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Joburg Open. Local Lads Lead.

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Local Lads Lead the Joburg Open, with Thomas Aiken and Justin Walters setting the pace at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club.

Local lads Aiken and Walters lead in South Africa

Thomas Aiken / Getty Images

Thomas carded a -9 under par 63 over the East Course, which included one bogey, for a total of -17 under par at the end of play on day 3. He said he has been in final groups before and knows how to deal with the pressure;

“I’ve been in a lot of final groups, won twice in Europe and seven times on the Sunshine Tour, so I know what pressures there are going to be. If you just go and do what you do best, stick to your gameplan and take it shot by shot then the best golfer will win at the end of the day.”

I am not sure I believe the best golfer wins, sometimes Lady Luck has a hand, a good bounce or a bad one can make all the difference between winning and losing. As we have seen recently, the best time to put in a 63 is the last round.

Justin shot a -8 under par 64, with one bogey for his -17 under par total, and is aware that the last time he was in this position going into the final round he did not play too well. On the upside he was very happy with his Eagle at the last;

” I hit the ball so well today. Going into the day I just wanted to move forward a little bit, because my last attempt from this position I went quite backwards. I was aware of that and I made a strong effort to be aggressive today. I’ve got one more round tomorrow and I’m so happy that I’ve put myself into a strong position. I’m super excited for tomorrow, because it’s what we play for.”

” To hit a close one in there on the last and to hear the grandstand roar from way back down the fairway gives you the goosebumps, and that’s why we play. It’s nice to give people something to cheer about. Considering the situation I am in it was pretty vital, because giving him  a nice lead on this course will make him hard to catch. Tomorrow is certainly a good opportunity, and I will be nervous, but hopefully I can improve on my record in South Africa.”

Jin Jeong is in third place at -15 under par for the tournament, a winner in Perth at the end of last year. Jin had five birdies, an Eagle and just one dropped shot in his round of  -6 under par 66.

Overnight leaders Edoardo Molinari and Craig Lee could only manage rounds of 72 and 74 respectively and lost ground on the leaders. Edoardo now at -11 under par and Craig -9 under.

There are three Open Championship places on offer tomorrow for those not already exempt so the contest also looks set to go down to the wire.The only player in the top ten already qualified for Royal Liverpool France’s Grégory Bourdy.

Euro Tour. Grégory Bourdy Brilliantly Wins in Wales.

Grégory Bourdy brilliantly wins in Wales, at the ISPS Handa Wales Open played at The Celtic Manor Resort course.

Gregory Bourdy  (Getty Images)

Grégory Bourdy / Getty Images

Grégory topped the leaderboard with a final round -4 under par 67, to win the ISPS Handa Wales Open at The Celtic Manor Resort. He was tied with overnight leader Peter Uihlein after 15 holes, and then struck a mighty blow with birdies on the last three holes, draining putts from 50, 15 and 30 feet, to make the title his;

“It was an amazing round, I made an amazing finish with three birdies in a row and I am so happy. I will remember the finish on this great course for a long time. A lot of great moments have been here, I was thinking about the Ryder Cup on the 18th so I am so proud to win this trophy.”

Shell shocked  American Peter Uihlein had to settle for second place at -6 under par, having struggled to make full use of the three stroke advantage he held at the start of the day. His final round was a +1 over par 72. This is what he said after the round;

“Hats off to him, he played great. It was a tough day and he played fantastic.”

Soren Kjeldsen finished in third place at -5 under par with his final round of -5 under par 66.

Euro Tour. ISPS HandaWales Open. Peter Uihlein Peaks.

Peter Uihlein peaked in the third round of the European Tour ISPS Handa Wales Open at The Celtic Manor.

Peter Uihlein  (Getty Images)

Silhouette of Peter Uihlein / Getty Images

Peter took control of the Handa Wales Open shooting a third round -4 under par 67 and standing clear of the field at the top of the leaderboard with a total of -7 under par. That score gives him a three shot lead starting the final round tomorrow.

Peter moved into the lead with an Eagle three at the par five at ninth hole, after a stunning long iron to nine feet. Not content with that effort, he rolled in a 50-footer putt at the next hole, before picking up a further gain at 14 following an excellent approach. He said he had played solid golf and is looking forward to tomorrow;

“I was just solid today and was able to plot my way around, I am excited for tomorrow and looking forward to it. I feel like I’ve given myself a few opportunities this year and hopefully I can stick to my gameplan.”

Tied in second place at -4 under par are Thomas Levet and Grégory Bourdy, the two Frenchmen having very different rounds. Thomas also had a -4 under par 67, and echoed Peter’s comments about sold play;

“I played very solidly today, even when I bogeyed, I was quite unlucky. It was a very good round. I have played pretty good this year, there are some weeks I have played OK and nothing has happened. When things happen on the greens and you get lucky bounces, suddenly you’re back at the top of leaderboards.”

Grégory could only managed a -1 under par third round of 70, finding the water at the par three 13th to eventually card a double bogey. He said that at the end of the day he was quite happy;

“I am quite happy after the end because I had to fight to get pars on 17 and 18. Peter is playing very well and it is going to be a great day tomorrow.”

A stroke further back, at -3 under par tournament total and tied in fourth spot are Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Joost Luiten and Peter Hedblom.

Peter shot the day’s outstanding round, -5 under par 66. He had birdies on one, six, nine, thirteen, fourteen and seventeen, with his sole dropped shot coming at the sixteenth.

Tomorrow should be a good day for the American Peter Uihlein, a three shot lead is a comfortable margin to take into the last round at The Celtic Manor.

 

Maybank Malaysian Open. Mayhem Reigns

The mayhem reigns at the Maybank Malaysian Open, the tournament has been reduced to 54 holes after the leaders had completed just two holes of their third round before play was suspended once again due to rain.

 

Kiradech Aphibarnrat   (Getty Images)

Kiradech Aphibarnrat / Getty Images

Kiradech Aphibarnrat has a one shot lead, he completed his second round and had played just two holes of the third round when the Tournament Director, David Garland announced;

” We’ve had another very large storm this afternoon, so suspended play for the day and after further discussions with our major sponsor Maybank the tournament has been reduced to 54 holes. We want to wrap it all up with the crowd and everyone here tomorrow.”

Kiradech Aphibarnrat is at -11 under par, with playing partner Charl Swartzel at -10 under par. Kiradech was pleased with the halt in play, stating that he felt very tired;

” It’s good for me because I’m getting tired. I’ll try to play on my game and focus.I’ve got 16 holes to go, I want to concentrate on my own game and I’ve got a chance.”

The final round will be a real shootout, there are seven competitors on -9 under par, and they are all in with a chance to win this tournament. The chasing pack includes; Irish pair Padraig Harrington and Peter Lawrie, they are joined by former Ryder Cup player Italian Edoardo Molinari, Dane Anders Hansen, China’s Ashun Wu and the French duo of  Gregory Bourdy and Victor Dubuisson.

One big name that is missing from the line-up is  World number three Luke Donald, who missed the first halfway cut of his professional career in a regular European Tour event after adding a 73 to his opening 74.

Luke said in interview that he had really struggled with the greens, but the time off he has will help him to prepare for The Masters;

” I’ve got a couple of weeks off to get ready for Augusta and I’ll obviously be very diligent in my preparation. I would have loved to go back home in form, but in golf you just never know. We’ve seen it many times before when people go into tournaments with very little form and win, including Majors. So you just have to keep plugging and hope it’s your turn. The greens here are very different from what I play on, they are a little slower than what I’m used to and I just didn’t adjust or adapt to them. I just couldn’t read them for the life of me. I’d think it was right to left and it went the other way. I got John (his caddie) to read a few too and we were seeing the same things.”

Maybank Malaysian Open. Kiradech Aphibarnrat 1st Round Leader

Kiradech Aphibarnrat is the first round leader at the Maybank Malaysian Open, being played at  the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat   (Getty Images)

Kiradech Aphibarnrat / Getty Images

Kiradech opened the tournament with a -7 under par round of 65, he managed to get in the clubhouse before the thunderstorms brought proceedings to a halt.

There are four players hot on his heels,  just one shot back on -6 under par are Anders Hansen, Edoardo Molinari, Scott Jamieson and Grégory Bourdy.

Grégory birdied five of his first seven holes and said -6 is a good score on this course;

” It’s great to start the tournament like this, six under is a good score on this course. I finished second here two years ago, so I like the course a lot. It’s maybe one of the best we play all season and it’s in great shape again this year. The area is great also, and the weather is very good. I’m enjoying this event again and I hope my game stays like this until Sunday.”

Anders has been struggling a bit this season and was very pleased with his opening round;

” I’m very, very pleased. I’ve been struggling a bit all year, but this week I’ve worked very hard on the range even though it has been so hot.  I hit a lot of good shots today, although I had a couple of loose ones at the start. I hit it in the water on the first which wasn’t good, but I made a good recovery. I hit some very solid golf shots yesterday in the pro-am and that gave me some confidence for today. It’s too hot to get frustrated so you just have to stick in there. It’s extreme and very difficult for everyone.”

World Number Three Luke Donald made his now customary slow start to a tournament and could only manage a +2 over par round of 74, despite chipping in for birdie at the first. Three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington has made a good start in Kuala Lumpur with a three under par 69 for a share of tenth place.

Not everybody has completed their first rounds yet, so there could be some changes to the leaderboard before the start of the second round. Scott Jamieson is at -6 under par through ten holes, and could yet top the leaderboard himself.

Alfred Dunhill Championship, Charl Schwartzel Wins

 

Charl Schwartzel won the Alfred Dunhill Championship by a massive 12 shots at Leopard Creek Country Club in South AfricaSublime Schwartzel completes mammoth win

Charl Schwartzel / Getty Images

The last round may have been interrupted by thunderstorms, but noting interrupted Charl Schwartzel cruising to an easy victory setting a target of -24 under par. An amazing twelve shots clear of Kristoffer Broberg in second place.

Charl has a remarkable record at this course, which is situated on the border of the Kruger National Park, he won his first European Tour title there in 2004 and has had four runner-up finishes. He said it has always been special for him;

“It’s always been a special place for me, this is where I can almost say my career started and it’s always stayed close to my heart. It’s nice to have continued my form from last week. I was saying a month and a half ago it’s been a pretty disappointing year. Slowly and surely I started to swing the club a lot better, back to how I did when I won The Masters, and I actually got excited to play again. It started at the South AFrican Open and from there got better and better. It’s been a pretty good year now!”

Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg, four times a winner on the Challenge Tour last season, finished in second place, after  Grégory Bourdy suffered a double-bogey seven on the final hole.  Grégory had been the main challenger to Charl for the best part of the weekend, but slipped up on the last hole to give Kristoffer the second place on his own. Kristoffer was of course delighted with his first earnings on the European Tour;

“It’s amazing to get off to such a good start in The Race to Dubai in my first season as a European Tour Member and it sets me up pretty good for the new season.”

 

BMW Italian Open, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano Wins

Fernandez-Castaño storms to victory

                                                  Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano/Getty Images

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño  finished with an -8 under par round of 64, and a BMW Italian Open  score of -24 under par total to hold off the challenge of Garth Mulroy to win by two shots.

Sunday’s final pairing were neck-and-neck for much of the final round, but Garth unfortunately suffered a  5-5 finish, which ultimately proved decisive at Royal Park I Roveri in Turin. Although Gonzalo was happy with the win he was still disappointed at not making the European Ryder Cup team;

“Not making the Ryder Cup was disappointing, I had a victory, two second-placed finishes and one third, and it hasn’t been good enough. It’s tough. You have to play well in the big events, and that’s what I didn’t do this year unfortunately. I have talked to Olly about The Ryder Cup many, many times. I can laugh about it now, but it hasn’t been easy. I just needed to believe in myself and put The Ryder Cup out of my head, which I’ve done this week. I changed my schedule a little, I normally travel on a Tuesday but I arrived here on Wednesday, mainly because I wanted to see the kids start school. It was a completely different frame of mind for the week. I didn’t know the course, so everything was new to me. I just followed my caddie’s instructions and it worked. The main thing was my attitude. I didn’t get to frustrated out there or try too hard. I just let it happen. It felt like match play out there and I’m delighted to have come out on top, it feels very special to win this tournament again. I thought maybe 22 under par would have been good enough, but the way Garth and I were playing it was crazy. We kept holing putt after putt and it had a match play feel, which was fun. I have to congratulate him because he has played great. We had a great battle.”

Garth Mulroy’s last round of -5 under par  67 was enough to finish two shots clear in second place, with Gregory Bourdy and home favourite Matteo Manassero sharing third after matching 65′s and a tournament total of -20 under par. Garth said he felt he played well;

“I played well, but Gonzo’s putter was a little hot for me today, we were making birdie after birdie and it was fun. The 17th got me in the end there, but I’m happy and I played well. He went through a seven hole stretch where he made six birdies. It forces the other player to make birdies too. The last two days have been very fun.”

Nicolas Colsaerts finished in a share of fifth with Medinah bound teammate Martin Kaymer, Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal and England’s Gary Boyd. Nicolas said he is in good shape and playing well ahead of the Ryder Cup at Medinah;

“I feel pretty good, I had a fantastic start which was just what I wanted, to go deep under par after only a few holes. Two bad swings broke my momentum, and on a course like this where everyone makes birdies everywhere, momentum is very important and it feels like you’re losing ground. But I finished well again, which was what I wanted. It helps being able to go through the week in a very cool, calm way, without thinking about qualifying for The Ryder Cup. My goal was to play these two events and to keep going, keep playing and keep the good dynamic I’ve had all year. I wish I could’ve done a little better here, but it’s fulfilled the goal of continuing to play well before going to Medinah. I have a lot of good vibes.”

Gary Boyd produced the shot of the day when he holed his six iron second shot to the eighth green for an albatross, his spectacular round of 63 propels him into the top 115 on The Race to Dubai, and serves as a timely boost to his hopes of keeping his card;

“That’s probably the best I’ve ever played in my career. It was a nice start and then I really got the round going with an albatross at the eighth. At that point I was thinking that maybe I was back in the tournament with a chance to win. There’s a lot of pressure at this time of year and to have practically got over the line this week, with still a few tournaments to go, is a good feeling.”

BMW Italian Open 3rd Round in Turin

Garth Mulroy  (Getty Images)

                                                             Garth Mulroy/Getty Images

Garth Mulroy of South Africa  will take a one shot lead into the final round of the BMW Italian Open at  Royal Park I Roveri golf course in Turin, after his -6 under par third round of 66. Garth had seven birdies and only his second bogey of the week in moving to -17 under par and top spot on the leaderboard. Earlier in the week Garth had spoken about the South African feel to the  Royal Park I Roveri golf course, and yesterday said how comfortable he was playing it;

” I said on the first day the course reminds me a lot of a South African course, the trees, the shape, and the ball goes a little further too.
I haven’t played so well this year. It would be a big thing to win on mainland Europe, especially with the purse here and the two-year exemption. I don’t win very often so I’d take any win.  I’ve played quite a bit with Gonzalo. We’ve been drawn together a few times and have played together a few more at the weekend. I enjoy it and I like his caddie too, he’s a funny guy. I feel very comfortable out there.”

In second place, just one shot adrift is Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, he managed to birdie the last two holes for a round of 67, and to be 16 under, the highlight  of his round was undoubtedly a 70 foot eagle at the long eighth hole. Gonzalo was not happy with his unforced errors, two of which were due to putting his ball in the water;

” I played well but I had a few unforced errors which cost me a few shots, but two birdies to finish on the last two holes has put me back in contention and I’m in a great position for tomorrow. It’s not going to be an easy task. There are a lot of players within four shots, and this is one of those courses where you can go really low if you have a good day. So I will need to play well again tomorrow and go low, especially to put some pressure on Garth, who is playing great. He’s hitting the ball beautifully and his putting is fabulous. It’s going to be hard to beat him tomorrow.”

European Ryder Cup stars Nicolas Colsaerts and Martin Kaymer remain firmly in contention on -13 under par. They are joined by the home town favourite Matteo Manassero, overnight leader Richard Bland, Welshman Phillip Price and France’s Grégory Bourdy.

BMW Italian Open, 2nd Round

BMW

Richard Bland  (Getty Images)

Richard Bland /Getty Images

Richard Bland birdied the last three holes of his second round to put himself into the halfway lead at the BMW Italian Open at Royal Park I Roveri  in Turin. Richard is unfortunately yet to win on The European Tour despite ten years of trying,  he now has a fantastic chance to break his duck here at the BMW Italian Open  after a -6 under par second round of 66 took him to -12 under par in the tournament. Apart from  trying to secure a first title, Richard is also in need of a good week to retain his place on The European Tour for 2013. He currently lies 126th on The Race to Dubai, and only the top 115 keep their cards. Richard commented;

” I’ve had a tough couple of years, but that’s behind me now and I’m just trying to move forward and improve every day. When it wasn’t going my way on the front nine, I didn’t panic. I knew there were chances out there and it was just a question of waiting. I don’t go for the panic button which I might’ve done five or six years ago. There’s still 36 holes to go, all it is right now is a great position. There are great players behind me, its low scoring, so two 70s isn’t going to get it done. I’ll probably have to shoot ten under from here, but that’s a good thing. You’ve got to keep making birdies, you have to keep your foot on the accelerator. It was a strange day because I birdied the first then struggled to get anything going, I missed a couple of chances and struggled to get the pace of the greens.

” But I holed a nice putt at the 14th for birdie, then hit a couple of shots really close at the 16th and 17th, then hit two great shots at the 18th. It all happened at once really. You’d expect in a 66 that you’d hit a lot of really good shots, but I’m hitting a lot of okay shots. I’m not putting myself in any problems, which is great, but on this course you have a lot of short irons and you feel like you should be hitting it close all the time. I’m leading and I’m not going to complain, but I feel there’s a lot of room of improvement. When you don’t feel like you’ve got your A-game and you’re 12 under and leading, it’s fantastic. If I can get my swing clicked into place, it should be a good weekend.”

There are four players in second place at -11 under par, and just one shot behind the leader, they are;  Grégory Bourdy,  Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Garth Mulroy and Marc Warren.

Fernandez-Castaño admitted the advice of Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal had helped his putting in a round of 65.

” Olly  helped me with my putting two years ago, when he recommended that I putt with my feet together. Last year I had another tip from a fellow Spaniard, telling me to use the claw grip, and it has made a massive difference. I’ve been working with psychologists too, but it’s not until you see the ball rolling into the hole on a regular basis that your confident levels go up and you believe you can putt.”

Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal made the cut on the mark at four under, as did defending champion Robert Rock.

The Irish Open at Royal Portrush, Gregory Bourdy leads after 2nd round

Bourdy reaps benefits of Clarke's advice

Gregory Bourdy (Getty Images)

Gregory Bourdy leads the field after the conclusion of the second round at The Irish Open on the Royal Portrush golf links in County Antrim. Darren Clark offered Gregory some advice before the start of the tournament,  which obviously paid dividends as the Frenchman has moved into a one shot lead on the second day, and a tournament total of -12 under par. Greg spoke of the advice Darren had given him;

“I saw him on a tee and asked if it was possible to share a game. He is with the same manager, so I think that helped to get the right answer. Darren has been great with me. He gave me a lot of advice and maybe that gave me some confidence for the week. It was good for the lines on the tee shots. After just two or three times you can see better to know exactly the way you have to play.”

Darren seems full of gifts, just yesterday he gave a bottle of 21 year-old Bushmills Irish Whiskey to Jeev Milkha Singh. Jeev, who was the first round leader had a quieter day during the second round, completing a -1 under par round of 71, to be at -8 under par, and still in contention. Darren is thinking about his  Open Championship title defense at Royal Lytham and St Annes, which is just three weeks away;

“I’m just not tournament sharp and it’s important to have more competitive rounds.”

He has suffered from a groin strain and needed to rest it, taking a month off;

 “The break was massive, I needed to get away and the injury was a bit of a blessing in disguise. My golf’s not been that bad, but my scoring’s been terrible. I’ve been travelling all round the world trying to fulfil my role as Open Champion,  but now I’m refreshed. The last two days have probably been the best two ball-striking rounds I’ve had in a while. I’m definitely close. I need something around 65 or 64 to get into contention, but I’ve shot low scores here before.”

Darren has certainly achieved that task, he shot a record 61 on this course, at the tender age of 16.

Of the rest of Irish contingent, Padraig Harrington, the only home winner of The Irish Open in the last 30 years, has given himself the chance to do it again. Padraig  is ten under par after two 67s, and will surely be there or thereabouts come Sunday afternoon. Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell are all still around for the weekend, for Open Champion Clarke it was a first cut made all year. McIlroy and McDowell are both on the leaderboard at five under par, with Darren Clarke one further back.

Padraig Harrington said he is playing an unfamiliar game, but is hopeful once it all clicks into place he will win a few more tournaments;

 I’m playing a game I’m not familiar with, I’m hitting far more fairways and greens than normal and I know I could play better if I trusted it a bit more. I’ve shortened my swing significantly and I didn’t really put myself in any trouble. It was as stress-free a 67 as you could get in these conditions. I know they are around the corner and they tend to come like buses. When you get one a few more arrive very quickly.”

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