Nedbank Golf Challenge. Willett Wins.

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Danny Willett wins the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, South Africa.

Nedbank Golf Challenge

Danny Willett / Getty Images

Danny claimed his second European Tour victory here in the Nedbank Golf Challenge, shooting a final round -6 under par 66, to post a -18 under par total and a four shot win at the Gary Player Golf & Country Club. He told reporters how much he liked South Africa;

“South Africa is a place that’s suited me in the past. I’ve played good golf down here, love the place, love the people, everything about it is great. It’s been a truly fun test of golf.”

Danny follows other Englishmen, Nick Faldo and Lee Westwood in winning this event;

“It’s always nice walking up the ninth, obviously with the name engraved on the pathway up the left, you kind of realise how many great players have been here and walked over the same bridge as you have and had a great week.

“Hopefully we can come back here year after year and do it again.”

Ross Fisher secured second place with his -14 under par total, with a steady last round of -4 under par 68, he said Danny was just too good;

“I’m delighted. I felt like I played great all week. I finally started to hole a few putts today which was nice, but unfortunately for me and Luke, Danny was too good. I played some great golf.”

Luke Donald failed to make it to the winners circle once again, he struggled all day, finishing with a final round +1 over par 73. This dropped him into third spot at -12 under par, but said there were a lot of positives to take from this performance;

“There were a lot of positives. It’s nice to put myself back in position.”

“I could have played a bit better but I still would have had to shoot five under just to tie with Danny. He played really focused golf today and hats off, he’s a deserved winner.”

Sad story of the day, Alexander Levy found the ninth hole very problematic, requiring 10 shots to complete the 596 yard par five, and carding a last round +6 over par 78.

 

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;

 

CIMB Classic. Moore and NA Tied for Lead.

White Dragon GolfCIMB Classic

Defending Champion Ryan Moore and Kevin Na are tied for the lead at the CIMB Classic at Kuala Golf and Country Club.

CIMB Classic

Defending Champion Ryan Moore / Getty Images

Ryan carded -5 under par 67, to post a 54 hole total of -12 under at the CIMB Classic, he shares the top spot with Kevin Na, who also had -5 under par today to equal the -12 under par total.

Ryan reported that last year’s playoff victory over Gary Woodland, on this course, gave him the belief that he can do it again Sunday. He also spoke about the constant delays, stopping and starting due to thunderstorms, which have halted play for long periods all three days;

“It can only be a positive, I’ve been here and done it on this course, so that should give me that little extra confidence going into tomorrow.”

“It’s tough on all of us, starting and stopping, it’s like another round of golf. You are starting again and you don’t have that rhythm and momentum of your round.”

Kevin said the opposition was tough;

Sergio, Ryan Moore, Kevin Streelman, Chappell, any of those guys can get out there and play well.”

 “You can’t set yourself an opponent, you have to play the golf course.”

Sergio Garcia shares third place with Billy Hurley 111, both on -11 under par. Sergio twice had to take penalty shots, but both times managed to save par;

I’m not trying to hit shots like that but sometimes it happens, after the rain, the greens were much slower, and I three-putted on eleven for bogey, and then I made some nice saves.”

Lee Westwood was hurt most by the rain delay, he was in contention at -9 under par when the course was cleared for a thunderstorm, but had four bogeys in eight holes after the resumption.He finished the day with a +2 over par 74, and at -5 under par for the tournament is now out of contention.

CIMB Classic. Billy Hurley 111,Hits the Top.

White Dragon GolfCIMB Classic

Billy Hurley 111 hits the top of the CIMB Classic leaderboard at the half-way stage at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.

CIMB Classic

Billy Hurley / Getty Images

Billy carded a -5 under par 67 to top the CIMB Classic leaderboard at the mid-way point with a -10 under par total. He has a two shot lead going into the week-end and reported that he could stay there;

“If I can keep hitting it in the fairway and keep putting it like I have and hitting a lot of good putts, then I’ll be right there on Sunday.”

“After the bad swing it could have unraveled there on 2 and 3 but I drew on some of the experience I had from last year and was able to hold it together coming in.”

“The cameras, more people watching the last group, couple of groups. It’s the atmosphere of it, and you learn a little bit from that.”

Kevin Streelman holds second place, his second consecutive round of -4 under par 68 giving him his -8 under par total. An old putter has emerged to ignite his game;

“With putters, sometimes you pick it up and it just feels good, this is the best my short game has been.”

“You just need to freshen up, sometimes you pick it up, and it feels pretty good and you go out and make everything.”

In the group of players tied in third at -7 under par, three strokes back , is the field’s top-ranked player, Sergio Garcia, and Lee Westwood, who recorded a hole-in-one on his way to carding a -7 under par  65 that moved him into contention.

Lee aced the tough 226 yard par-3 11th hole;

“You need a bit of luck, but at the same time you have to hit it straight, it happens now and then. A 65 has got me right into the tournament.”

Others at -7 under par  included Seung-yeul NohKevin Na, Jeff Overton and Kevin Chappell, who penalized himself a stroke for picking up the ball before marking it on the 16th fairway.

Noh said he feels comfortable on this course;

“I feel very comfortable on this course, and I’m swinging I pretty well, plus I’m putting pretty well too. I’m really excited for the weekend.”

Ryan Moore, the defending champion, is also on -7 under par, it would have been better had he not bogied the last hole;

“It’s a position golf course. You can’t overpower it with length, I’m not one of the longer guys, and it makes a lot of guys hit it where I normally hit it, so we play from a lot of the same spots.”

 

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.