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.”

 

Irish Open. Casey, McIlroy & G-Mac are in the Field.

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Fota Island is a 7,043-yard par 71 in Cork

The venue, Fota Island / Getty Images

Fota Island is a 7,043-yard par 71. It unusually has back-to-back par fives on the front nine at holes 4 and 5 and then two more par fives on the back, at holes 10 and 18. The eighteenth hole is just a 532 yards par five, which sets up the possibility of an Eagle finish to the competition on Sunday.

Defending Champion Paul Casey;

 Paul Casey   (Getty Images)

Paul Casey / Getty Images

“I always defend a title, I won in Korea and I went back to Korea. If I won in Timbuktu, I’d go back to Timbuktu. I never get tired of defending. It’s exciting to me and this is an important championship.  The Irish Open is one of the biggest titles I’ve won. It meant a lot winning it last year. “

“Casey is a Cork name, one of my cousins who lives in the States has done a whole bunch of research on all our ancestors so I will try this week to find out more. It was my great-grandfather who was over here, and I think my grandfather on my dad’s side moved to South Africa. So it’s pretty close, I’ll try and find out more.”  

Paul’s heroics last year at Carton House Golf Club endeared him to many Irish fans. If he triumphed again this week it would reinforce that bond and put Paul well and truly back in the spotlight.
Rory McIlroy, has not played here before, but is looking forward to challenge after the horrors of Pinehurst #2;

Rory McIlroy / Getty Images

“I need to play some stellar stuff, I need to win at least one big one or a couple of others by the cut-off. I think it’s plain and simple. And even that doesn’t guarantee anything, but at least that might get me into consideration.”

“I’ve heard great things about the course, so I’m really looking forward to getting down there and seeing it for myself. I vaguely remember watching the Irish Open on TV when it was there in 2002. It’s a parkland golf course, which will be nice after last week at Pinehurst, where I made only nine birdies in four rounds.”

“Absolutely buzzing for The Irish Open at Fota Island Resort this week. Forecast is great so should be a great week.”

Graeme McDowell knows this course well;

Fota Island was my Irish Open debut and it’s got good memories, good thoughts, a great venue. The Irish Open is always special to us as Irish players.”

 

 

 

 

U.S. Open Martin Kaymer Leads 1st Round.

 

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Marvelous Martin Kaymer leads the U.S. Open at Pinehurst #2 by three shots in the first round.

History not on Kaymer's side

                                  Martin Kaymer / Getty Images

Marvelous Martin shot a first round -5 under par 65, to lead the U.S. Open by three shots at Pinehurst #2. Although this is a great start by Martin, history is not on his side. No player has ever won THE PLAYERS Championship and the U.S. Open in the same year, something to think about.

Martin was modest on his appraisal of his round today;

“Exceptional, like at THE PLAYERS, the 9-under par is not normal. So no one should expect me to shoot another 5-under par the next three rounds, I don’t. So much golf to play, it’s a good start, but it’s nothing more than that.”

” It’s quite nice when you play late on Thursday, that you can watch some golf in the morning and try to adjust mentally. Wednesday night I thought that it’s going to be very, very firm in the afternoon, but actually it was more playable than I thought.”

The leading pack consists of four players, all at -2 under par. One of those, Graeme McDowell said he does not think anyone is going to run a way with this tournament;

” You aren’t going to make 20 birdies out here, it’s simple as that. I think the winner of this tournament is going to make 10 to 12 birdies maximum.”

Kevin Na, also at -2 under par for the opening round, thinks even par can the tournament;

“At the end of the tournament, even par is going to win this championship.”

That means if Martin Kaymer shoots even par from here on in, he will win easily.  I don’t think so.

Brandt Snedeker is in the huge group at -1 under par, he  had six birdies in shooting his opening round of -1 under par 69. Four of those birdies came in his first eight holes, and he easily could have carded a fifth but missed a short birdie putt on his ninth hole;

“I didn’t see that this morning when I woke up, the golf course kind of got me back on the back nine.”

World No. 1 Adam Scott was disappointed in his score of + 3 over par 73.  He thought he struck several good shots that went unrewarded;

“If the conditions are the same, I’d like to play the course in a similar way I did today. I think I can shoot five or six shots better if I played the same as I did today.” 

Phil Mickelson , at even par for the first round reported that he feels he always has a chance;

 “I get a similar feeling that I get at Augusta where I don’t have to be perfect. I can miss shots. I can miss greens and still get up-and-down. I always have a chance.” 

As always, this is the U.S.Open, and anything can happen, and usually does, looking forward to tomorrow, who will miss the cut?

The Masters. Amazing Bubba Blitz at Augusta.

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An amazing blitz from Bubba Watson sees him top the leaderboard in The Masters at Augusta National

 

Bubba Watson stood out among the crowd after shooting a 68 on Friday at the Masters. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Bubba playing to the crowd / Getty Images

Bubba shot a second round -4 under par 68 to top the leaderboard at Augusta by three shots. He said he was trying not to get too excited, and stay focused, he remembered the hang-over he suffered after his Green Jacket win;

“Just keep my head down, not try to focus on the crowds cheering for me and stuff. Trying to stay level, not too energized, not too excited. Never been drunk before, but had a hangover from the green jacket, if you had one, you would celebrate it for a year or two.”

“It’s not science here, it’s try to hit the greens. And if you’re hitting the greens, that means you’re obviously hitting your tee shots well. So that’s all I’m trying to do is just hit the greens, maybe throw in a birdie here or there. That’s what I’ve done the last two days and it’s worked out so far.”

Bubba’s  putt on the 14th hole easily traveled around 50 feet after it turned almost 90 degrees to the left and rolled into the cup. It was just his luck that Sergio had a chip shot that rolled over the very spot where Bubba had marked his putt. The Sergio chip showed him the way.

“Without Sergio’s chip, I probably would have three-putted it.”

John Senden is in second pace at -4 under par, after he had completed his second round of -4 under par 68, the same as Bubba. He is playing with a smile on his face;

If I keep believing in myself and enjoying it, that’s the difference, it’s about keeping a smile on your face when you’re under pressure. I’ve been here five times now and learned where to go and where not to go. You just have to accept where the ball ends up and play the best shot you can.”

” The secret of this course is keeping the big numbers off the card. They kind of put you straight out of contention and if you can do that well you have a chance. There are plenty of ups and downs on this golf course. I just want to go out there and do my best and hope that’s good enough.”

There are four players tied in third place at -3 under par, Thomas Bjorn, Jonas Blixt, Jordan Spieth and defending champion Adam Scott, who carded an even par 72 second round.

Adam reported that it was all too easy to drop shots out on the course today;

“It was very difficult out there today. It’s starting to get pretty easy to drop shots out there, tomorrow is a big day for everyone. Anything even par or better at a major is normally a good score, especially today, I would say. It kept me in the tournament.”

“It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but given everything, I’m absolutely satisfied with that. It just means tomorrow’s round’s extremely important for me. It’s going to have to be maybe the best round of the week.”

The patrons favorite, fabulous Freddie Couples, not only made the cut, but is in contention following a spirited second round -1 under par 71, to be tied in seventh place at -2 under par. Not bad for a 53 year-old.

Among those missing the cut were the big names of Phil Mickelson, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, Webb Simpson, Graeme McDowell, Zach Johnson, Dustin Johnson and Jason Dufner.

Eurasia Cup. Europe Excel on Day 1

dragon logo dark  Day 1 of the Eurasia Cup was dominated by the European Team, an excellent performance saw them crush Asia.

Miguel Angel Jimenez  (Getty Images)

European Team Captain Miguel Angel Jiménez / Getty Images

European Team captain Miguel Angel Jiménez lead by example as his team spanked the opposition 5-0 in the opening round of four-balls in the Eurasia Cup. Partnered by Pablo Larrazábal they set the standard in a 2 and 1 victory over Asia skipper Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat at the  Glenmarie Golf & Country Club in Malaysia.

Pablo was full of praise for his captain;

“Miguel played great, he had like three or four birdie chances where he made birdie and he was amazing. I was there when he needed me but he played great.”

At the anchor end was Graeme McDowell, he had a 26-hour journey from Orlando after playing in the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday, but shook off any signs of jet-lag. He and partner Jamie Donaldson completed the whitewash victory beating  Nicholas Fung and Kim Hyung-sung 3-1.

Graeme spoke about their some from behind victory;

“We somehow managed to make the turn at one-down, which was huge. And this guy {Jamie} had a phenomenal back nine. It was great to watch.”

Jaime admitted he and Graeme had a slow start to their match;

“We had a slow start. We had five pars which was quite slow, but after that Graeme holed a good couple of putts on the front nine and he birdied six, eight and nine and after that I played well and we dovetailed really well to close out the match on 17. We have had a very good day today. To be five nil up is a fantastic start.”

“We have always said during practice that we simply can’t underestimate our opponents because the end of the day, we are playing in Malaysia, it’s so hot and the courses favor them.  We just had a very good day today and we have to not get complacent, get out tomorrow and continue to play well and not take it for granted, although we have had a very good start.”

In the middle matches Victor Dubuisson and Joost Luiten  secured a 3&2 win over Prayad Marksaeng and Siddikur Rahman. Followed by Thomas Bjorn and Thorbjorn Olesen who had a two-up victory against  Koumei Oda and Hideto Tanihara.

 Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Stephen Gallacher won 4&3 against  Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar.

The three-day EurAsia Cup continues on Friday, with the 10-man teams playing five more foursomes before the tournament concludes with singles matches on Saturday.

World Golf Championship. Chaos at Cadillac Championship.

dragon logo dark WGC-Cadillac Championship

The weather was the winner bringing chaos to The Blue Monster at Doral in the Cadillac Championship. 

Johnson shares lead

Dustin Johnson / Getty Images

Only three players were able to break par on a very windy and difficult day at Doral, The Blue Monster, assisted by the wind just chewed everyone else up, the average score was a tad under 76.

Patrick ReedMatt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson and Hunter Mahan are all tied at the top of the leaderboard on -1 under par.

Patrick eexplained that the course was hard enough without the wind;

“It’s a tough golf course as it is, and with how hard the wind is blowing, it made it even tougher. Almost felt like we were playing at a major today.”

Graeme McDowell was one of the players to break par today, a second round -1 under par has taken him into a share of second place at even par, along with; Rory McIlroyFrancesco Molinari, and Jamie Donaldson.

Jamie had the low round of the day, a -2 under par 70, it’s not very often -2 claims low round of the day.

G-Mac left us in no doubt about how hard it was today;

“I don’t think I’ve played in conditions this difficult in the U.S. It’s an Open Championship day. It’s a real Friday afternoon at St. Andrews in 2010 before they called it. It was hard out there ,really, really hard.”

Tiger Woods did do better than yesterday, he carded a second round +1 over, and is now +5 over par for the tournament.

Tiger was laughing as he said;

“We’ve all got a shot at it now, no one is going anywhere.”