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The Open. Magical Mickelson Makes It His.

A magical final round from Phil Mickelson at The Open was good enough to make the trophy his.

Phil Mickelson - 2013 Open Champion  (Getty Images)

Phil Mickelson and The Open trophy / Getty Images

 

Phil Mickelson won The 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield with a magical final round of -5 under par 66, and a tournament total of -3 under par. Phil was the only player to finish the tournament in red figures, quite an achievement, and thinks this win was probably his greatest;

It’s probably the greatest and most difficult win of my career. It is great to be part of any Open Championship and to win at Muirfield feels amazing. The range of emotions I feel are as far apart as possible in the last month after such a tough loss. You have to be resilient in this game and take losses and use them as motivation to work harder and come back stronger.”

Henrik Stenson was in second place, his final round of -1 under par for a tournament score of par.

Tied in third place at +1 over par were Ian Poulter, Adam Scott and Lee Westwood.

Lee started the day three shots clear but collapsed in the final round with a +4 over par catastrophe which stopped him winning his first Major trophy;

“Phil must have played really well. Five under was a good round of golf this afternoon. You birdie four of the last six round here any day is good going, but to do it today in the last round of a major is an even better finish.”

Ian enjoyed the atmosphere;

” The excitement, the atmosphere and the fans out there were certainly giving me a lot of electricity and pumping me up. It’s nice to be in front of a home crowd holing 15-foot putts for eagles and birdies and running up the leaderboard. I’m a leaderboard watcher, I always like to see what’s going on. Obviously I realize when you can get out in front and post a number, sometimes it’s a good position to be in. I’m pleased but I can certainly look back at a couple of putts that slipped by which might be what’s required to put my hands on the trophy”

But the day belonged to Phil and his caddie Bones.

Dem Bones: Phil Mickelson hugs his caddie Jim Mackay after his final round of The Open

Phil and Bones / AP

The Open. Wonderful Westwood Two Clear.

A wonderful third round performance from Lee Westwood in The Open has seen him pull two shots clear of the field at Muirfield.

Westwood pulls two clear

Lee Westwood / Getty Images

Lee Westwood will take a two shot lead into the final round of The Open tomorrow at Muirfield, thanks to a third round of -1 under par, and a -3 under total as he chases his first Major victory.

Lee said he is aware for what it will take to win tomorrow;

“I know what to expect tomorrow, I know what to do, I know what it takes. My emotions were pretty calm all day although when something exciting happened like that eagle I allowed that to pump myself up. You don’t really expect to make those but I could see the line easily breaking in off the hill.It’s just a case of believing you are good enough to win. When you analyse it, you don’t want to say it, but tomorrow is just another 18 holes. I’m playing well and putting well and there’s no reason why I can’t carry on.”

Hot in pursuit will be Americans Tiger Woods and Hunter Mahan, both players starting their final rounds at -1 under par. Hunter had a fine -3 under par round of 68 today, while Tiger fell back with a +1 over par round of 72.

In fourth place is Adam Scott, he had a third round of -1 under par 70 and will stand on the first tee tomorrow at even par.

Defending Champion Ernie Els has not given hope of retaining The Open title, but he has a monster job on his hands. Ernie had a -1 under par third round of 70, and will start the last round at +5 over par, and thinks he could still make it;

” If I’m within six or seven shots of the lead you never know. It happened last year, I’m not saying it’s going to happen every day but anything can happen in The Open. You’re hoping not to be too far off going into the final round and then you’re hoping for that quick start. Somebody can get hot and from where I am, if the leaders don’t get hot, you’re in the ball game, that’s what I’m hoping for. Get that birdie at the start and then to try to get the guys to see your name, and then hopefully that makes a difference.I’m a competitor, I’m not going to lie down until the 72nd hole, that’s just the nature of what’s going on out there. It’s such a great Championship but obviously I’m trying to play better than where I am.”

 

 

The Open. 2nd Round. Experience Tells As Angel Ascends.

Miguel Angel Jiménez  showed composure and his experience to ascend to the top of the leaderboard at the conclusion of the second round of The Open at Muirfield.

Miguel Angel Jimenez  (Getty Images)

Miguel Angel Jiménez / Getty Images

Miguel is already the oldest winner in European Tour history, and now has chances of becoming the oldest Major Champion as well in The 142nd Open Championship. He had a second round of par. 71, for a tournament score of -3 under par.

Miguel spoke of the pressure;

“Of course I feel pressure, anything that is important to you makes you feel pressure, but as long as I can handle it there is no problem. I have been playing golf for 25 years and sometimes you think maybe it’s too many, but it’s okay.”

One shot behind Miguel at -2 under par is a posse of four players who have some pedigree of their own; Lee Westwood, Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson and Dustin Johnson.

Lee loves playing The Open;

” It’s a Major and I love playing The Open Championship. “It’s the biggest event of the year for me. Why not enjoy it out there? It’s tough for everybody so smile your way through it. I thought one over would be right in contention so to be two under is a real bonus. The greens were a little softer this morning. I repaired a pitch mark on the second and third but that was about it as far as that was concerned. They started to firm up pretty quickly. I was pleased to be six under through 12. I was playing some great stuff and it was just getting harder as the holes progressed. The golf course got really difficult and the finish is tough as 16, 17 and 18 are playing hard. I’ll kick back this afternoon on the couch and watch some struggles and the cricket.”

Tiger was happy with his position and said had had chances to win more Majors;

” I’m in a good spot, I’ve just got to continue plodding along, continue just being patient, putting the ball in the right spots. We’re not going to get a lot of opportunities out there but when I have I’ve been able to capitalize and hopefully I can continue doing that. I’ve been right there, I give myself chances. I’ve had chances on the back nine of many of those Sundays. Just one of those things where I haven’t gotten it done. I’m not going to win every Major I play in, but certainly I can try and put myself there. If I give myself enough opportunities, I’ll get my share, and I think I have so far in my career.”

Yesterday’s leader Zach Johnson slipped back to -1 under par, in a tie for sixth place.

Among those missing the cut were; Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Jim Furyk, Vijay Singh, Ricky Fowler, and two old timers in Tom Watson and Nick Faldo.

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.

 

Kiwi Mark Brown Wins a Place in The Open

Mark Brown

Mark Brown / getty

Kiwi Mark Brown shot a course-record 62 on Wednesday to win the Australasian regional qualifying tournament for The Open at Muirfield in July this year.

Mark finished the two-round International Final Qualifying tournament at Melbourne’s Kingston Heath Golf Club at -10 under par, capturing one of three qualifying places available to the 72-strong field. Australian Steven Jeffress finished at -9 under par after a second round of 67 and compatriot Stephen Dartnall shot second round 69 to both finish at -8 under par and to claim the other two qualifying spots.

An Eagle and eight birdies in Mark’s round on Wednesday helped him to beat Ian Poulter’s course record of 64 set at the 2012 Australian Masters.

Mark said he knew early on that it was a serious round;

” Yesterday I was a fair way back, so today I wasn’t really thinking about it too much,  I just went out and tried to enjoy it. I made six birdies in the first nine, then it got serious and it wasn’t so much fun anymore,  but it’s massive. I love this place and I played well here in November. I’ve got so much respect for the place, it’s quite a thrill to hold the course record. If there’s one major you want to play for me, this would be it. I hope it’s a big thrill, it’s not every major New Zealand has someone playing. I hope we get another couple in, Cambo and maybe someone else through qualifiers.”

 Steven Jeffress  at 37 years of age will tee it up in his first Major championship thanks to a composed round, Steven said he was impressed with his achievement;

“It’s pretty impressive, it probably hasn’t even sunk in yet, it’s going to be great, it’s going to be unbelievable. I had a number that I wanted to get to, 10-under. I thought if I get to that then it’s going to be competitive. I had 2-under around the front nine and then I parred through to 15 which I was pretty frustrated at. I said to my caddy that we have to do something here because only the top-3 get in and then I birdied 15 and 16.”

Stephen Dartnell had two solid rounds, and is was good enough to get him qualified;

“I started off a bit scratchy actually, I was 1-over after six then made a few birdies and just played solid from there on in. It wasn’t quite as good as yesterday but it was enough, I guess. I have never played a major before so will be a good learning experience, to go there and obviously try and play well.”

The Australasian tournament is one of a series of regional events on five continents that give players a chance to qualify for The Open Championship at Muirfield from July 18 to 21.

Adam Scott to Banish his Broomstick

Adam Scott

Adam Scott and his Broomstick/ Getty Images

Although any potential banning of anchored putters by the Royal & Ancient and USGA is unlikely to be enforced before 2016, Adam Scott is obviously keen to make the adjustment to sooner rather than later by banishing his Broomstick for a practice round with a conventional putter. Adam is practicing for the Emirates Australian Open at at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney, coincidentally with Tom Watson who is in favor of the ban on the Broomstick. Tom said he endorses the ban with mixed emotions citing this reason;

” I say that with mixed emotions, “This  broomstick stroke is not a stroke of golf. That’s not a stroke but it makes it easier to play. My son Michael, with a conventional putting stroke, he couldn’t make it from two feet half the time, but he went to a belly putter and he makes everything. The game is fun to him now, so there lies the danger: Do we take the ability for people to have fun away?  Do we go to two sets of rules, where some people can use long putters in certain competitions, but the PGA Tour maybe can’t? So there’s a dilemma there.” 

It would seem that Tom is confused himself about what this rule change could do to golf generally. I have said previously that there is going to be trouble enforcing this rule at the local level. A player is going to call his opponent for anchoring, and the accused is going to reply, no I didn’t. This can only bring discontent and bad feelings out on the course, and that is not a good or healthy scenario.

Tom went on recount what Ernie Els said after his win at The Open;

“”I thought Ernie Els said it perfectly after he won last year’s Open championship, he was asked: ‘Why did you go with the long putter Ernie?’ and he said: ‘I’m cheating like the rest of them are’. Ernie’s a great player and he knows the difference between doing it the conventional way versus trying to do it with an anchored putter. The arc of your putter doesn’t change as much. He knows that difference and he knows it’s not right.”

The thing is every player has had the option to use the long putters if they wish, if it so much easier with a long putter, why haven’t they all swapped over ?  I say lets banish the ban and get on and play golf, everyone is welcome at our golf course, Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club. Make them welcome at your club, for the good of the game.

But if you are considering a new putter check out the White Dragon Putter, it is set to become a feature of putting in the near future, for more information email info@whitedragongolf.com.

 

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.”

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.

Will the R&A Reward Royal Portrush with The Open ?

There is some debate about should  the R&A should award Royal Portrush Gold Club with staging The Open. Although Portrush has a small population of  around 7,000 it has a Major champion with Graeme McDowell winning the US Open of 2010, and Ireland itself with other golfing greats, like three time Major winner Padraig Harrington, and of course the current holder of The Open, Darren Clark. Also back in 1947 Fred Daly won The Open, at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake. Fred Daly was born in Portrush, County Antrim and during his acceptance speech said he was very honored to receive the Claret Jug and take it back to Northern Ireland. He then went on to say that the trophy had never been to Ireland and that he was hoping that the change of air would help it. There was much applause and laughter at his humorous comments.

Padraig Harrington tees off at Royal Portrush in what has been a massively successful tournament

Three time Major winner Padraig Harrington, tees off in the Irish Open at Royal Portrush.                                                                                     photo/Belfast Telegraph

 The Irish crowds last week were reported to be the best behaved set of spectators for any tournament this year, real praise indeed. The great success of the last week’s Irish Open at Royal Portrush indicates it is surely a question of when rather than if golf’s most celebrated and oldest Major, The Open, is played in this small part of the world. The R&A had observers at Royal Portrush during the tournament and just like everyone who set foot on the Dunluce Links they will have gone home mightily impressed. No one can deny the feel good factor has oozed out of the fairways, and much pleasure and pride can be taken from how everyone managed to enjoy the Irish Open event.

Some changes would be needed, a consortium headed by reigning Open Champion Darren Clark have put in some plans for the future of the multi-million pound Bushmills course. At the moment The National Trust have put a block on the project, but Darren is certain they will “soon come to their senses”.

Lets all hope so, and wish Darren and Bushmills get their way, which would facilitate Royal Portrush being awarded The Open, the Irish People deserve it.

BBC in danger of losing The Open coverage, due to incompetence

The BBC is in danger of losing their coverage of golf’s greatest title, The Open, after golf bosses criticised their handling of  The Masters in Augusta. Most of the classicism surrounds their lack of coverage of the game and use of celebrity interviewers. The worst offender was England cricket captain Michael Vaughan who attracted embarrassing ridicule at the Masters by not knowing the number of Green Jackets won by Tiger Woods. After that gaff he compounded the enormous error by leaving the course and final presentation  before the end of play on the final day to go on holiday. Eternal shame on you Michael, and heads should have rolled at the bosses at the top. The BBC is run by the old school tie network, and nothing will change the way they do things, and for that they will lose The Open coverage when the contract runs out in 2016. These people only rate The Open as a B-listed event in the country’s sporting crown jewels, just like the Ryder Cup, incompetence of the highest order. They will only show six days of live golf coverage from next year, these will be the first two days of Augusta and the Open Championship, this will be the only live golf on the BBC from 2013 because of cost cutting.

R&A chief executive Peter Dawson has called upon the Corporation to change their restrictive policy or seriously jeopardize losing out on the oldest Major when the current deal runs out in 2016.

“We have certainly had that conversation with the BBC. It is not just golf but tennis that for financial reasons they are making towards the bigger events. Like anything in life, you need to be in practice to do it well and keep up with advances in technology. We obviously want the Open championship to to be seen by as many people as possible. But the BBC know they have got to get off the financial plateau. They know we have got our eye on them.”

Commenting on the Michael Vaughan incident  Dawson added:

“It seemed rather unusual. But matters like that are best left to the BBC.”

Veteran commentator Peter Alliss said:

“It’s like playing poker with someone who has millions when you only have hundreds. The BBC can’t compete. But at the Open, we go through from 9 in the morning until 7.30 at night for four days on the BBC with no interruptions for commercials and it’s there for your licence fee.”

The 141st Open, and the 11th at Royal Lytham , will be staged July 19-22, the course has been lengthened in honor of receiving the worlds best players, and longest hitters. The course at Royal Lytham and St. Annes has been lengthened by 181 yards for this year’s British Open, with all but two holes having been altered since the last time the tournament was held there in 2001.

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