Nedbank Golf Challenge. Willett Wins.

White Dragon Golf

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.

 

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. St. Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie

White Dragon Golf

The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship is played over three of Scotland’s finest courses, St. Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie, at the end of play on day one Oliver Wilson emerged as  the leader, shooting -8 under par 64 at Carnoustie.

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

Oliver Wilson / Getty Images

Oliver carded his -8 under par 64 with 9 birdies and one bogey at Carnoustie to give him a one shot lead in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Oliver was happy to play Carnoustie on a good day, and thinks that might be an overall advantage;

“It’s nice to just get out there and take advantage, looking at the forecast, getting Carnoustie out of the way is theoretically the best thing, but you’ve still got to go and play and shoot a good score to take advantage of it, and I’m delighted that I have.” 

“Dunhill Links is always one of the best tournaments of the year. I’m obviously grateful to be here, but just trying to work on my own game to try to get a chance to get back on that team. It’s a great tournament. It’s good fun, and you think everyone’s attitude is a little different, it’s a little different to the cocoon of a normal tournament. You have your caddie and amateurs to spend time with and look after.” 

“We had a good fourball and it was fun, and that helps in this format because you’re out there for quite a long time. It’s nice to be on that board – like I said, I was really pleased with how I played. I’ve been working hard and the game is improving all the time.” 

Actually the top three players all came from the group who started the tournament on the Carnoustie links, Raphaël Jacquelin is in second place after his opening Carnoustie round of -7 under par 65, going bogey free with five birdies and an Eagle.

Padraig Harrington fresh from his duties as a Vice Captain at the Ryder Cup is sharing  third place with Shane Lowery, both carding  first rounds of -6 under par 66. Padraig at Carnoustie and Shane at Kingsbarns.

Robert Rock and Adrian Otaegui were the highest placed players from the Old Course at St. Andrews,  scoring -5 under par 67, and are currently tied in 5th position for the overall tournament.

European Team Captain Paul McGinley shot an even par 72 at Carnoustie in just his second European Tour event since July, while the best-placed of the Gleneagles quartet in the field ,Steve Gallacher, returned a -4 under par 68 on the same course.

Victor Dubuisson scored a -1 under par 71, World Number One Rory McIlroy carded a +1 over par  73 and Martin Kaymer +2 over par  74, all of them also on the Carnoustie course.

Rory reported that he felt flat after the jubilation of the Ryder Cup;

“A little bit flat, if I’m honest, obviously with the crowds and everything we were playing in front of last week, to come here it seems a little quiet out there, but it was fun to get to play with my dad.”

“I wish I had played a bit better and made a few more birdies but hopefully that will happen over the next couple of days. I want to win every week and I want to play well this week and at least give myself a chance. It was not the best score out there for me but we got the hardest course out of the way.”

Good also to see Nick Faldo playing, he returned a respectable -1 under par 71 at Carnoustie.

 

 

Greg Norman tries to Explain the Rory Intimidator comments.

Tiger Woods and Greg Norman probably won’t be playing golf together                              anytime soon. (Getty Images)

The recent comments by Greg Norman that Tiger Woods is now intimidated by Rory McIlroy, brought a backlash of vitriol in his direction. Most criticizers were  saying he didn’t know what he was talking about and that he had no right to speak on such an issue. The real questions boils down to, Is Tiger intimidated by Rory?  Has Tiger ever been intimidated by anyone?  and then explain why the two of them have become such good friends in such a short amount of time?

In order to try and cool the situation around his Tiger comments, Greg posted on his Facebook Page;

” Got off the plane from Beijing this morning and my Iphone just blew up with emails and voicemails regarding my interview with Robert Lusetich of Fox Sports. It seems that everyone from Charles Barkley (no Charles I was not referencing or comparing Tiger’s record to mine) to John Doe has weighed in on my quote regarding intimidation. I stand by my comments and for those that choose to read the full article and not just “grasp” and “react” to one word will notice that the headline and byline were inconsistent with the content of what Robert wrote. When you look at my comments in the full context of the article, you will see that it provides a more balanced view of my sentiments on this topic. Which is, since the PGA Championship Tiger has not made any impact on the weekend in passing Rory for the title. This has not happened in his career prior to this run by Rory. During the PGA Championship broadcast I spoke at length about Tiger and I maintain that no one has swung the club better in the history of the game, especially during the year 2000. At the end of the day, Tiger is a great athlete and a great student of the game and he will continue to win, but we are seeing a transition away from his dominance. Rivalry and parity is great for the game of golf. Unfortunately for Rory, I think that the trademark for “The Intimidator” is already registered with Dale Earnhardt.”

It would appear that Greg has taken two steps back from his original stance on Tiger, and is trying to back pedal from what he said while at the same time maintaining that Rory currently has a better grasp of the game than Tiger, which is likely true.

Greg should not have come up with the intimidation comment, seeing that he was intimidated, and completely rolled over for Nick Faldo, as he  won his third Masters championship. Greg threw away a six shot lead on the final day at Augusta in 1996, he was totally intimidated by Nick Faldo. Perhaps that makes Greg an expert on this subject, he has experienced it so many times, his record of only 2 Major wins will always be tainted because he should have won at least 10.

Phil tries the Claw grip on his putter

Hi-res-hi-res-150732653_crop_exact

Phil Mickelson/Chris Chambers/Getty Images

During The Barclays tournament Phil Mickelson was spotted using the claw grip on his putter. Nick Faldo did not notice the change until Sunday, when he gasped in horror, on live TV.   Last year, after Keegan Bradley won the PGA with a long putter, Phil gave the belly putter a test drive for a few weeks.  You have to ask yourself, in Gods name Why !!  The belly putter trial did not work out, and neither will this new switch to the claw grip. True that Sergio had a good win using it, but as we saw on Sunday the magic did not last. Phil said of his belly putter trial;

“I feel that I’m probably putting better with that putter than I would be the short putter, so I’ll end up using it for the rest of the tournament I would anticipate. But I don’t know if it’s a short-term or a long-term thing, but it feels good.”

Of his latest switch, which happened on the third round of  The Barclays, Phil said;

“I had a chance to get a couple more, but for me I drove the ball well and I putted very well and I hit some good iron shots. For me it built some good momentum after a day, yesterday, where I had lost a little bit of confidence. I made some putts and that was a nice feeling.”

The people who usually change over to strange putter grips are the people who have always had putting problems, and most of them continued to have the same problems because fundamentally they have a poor set up, or inconsistent swing. Phil has neither of these problems, he has always been a good putter, his problems now are in his head, he has lost confidence in the routine he trusted. To get that confidence back it just requires plenty of  practice, with the tools that have always been good for him, and plenty of enthusiasm and support from the people around him. Those who are advising him.

Many people think this change will be a short-term fad for Mickelson, they are questioning whether he will be able to make more putts with the Claw grip than his traditional method. What will Phil do next?  I bet he will quickly return to the method and putter that has bought him success for all these years.

You notice that I have not recommended he try one of our putters, Phil will be best served to return to his traditional method and tools.

BMW Championship at Easy Wentworth.

Drysdale dodges damp ending to lead with Lawrie

David Drysdale (Getty Images)

David Drysdale and Peter Lawrie both shot first round 66’s, for -6 under par on the first day of The BMW Championship at Wentworth. The Championship is being played on the West course, recently revamped by Ernie Els to make it easier to play, because he said some aspects of the old course were “unfair”. Since when has golf meant to be fair, if Ernie thought it was too difficult now  he should have tried to play it with old style clubs. It would appear that he has eased the difficulty a little too much, with two opening rounds of 66 and they were followed by five rounds of 67 and a further 13 rounds of 68.

David Drysdale used every trick in the book on the way to his 66, including a Barnes Wallis shot, bouncing the ball over the water on the eighteenth hole and achieved a birdie. He said of his magical shot;

 “You could hit 1,000 balls and never have it happen. I don’t know what it hit, maybe a fish. It was a massive break. I don’t think I can say what I would have thought if I had taken six or seven there.”

 Co-leader Peter Lawrie said:

“I played so well in practice that I was kind of very nervous starting out. I missed a couple coming in, but 66 can’t be sneezed at. The course is set up great for me, I’m not one of the longest hitters on Tour, but one of the straightest. You have to very patient and I’m quite a patient person. My wife wouldn’t believe that, but I am on the course!”

Luke Donald was one of the finishers tied at 68 with his -4 under par round, which included to bogies. Luke  has the chance to join Sir Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie as the only players to make a successful defense of The European Tour’s flagship event.

Justin Rose achieved his score of -5 under par, 67, after fearing he might have to withdraw before the round.

“An hour before my tee time, I thought: ‘I can’t play’. I guess it was some sort of vertigo, I was nearly falling over and was sitting in the doctor’s chair for a while. He gave me an anti-nausea or something and did a good job getting me ready. I felt fine all the way round.”

Lee Westwood managed to get round in -2 under par, 70, despite not even playing his B game. He remarked;

 “I didn’t have anywhere near my A-game and not even my B-game really.”

Lee’s play-off defeat to Donald 12 months ago cost him the World Number One position, was delighted with the days score in the circumstances.

Two big names who missed out on the day were Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell who both had rounds of  +2 over par, 74’s, and could not have been best pleased with their efforts on the day. Rory even managed to get out of bounds, albeit by only an inch as he ran up a six on the long par five 12th hole, the last of four bogeys in five holes and a double bogey at the 16th was to follow.