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

 

Wales Open. Luiten Lifts the Trophy.

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Joost Luiten lifts the Wales Open trophy at Celtic Manor.

Wales Open

Joost Luiten & Trophy / Getty Images

Joost hung on at Celtic Manor, only managing an even par final round of 71, but his tournament total of -18 under par was enough for him to lift the Wales Open trophy.

He admitted it was tough coming down the stretch;

“It was tough, it was hard work down the last. I didn’t have the start I wanted with two bogeys and I just tried to hang in there and wait for my chances and made some nice birdies at the end and a par down the last was luckily enough.”

“There’s always a lot of tension on the first hole, you try to settle down, try to make an easy par or birdie and then I left myself quite a tricky first putt and I just didn’t read it well. I didn’t give the right pace and you leave yourself an eight footer downhill left to right and that’s one you can make or miss and I missed it today.” 

“You just try to settle down the first couple holes, and after that, I got back into my game. I started to hit greens, and I just didn’t really make any putts in the middle part, luckily we made a couple at the back.”

Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowery were the guys trying to chase him down, they finished tied for second at -13 under par. Shane with a -1 under par 70 last round, and Tommy making a late charge with four birdies and an eagle on the last five holes to card -4 under par 67.

Tommy came off a double bogey on 13, and suddenly came alight;

“After the double bogey on 13 I definitely wasn’t thinking about getting to 13 under, just try your best on the last few and see what you can get. I wanted to get back to level par or under par for the day. I thought that would have been a good effort.”

“After a poor summer, I wanted to finish the season well. I’ve been playing well recently and the more you get up there, the better. This is how you learn. You can’t practice this on the range when you’re coming down the stretch in the top five and just the more you do it, the better it is.”

Five players finished sharing  fourth place at -12 under par, including Ryder Cup debutant Jamie Donaldson who carded a very respectable final round of -4 under par  67. He was joined by Nicolas Colsaerts, Eddie Pepperell, Marc Warren and Edoardo Molinari.

Jamie was very pleased with his preparation for the Ryder Cup;

“I’m very pleased, Celtic Manor is a tough golf course which doesn’t quite suit my eye. It’s been hard for me this week to keep focused and try and see the shots, if you take your foot off the pedal, and there’s a lot of trouble about.”

“I’m happy the way I played over the last four or five weeks, building up to the Ryder Cup. I couldn’t have asked for any more, really.”

Ryder Cup team-mates Thomas Björn and Lee Westwood carded closing rounds of 74 and 76 respectively, so will need to perform better next week at Gleneagles.

Lee said he will be ready;

“I needed to play some competitive golf and I’ve done that. I hit a few good shots this week, not so good today, but I probably had one eye on next week. I don’t think the concentration and the focus was there.”

“The Ryder Cup is very special, I am looking forward to getting there tonight and preparing for Friday when it starts.”

Wales Open. Joost Luiten Back In The Lead

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Joost Luiten is back in the lead at Celtic Manor and will take a two shot lead into the final round of the Wales Open tomorrow.

 

Wales Open

Joost Luiten / Getty Images

Round one leader Joost regained the lead in the third round carding -6 under par 65, to top the Wales Open leaderboard at -14 under par, and has the comfort of a two shot lead for the final round.

Joost reported he had played consistently well, and was happy with it;

“I’m happy with a good score today, I played solid, consistent, hit a lot of greens and holed some nice putts to start with. I didn’t really make a lot in the middle part, but came back strong at the end with three birdies on the last four, and I’m happy.”

“You’re in the last group, the greens are not as good as in the morning maybe and you just have to be patient out on the greens. They are quite soft and you have to create chances every hole and they will go in eventually and luckily it did for me at the end.”

Shane Lowery, yesterdays leader could only score -3 under par 68 in the third round, giving him a tournament total of -12 under par.

Shane had a fast start, recording three birdies in the first six holes, and then nothing, luckily not even a bogey;

“I got off to a flyer and just nothing really happened for me. I did make three good par saves, but I would have liked to make a couple more birdies and probably should have.”

“I’m right where I want to be for tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it. I’m still there. If you had given me this Thursday morning before I stood on the first tee, I would have taken your hand off. I’m where I want to be and I feel like I have a chance tomorrow.”

“Joost is playing lovely but I felt like I played lovely myself. Just warm up the putter tonight and see what happens tomorrow.”

Grégory Havret carded a -5 under par 66 to lie three shots off the lead on -11 under par, alongside former champion Thongchai Jaidee, who shot -4 under par 67.
Grégory  was happy to be recording rounds in the red, under par numbers, and hopes for another one tomorrow;

“I played good. Unfortunately the last three holes were not as good as the first 15, but it was definitely a good round.”

“Anything red in this beautiful course is always good, and that’s three in a row and hopefully another one tomorrow.”

Jamie Donaldson, of the three Ryder Cup players left in the competition, was best placed on -8 under par  under after a 68. Lee Westwood had a -3 under par third round, which included  a birdie-eagle finish, to post a -3 under total. Thomas Björn carded a level par 71, which was  made up of 18 straight pars to remain at -2 under par for the tournament.

Wales Open. Lowery Leads at Half-Way Point.

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Shane Lowery leads the Wales Open at the half-way point at The Celtic Manor Resort.

Wales Open

Shane Lowery / Getty Images

Shane shot a second round -6 under par 65 to lead the Wales Open at -9 under par after 36 holes. He admitted his lofty position was a bit of a surprise, as he had never played that well before at Celtic Manor;

“I’m pretty happy. I’ve never, ever done well here before, so to be leading after two rounds is nice.There is still a long way to go in the tournament but I’m really looking forward to the weekend.”

“I didn’t drive it that good yesterday but still shot a decent score. I drove it a lot better today, drove it a lot straighter and gave myself a lot of chances and rolled in a few putts, so it was nice.”

“I felt like coming over that I could give it a go this week. I was around tenth going into the back nine on Sunday last week, and similar the week before in Switzerland. If I can get myself in a good position come the back nine this weekend, again, hopefully I can give it a go.”

First round leader Joost Luiten is tied second place, carding -2 under par in the second round for a -8 under par tournament total. Joost said the course played much tougher today, overnight rain being the main factor;

“I’m happy. It was tough today because the greens were very soft compared to yesterday with all the rain they had last night, and with the back pins, even seven irons spun back four or five yards, and it was tough to fly them all the way to the back.”

Big hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts is also tied in second at -8 under par, and would love to win again, his last victory was in 2012;

“It would mean a lot to win again after two years and struggling the first few months of the season.”

“Today I started very nicely but made two silly mistakes in the middle of the round and I almost lost it but it was nice to hole that putt on the last. It was about 35 feet with eight feet of break.”

The two Gleneagles Ryder Cup wild cards, Stephen Gallacher and Lee Westwood experienced differing results but similar emotions.
Steve shot -1 under par 70, and went home, missing the cut; Lee scored -2 under par 69 and made the cut. He was happy to have two more rounds of golf before heading to Gleneagles;

“I needed a couple more rounds, I was not particularly competitive yesterday, it was pretty scratchy, but today was more solid. A few iffy shots but it was nice to finish with two birdies in the last four holes to ensure being here for the weekend and two more competitive rounds.”

“I have been working on my game and been in the gym quite a lot, but I’m not quite match fit. I had three weeks off and you lose your sharpness.”

Steve was in a relaxed and philosophical mood as he left Celtic Manor;

“Yesterday was quite tough, it was tough to get going and get my head around it but today was a lot better. I was maybe trying a wee bit too hard yesterday and still thinking about next week.”

“I feel good, I’m physically and mentally good so I am really looking forward to next week. I’ll get up the road this afternoon and relax this weekend and maybe play nine holes with Thomas (Björn) on Monday morning.”

“I’ve done my preparation for it and I just want to get up there and get going.”

PGA Championship. It’s Tight at the Top

White Dragon GolfPGA Championship

It is tight at the top of the PGA Championship at Valhalla with three players tied at the end of play on the first day.

Lee Westwood at PGA Championship

Lee Westwood / Getty Images

Lee Westwood found some much-needed form to share the top of the PGA Championship leaderboard with Kevin Chappell and Ryan Palmer. All three players carded a first round of -6 under par 65 at Valhalla Golf Course.

Lee spoke about the return to form, which started with a good showing last week, but his round here did include two bogey’s;

“Last week was a big week for me, I felt like I had turned the corner and I was starting to swing it a lot better but that’s no good unless you start converting it into low rounds. The first three rounds were frustrating because I played a lot better than three over.”

“Then obviously I got it going the final day, shot 63. I tried to keep it low-key in the practice rounds here, just playing nine holes each day, and carry that momentum through to the first round, which I’ve managed to do.”

 Kevin is another player who has suddenly clicked, with his bogey free opening round;

“I guess I was in a good rhythm out there. Drove the ball well, hit a lot of greens and gave myself some opportunities and I was able to take advantage of it, something that hasn’t happened a lot for me this year”

Ryan has also been out of the spotlight recently, but said he is playing well, just been waiting for a low round to come along;

 “After Colonial I felt like I was playing good golf, just couldn’t get a round in there. I missed a U.S. Open cut, but made the cut at the Scottish and British Open. Played decent in D.C., but couldn’t get that low round in there.”

 “So I knew my game was in good shape, it was just a matter of getting the result. It was nice to finally get a result out of it. It’s great knowing that I can come out tomorrow and keep moving forward and try to build on where I’m at. It’s hard to come out when you are struggling Thursday and you come out Friday knowing you got to shoot low to make the cut.”

The man everyone is talking about, Rory McIlroy has made a good start to this competition, he is one of five players who are just one shot off the lead at -5 under par. Rory’s round included a double bogey 7 on the  par 5 10th and followed that with a bogey at the very next hole, the par 3 11th. He responded well to those mishaps;

“I was really annoyed, the second shot on ten was actually a bit of a shock, it’s the worst shot I have hit the last few weeks. It came out of the blue and knocked me off track but to come back the way I did was great. I really needed that. It could have been a couple better but if those last few putts had dropped but 66 is a solid start.”

The others joining Rory on that -5 under par total are;  Jim Furyk, Chris Wood, Henrik Stenson and Edoardo Molinari.

The other player in the news is Tiger Woods, with his sore back, he did not play too well today, scoring a first round +3 over par 74, to be T109. He summed it all up thus;

“I didn’t play as well as I wanted to, and I didn’t get a putt to the hole. That’s not a good combo.”

FedEx St Jude Classic. Round Three Incomplete. Crane Still Cruising.

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FedEx St. Jude Classic Logo

The weather is still causing havoc in the third round of the FexEx St Jude Classic, but Ben Crane is still cruising at TPC Southwind.

The skies were friendly enough Saturday to allow the final group to play more than six holes. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

Ben Crane / Getty Images

Ben has only completed six holes of his third round at TPC Southwind, and is -1 under par on the day. His -13 under par total is still four shots ahead of the field. Play will resume at 7 a.m. local time Sunday, but Ben is in for a long haul, he will have 30 holes remaining tomorrow.

He began his third round at 4:50 p.m. on Saturday, that’s more than 24 hours after he  completed his second-round -5 under par 65, but started where he left off, making a 20-foot birdie putt to reach his -13 under par total;

“That was a fun surprise, I’m thankful it hit the hole.  At the beginning of the week, I never thought I would have been here.”

Troy Merritt is in second place at -9 under par for the tournament, he has completed seven holes of his third round and is currently -2 under par for the round.

Troy joked about getting out of bed early in the morning was the hardest part of the day;

“Other than that, I just hope to get it all in. I’ve made a lot of putts, I think I only missed two putts inside of 10 feet. Been rolling it well. Been keeping stupid in the bag pretty well and things have gone my way for the most part.”

 Troy has pledged $100 per birdie to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He led the field with 15 birdies in the first two rounds, and made two in seven holes in the third round.

“It’s a little extra incentive, it’s for a very good cause for the kids over at St. Jude’s.”

Sitting in third place at -8 under par is Peter Malnati, he also has completed seven holes of his third round with a -1 under par return on his efforts;

“If anything, today was kind of cool because we went out there in the second-to-last group and it was kind of low-key because it was so late in the day, there wasn’t a lot going on. It was probably helpful, honestly. What I need to do is to stay focused on my plan, and to have these distractions is just an added reminder to do that.”

“To get in this position I’m playing some good golf, so my confidence is pretty high and I believe in myself. For the first time all year, I feel like I belong there. There are some nerves, but I think that’s a good thing. I feel really composed.”

Phil Mickelson has finished nine holes of his third round, still at even par for the day and sitting at -5 under par for the tournament. His play is still pretty erratic, and he was upset at not making a birdie at the par five 16th, he even had to sink a 16 footer for par;

“I had a chance to get up and down, I think if I had birdied 16 I might have gotten one more with a little bit of momentum. I’m certainly not that far back, but I do need to get off to a quick start. I got to get a good front nine here this third round and get off to a fast start.”

Biggest name to miss the cut was Lee Westwood, there has been no explanation as to what went wrong.

The Players. Marvelous Martin Kaymer Leads

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THE PLAYERS Championship

Marvelous Martin Kaymer is leading The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

Martin Kaymer / Getty Images

Martin opened his account at TPC Sawgrass with a record tying  -9 under par 63, which gave him a two shot lead in the tournament. He spoke about the soft conditions;

” You can be a little bit more aggressive because the greens are softer than the last few years, but it’s not an easy golf course. You have to hit a lot of fairways.  If you hit the fairways then you can go for some flags, but once you’re in the rough, especially with that grass and the Bermuda grass from the rough, it’s very difficult to judge the distances.  Then it’s a very tricky golf course.  But I hit a lot of fairways today, and therefore I could go for some flags.”

Russell Henley is in second place, two shots adrift after his first round -7  under par 65. He said playing more conservatively actually helped him with his round, along with feeling comfortable with the putter;

“Playing some of the holes a little less aggressive has helped me to stay in there and make some pars. I knew I was playing well and felt really comfortable on the greens. As long as I keep feeling comfortable with the putter, I think I can putt well on these greens.”

Third position belongs to Sang-moon Bae, a -6 under par round to kick off his tournament in fine style.  There some eight players all tied for fourth spot at -5 under par, including Sergio Garcia, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood.

Sergio won in Qatar earlier this year, and he has a good history at TPC Sawgrass;

You go through ups and downs in your life, in your career, and I’ve had really, really good times; really, really happy times. And then I’ve had times that were a little bit more down. I think it happens to all of us. You’ve got to try to enjoy those good times as much as possible and learn from the tough ones and hopefully make them as short as possible. I think at the end of the day, that’s all you can really do.”

After day 1 all the talk is really about those who will be struggling to make the cut. there some very familiar names in this bracket;  Phil Mickelson (75), Webb Simpson (75), Brandt Snedeker (75), Jimmy Walker (75), Louis Oosthuizen (77) and Adam Scott (77).

Phil got off to the slowest start of his PGA Tour career, and then had to make a 6-foot par putt on his last hole to card his 75. Phil does not know what is happening. he needed 33 putts on his round today. He did say he would come out tomorrow and play hard;

“I don’t know. I don’t know,I don’t feel like any parts of the game are bad, I just have a hard time seeing the ball go in the hole and getting it to go in the hole. It’s soft, there’s just a lot of birdies out there. Yeah, it’s a little disappointing and frustrating. I was playing well and hit a lot of greens, but it was frustrating because I was over par. I don’t know if it’s just the greens or what, but I’m not really sure what it is yet.”

“Come out and try to play as hard as I can and see how low I can shoot, but I’m not real worried about it, it’s just not quite clicking right now.”