PGA Championship Kiawah Island

Island in the sun

Carl Petterson/Kinnaird/Getty Images

Carl Pettersson leads the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island with -6 under par round of 66. Carl  has a one shot advantage over a group of four  players who are at  -5 under par, Gary Woodland, Gonzalo Fernandez-Costano, Alex Noren and one of the favorites for the title this week,  Rory McIlroy.

Carl was determined to take advantage of the good conditions, before the wind got up;

“There really wasn’t much wind on the front nine, so I knew I had to keep going low because I figured the wind would get up. The wind started blowing a little bit on the back nine, and I carried on solid play. So it was a great day for me.”

There is a large group on -4 under par, these include Major winner John Daly, who has found some form of late, and Adam Scott, who had a great chance to win The Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes. Tiger Woods is another shot further back, and in a good position after the first round.

John Daly said he played freely;

“To just free wheel it is the only way I can get my confidence back instead of worrying about bad breaks and worrying about this and worrying about what somebody else is doing. I only need to worry about what I’m doing and go out and attack and play golf and enjoy it.” 

Tiger was really happy with his start to the tournament;

“Anything in the 60s is going to be a good start in a major championship, and I’m right there.”

Adam Scott was also very pleased with his opening effort;

“So far, so good. It would be great to put two more rounds together and be coming here Sunday with a good look at the championship. If I don’t, then I’ll really feel like I’ve let it all slip this year for me. So I’d love to use this opportunity while I’m playing well to get in there and have a sniff on Sunday.”

Phil Mickelson shot a 71 to be at -1 under par, after spending most of the day scrambling from all over the course, he said;

“I fought hard today and I kept myself right in it for the most part and should get a bit of a weather break tomorrow morning. It actually felt a little bit closer than it has in a long time. I felt good on the green. My touch was back. I started hitting some shots at some pins.”

Among those who will be struggling to make the cut, currently projected at +2,  are World number one Luke Donald, and Rickie Fowler  who both  had a miserable day at +2 over par for the first round. Luke making his customary slow start to a tournament this year. Surprisingly Webb Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open Champion is already out of the hunt, shooting a +7 over par round. Lee Westwood is another who is unlikely to make to cut this time around.

I still can not believe that the USGA have ordained that the bunkers are not hazards for this tournament. It is really strange to watch a player in a green-side bunker taking practice swings in the sand to get the feel of how the ball will come out, madness.

Ernie & Adam at Bridgestone

Ernie Els  (Getty Images)

Ernie Els/getty images

Ernie Els is back at the Bridgestone Invitational a completely rejuvenated man after his win at The Open 2012. Ernie came from four shots adrift of the lead on the back nine at Royal Lytham & St Annes to beat Adam Scott and lift The Claret Jug. Strangely the week after his win, Ernie missed the cut in Canada and he is now keen to return to the high standards he set during his back nine 32 at The Open to clinch a fourth Major.

“The whole thing happened quite fast, I didn’t see what Scotty did obviously in live play. But I heard, and then I basically switched my telephone on and had friends reporting to me what was going on. I was obviously just praying to get in a play-off. The way it finished, I still feel for Scotty, but this one came my way for once. Stats are against you at our age. But I think the 40 somethings have really proven themselves through the years. You can go back to Mark O’Meara, you can even go further back to Ray Floyd, you can go back to Hale Irwin, you can go back to Ben Hogan.
Vijay Singh, myself, Darren Clarke, you’re talking about quite a few guys in their 40s who have won Majors. The game of golf is such that you get lucky every now and again, and I definitely got lucky the other day. I haven’t had a top ten or sniffed a top five here for many, many years, so I’d actually love to have a decent week here this week.”

Ernie had consulted psychologist Sherylle Calder and the gamble has definitely paid off for him. He also insists that he wants to return to the short putter at some point, I will try and contact Ernie and introduce him to our new putter. He said of Sherylle;

” I’ve known her over ten years, I’m a big rugby lover, and Sherylle, she’s worked in a lot of sports, but obviously worked with our Springbok rugby team. The Springboks come to Great Britain in November, and normally when we lived in England, I’d always be on the bandwagon there watching rugby and going around with the players.
I gave Sherylle and some of the staff a lift back to London on our plane, I think it was about in 2003 or something, and we did briefly talk about it. She really wanted to start working with me because she really felt she could help me, but back then I think I was Number Two or Three in the world and pretty bulletproof. I didn’t really think I needed anybody’s help.
It’s funny how times change. Ten years later, and Johann Rupert actually wanted me to start working with her again. I saw Sherylle in January in Fancourt, and I was pretty desperate on the greens and thought I’ll give it a go and see what it’s really all about, and we started working. I felt just things that she was doing ,  just little patch up stuff for that week was things that she took me right back into my heyday on the greens in the late ’90s, with exactly the things that I would do without even thinking about. It just shows you how far I went off the beaten track. She really brought me back, and then we started working on things that she’s really experienced at.”

Adam Scott is the defending champion here at Bridgestone this week, and everyone is wondering how well he will recover from the shock, horror show that gifted The Open title to Ernie;

“I really just felt a bit shocked and almost numb of feeling about it, I certainly didn’t beat myself up and have to curl up in a corner.
It just all happened so fast, even looking back on it, how quickly it can slip away. Without doing that much wrong, it was just compounding mistakes. I felt overall the whole week and the way I’ve looked at it is I played some amazing golf and did what I needed to do, and the things I’ve worked on are obviously working. There wasn’t that much healing for me. My game is in really great shape, and I just took a few days to rest up, then just thought about how great I played. I felt like it was my week, and I played like a champion, but I just played four poor holes at the end, and you can’t win and do that. It’s just motivation for me. I think I’m right on the right track, keep doing what I’m doing and I can get myself more chances like that.”

R&A upset over Carlos Tevez as Caddy, not too bothered about long putters.

Carlos Tevez, the renegade Manchester City striker made an unscheduled appearance on Sunday at Royal Lytham as caddy to fellow Argentinian Andres Romero. The move did not help Andres too much, he finished with a last round of  82, which left him at the bottom of the leaderboard of those players who made the cut and contested the final rounds. Looking at the picture he does not appear to be too upset at falling apart on the golf course.

Carlos Tevez (L) acted as caddie for Andres Romero (R) during the final round of The Open at Lytham

Carlos Tevez and Andres Romero/Sky

 Royal and Ancient committee chairman Jim McArthur was incensed;

” He never put the bag down, even when he was standing on the green, it’s just absolute madness. I think we need to look at this particular case. We normally get a list of caddies at the start of the week.”

This apparently is what is most important to him, not the long putter debate. Luckily for the genuine golf fan the R&A chief executive Peter Dawson managed to put a positive spin onto the strange but golfwise harmless occurrence;

“It was pretty interesting. I thought, because of the big crowd following the group, that golf fans and football fans may overlap a little more than I had realised. It’s not a bad thing, perhaps.”

Lets all hope that Peter Dawson’s clear thinking will prevail when they finally get around to debating the anchoring issue. As I reported yesterday even Ernie Els knows anchoring is cheating, he said before he swapped to the belly putter;

“It’s become such an easy way to putt. Nerves and skill in putting is part of the game. Take a tablet if you can’t handle it.”

And then after he had switched;

“As long as it’s legal, I’ll keep cheating like the rest of them.”

The question is, do YOU believe anchoring is cheating, or is it now just part of the game ? What do you think?

R&A going to call time on Anchoring

R&A

Ernie Els/ The Open Champion 2012/ Getty Images

The dust had hardly settled over the Royal Lytham & St Annes course, scene of  The Open 2012 and Ernie Els anchoring assisted win on Monday when Peter Dawson of the R&A issued a statement about how soon they would be addressing the problem;

“This decision has not been taken, but I think we are going to say something in a few months rather than years. Anchoring is what we’re looking at, method of stroke, and it’s all about putting around a fixed pivot point, whether that fixed pivot point is in your belly or under your chin or on your chest, I don’t distinguish.”

Mr Dawson said that data shows 14-15 percent of the field regularly use a longer putter, and at the Open Championship, that number increased to 27.5 percent. Any future ruling would not invalidate the wins of  The Open champion Ernie Els, PGA champion Keegan Bradley and U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, officially or unofficially.

“It doesn’t detract in any way from the winner as long as he obeys the rules of play at the time. Bobby Jones used concave-faced clubs for some of his major championships and they were outlawed later.”

 USGA executive director Mike Davis remains focused on a decision that is best for the entire sport;

“Together with the R&A, we remain deliberate in our review, and are keen on getting any decision right for the long-term, for the game and for all golfers, rather than rush to judgment.”

Strange fact, is what Ernie Els said after Trevor Immelman had won the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open Tournament Players Championship of Europe, using a belly putter;

“It’s become such an easy way to putt. Nerves and skill in putting is part of the game. Take a tablet if you can’t handle it.”

After switching to the belly putter, his demeanor had changed to if you can’t beat them, join them;

“As long as it’s legal, I’ll keep cheating like the rest of them.”

I guess The Big Easy found out the hard way, there is no tablet to help you win at golf.

What do you think, is anchoring “cheating? “

The Open, Ernie Els wins at Windy Royal Lytham

 

Ernie Els/ AFP/Getty Images

Ernie Els won the The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes in windy conditions on Sunday. Ernie shot a last round -2 under par for a tournament total of -7 under par, and a one stroke victory over Adam Scott. Ernie was on the putting green when told of his win;

“I’m a little numb at the moment. First of all, I feel for Adam Scott. He’s a great friend of mind. Obviously, we both wanted to win very badly. But you know, that’s the nature of the beast. That’s why we’re out here. You win, you lose. It was my time for some reason.”

Adam Scott completely collapsed on the inward nine, from a commanding position he somehow managed to bogey the last four holes to end his championship hopes with a last round of +5 over par, 75, and a total of -6 under par. Peter Alliss, the TV commentator remarked after Adam had missed the last putt just to tie and head towards a play-off, ” He will be scarred for life.”  With the experience of Steve Williams on the bag you have to ask the question, why did Adam not play some irons off the tee, just to avoid those hungry bunkers.

Adam simply said;

“I’m pretty disappointed,I had it in my hands with four to go, I managed to hit a poor shot on each of the closing four holes. Look, I played so beautifully for most of the week. I shouldn’t let this bring me down. Surprisingly I was incredibly calm and I still am. I thought I could roll that last putt in, but I didn’t and that’s golf.”

Tiger Woods and Brandt Snedeker finished tied for third place at -3 under par, with World number one Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell tied in fifth at -2 under par. Luke had another slow start to a tournament, something he needs to address for the future.

It is no coincidence that on a windy day the two main contenders were guys who employ anchoring in their putting stroke, and this is another Major title going to the long putter brigade. The pressure is growing for the authorities to address the problem of anchoring. It was proved today that anchoring is definitely an advantage in these windy conditions, stabilizing the player as he leans against the putter while addressing the ball.

The Open, third round, Great Scott

williams650

Adam Scott & Steve Williams/ photo AP

Adam Scott has taken control of  The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes with a third round of -2 under par, 68, to lead the championship at -11 under par and by four strokes going into Sunday’s final round. What a great coup it would be for his caddie, Steve Williams, who was unceremoniously sacked by Tiger Woods, and strangely Tiger has not been the same player since then. Adam was pretty satisfied with his solid day’s play;

“It was all pretty solid stuff, considering the circumstances and how much trouble there is on this golf course. A four-shot lead doesn’t seem to be very much this year on any golf tournament that I’ve watched, that doesn’t mean a lot. The good part is if I play a solid round of golf tomorrow, it will be very hard for the others to beat me, and that’s all I’m thinking about.”

Brandt Snedeker, who lead at the start of play simply imploded, but managed to hang on tied for second at -7 under par, having suffered a +3 over par round, he said of his day;

“It’s just one of those things where you’ve got to find out if you have some guts or don’t. I could have packed up and gone home today, but I didn’t.”

Graeme McDowell is tied with Brandt in second place, at -7 under par , four shots adrift of Adam Scott. Graeme is hoping the conditions  will change and make Adam work for his expected win;

“It will be in Adam’s hands tomorrow if the conditions are as straightforward as they have been the last few days. Throw a bit of wind across this course like perhaps they are forecasting, he will have to go and work a lot harder and he will have to go win it. I kind of felt the tournament perhaps slipping away from me a little bit and really had to dig deep for some patience. From about the 14th tee onwards, it’s probably about as good as I’ve swung the club all week.”

One shot further back on -6 under par is Tiger Woods, who could only muster a par round today and from five shots back thinks his best chance is for Scott to struggle with his nerves while going for his first major.

“He’s been out here a long time, and he’s won a Players Championship. I don’t think he’s really done probably as well as he’d like to in Major championships. But I think that he’s maturing in his game, and I think over the last year or so he’s really improved his game.”

There is only two other players who might have an outside chance in this championship, and they are; Ernie Els, who played well in the third round, with a -2 under par on the day and a total of -5 under par,and six shots back. Joining him on that total is Zach Johnson who fired a -4 under par third round.

I am sure that everyone who is chasing Adam is aware that he  is the fourth Australian to have a 54-hole lead in a Major, and none of the other three, Stuart Appleby, Aaron Baddeley or Greg Norman, left with the trophy under those circumstances.

Luke Donald, world number one, and Lee Westwood ranked at three in the world, have performed very poorly at Royal Lytham & St Annes, and will have to wait until the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island for their next chance to achieve Major glory.

World number two Rory McIlroy stumbled again in the third round and is now way behind at +5 over par for the tournament.

The Open, Snedeker in 36 hole Open Championship history

Snedeker enters record books with brilliant 64

Brandt Snedeker (Getty Images)

Brandt Snedeker claimed his place in The Open Championship history and in the process set a commanding clubhouse target at Royal Lytham & St Annes. Brandt shot a second round -6 under par 64, for a total of -10 under par. He leads by one shot from Adam Scott who had a -3 under par 67 on Friday, and is comfortably placed at -9 under par. Brandt now joins Sir Nick Faldo sharing the lowest 36 hole score of 130, Faldo also shot rounds of 66 and 64 at Muirfield in 1992.

Brandt said was only thinking of trying to keep a bogey off his card as he played the 18th, not about joining Nick Faldo in the record books.

” That was not even on my radar coming into Thursday morning, I was just hoping to make the cut. The golf course is playing more Americanised now, its soft with not a lot of wind, and I have a different mentality this time, I’m playing away from a lot of pins. I tried to just get the ball on the green all day, even if it was 100 feet away. When you’re putting the way I have been the first two days you want to get it on the green as fast as you can.”

Tiger Woods finished the day birdie,par,birdie, for a tournament total of -6 under par and four shots adrift of the lead, not an unsurrmountable mountain for him to climb, especially over two rounds.

Thorbojorn Olesen of Denmark is in fourth spot at -5 under par and Scotland’s Paul Lawrie is also still in contention, tied in fifth place at -4 under par.

Paul thinks he still may have chance, despite being six shots behind;

” What am I now, six shots at the moment? So you’re looking to claw a few of them back tomorrow and give yourself a chance. There’s 36 holes to go and obviously Brandt has played phenomenal golf to be ten under par, that is world-class to be fair.You’ve got to keep going and keep grinding away and keep doing what you’re doing. Hopefully you have a couple of under par scores over the weekend and you’re in there roughly with a chance.”

World number one Luke Donald, at -2 under par, still thinks he still has a chance;

“I’m certainly feeling more and more comfortable. It’s nice to string a couple of solid rounds together in a Major.Obviously where I am in my career I need to be contending and this was a good solid two rounds and I’m looking forward to the weekend.”

Big names failing to make the cut include; Justin Rose, Charl Schwartzel, Sergio Garcia, Stewart Cink, Darren Clarke, Martin Kaymer, Davis Love 111, Ben Curtis, and a very sad Phil Mickelson, who finished at +11 over par. You have to wonder if Phil’s career is over, he seems more interested in big business deals these days, time will tell.