Open de España. Eddie Pepperell Pops Up.

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Eddie Pepperell, from England, pops up to lead the Open de España from a tightly packed leaderboard to claim the outright lead after the first round.

 Eddie Pepperell   (Getty Images)

Eddie Pepperell / Getyy Images

Eddie carded an opening round -4 under par under 68 at PGA Catalunya Resort to finish a shot ahead of a group of eight players. He said it looks like he has come out of nowhere, but his recent results have been good;

“Seemingly it’s come out of nowhere looking at my results but it’s very similar to last year. This time last year I started working with Mike Walker, and he made a big difference instantly. Then I went and did a couple of my own things, which was a bit silly and cost me a bit of time this year but I feel like I am back on the straight and narrow.”

“I back my ability and I know when I am playing well I can shoot good scores. I’m just not at the stage in my career yet when I am playing well enough consistently enough, but hopefully I will get there and today is a good sign. It was really tricky when it was flat calm and when I got on the tenth tee all of a sudden the wind came up out of nowhere and was blowing for the whole of the back nine.”

In the group of eight players who are just one shot off the lead at -3 under par are the Spanish contingent of Sergio Garcia, Miguel Angel Jiménez and Rafael Cabrera-Bello.

World Number Seven Sergio carded three birdies, an eagle and two bogeys, although suffering from jet-lag;

“I’m happy with my round, I didn’t have the greatest night last night and only slept for about four hours with the jet lag.”

“I didn’t feel extremely well with my swing but I managed to put it in play and give myself some good chances at birdies. The course is tough and the fairways are some of the tightest we have played all year. With the grass they have in this rough as soon as you miss the fairway it’s a guessing game.”

Tied with Spain’s finest at -3 under par are; Jose-Filipe Lima, Peter Uihlein, Thomas Pieters, Richie Ramsay and Robert-Jan Derksen.

Robert benefited from a hole in one on the par three 5th  to thank for his opening round of 69, he holed out with a five iron from 211 yards. 

Pablo Larrazabal had asked players, caddies and spectators to wear black as a mark of respect for caddie Iain McGregor, who died on Sunday while working for Alastair Forsyth in the Madeira Islands Open.

This is a very tightly packed leaderboard, and could change dramatically tomorrow.

Trophée Hassan II. Cañizares is Cruising.

dragon logo darkAlejandro Cañizares is cruising along in the Trophée Hassan II event in Morocco, maintaining his position at the top of the leaderboard at the half-way stage.

Alejandro Canizares  (Getty Images)

Alejandro Cañizares / Getty Images

Alejandro compiled a second round of -4 under par 68 to stay at the top of the leaderboard with a total of -14 under par, at the end of day 2 at Golf du Palais Royal. He achieved that result despite a cold putter on the day, and said he was excited to be leading going into the week-end;

“I felt really confident so I was not thinking too much, I needed to let the golf happen. In some cases my putter was a little cold today but I kept it going on the back nine. It was a pity I bogeyed the 17th because that is a birdie hole but overall I am very happy to be leading at the moment and very excited for the weekend.”

Seve Benson stays in second place, just one shot back after he equalled Alejandro on the day, carding a second round – 4 under par 68, for a -13 under par total.

 “I managed to keep the momentum going early doors through the tough holes and once I got through those I could press on a bit.There was no wind for the first eight or nine holes, which made it a totally different golf course compared to yesterday. It picked up a little on the back nine but nothing to what it was yesterday so it was a lot easier today.”

Rafael Cabrera-Bello occupies third place on -9 under par after a second round -5 under par 67, which should have been even better after  he charged through the  first nine holes in just 30 shots.

The best round of the day came from David Horsey, who won this event in 2011, he carded a flawless -8 under par 64  which left him T4, alongside Magnus A Carlsson and Connor Arendell.

The front two have opened up a gap at the top, and unless someone gets creative on moving day they will run away with it.

Abu Dhabi. Craig Lee and Rafael Cabrera-Bello share the lead

 

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Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Craig Lee share the lead at the half-way stage of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

 

Craig Lee  (Getty Images)

Craig Lee / Getty

Scotland’s Craig Lee  set the clubhouse target on -9  under par after adding a -5 under par 67 to his opening round of 68. He thinks his improvement his down to the extra putting practice. I said yesterday that I hoped a good putting performance would decide this tournament.

Craig commented;

 “I think Santa has brought me a good putting stroke for Christmas. My brother installed an astroturf putting green in my front garden at the end of last year and that’s made a difference as I’ve been able to keep putting every day. It’s 20 feet by 14 feet and the neighbors have been peering over the fence.”

Overnight co-leader Rafa did get to -10 under par with his sixth birdie of the day, but unfortunately dropped a shot at the ninth hole , his last of the day.

Rafa is still very happy with the way he is playing;

“I am playing well, putting good, and putting the ball in play, hitting the fairways and so I’m feeling confident. Pretty much I’m just happy with the way I’m playing with all of the clubs in the bag. There’s nothing that I’m complaining about at the moment.”

Danny Willet is alone in third spot, shooting a fabulous bogey free -9 under par second round of 63, which catapulted him up the leaderboard. He reported that he did not play much different than yesterday, just a few things went his way;

“To be honest I’ve not done a massive amount different. If you miss a fairway by two or three yards and get a bad lie you’ve got no way to get to some of these greens. Today I played nice, hit it a little closer and hit a few more fairways and rolled a few putts in. I holed a wedge from 50 yards on eight for eagle which helps and the last 20-odd holes have been pretty good.”

Of the big guns of Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickleson, Rory is making a move, currently tied in fourth place after his second round -5 under par 67, for a total of -7 under par. He was happy with the result, especially after last year  when he fizzled out with a missed cut after consecutive rounds of 75;

 “Coming off the last green last year I was deflated to say the least. Standing there 30 yards ahead of everyone else is nice. When you are confident with the driver it takes a lot of pressure off your game. I got a few putts to drop on the back nine which was nice and I feel like I have a great chance of winning.”

“It would be nice to win your first start of the season rather than your last start. It’s exactly what I wanted. It’s a great way to test your game under pressure. With a strong start to the year you can really get some momentum.”

Phil was playing alongside Rory and had a front row seat on how he is playing;

“The back nine was really impressive, a beautiful nine holes of golf. He is really striking the ball well. His game looks really sharp and his driving was impeccable.”

The five-time Major winner Phil, who could only muster a -2 under par 70 is way down the field with a -1 under par total. It appears that he is still having problems with his driving, the new Callaway big stick is not performing correctly at the moment.

The Open. Zach Zips In As 1st Round Leader.

The Open, the 142nd Championship, being played at Muirfield, where Zach Johnson is the 1st round leader as he zipped around the course in -5 under par 66.

Zach Johnson  (Getty Images)

Zach Johnson / Getty Images

Zach was still smarting from being beaten in a play-off last week by 19-year-old Jordan Spieth at the John Deere Classic.

Zach said that win or lose he has been playing great golf;

 “I think this game demands resilience. It demands resilience on the golf course, each round, each hole, and day to day. But it also demands it week to week, and that just comes with experience. That certainly comes with embracing what’s happened and then also throwing it behind you and plodding along to the future. If anything from last week, what I’ve embraced is the fact that I’m playing great and I can put that into play, and I’m certainly somewhat confident in what I’m doing, confident in my routines.”

Tied in second spot on -4 under par after their rounds of 67 are Rafael Cabrera-Bello and veteran Mark O’Meara,  56 year-old Mark was the 1998 Open Champion and is an experienced links player.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker, Tom Lehman and Shiv Kapour are all in fourth place at -3 under par.

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are both handily placed at -2 under par, tied in ninth place with a host of players.

Those who look like they will miss the cut include, Rory McIlroy +8 over par, Luke Donald +9, ( I tipped him to win this week) and Nick Faldo, who dusted off his clubs to come out and play, he is at +8 over par.

Tomorrow will sort out those who will go on and try to win this most famous of trophies, on a course that is playing really tough, in good weather conditions. If the wind blows, just about anything could happen, and probably will.

 

Irish Open @ Royal Portrush, Jamie Donaldson Wins

Dominant Donaldson takes crown

Jamie Donaldson (Getty Images

Jamie Donaldson won his first European Tour event at The Irish Open a t Royal Portrush Golf Club in County Antrim on Sunday, watched by 112,280 spectators who flocked to Northern Ireland. This was Jamie’s 255th event on Tour and he easily won, by four shots in a last round that included eight birdies, shooting a last round of  -6 under par, 66, and a total of -18 under par. During his last round Jamie kept his head down, not glancing at  the leaderboard at all;

” I didn’t really look at any leaderboards on the way around. I didn’t really know what was going on. To have a hole in one the first time in a tournament, and to win it, as well, is very special. “

This was also the last time his caddie of five years, Jamie Baker would be on his bag, and he paid tribute to his long time friend;

‘ He’s a great mate and he did great for me for four or five years. He’s a good mate of mine and I think he’ll just be happy obviously to see me win, really.“

Anthony Wall, who was one of the players finishing in a tie for second was full of praise for his playing partner, Donaldson;

” I’ve never doubted him. He’s a class act and a super, super player, and he deserves everything he gets because he does work hard and he’s got loads of talent. “

Anthony completed the tournament in -14 under par, along with, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Fabrizio Zanotti. Unfortunately for Ireland Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington were unable to provide a fairytale finish for the viewing masses, Padraig being the best of the local contingent finishing tied for seventh on -12 under par, six shots off the lead.

Volvo World Match Play Championship, Poulter out

Defending champion Ian Poulter has been knocked out of the 2012 Volvo World Match Play Championship by Spaniard Alvaro Quiros, with what looks like an easy win at 4-3. Another Englishman,Justin Rose is also out, beaten by Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium by the same 4-3 score. In fact there are no Englishmen competing on day four of the tournament. Tom Lewis went down to Sergio Garcia, Richard Finch to Graeme McDowell and Robert Rock  fell to Retief Goosen.

In the quarter finals G-Mac eased out local boy Sergio Garcia, and Paul Lawrie had an easy time of it despatching Retief Goosen 6 and 5. Brandt Snedeker and his borrowed clubs finally fell to Nicolas Colsaerts, while Alvaro Quiros lost to countryman Rafael Cabrera-Bello 3 and 1.

Paul Lawrie will now face Nicolas Colsaerts, and Rafael Cabrera-Bellow will play Graeme McDowell in the semi finals.

Rafael said of his match against Alvaro Quiros;

“I got to play with a friend in Alvaro. I’m very happy for me but I feel sorry for him, and he’s such a good guy. We had a good match today. I feel like I’m playing really good.  This morning I recovered in a tough game, being two down with five to play, and now this afternoon, three down after nine and being able to win, I feel really proud of that. I have to play G Mac, and he has a lot of experience and is a Ryder Cup hero, so he’s obviously going to be a very, very tough guy to beat.  I’m going to try my best and I’m playing good. Hopefully I can start as good as I did on my first two matches and if I don’t, I know I can come from behind and make it through. So we’ll just see what happens.”

Graeme thought he was pretty lucky to get past Sergio Garcia;

“It wasn’t exactly El Classico and I feel like I dodged a bullet there. I kind of resigned myself to the fact that I was going home, but sometimes you have to win ugly and sometimes to win you need what just happened to me. I count myself lucky.”

Sergio was disappointed but said he was not quite playing well enough;

I’m playing so badly this could happen at any moment.  Making it to the quarter finals having played so badly means it was a good tournament. I had no good quality shots.  He gave me some chances that I could not take and I have been saying it from the first day that I have not felt comfortable and I am not happy with my game.”

 

Louis Oosthuizen leads at completed third round @ Maybank Malaysian Open

Louis Oosthuizen  (Getty Images)

Louis Oosthuizen (Getty Images)

Louis Oosthuizen lead the Maybank Malaysian open after the completion of the storm affected third round at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.

Danny Willett and Rafael Cabrera-Bello both enjoyed early birdies to move into a share of second with Stephen Gallacher. A lot  time was lost to lightning storms on days two and three, the final round was underway immediately. Will catch up with this tournament later in the day, to see who finally comes out on top.