Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, Wood Carves out a Lead

Chris Wood   (Getty Images)

Chris Wood / Getty Images

Chris Wood of England has carved out a decent chance of his first European Tour Title win at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in Doha.

Chris has previously had nineteen top ten finishes, but now has an excellent chance to secure his first win after his third round of -8 under par 64, for a tournament total of -15 under par, three shots clear of the field. Chris said he was very excited to be in this position;

“I’m very excited. I wouldn’t say it was one of my best rounds, but I played very solidly and was giving myself loads of chances. Going out today I thought as long as I kept myself in the mix going into tomorrow, then I was going to be really looking forward to it. Leading gives me a bit of a cushion, obviously it’s going to be hard, it’s hard to win any tournament on The European Tour, so it’s going to be difficult.”

There are three players at -12 under par for the tournament, Simon Khan, Alexander Noren and New Zealand’s Michael Campbell. Michael is continuing with his recent good form, and a win here would complete his come-back to perfection. Currently at 264th in the World Golf Rankings, 40 year-old Michael has not won since his HSBC World Matchplay Championship at Wentworth in 2005. He is amazed at the feelings he is experiencing right now;

“It’s been a tough couple of years since winning at Wentworth and it’s amazing that the feelings start to come back quickly.  The confidence is increasing every day. Six months ago, I was desperate, I think I made two cuts in about two years, 18 months or something, and now I have a chance of winning a couple of times last year and maybe tomorrow. We are just going back to what is working and what worked before, and going back with my coach Jonathan Yarwood six months ago definitely helped. That’s really one thing I’ve been working the last six months is just smile after each round of golf, whether it’s a good one or a bad one, and it’s working so far.  It’s really simple stuff. It’s just nice to be out here and having some fun at the same time and maybe have a chance of winning.”

Michael Campbell  (Getty Images)

Michael Campbell / Getty Images

Tied for fifth at -11 under par are Branden Grace and Sergio Garcia. Sergio slipping back down the leaderboard after going in the water with his third shot to the par five last and taking an undignified six.

Good Luck to Chris Wood, I hope he gets his first European Tour Win.

Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, Justin Jogs Along

 

Justin Rose  (Getty Images)

Justin Rose / Getty Images

Justin Rose jogged through the third round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship with a -4 under par round of 68. He now has a two shot lead over the field. Jamie Donaldson is in second place at -10 under par after his third round score of -3 69, he shares second spot with Thorbjorn Olesen.

Thongchai Jaidee is alone in fourth place at -9 under par following his marvelous round of -6 under par, 66. New Zealand’s Michael Campbell is still showing some interest in this tournament, he now at -7 under par, five shots off the pace going into the last round.

Justin was pretty candid with his comments;

“I came here with no expectations, I came here to see where my game is at. Anybody who wins this week, they have beaten the Number One and Number Two in the world. You can say you’ve beaten the best. I believe that any tournament I tee up in I can win.”

Jaime Donaldson had a victory last year in the Irish Open, so far that is his only triumph, but he is feeling confident here;

“I feel pretty good, I played some great recovery shots out there. It was another tough day out there, even though there wasn’t much wind. I couldn’t have really scored much better than that.”

Thorbjorn Olesen won the Sicilian Open last year, and is also full of confidence;

“I won last year and that gave me a lot of confidence, and I had a few second places. So I’m learning in every tournament, and it’s been a really good process the last three years. Hopefully I can make a few birdies tomorrow and make it exciting.”

David Howell, is at -8 under par, his last victory was  in 2006 at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, but has kind of dropped off the radar since then. David commented about his record in this tournament;

 “I’ve never really played well here, a couple of top twenties I think maybe. But if I can have a great day tomorrow obviously I can post a very good total. I’ve played really consistently for the best part of a year and I’m playing some of the best golf I ever have really. I’m just coming from a low position. It’s hard to fight your way back up there, but I’m doing it bit by bit and a big finish or a win would go a long way to taking me right back to where I want to be.”

I honestly don’t think David, or anyone can catch Justin, with the mood that he is in. He was relegated to fifth in the Official World Golf Rankings by Louis Oosthuizen’s victory in South Africa last week, Justin would take the position back by lifting a title worth €336,725.

 

 

Lydia Ko, New Zealand’s Brightest Golfing Star

Lydia Ko and her Canadian Open Trophy/Getty Images

Lydia Ko is New Zealand’s brightest golfing star again this year, and while she intends to continue with her schooling, everyone his talking about her professional career to come in the future.

New Zealand Golf’s CEO  Dean Murphy said winning the Canadian Open was undoubtedly the greatest achievement ever by a New Zealand female golfer and it was a significant moment both in Lydia’s life and in the annals of New Zealand women’s sport.

“She’s playing the very, very best players in the world and at 15 she becomes the youngest ever winner of a tournament on that tour, so it’s enormously significant. Every time she plays she seems to rewrite history but this is right up there. This will be her most stunning achievement to date by a long, long way.”

This year 2012,  where Michael Campbell and Michael Hendry both improved their performances, and Danny Lee narrowly missed out on his PGA card, Lydia was still comfortably the star sports standout. She was the youngest ever winner on the LPGA Tour,  by more than a year, and the first amateur to win on the tour in 43 years.

Unfortunately Lydia  missed out on a share of the US$2m purse at the Canadian Open, but went on to earn individual honors at the Espirito Santo World Amateur Team’s Championship in Turkey, in October.

We wish Lydia well for 2013, in her continuing studies, and especially out on the golf course, keep knocking those drives straight down the middle.

 

UBS Hong Kong Open. Maical Miguel Makes it Three

Magical Miguel Angel Jiménez makes it three wins at this event, the UBS Hong Kong Open, and he also became the oldest winner on the European Tour in history. Miguel’s tournament winning score was -15 under par, with a last round of -5 under par 65, to lift the trophy.

Miguel Angel Jimenez  (Getty Images)

Miguel Angel Jiménez/ Getty Images

Miguel is six months older than Des Smyth was when he won the 2001 Madeira Islands Open, the victory was Miguel’s 19th on The European Tour and the 12th win since he turned 40, with two of which also came in Fanling in 2005 and 2008. Miguel, the  assistant Captain at The Ryder Cup at Medinah, said he hoped it was not his last victory;

It’s very nice , I hope it’s not the last one, I really love this place. I love the golf course, it’s a great golf course where you have to control the ball very well, it’s not a matter of distance.”

Of his longevity playing golf Miguel admitted;

“This is maybe the olive oil in my joints, and the nice Rioja wine and those things keep you fit and flexible. The most important thing, I do what I like to do in my life, and golf has given me all of this pleasure. Winning now, at 48.  My goodness 24 years I’ve been on the Tour. I still love it and I think that is fantastic, to love what you’re doing, and enjoy yourself, keep fit, keep working myself a little bit and stretching a lot, and that’s the main thing to do to compete with the new guns. “

Fredrik Andersson Hed , another veteran player, at 40, made a charge and could have got up to make it a play-off, but just came up short, claiming second place on his own at -14 under par, he rued a couple of missed birdies on the back nine that would have made the difference;

“I don’t think I’ve ever played better than I did today under pressure. There were a couple of loose shots on 15 and 16 that I got away with and made pars and then unfortunately couldn’t get the birdies in on 17 and 18. It always feels good to finish second in a golf tournament; you know you’ve done something good. It’s a pity I couldn’t get one of the putts on the last two holes to put a little bit more pressure on him on the last hole. He did fantastic, though, with a perfect tee shot, the perfect second shot and easy two-putt, so all credit to Miguel.”

Marcus Fraser was third at -12 under par, and tied for fourth was Peter Lawrie, who  sealed his place next week  at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai in the process, Scot Stephen Gallacher and the first of the young guns, 19-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero, last week’s Barclays Singapore Open champion, they finished at -11 under par.

The re-emerging Kiwi Michael Campbell, joint overnight leader with Miguel, and playing in the last pairing, fell away to joint eighth, with a sad last round of +2 over par.

UBS Hong Kong Open. Campbell Clings on to lead

Michael Campbell clings on to the lead in the UBS Hong Kong Open at the Hong Kong Golf Course in Fanling China,  with a clutch ten foot putt for par at the last hole  to retain a share of the lead alongside Miguel Angel Jiménez.

Michael Campbell  (Getty Images)

Michael Campbell / Getty Images

Michael had a third round of -1 under par 69, which he described as scrappy;

Today was sort of scrappy; apart from a couple of drives, it was pretty average really. But once again, I just managed to grind out a score, which is very important with me not playing so well. I turned a 73 into a 69, which is always nice. I’ve still got a chance to win tomorrow, and that’s what I wanted to do after three rounds , give myself an opportunity to go out there and hopefully lift the UBS Hong Kong Open trophy. Once again Miguel is playing great golf, and he’s won this twice before and he’s the man to beat.It’s going to be a very interesting day tomorrow and it’s going to be I think a lot of fun. It will be nice to be a part of it.” 

Miguel Angel Jiménez is tied at the top of the leaderboard with his third round effort of -2 under par 68, for his -10 under par tournament score, the Ryder Cup Vice Captain, and twice winner of this Trophy is happy to be in contention again;

” I love to be in contention, it’s been a long time since I’ve been there and I’m happy and I like this golf course. I like to be in contention on this golf course and you have to have patience and let everything happen. That’s what’s going to happen tomorrow, stay patient because anyone can win.”

Miguel Angel Jimenez

 

Miguel Angel Jiménez / Stuart Franklin / Getty Images

 

Lian-wei Zhang of China is tied in third place with teenage sensation Matteo Manassero of Italy, who won last week at the Barclays Singapore Open. Matteo has cheekily crashed the party of the veterans at the top of the leaderboard.  Lian-wei Zhang  will become the third oldest winner on the Asian Tour at 47 years and 171 days if he completes his dream ‘Chinese Slam‘ on Sunday. Matteo had a third round of -6 under par, 64, and has certainly made his presence felt. The 19 year-old Italian is looking for his fourth Tour win and is in form, he said;

” I played well throughout the whole round, I had a really good practise yesterday and today I have to say, I struck the ball really well. I had plenty of chances, and on the back nine I really had some short putts for birdie and I made a few good ones. Last week really made me relax a lot on the golf course, and these three rounds and my position coming into this Sunday is certainly due to and what happened last week, I’ve got more freedom.”

Matteo Manassero - Hong Kong Open - Day Three

Matteo Manassero, a rare missed putt/ Getty Images

The leaderboard is pretty tightly packed and anyone who shoots a low round tomorrow could win this tournament. I would like to see Michael Campbell take home the Trophy, but Miguel is a determined character and Matteo just oozes class. It will be a fascinating days play.

 

UBS Hong Kong Open; Campbell Comeback Continues, McIlroy Misses Cut

UBSydragon logo

Michael Campbell/getty

Michael Campbell continued his amazing comeback and is now leading the UBS Hong Kong Open at the halfway stage on the Fanling Golf Course. Michael shot a second round of -6 under par, 64, to top the leaderboard and have a one shot advantage over  Miguel Angel Jiménez, Fredrik Andersson-Hed and China’s Lian-wei Zhang, all of them with a tournament total of -8 under par.

Buoyed by his great day in the field, Michael had plenty to say;

“Today was a day where I played great from tee-to-green and holed a few nice putts for pars and birdies. I’m just happy to be in a position to have a chance for the weekend; that’s why we play the game, that’s why I didn’t give up. That’s why I just stuck at it, just stuck working hard on my game, and I knew that this would happen, I deserve it, really. It’s been a gradual build-up over the last three or four months, a few top fifteen’s. Portugal was a great boost to my confidence, and it shows this week. You can’t buy confidence, you just have to earn it, and I think I’ve earned it over the last seven years since I haven’t won a golf tournament. I have been patient. There have been times where I wanted to throw it in, but what’s really inspired me over the last four or five years is seeing my friends around the same age bracket as me, in the 40-plus club. The likes of Ernie winning his fourth Major, Thomas Björn winning three times last year, Paul Lawrie has had a wonderful last couple of years, and Jim Furyk winning the FedEx Cup last year. The list goes on, so 40 isn’t a bad age to be playing golf. Seeing my friends win tournaments left, right and centre definitely inspired me to not give up and keep on playing. At one particular time, I remember I was back in Sydney back home with my family and I said to myself, okay, tonight is where I decide whether I’m going to give up the game or keep on playing, keep on practicing. I went to bed that night and I woke up in the morning, and there something inside me said to me: ‘look, keep on going, you’ve still got the talent’. It doesn’t go away, the talent, it’s always with you. It never goes away; it just hides now and then. I decided to just keep on working hard and that was it really.”

Michael was also relieved that Rory had missed the cut, he four putted the last green and was out;

“That makes it a lot easier for the rest of the field!”

Overnight leader Javi Colomo shot a one over 71 to drop back into a tie for sixth, but World number one, and defending Champion Rory McIlroy missed the cut, a sad Rory admitted;

“I just got on a slide and couldn’t stop it, obviously not the week that I wanted. I was only four off the lead and thinking I could make a couple more and be right back in contention. Unfortunately it just went the other way. I didn’t putt well last week and sort of got away with it. This week was the same, so I think a bit of putting practice is required in Dubai. I think these couple of days off might actually do me good. It’ll give me a chance to rest. I think if I was completely fresh I wouldn’t have been making the mistakes. On the last I saw the projected cut was plus two, so I wanted to try to hole it for birdie.

His 30-foot attempt caught the lip, but ran on five feet and he took three more, a sad end to a great run this year, hopefully he can return to form next week in Dubai, at the DP World Tour Championship.

 

European Tour, Portugal Masters, Shane Lowery Wins

Lowry evades Fisher to net Portugal Masters

Shane Lowry /EuropeanTour

Shane Lowry beat England’s Ross Fisher by one shot at the Portugal Masters after a thrilling final day in Vilamoura and became another golfer to win his maiden tour event this year, as a professional. His previous victory on Tour earned him nothing because of his amateur status. Shane had a last round of -5 under par, 66 to finish with a winning tournament total of  -14 under par,  and a cheque for €375,000 in addition to the trophy.

Shane said he was over the moon with his win;

“I cannot believe this, I can’t explain how I feel really. It’s a dream come true, I’m over the moon. Everyone was referring to me as the fella who won the Irish Open as an amateur, but now I’ve won such a prestigious event I don’t know what to say. It was like playing in Ireland, it was crazy, it was great.

Ross Fisher, of England, had a short putt  on the 18th to force a play-of, but the sad effort lipped out, leaving Shane victorious, and Ross one shot back on -13 under par, with a mediocre  last round of -1 under par 70.

Alone in third place, “Welcome Back Michael Campbell”,  Michael finished the tournament at -12 under par. The Kiwi was the  2005 US Open Champion, and then suddenly encountered a serious loss of form since he beat Tiger Woods at Pinehurst. Michael even fell outside the Official World Golf Ranking’s top 1,300 at one point, and only two seasons ago had made just one cut in his 19 starts. This was Michael’s best finish in four years, amazingly the last time he had four rounds in the 60′s was nine years ago. Nice to see you in contention again Michael.

Michael Campbell

Kiwi Michael Campbell/European tour

Kiwi’s Michael Campbell & Lydia Ko desire an Olympic Gold Medal in Rio

Brazil view from

 

Michael Campbell  (Getty Images)

Michael Campbell (Getty Images)

Kiwi’s Michael Campbell and Lydia Ko have great desires to win Gold Medals at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic games in 2016.

Michael  has won 15 titles around the world and amazed a global audience in 2005 by beating Tiger Woods, when he was in his prime, to win his Major trophy,  the US Open Championship at Pinehurst. Michael was the guest of honor at the International Golf Federation Golf Day at Sunningdale in England,. They were there to mark the start of a new Olympic four-year cycle which will see golf restored to the roster of Olympic sports in 2016. Michael said about his Olympic dream;

“How good must it feel to have that gold medal dangling around your neck?  I’ve been lucky enough to lift the US Open trophy and to experience that unbelievable feeling of winning a Major Championship, but I can already sense in the locker rooms around the world that a lot of people are going to be desperate to claim the first gold medal in golf in over a hundred years. It’s going to be fantastic. For the past three weeks I’ve had square eyes from watching the London Olympics and, without doubt, it’s been one of the greatest sporting spectacles I’ve witnessed. We’ve seen the incredible passion for every conceivable sport during the Games, from the competitors to the spectators, and the energy and enthusiasm for the Olympics has had an effect on so many people. If this passion can be transmitted to golf in 2016 then it has to be great for our sport. The London slogan was ‘Inspire a Generation’ and I am sure that the Games will have a lasting legacy in the UK. That’s what we have to aspire to in the build-up to Rio and beyond.  Right now, countries that currently don’t have a great golfing heritage will be thinking about how they are going to improve and get on the plane to Brazil. We want to inspire kids to play golf and to spread the word and the Olympics can do that. This has the capacity to bring golf to a new audience in 2016 and to leave behind a lasting legacy for Brazil and the game in general. Look at what the tennis gold meant to Andy Murray. I speak to other golfers at tournaments and I can sense the enthusiasm for Rio. Whoever wins the men’s and women’s gold medals will go into the history books. After the spectacle we’ve just witnessed in London, I for one can’t wait!”

Lydia Ko. Photo / Supplied

Lydia Ko/photo supplied

Kiwi world number one amateur golfer Lydia Ko has her sights on competing at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in four years, and after becoming the first New Zealand woman to win the US Amateur Championship, at age 15, Lydia is keen to get on the plane to Brasil.

One of my main goals in the next few years is building towards the 2016 Olympics in Rio,” said Ko.

“I would love to represent New Zealand at the Olympics. Hopefully in four years’ time my game has improved and I am in a good position to compete for a place in the team and maybe even contend for a medal. That would be an amazing experience.”

Her desires are backed by Gregg Thorpe, New Zealand Golf’s high performance manager, believes that Lydia has all the makings of a medal contender.

“At this stage of her career the signs are very positive. If you follow the current performance pathway that Lydia is on, where she has proven to be very consistent on the international stage at such a young age, then it suggests that she will be very competitive in Rio and certainly a chance at a medal.”

Kiwi Steven Alker at The Open, first Kiwi Appearance since 2009

Steven Alker. Photo / Simon Baker

Steven Alker. Photo / Simon Baker

Kiwi Steven Alker will contest The Open at  Royal Lytham & St Annes, he is the first Kiwi to appear in the Open Championship since 2009.  Royal Lytham & St Annes is the same venue where Sir Bob Charles won his only major title from American Phil Rodgers in 1963. Steve’s last tournament victory also came in 2009, when he won the New Zealand PGA Championship at Clearwater in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Steve, from Hamilton New Zealand, won the qualifying tournament in West Lancashire with rounds of 69 and 68 to finish on seven under par, and win by two shots from a group of four players. The top three players from this tournament qualified to play in The Open Championship. Joining Steve at Royal Lytham & St Annes will be American Scott Pinckney (75, 64) and England’s Steven O’Hara        (70, 69)  they were the other two professionals to secure a spot in the year’s third major.

Michael Campbell, whose best result at The Open was a tie for third place in 1995, had disappointing rounds of 71 and 73 to finish with an even par total and a share of 16th place.

European Tour, 2nd round @ Reale Seguros Open de España in Seville

   

Gregory Bourdy  (Getty Images)

     Gregory Bourdy (Getty Images)

Gregory Bourdy leads after the second round of the Reale Seguros Open de España, in Seville. Gregory’s -6 under par round of 66 gives him just a one shot lead over four players with a tournament total of -5 under par. Right behind him at -4 under the card for the tournament are, Simon Dyson, Matteo Manassero, Robert Rock and local favorite Jorge Campillo. Anyone who is under par in this tournament is still in with a chance to win, the field is that close and so far no one has taken a grip on it.

Gregory said of the tough conditions;

“I’ve just been patient, I’ve not made a score like that for a long time in these conditions. It’s good for the confidence. I’m very happy about this round, particularly in these conditions. I made eight birdies and just two bogeys.  Yesterday one over was not so bad in that wind, but today I played really well, I felt comfortable and very solid, very consistent and I also made some important putts, so I’ll try to keep going like this.”

Simon  polished off  his 69 with a 12 foot putt for eagle, using his new belly putter;

“It appeared to bobble and I started walking, but it kept going and dropped.  I switched because I’ve just not been holing out well. It’s harder to get the pace, but I start it on the right line more consistently.”

Matteo was really very happy with his score, but thought he did not actually play that well;

“It wasn’t an easy day and I’m happy because I didn’t really play that well but managed to score.  Today I took the right side of the draw. Early morning we just had a little breeze and it’s certainly going to be more difficult in the afternoon. I didn’t play really well, but never put myself in serious trouble. I’ve scrambled well, I made some good up and downs at the beginning of my back nine, but the last four or five holes I started playing very good golf well and that gives me some confidence.  I’m really happy to be in contention, to be around the lead, and we shall see what happens.”

Notables missing the cut include; Michael Campbell, Alvaro Quiros, Rich Beam, Colin Montgomery, Paul Lawrie and amazingly Miguel Angel Jimenez, the Spaniard has never won his National title.