to the challenge, Martin Kaymer chipped in to complete a 4 and 2 win over Bubba Watson and Justin Rose snatched a half from Hunter Mahan at the 18th to take Europe to 13 ½ points.

Jamie Donaldson capped of an impressive debut, having the honor of claiming the winning point with a 5 and 3 victory over Keegan Bradley.
Jamie felt over the moon with his experience;

“I hit the wedge shot of my life to close the game out. I can’t really put words to it. It is unbelievable. I knew it was getting tight there at the end and everyone was building on my group. I just tried not to spend too much time looking at the scoreboard.”

“I was able to do it well enough to close it out.The lads have got on so well all week. It is an incredible week. It is hard to describe how good it is , there is nothing else like it in golf.

“It has been amazing to be a part of it.”

European Captain Paul McGinley applauded the Team effort;

It has been a real honor to captain these 12 players, our backroom team, it has been a huge team effort.” 

“We had three or four big ideas which we kept feeding back to and they came off. I have a great sense of pride giving happiness to everyone.”

The two sides will square off next time at Hazeltine in 2016, will the European’s make it four in a row ?

Ryder Cup Gleneagles

The Ryder Cup. Europe In Control.

Ryder Cup Gleneagles The Ryder Cup

Europe are in control of The Ryder Cup, taking a commanding lead into the final day of 10 points to 6. They dominated the Saturday foursomes after the USA had won two matches in the morning session. Europe won one and the final match of the session between Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler against Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter was halved. That reduced the lead of Europe to 6.5 points to 5.5  points going into the afternoon Foursomes matches.

In the afternoon matches  Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, set the tone by  making 12 birdies in a record-setting duel against Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar. This was no push over as Hunter and Matt recorded 9 birdies between them, but it was not enough to overcome the most birdies by a single side in any Ryder Cup match by the Europeans.

The Americans missed some opportunities on Saturday afternoon, and American TV commentator Johnny Miller summed it all up , after Jim Furyk had made a mess of a short pitch shot that went long, he referred to the pressure of the Ryder Cup;

“It’s all nerves at this point. All these people around and the importance of getting, maybe, somehow another half a point for the U.S., just melted. He’s had trouble finishing all year even though he’s played great.”

Lee Westwood edged closer to becoming Europe’s record points scorer when he and Jamie Donaldson beat Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar in the foursomes.

Europe now needs only  four more points to retain the Ryder Cup. It sounds easy, but two years ago, Europe rallied from the same deficit to shock the U.S. at Medinah. The U.S. did the same in 1999 at The Country Club at Brookline, the two biggest rallies in Ryder Cup history, so it can be done.

The Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup

 

French Open. Stadler Stretches His Lead

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Kevin Stadler stretches his lead in the Alstom Open de France (French Open) to four shots.

Kevin Stadler   (Getty Images)

Kevin Stadler / Getty Images

Kevin could only put together a +1 over par 72 today, but his total of -9 under par was still way ahead of the field. Only three players in the entire field managed to break 70 today. Kevin had problems with a re-occurring back problem;

“It’s a little tight, it’s been a little out of whack all week. Luckily didn’t give me a whole lot of trouble the first couple of days, but it today it turned up a bit. I’m still able to swing so should be fine.”

“I got about what I deserved out of my game today. I didn’t play that great, made a whole lot of pars and did not have nearly as many looks as I had the last couple days, but you can’t expect to play that well for four days in a row.”

“I knew I really didn’t have to do anything crazy today. A couple less would have been nice, but overall I’m happy the way it went.”

Tied in second place at -5 under par are Thongchai Jaidee and Frenchman Victor Riu, Victor returned a third round score of +2 over par, while Thongchai made up some ground with -2 under par 68.

US Open Champion Martin Kaymer is six shots off the lead after an even par third round of 70. He still hopes to go low tomorrow and try to put some pressure on the leader;

“I think since the first day he’s running away a little bit, so I guess he likes the golf course as much as I do. So I think it will be difficult to catch him.”

“If the weather stays like this, I just need to shoot a very, very low score tomorrow. If you get within two or three shots of him, he might get some nerves the last three or four holes because it’s a tough finish.”

“But the way he plays golf and the way I know him, he’s a very laid-back guy so it will be difficult to catch him. I can only try to shoot as low as I can to be happy with myself.”

Defending Champion Graeme McDowell struggled, carding a +3 over par 73, and is now eight shots off the pace. He too is looking to go low tomorrow;

“It was tough to find a rhythm, it was playing pretty difficult. It was nice to string a few birdies together and get myself back into it and as I made the turn I was feeling good about myself, my swing and my position in the tournament.”

“My swing off the 10th and 13th tee has been haunting me a bit, I’m just not committing to those shots and missing them all left. I’m disappointed with that back nine  because I really felt like I swung the club decently today.

“All I can do is try to shoot a 66 or 67 and there’s a 75 or 76 waiting for anyone on this golf course.”

French Open. Kevin’s Independence Day Celebration.

 

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American Kevin Stadler provided his own firework show at the French Open, Birdies and Bogeys but stayed at the top of the leaderboard.

Kevin Stadler   (Getty Images)

Kevin Stadler / Getty Images

After starting the tournament with a flawless 62, Kevin followed that up with a second round -3 under par 68 to lead the tournament by three shots at the half-way point. He dropped his first shot on the Le Golf National course at his 32nd hole, but recovered with birdies on the next two holes. The big mistake of the day came via a shanked approach shot to the par five ninth, his final hole of the day, to sadly card a double bogey seven, and a -10 under par total;

“I just tried to get a little too much out of it, I didn’t have the best of lies and had to hit the shot perfectly. I got a little too steep on it and it came off the hosel and into the deep stuff.”

“It was not exactly how I planned to finish the day but overall it was another good day so it’s all good. I putted brilliantly the first couple of days. I got a little sloppy on my final nine today but other than that struck the ball very well as well, had a lot of chances and rolled in a lot of nice putts.”

“It’s been a little rotten the last couple of months but it’s starting to show some signs of form again and I’ve hit plenty of good shots the last couple of days. Hopefully I can do more of the same at the weekend, the putter keeps co-operating and I am looking forward to the last couple of days.”

Parisian Victor Riu is in second place, much to the delight of the local fans. Victor had a second round of -4 under par 67, giving him a tournament total of -7 under par. His hard work with his coach, and some local knowledge is paying dividends;

“I’m attached to St-Nom-La-Bretéche but most of time I come here because the course is so good. I used to play here most of the time I’m in Paris. I didn’t feel very good in my game but my coach arrived here on Monday. We are training very hard and I feel much, much better.”

Marcel Siem is in third place at -5 under par, with Defending champion Graeme McDowell adding  a -2 under par 69 to his opening 70 to total -3 under par  for a share of fourth place with six other players. Graeme was quick to acknowledge Kevin’s Independence Day performance;

I said to Martin Kaymer it was nearly as good as his at Pinehurst, but not quite. “It’s Kevin’s type of golf course and if he keeps playing like that he’s going to be tough to catch, but I feel like three under is not a bad return for the last two days and if I can go low tomorrow and get myself back into it, who knows?”

Irish Open. Ilonen Going for Wire to Wire Win

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Mikko Ilonen is going for a wire to wire win at the Irish Open

Mikko Ilonen   (Getty Images)

Mikko Ilonen / Getty Images

Mikko still leads by one shot after day three at the Irish Open on Fota Island, shooting a third round -2 under par 69, for a tournament total of -12 under par. He reported that he is happy that his final round pairing will be with Danny Willett, rather than having to play alongside home town favorite G-Mac;

“It will help, Graeme will be in front of us but it will be the same as today. I have been leading all the way and handling the pressure pretty well so far.”

“I was off here and there today, especially with a couple of drives in the beginning on the par fives. All in all I kept it together nicely, I felt good on the course and pretty pleased with how I am placed.”

Danny Willett is in second place at -11 under par, following his record breaking third round -8 under par 63.  A hole in one at the par three 7th helped his cause;

“We had a perfect number, 168 yards with an eight iron but you never expect it to slam dunk, that was a bit of a bonus. We’ve been playing great for a long time but could not seem to get anything going on the greens, but holing a wedge yesterday (for an eagle on the second) and an eight iron today certainly helps.”

“Coming from the US Open last week it was a slightly different mentality, it was quite tricky to stop playing 20 feet away from the flags and on the first day we were too cautious.”

 Graeme stayed very much in contention after talking to himself about how to go about winning, he is sitting nicely in third place at -10 under par;

“Walking down the tenth I had to have a chat with myself and stay patient, I only needed three birdies not six. It helps having been in this scenario before and it was nice to birdie two of the last three there and get myself back in this golf tournament.”

“I really enjoyed the crowd interaction today, it’s been a fun week and it would be nice to put the icing on the cake tomorrow with a big round. I’ll try and give them what they want tomorrow, an Irish winner, but there’s a lot of names on that leaderboard that will have some issues with that.”

“It would be special on many levels. It would be a kickstarter for my season. It would be a big boost in the world rankings and Ryder Cup rankings. But most importantly, to win here in front of my home fans, with everything that’s gone on in Irish golf lately, with the Open Championship (at Portrush) announcement, Rory (McIlroy) and his Olympic announcement this week and just generally what’s been going on in Irish golf, I think it would be fun to do the business tomorrow.”

“Having played in Ryder Cups and Major Championships I guess thankfully I’m experienced with this type of atmosphere and this type of crowd. But there’s something a little bit special about the dynamic of the Irish fans and I’d dearly love to give them what they want tomorrow.”

Of course there is still the chasing pack of players who are within striking distance, especially the bunch on -9 under par, tomorrow will be an interesting day.

Irish Open. Ilonen Is Still Leading. Rory Misses Cut.

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Mikko Ilonen is still leading at the Irish Open at Fota Island, while Rory McIlroy misses the cut.

Mikko Ilonen  (Getty Images)

Mikko Ilonen / Getty Images

Mikko is still the man to catch after he added a -3 under par 68 to his course-record 64 during the second round of the Irish Open. He now has a two shot lead at the top of the leaderboard at -10 under par.

“I got to my goal, I wanted to get to double digits. I got there on 16 but then I lost it on 17, so it was good to birdie the last hole. I wanted to get to at least ten under, and I just did that.” 

“I said yesterday, one shot at a time, one hole at a time. It’s a long week, but two rounds of golf, it’s a long way from here. Got to keep the head down and go one shot at a time.” 

Graeme McDowell, Robert Rock and Romain Wattel are tied in third spot at -8 under par, but G-Mac has never had a top-ten finish in this event, he joked;

There’s always a first time for everything. I’ve been unhappy with my game now for a few months, really getting frustrated with myself in general and trying to be a little too perfect. I tried to loosen myself up a little bit and try to enjoy my golf a little bit. I’m surprised and excited to be in contention.”

“Normally there’s some pressure and expectation in the Irish Open. I think maybe coming off the US Open last week, with as much pressure and frustration and expectation as you feel there, perhaps that’s why I’m dealing with it a little bit better because it nearly feels like the proverbial walk in the park by comparison.”

“This is a fun game to play. We are very lucky to play it for a living but last week bordered on the unenjoyable because the golf course was so frustratingly difficult. I’ve played in front of many big crowds before, but maybe none as passionate here as the Irish crowd. There’s nothing quite like it when a crowd is pulling for you and it’s a fun experience. It’s something I’ve never experienced before, except perhaps at a Ryder Cup.”

Robert lost a play-off to Shane Lowry in 2009 but claimed the first prize of €500,000 as Shane was still an amateur at the time, and finished fifth in 2006 and second to Paul Casey last year. He likes this tournament;

“It’s a tournament I like playing but I think it’s more the time of year. I enjoy the tournaments at the start of the year, but when we travel further afield I don’t play well and it batters your confidence. It takes time to rebuild that and it seems to be this time of year it comes back.”

Rory suffered his first missed cut on the European Tour in 2014;

“It’s very frustrating, to make six birdies and an eagle and shoot just two under means there were a lot of mistakes and wasteful shots. To miss the cut for the second year in a row is not a nice position to be in. I don’t know what else to say, it’s very disappointing.”

“I’m proud of myself how I fought out there and didn’t give up and tried for the last shot, I gave myself a chance to try to make the cut with the big birdie putt on 17, but just wasn’t meant to be.

“I just need to tighten it all up and become a lot more consistent, make the bad shots a little bit better and not be as wasteful around the greens. If I can do that, I know my game is right there. I’ve got a couple weeks off now to work on my game a little bit, play some links golf and get ready for the Scottish Open and the Open.”

Irish Open. Ilonen Leads in Ireland.

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Mikko Ilonen leads in Ireland at the Irish open at the Fota Island Resort.

Mikko Ilonen  (Getty Images)

Mikko Ilonen / Getty Images

Mikko carded a course record -7 under par 64 at Fota Island Resort to establish a two shot lead after the first round of the Irish Open. He recorded eight birdies and one bogey, and said patience was the key;

“It was a slow start really. The first sort of four or five holes I felt like I can’t get anything going, but I stayed patient and then the birdies kept coming. In the end I managed to hit a couple of good putts which was nice.”

There are three players tied in third position at -5 under par following their opening rounds of 66. Marcel Siem, Robert Karlsson and Magnus A Carlsson sharing.

Robert really enjoyed his day;

It was nice, I’m very, very happy. I worked quite hard when I’ve been at home since the Nordea Masters, so it’s been nice to keep it going. I’ve done a bit of work with my coach and things are coming together quite nicely. The long game was very, very good today.”

Graeme McDowell is back in a tie for 9th place in the log jam at -3 under par, while three-time major winner Padraig Harrington returned a -2 under par score of 69, which was matched by the defending champion Paul Casey.

Rory McIlroy slumped to an opening round of +3 over par 74, and will have to pay really well tomorrow if he is to make the cut;

“I still drove the ball great and got in the positions that you need to, but short-sided myself a couple of times, hit a couple of loose shots with my wedges and could not get a putt to drop.”

“I was pretty sloppy with the scoring clubs so I might head to the range this afternoon to work on those. I need to do better tomorrow to be here for the weekend.”