WGC. HSBC Champions. Bubba Blasts His Way to a Win.

White Dragon GolfWGC-HSBC Champions

Bubba Watson blasted out of a bunker to hole an Eagle on the last hole and get into a play-off against Tim Clark, on his way to winning the WGC, HSBC Champions event in China.

WGC, HSBC Champions

Bubba Watson / Getty Images

In a cracking final round at the WGC, HSBC Champions tournament, at Sheshan International Golf Course, the lead changed constantly, and it seemed that there could be as many as six players heading for the play-off. In the end only two were left, Bubba Watson and Tim Clark. Tim could not repeat his last round birdie at the first play-off, and Bubba rolled in a long putt to win the title with his birdie.

Bubba spoke to his caddy while standing in the bunker on the last hole;

“It’s been a miserable couple holes here, but this will change everything if it goes in.”

“You always joke about holing it, and then it actually went in. I didn’t know how to react and so I just kind of screamed, and I lost my voice a little bit. It was one of those shots, a one-in-a-lifetime kind of shot. And so it was pretty neat.”

Being able to win outside the U.S., I just want to be able to travel and get through the jet lag, get through all the things and still perform at a high level.”

“So for me to win out here, this is very big. This is very special for me.”

Tim knew that the length off the tee for Bubba could cause him problems;

I knew I needed to birdie that playoff, especially with him being able to reach. I’m pleased overall, obviously, disappointed to be that close.”

For the record both Bubba and Tim finished the tournament on -11 under par, with Rickie Fowler, Graeme McDowell and Hiroshi Iwata just one shot back at -10 under par.

Ian Poulter, Thorbjorn Olesen and Martin Kaymer were a further two shots back on -8 under par for the tournament.

WGC, HSBC Champions. G-Mac in Control, Just.

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G-Mac, Graeme McDowell just held on to control of the WGC, HSBC Champions tournament at Sheshan International Golf Course in China.

WGC HSBC Champions

Graeme McDowell / Getty Images

A third round -1 under par 71 kept Graeme at the top of the WGC, HSBC Champions tournament, with a -11 under par total, just a one shot advantage going into the final round on Sunday. It was a five and a half hour round and he thought he had played pretty well in difficult conditions;

“I played reasonably solid today, I thought conditions were a little bit more difficult, colder, obviously a little bit of overnight rain made the golf course play a little bit longer.” 

“I was generally happy with the way I hit the golf ball. I didn’t quite score as well as I did the last couple days but I gave myself some confidence from a ball-striking point of view that I can get the job done tomorrow.”

“Let’s be honest, I had a three shot lead overnight and it’s only one now, but I’ll take this position any week that you offer it to me, a one shot lead going into the last round, on a golf course that I enjoy; I’m looking forward to the opportunity tomorrow.” 

I felt maybe a tiny bit negative coming in, but when I went back and sort of thought through my round, you know, it was difficult.”

“I wouldn’t say I felt loose coming in, but I also knew it wasn’t something I had to start protecting. I hit a lot of good putts today that didn’t go in, and that’s probably the main difference between shooting 1 under and 3 or 4 under today.”

One shot behind at -10 under par is Japanese player Hiroshi Iwata, who shot up the leaderboard thanks to a third round -4 under par 68. He thinks he may get nervous tomorrow if he is still there at the death;

“Maybe tomorrow coming up the last few holes, I might get a little bit nervous, but so far I’m calm, so I think I’m doing OK.”

Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson are in close contact, both finished at -9 under par for the tournament, with Rickie Fowler and Tim Clark another shot back at -8 under par.

 Bubba was not happy with his putter today, but still managed to birdie four of the last five holes;

“A couple three-putts today and a double bogey. That’s sad, but the birdies down the stretch really helped out.”

WGC. HSBC Champions. Great Day for G-Mac.

White Dragon GolfWGC-HSBC Champions

It was a great day for G-Mac, Graeme McDowell leads the WGC, HSBC Champions tournament at the mid-way point at Sheshan International Golf Course in China.

WGC, HCBC Champions

Graeme McDowell / Getty Images

G-Mac shot a bogey free second round of -5 under par 67 to lead the WGC, HSBC Champions by three shots at the half way stage with a -10 under par total. While admitting he did not play as well as yesterday, although posting the same score, Graeme said his putter was red-hot;

“The putter was fairly hot today.”

“I didn’t play as well as I did yesterday; I missed a lot more fairways, which is a big key on this golf course. You must find fairways to have a chance out there.” 

“I got lucky a couple of times and I made some good saves. The greens are fantastic here at Sheshan and I managed to make some putts. It wasn’t my best ball-striking round but I hung in there and I’m right where I want to be going into the weekend.”

“This event has such a good feel to it. HSBC do a good job, you always get good support, there’s a great atmosphere and the golf course is so well presented.” 

“The WGCs are a special tier of events and this has always been one that I’ve had my eye on. This is a world-class field and they are bunching up behind me. I’ve just got to keep the pedal down and position myself for Sunday to have a sniff on the back nine.”

Ian Poulter is in second place, he also recorded a second round -5 under par 67, to give him a -7 under par total, to occupy second on his own.

Tied in third are Bubba Watson and Hiroshi Iwata, both players on -6 under par for the tournament.

Bubba, The Masters champion, birdied his last five holes, twice chipping in from off the green to card a -5 under par  67 second round.

This is a very tightly compacted leaderboard, apart from Graeme, and I expect someone to leap out of the pack tomorrow to challenge the cruising G-Mac.

WGC HSBC Champions. G-Mac Gets In Front

White Dragon GolfWGC-HSBC Champions

G-Mac, Graeme McDowell, gets in front of the World Golf Championship, HSBC Champions tournament in China.

WGC HSBC Champions

Graeme McDowell / Getty Images

Graeme opened the WGC HSBC Champions tournament with a -5 under par 67 at Sheshan International Golf Club in China, to sit on top of the leaderboard with a two shot lead.

Graeme, playing the course backwards, dropped a couple of shots late in the day but was happy with his effort on this tricky day;

“A big key to this golf course is driving the ball well. I drove it very well today, and the greens are in fantastic shape, and I actually putted very well. Dropped a couple coming in, but all in all, very pleased with five under par on what I thought was a reasonably tricky day.”

“I didn’t need a leaderboard to let me know that 7 under through 12 is fairly strong. There were some tricky holes on the front nine. I made a couple of putts I should have in the first 12 holes, and then I made a couple of bogeys that I shouldn’t have coming in.”

“All in all, I think five under was a fair representation of my round.”

Rickie FowlerMartin Kaymer, Brandt Snedeker, Tim Clark, Chris Kirk and Tommy Fleetwood are all tied in second place, after shooting rounds of -3 under par 69.

Rickie paid testament to the tough test this course is providing;

“This is a top event, some of the best players in the world, probably the best field you’re going to get in Asia, and you don’t want it to be a pushover.”

 “You want a good, solid test. And it’s showing that.”

Brandt Snedeker was not put off by jet-lag,  his original plan was to play Japan, Malaysia and China. But he had to withdraw  from the Bridgestone Open when he felt something wrong with his stomach. He flew home to Tennessee during the week of Malaysia to get it checked out, then flew back to Asia to start this tournament.

There is another large group at -2 under par, 70, that featured Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson, on a day when only 27 players in the 78-man field broke par, with FedExCup champion Billy Horschel carding a +8 over par 80;

 

BMW Masters. Levy Leads.

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Alexander Levy leads in Shanghai at the BMW Masters making an ideal start to his bid for a third European Tour title of the season.

BMW Open

Alex Levy / Getty Images

Frenchman Alexander Levy shot a bogey free opening round of -7 under par 65 to lead the BMW Masters on the Lake Malaren Golf Club course.

Alex was happy with his round, joking that he thinks China likes him. He is also buoyant about the good level of French golf;

“I think this country likes me, for me, this golf course is pretty much the same as the one where I won in Shenzhen.”

“I like this type of golf course with water and the target golf. I enjoy being in China and I’m going to try my best the next few days to do the same things I did in April.”

“No French player has won a Major or something like that, but I think we have a good mix between the older generation and young generation.Victor played the Ryder Cup this year and I think it showed all the French players it’s possible to play a big event like that and be in position to be in the Ryder Cup in France in 2018.”

“For my part I’m thinking only about that, to be in France in 2018 at Le Golf National, it’s an amazing place. I think we will have, I hope, two or three players on the Ryder Cup in 2018.

“We have a good generation. Every year some French players win and new players come on The European Tour.”

Another Frenchman Romain Wattel  is sharing second place with Nicolas Colsaerts and Emiliano Grillo,  all just one shot behind on -6 under par.

Graeme McDowell is another shot further back on -5 under par, holding fifth spot on his own after his first round 67. G-Mac arrived late in Shanghai and is shaking off the jet-lag. He reported that good putting was the key to his round;

“I got here Tuesday morning and haven’t really been feeling my best the last couple of days.”

“It’s the first sort of long trip of the year for me and the body took a little bit of time to catch up. Thankfully I felt much, much better this morning and the energy level has felt good.”

“The golf course is fairly soft due to the rain. It’s playing very long (7,600 yards), but the greens are very receptive and you can attack a few pins.”

“I’ve had a lot of yardage in my hand most of the day out there. We counted up, I think I had seven iron shots from outside of 200 yards on this golf course. Certainly for a guy like me who doesn’t hit it maybe as far as some of the other guys, I have to be precise with my iron play and putt well, and I putted well today. That was one of the keys.”

 

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