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

 

BMW International Open. Four-Way Tie at the Top.

dragon logo dark

There is a four-way tie at the top of the BMW International Open in Cologne.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello  (Getty Images)

Rafa Cabrera-Bello / Getty Images.

Rafa had to be content with a share of the lead at -12 under par at the halfway point of the BMW International Open at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof, after incurring a double hit penalty.

He had been in the lead for most of the mornings play when he attempted to escape from to chip out of the rough in front of the green at the par five 7th hole. On the follow through he stuck the ball again, and carded a six, and had to share top spot with Emiliano Grillo, Pablo Larrazábal and Danny Willett.

Danny Willett hits his tee shot at the 10th during the second round of the BMW International Open

Danny Willett / Getty Images

Danny had forgotten to take the pain killers for his sore shoulder, which lead to shank from him;

” The only thing you can do is laugh as it is not something that happens very often.” 

“Twelve under was great score for two days and the shoulder was good early on. I completely forgot to take any pills after nine holes and I could feel it in the last few holes.”

Emiliano Grillo is recovering from some tough times personally;

“It’s been a rough couple of months personally and on the golf course so I’m happy with the week so far. My dad passed away in December so it has been a long six months dealing with everything you have to deal with back home.”

“I’ve learned a lot of things about life with that and I think I am growing up fast.”

There are a group of six players that are the closest challengers to the leaders, all  on -10 under par; they are Alex Cejka, Branden Grace, Andreas Hartø, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Robert Karlsson and Craig Lee.

It was a special day for Andreas Hartø, as he made his first European Tour cut, after thirteen tournaments.

Not so good for Martin Kaymer on his homecoming, he missed the cut, recoding a score of par for his two rounds, finishing at T102. What a strange game golf can be, on top of the world one day, and missing the cut the next. Martin was suffering from putting problems.  He actually reached 17 of 18 greens in regulation but needed 35 putts to complete his round today, and recorded 31 in the first round.

Martin Kaymer / Getty Images

The BMW International Open leaderboard is pretty compacted, and with likes of  Stenson and Jimenez lurking just behind the leaders I expect one of them to make a move tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nordea Masters. Jubilant Jaidee Wins Play-Off

dragon logo dark

 

 

 

 

   A very Jubilant Jaidee wins the Nordea Masters in a play-off for the title.

Thongchai Jaidee - Nordea Masters Champion  (Getty Images)

Thongchai Jaidee / Getty Images

Jaidee won the Nordea Masters title in Sweden after a three-man sudden death play-off, at the first play-off hole, with a birdie. At the end of regulation play he was tied with Stephen Gallacher and Victor Dubuisson at -16 under par for the tournament. Jaidee had posted that total earlier in the day, and had to sit in the clubhouse to see if anyone could catch him. Eventually it came down to last four groups before he knew he was in a play-off.

A final round of -7 under par, which included an Eagle on the 11th, saw Jaidee sit on top of the leaderboard and sitting back to see if he could be caught;

“I worked hard today, I started with three birdies in a row, had another one on six, then a good comeback on 11.We were nervous the last few holes – 16, 17 and 18 are tough holes, but 16 under was good enough for a play-off.”

“Then you never know in a play-off. A play-off was good for me as I finished early so I was very lucky. I thought 16 under would be second or third with the last hole being a par five. I had a good drive, then I knew I couldn’t  reach the green.  I played a great shot as I knew the pin was very tough, so I played the hole really well.”

“The golf course is wide open, you have to hit good golf shots and the weather helped a little bit.” 

Stephen whose missed birdie putt in the play-off was similar to the one he had made at the same hole 30 minutes earlier, said he was happy to get into the play-off;

“I had a good week and I was delighted to get into the play-off. I holed a lovely putt on the last after lipping out on both 16 and 17. Jaidee just hit a lovely shot there, or lovely three shots, on the last, which was playing really tough.” 

“I was hoping to peak for a couple of weeks. I knew I was playing well, so to finish fifth and then second is not bad. I’m delighted with that. Play-offs are fine margins. My ball got up to four-foot from the hole and then spun back. If the wind drops a bit instead of gusting and I’m stone dead. Play-off golf, you need that bit of luck, but the putt to get into the play-off was great.”

Victor had the opportunity to win on 18 in regulation play with a birdie, but he somehow three-putted from just off the green and missed his chance. Robert-Jan Derksen also had a final round of -7 under par 65, it was good enough to give him fourth spot on his own at -15 under par.

Home town hero Henrik Stenson is still waiting for his first victory at home, he could only manage a last round -1 under par 71, to finish in fifth place at -14 under par.

” It was a disappointing last day, apart from the first hole I got off to a good start and made a couple of birdies, but the bogey on the sixth was a momentum killer.” 

“It was one of those days when I didn’t quite get it going and missed a few chances and a couple of bogeys slipped onto the card too easily. You can’t afford that if you are going to win the tournament. I was still fighting and in with a chance on the last, but I just missed it in the wrong place. It left me in a bad spot.” 

“It would have been nice to win in front of home fans, but there will be more chances and there will be more chances to win other golf tournaments, so you can’t be too disappointed.” 

 

 

Nordea Masters. Henrik Joins Eddie at the Top.

dragon logo dark

Henrik Stenson alights the home crowd by joining Eddie Pepperell at the top of the Nordea Masters leaderboard at the conclusion of round three.

 

Eddie Pepperell hit eight birdies on his way to a share of the lead at the Nordea Masters  Nordea 1

Eddie Pepperell and Henrik Stenson / Getty Images

Henrik shot -8 under par 64 in the third round of the Nordea Masters, to catch Eddie at the top of the leaderboard at -13 under par, in Sweden. Henrik the Worlds number two collected seven birdies, adding an eagle at the seventh, recording one bogey, at the par three 15th. He was keen to tell us how good the shot was that brought him an Eagle two at the 7th hole;

That was a great shot and it all started with the six iron on the previous hole. Last year I hit a lot of good iron shots that didn’t go in, so it was nice to finally see one go in. I knew it was going to be inside ten feet when I hit it and it landed about five feet away, had a little release and hop and went in.”

“The crowds have been great. I haven’t played in front of home crowds for a while and with the success I’ve had I really feel the support. I’m going to enjoy tomorrow and try to be up there tomorrow with nine to go and try to win this tournament for them.” 

“It would be great to do it. I’ve not won in Sweden before and obviously I would like to do that in my career. It seems like I’m going to have a chance tomorrow, but there is a long way to go and a lot of good players up there. I’m sure I need to stick to my play and be there when it really matters tomorrow.”

Eddie was no slouch in the third round carding a -7 under par 65, and is happy to be competing against Henrik in his own country;

“I had great fun out there, I felt comfortable out there. I’m really happy with myself, the game feels pretty good.” 

“It was a great start with three birdies in a row. I was flying and I missed good opportunities on four and five. Then I had a sticky spell with my swing, but hung in there. I would like to have finished with a birdie on the last two holes, but I’m not too unhappy about that.” 

“On 17 I had a good swing, bad putt. On 18 I just hit a slight pull and the wind just took it in the water, but I can’t be too disappointed as I committed fully. Henrik is tied with me so it is going to be a great day tomorrow, but I’ve just keep to keep focused on my game and do what I’ve been doing. If I do that I’ll have a shot come the last and I’ll enjoy it.”

“Henrik is one of the best players in the world, he’s in fine form and it is his home country. I couldn’t ask for much more really from a final round. It’s going to be really exciting for me and I’ve got to make it exciting for him.” 

Stephan Gallacher and Alvaro Quiros are tied in third place, at -12 under par, just one shot behind the leaders. It is a compacted leaderboard and it will be an exciting contest to see who comes out on top tomorrow.

 

Volvo China Open. Levy Lifts the Trophy

dragon logo dark

Alexander Levy lifts his first European Tour trophy, winning the Volvo China Open at the Genzon Golf Club.

Alexander Levy  (Getty Images)

Alexander and Trophy / Getty Images

Apart from a wobble during the final round, carding a double bogey six on the fifteenth hole Alexander cruised to victory. A last round -3 under par 69 was enough to see off the challenge of Tommy Fleetwood, at one point the lead was only one shot. Alexander replied to his double on 15 with birdies at 17 and 18, to post the winning score of-19 under par;

“I didn’t feel pressure, it was a difficult putt, difficult pin position, my ball was in the divot. It was a difficult shot, I made double bogey but I knew I was playing well and I was only thinking about my game.”

“I hit one of my best shots on 17. I didn’t feel pressure on the golf course because I’m confident. I just played my golf and focussed on the target. I saw Tommy made a birdie on the 17th but I like the pressure.”

Of the smile that he has been wearing all week, Alexander had this to say;

“You need to take the pleasure on the golf course and keep the smile because if you are upset about a missed shot or not lucky because you make a lip out or something like that, it’s not good to have this feeling on the golf course. You need to enjoy and have the smile.”

Tommy Fleetwood fired a last round -4 under par 68, but in the end it was not good enough to catch the runaway leader. He congratulated Alexander on great play;

“We aim for wins, but today I didn’t really have a chance. I had to play outstanding golf, but Alex has led from Friday, and that’s one of the hardest things you can do. What a performance from him.”

Alvaro Quiros finished third, his expected charge in the last round did not materialize, he carded a par round of 72, and final score of  -13 under par. Six shots behind his playing partner, and the man he was trying to catch, Alexander.

Henrik Stenson, who needed to win here to overtake  Tiger Woods at the top of the World Golf Rankings carded a final bogey free round -7 under par 65, to finish T5. He really wants that number one spot;

“It’s really tight and I just need to play better if I want to get to that spot. And I should have to play better than I have done earlier on this year if I want to get to world No. 1, that’s for sure,”

Low round of the day went to Anders Hansen, a -9 under par 63. He finished alongside Henrik and Ian Poulter.

Honda Classic. Rory Mac Still on Track.

dragon logo darkThe Honda Classic LogoRory McIlroy is still on track to win The Honda Classic, leading the competition on  the PGA National course at Palm Beach Gardens.

In driver's seat at Honda

Rory McIlroy / Getty Images

Rory shot a -4 under par 66 to maintain his momentum at the top of the leaderboard at The Honda Classic, with a -11 under par total. He spoke about his implosion last year and thinks maturity has helped him overcome those difficulties;

“It’s a different end of the spectrum I guess, I wasn’t quite comfortable with my golf swing. I was still tinkering with equipment. I just wasn’t feeling in control of, you know, what I needed to be in control of. This year is obviously a lot different. I think it’s just a sign of a little more maturity, not really trying to force the issue or press. I knew that with the way I’m playing and the confidence in my ability, I would be able to get those shots back. I didn’t panic.”

“When you’re not quite in control of your swing, your confidence can sort of go in peaks and troughs. When you hit a few good shots, your confidence can go up quite quickly but then you hit one bad one, it can sort of go down again and that’s where I was sort of most of last year. Now I feel I’m happy with where my swing is, and even if I do hit a loose shot, I can get over it much quicker and much easier because I have the confidence in what I’m doing. I’m playing well and I’m comfortable.”

Brendon de Jong is in second place after his super second round -6 under par 64, which elevated him to -10 under par overall. Brendon, who has never won on the PGA TOUR,  will be in the last group Saturday, alongside Rory. He mentioned the wind picking up in the afternoon;

“I think I might have got a little bit of switch in the wind. I feel very comfortable, I’ve been out here long enough now. I’ve played quite a bit with Rory. I know obviously what a great player he is. I feel very comfortable. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

In third place at -8 under par is Russell Henley, who carded a second round -2 under par 70, to stay in touch with the leaders.

Among those making the cut on the number, at even par were some dignitaries; Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, V.J. Singh and Paul Casey.

Tiger reported;

“I hit it good enough to shoot probably at least three or four lower than I did. I had so many looks where I just missed, and I just need to read them a little bit better than I did today.”

Sergio is struggling;

“It’s just been a little bit of a struggle, it’s just one of those weeks where you just don’t feel it. I wish I could put my hand on what it is. I just didn’t feel comfortable starting out, but I have to be happy with the finish and hope for a decent weekend.”

There were also a couple of big names on the missed cut column, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson. Phil was +1 over par and Henrik was +9 over par for the first two rounds.

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

dragon logo darkAccenture Logo

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.