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

 

Volvo China Open. Alexander the Great.

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Alexander Levy fired a great round of 62 to lead the Volvo China Open at the Half-way stage.

Alexander Levy  (Getty Images)

A casual Alexander Levy / Getty Images

Alexander recorded a -10 under par 62, a course record which put him in command of the Volvo China Open at Genzon Golf Club, with a four shot lead. He has a desire to follow the lead of the other French players into the winners circle, especially his friend Victor Dubuisson;

“It is a great round for me, I played unbelievably today and it’s the first time I have played like that. I really like the course and it is in great shape. I played really well and made a lot of putts to make the lowest score of my career. I shot 63 at Kingsbarns during the Dunhill Links in Scotland last year but this course is a lot tougher and I am only starting to realise how good that score is. “

“I played the right strategy today and I just have to try to do that over the next couple of days. I hope that I can play with Ralph tomorrow because he is a great friend and it would be funny if we could play in the last group together tomorrow.”

“I just tried to play one shot at a time. I didn’t realise how good the score was to be honest because I was focussed on playing shot by shot. I am very happy to be here, this is my first time in China and I feel great to be playing so well in what is a really big event for me.” 

“I think the French players are all very close and Victor’s performances over the last few months is helping all the French players and inspiring them to try to do the same. I am friends with Victor. It is mainly through golf that we have a relationship but we are friends. What he has done over the past few months has been amazing and it has really had an effect on all the French players so hopefully I can try to emulate that.” 

Adrian Otaegui, from Spain, is in second place, a -6 under par 66 for a -10 under par total kept him in touch with the leader. Fellow countryman Alvaro Quiros is a further shot back at -9 under par following his more modest second round of -4 under par 68.

Fourth place belongs to Raphaël Jacquelin, his second round of -5 under par 67 gives him a tournament total of -8 under par, and maybe a slim chance of catching Alexander. He was pretty happy to be where he is, saying he is not playing too well;

“I played a bit better today compared to how I was hitting the ball yesterday, so I feel pretty good. Still a few bad shots, but overall, five under, I’ll take it, definitely.”

Ian Poulter just managed to make the cut, a -1 under par total was due to some poor play and a rules infraction, on the 13th hole. he had driven the ball into trees off the tee, and took the penalty two clubs length relief. The drop left him on a cart path, so he was entitled to relief from that position. A free drop is only one club length, but Ian took two, which incurred a one shot penalty. He finished the hole with an eight on his card.

Volvo China Open. It’s tight at the Top, Play Suspended for the Day.

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It’s very tight at the top of the Volvo China Open at the Genzon Golf Club in ShenzenAlvaro Quiros and Simon Dyson share the clubhouse lead at the end of day one. Play was suspended due to bad light, with some players still to complete their first rounds.

Alvaro Quiros  (Getty Images)

Alvaro Quiros / Getty Images

Alvaro and Simon both shot opening rounds of -5 under par 67, to top the leaderboard on the Volvo China Open. Alvaro is coming back from injury and said things are slowly getting better;

“It was a good round of golf. It was a bit of a shame on the last par five because I was half a metre away from having a great chance to make another eagle but I ended up on the lip of the bunker and had to settle for a chip and two putts. You can’t see it yet on the rankings but I have been playing better. The Middle East swing was a good three weeks for me then I had a good result in Joburg and the last couple of weeks have been better.” 

Simon started on the tenth tee, and played well. He has won here before and that gives him a good feeling;

“I started on the tenth today and the first nine holes I played was the best I have played for quite some time. I really didn’t miss a shot. I missed two fairways just, and didn’t miss a green so gave myself a lot chances which is always nice and then I managed to make a couple of birdies on the other side for a tidy five under. It was a good start and very pleasing.”

“I have to say that because I was absolutely horrendous in the pro-am yesterday. I just went on the range for a couple of hours and managed to find something which I took out on to the course and it seemed to work for me. I’ll tell you what, it is an unbelievable finishing hole. If you need to make par on that hole to win on Sunday and you manage to get it done then you will deserve everything you get because it is a very tough finish.”

“I have had a bit of success here and really enjoy playing in China. Obviously I have won this tournament before so that always gives you a good feeling and like I said, I just played nicely today so hopefully I can continue to do that over the next three days.”

In third place, just one shot off the lead are English rookie Tyrell Hatton and Spanish Challenge Tour graduate Adrian Otaegui, David Horsey and Brett Rumford, who have all compiled completed first rounds of -4 under par 68. Alexander Levy and Il-hwan Park were still on the course when play was suspended, having played seventeen holes, and are also at -4 under par.

There is a posse of players at -3 under par, including Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter, they all signed a card for 69. Defending Champion and World Number Three Henrik Stenson was way down the pack at T38 with a completed opening round of -1 under par. There are currently 55 players within four shots of the leaders. A very compacted leaderboard.

Accenture Match-Play. Who Lost on Day 1

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The Accenture Match-Play tournament was most noted for who lost on day 1 of the competition, at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain.

Day 1 recaps: Accenture

Ricky Fowler / Getty

It was a great victory for Ricky Fowler, defeating legendary matchplay exponent Ian Poulter 2-1. Even Ricky thought Poults was on a winner;

“I was definitely an underdog coming in. Heck, if I was filling out a bracket, I would have picked Poulter, too.  It feels like a big win after those missed cuts, it was nice to be the underdog. I had nothing to lose.”

Another Englishman on the wrong side of the leaderboard was Lee Westwood, he was defeated by Harris English 5-3.

George Coetzee, fresh from his win in South Africa, defeated Steve Stricker, an unlikely result at the start of play.

Zach Johnson, coming back from a layoff, lost to Richard Sterne 5-4. Everyone must now wonder if the unenforced rest period was a disaster, as Zach was playing really well beforehand. Another loser on day 1 was Keegan Bradley, falling to Jonas Blixt 2-1. Luke Donald also packed his bags, losing 5-4 to Matteo Manassero.

G-Mac only just made it,  he was four down through seven holes, and still three holes behind with three to play, when he staged an improbable rally against Florida neighbor Gary Woodland

Daily Wrap-up

Graeme McDowell / Getty

Graeme said he was surprised to get through;

“I’m sure he’s extremely disappointed right now, and I’m extremely elated. I’m surprised to be sitting here, having won. Yeah, I hit a couple of quality shots down the last couple of holes, but he had mistakes, as well. It’s a brutal format. I thought it was over, you’re not coming back from 3 down against a guy that’s playing as well as him. Yeah, I’m still going to try to hit my shots. But it required a mistake from him to give me half a sniff, even. It feels like a Sunday afternoon on Wednesday.”

The big names that made it safely through include, Henrik Stenson, the number one seed here, Webb Simpson, Rory McIlroy, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, albeit after 22 holes, Jimmy Walker, Justin Rose, Ernie Els, Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson.

     

Waste Management Phoenix Open.

 

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Bubba Watson and Matt Jones share the lead at the Waste Management Phoenix Open going into the week-end at TPC Scottsdale.

On a roll

Bubba Watson / Getty Images

Bubba  dressed in  lime green shoes and an otherwise all-black outfit, played in the morning, getting the best side of the draw, he birdied his first hole. Playing early in the cooler temperature does not suit him, back is a little stiff, but he said he is exactly where he wanted to be. Happily at the top of the leaderboard after his second round of -5 under par 66, for his -12 under par total;

“Back is not as loose as you want it to be, weather is not as warm as you want it to be. But I hit a good tee shot, and then I hit my wedge in there close and I made the putt, that got me going. It’s right where I want to be going into the weekend. I had two sloppy bogeys coming down the stretch, but I will take it.” 

Matt also played a morning round, and was thankful for the opportunity to be able to shoot his second consecutive -6 under par 65 for his -12 under par;

 ” We definitely got the good side of the draw. The golf course is so different tournament week than it is when you play out here regularly. It’s a lot harder, a lot faster. The greens are a lot quicker. The pins are a lot more tucked out here. So, it’s like a new golf course when you come here for a tournament.”

Two players are tied in third place, Greg Chalmers and Harris English are at -10 under par.

Brandt Snedeker shot the low round of the day, he also started in the morning, before the wind got up. His second round score of -7 under par 64 moving up the leaderboard to be at -8 under par. Brandt put his special round down to good putting, something I love to hear;

” My putting, plain and simple. I hit the ball extra good yesterday and had some of the worst putting I had all year. Today, I kind of did the opposite.”

Phil Mickelson, the Defending Champion, recovered with a bogey free  -4 under par 67, but he is still a long way from the leaders. Phil declared he is still in the race for this title;

” I’m not totally out of it, obviously heading into the weekend, I’d like to be closer, but as we have seen in the past, there is that minus eight, nine ten, and in some cases eleven-under par round out there. My back feels great, like I said, it was a simple fix. I just don’t want to overdo it.”

Among those missing the cut here are, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood, Rickie Fowler, Retief Goosen, Ian Poulter and Keegan Bradley.

DP World Tour Championship. Sweet Success For Stenson.

DP World Tour Championship proved to be a sweet success for Henrik Stenson, becoming the first man to win The Race to Dubai on the European Tour and FedExCup on the US PGA Tour

Sweet success for Stenson

Henrik Stenson / Getty Images

Henrik with new Rolex watch / Getty Images

Henrik won the DP World Tour Championship by six shots, carding a flawless final round -8 under par 64, and in doing so also won The Race to Dubai at the Jumeirah Golf Estates Earth Course. His winning total score was -25 under par;

“It has been an incredible summer for me, the autumn in America was great and now this. I played so well this week. I knew the guys would try to catch me, especially Ian who never gives up. I wanted to stay ahead of him and I managed to do that. I don’t know how I am going to be able to top this next year but I am going to give my best in the Majors and that becoming the first male Swedish player to win one would be the icing on the cake.”

In second place, and losing his bet, was Ian Poulter, a good final round of -6 under par 66 was not good enough to catch Henrik, but was a commendable effort. Ian finished with a -19 under par tournament total. He said of Henrik’s score;

 “I have to take my hat off to him, unbelievable. I tried to run him down as hard as I could but even with a sore wrist he has pressed on and I just could not get close enough. Henrik has not made a mistake all week and I just had to make sure of second place and some valuable Ryder Cup points. I have thrown a lot at him and given him so much stick, but he is the best player on the planet right now.”

Victor Dubuisson picked up third place, playing alongside Henrik today he could only manage a -1 under par round of 71. He looked shell-shocked out on the course as Henrik constantly bombed drives off the tee with a three wood, still out distancing his efforts with a driver. Victor was alone in third spot at -17 under par.

 Joost Luiten was in fourth place at -16 under par, and a trio of former World Number Ones,  Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, shared fifth spot on -15 under par. It was a welcome return to form for these three as they have not had good results this year.

 

DP World Tour Championship. Stenson’s Star Still Shines.

Henrik Stenson’s star still shines in the DP World Tour Championship as he takes a one shot lead into the final round at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Earth Course.

Henrik Stenson   (Getty Images)

Henrik Stenson / Getty Images

Henrik is sticking to his game plan to become the first man to win The Race to Dubai and the FedExCup in the same season. Saturday he shot a third round -5 under par 67 to maintain his lead at the top of the board, at -17 under par. He knows he does not necessarily have to win here to win the Race to Dubai, but he see’s no point in easing up;

“I am trying to avoid all that, I know I can win The Race to Dubai even if I don’t win here, but why not try my hardest to win this tournament? If I do I know that both trophies are coming home with me. It’s a great achievement to be the one who wins the most money throughout the year and I would love to emulate Robert. The guys are going to try their best to attack but if anything it makes me try even harder.They are the ones that need to overtake me so I am trying to stick to my game plan. It’s working so far so I don’t see any point changing.”

Second in this tournament is Victor Dubuisson, a winner already this season, beating Tiger Woods en-route to picking up the title at the Turkish Airlines Open.

Victor had a  marvelous -8 under par 64 third round and definitely keeps the pressure on Henrik if he wants this trophy.

Victor Dubuisson

Victor Dubuisson / Getty Images

More importantly for Henrik he has a four shot lead over Ian Poulter, who needs to win this title if he wants to win The Race to Dubai himself. Ian is currently tied in third place with Alejandro Cañizares at -13 under par.

Ian has a special motivation for beating Henrik here, he has a personal  100-dollar bet with Henrik, at 10/1, that he will overtake him, with the loser having to act as the winner’s personal waiter on a night out as well;

“The odds would be significantly shorter now and I have put myself in position to try to kick his backside tomorrow. It’s fun hunting Henrik and if I can get off to a decent start it’s going to be great on the back nine. Being European Number One would be a huge highlight in my career.”

The other two who could upset the odds in the Race to Dubai are Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell, who can still deny Henrik the title with victory here. Justin is at -11 under par and Graeme – 8 under par after both shot third rounds of 68.

Graeme says he is still in the competition;

“Alive and kicking, hats off to Henrik, he came here this week and is doing exactly what he needs to do. He has been the best player in the world the last six months and he needs to slip up tomorrow and I need to mount a massive challenge. I have not done much better than 68 round here before and I will need to do so tomorrow. I have not played my best the last three rounds but I am proud of how I have hung tough.”