The Ryder Cup. European Glory at Gleneagles.

Ryder Cup Gleneagles The Ryder Cup

The European Ryder Cup Team tasted Glory at Gleneagles by lifting the trophy once again.

World number one Rory McIlroy lead by example as he put the first point of the day on the board when he defeated good friend Rickie Fowler 5-4.

Rory was full of praise for Captain McGinley;

“I can’t say enough about the Captain. Paul McGinley has been absolutely immense this week. He has left no stone unturned. He has given this week a lot of thought over the last two years. I am just glad it worked out for him.”

Ryder Cup

Jubilant Rory / Getty Images

Graeme McDowell then recovered from three down to hand rookie Jordan Spieth his first defeat at this Ryder Cup, G-Mac won 2-1.

There was a brief interlude as Team USA fought back, Patrick Reed beat Henrik Stenson on the 18th, Phil Mickelson took down Stephen Gallacher and Matt Kuchar beat Thomas Bjørn.

The European Team responded to the challenge, Martin Kaymer chipped in to complete a 4 and 2 win over Bubba Watson and Justin Rose snatched a half from Hunter Mahan at the 18th to take Europe to 13 ½ points.

Jamie Donaldson capped of an impressive debut, having the honor of claiming the winning point with a 5 and 3 victory over Keegan Bradley.
Jamie felt over the moon with his experience;

“I hit the wedge shot of my life to close the game out. I can’t really put words to it. It is unbelievable. I knew it was getting tight there at the end and everyone was building on my group. I just tried not to spend too much time looking at the scoreboard.”

“I was able to do it well enough to close it out.The lads have got on so well all week. It is an incredible week. It is hard to describe how good it is , there is nothing else like it in golf.

“It has been amazing to be a part of it.”

European Captain Paul McGinley applauded the Team effort;

It has been a real honor to captain these 12 players, our backroom team, it has been a huge team effort.” 

“We had three or four big ideas which we kept feeding back to and they came off. I have a great sense of pride giving happiness to everyone.”

The two sides will square off next time at Hazeltine in 2016, will the European’s make it four in a row ?

Ryder Cup Gleneagles

The Ryder Cup. Europe In Control.

Ryder Cup Gleneagles The Ryder Cup

Europe are in control of The Ryder Cup, taking a commanding lead into the final day of 10 points to 6. They dominated the Saturday foursomes after the USA had won two matches in the morning session. Europe won one and the final match of the session between Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler against Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter was halved. That reduced the lead of Europe to 6.5 points to 5.5  points going into the afternoon Foursomes matches.

In the afternoon matches  Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, set the tone by  making 12 birdies in a record-setting duel against Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar. This was no push over as Hunter and Matt recorded 9 birdies between them, but it was not enough to overcome the most birdies by a single side in any Ryder Cup match by the Europeans.

The Americans missed some opportunities on Saturday afternoon, and American TV commentator Johnny Miller summed it all up , after Jim Furyk had made a mess of a short pitch shot that went long, he referred to the pressure of the Ryder Cup;

“It’s all nerves at this point. All these people around and the importance of getting, maybe, somehow another half a point for the U.S., just melted. He’s had trouble finishing all year even though he’s played great.”

Lee Westwood edged closer to becoming Europe’s record points scorer when he and Jamie Donaldson beat Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar in the foursomes.

Europe now needs only  four more points to retain the Ryder Cup. It sounds easy, but two years ago, Europe rallied from the same deficit to shock the U.S. at Medinah. The U.S. did the same in 1999 at The Country Club at Brookline, the two biggest rallies in Ryder Cup history, so it can be done.

The Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup

 

Wales Open. Luiten Lifts the Trophy.

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Joost Luiten lifts the Wales Open trophy at Celtic Manor.

Wales Open

Joost Luiten & Trophy / Getty Images

Joost hung on at Celtic Manor, only managing an even par final round of 71, but his tournament total of -18 under par was enough for him to lift the Wales Open trophy.

He admitted it was tough coming down the stretch;

“It was tough, it was hard work down the last. I didn’t have the start I wanted with two bogeys and I just tried to hang in there and wait for my chances and made some nice birdies at the end and a par down the last was luckily enough.”

“There’s always a lot of tension on the first hole, you try to settle down, try to make an easy par or birdie and then I left myself quite a tricky first putt and I just didn’t read it well. I didn’t give the right pace and you leave yourself an eight footer downhill left to right and that’s one you can make or miss and I missed it today.” 

“You just try to settle down the first couple holes, and after that, I got back into my game. I started to hit greens, and I just didn’t really make any putts in the middle part, luckily we made a couple at the back.”

Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowery were the guys trying to chase him down, they finished tied for second at -13 under par. Shane with a -1 under par 70 last round, and Tommy making a late charge with four birdies and an eagle on the last five holes to card -4 under par 67.

Tommy came off a double bogey on 13, and suddenly came alight;

“After the double bogey on 13 I definitely wasn’t thinking about getting to 13 under, just try your best on the last few and see what you can get. I wanted to get back to level par or under par for the day. I thought that would have been a good effort.”

“After a poor summer, I wanted to finish the season well. I’ve been playing well recently and the more you get up there, the better. This is how you learn. You can’t practice this on the range when you’re coming down the stretch in the top five and just the more you do it, the better it is.”

Five players finished sharing  fourth place at -12 under par, including Ryder Cup debutant Jamie Donaldson who carded a very respectable final round of -4 under par  67. He was joined by Nicolas Colsaerts, Eddie Pepperell, Marc Warren and Edoardo Molinari.

Jamie was very pleased with his preparation for the Ryder Cup;

“I’m very pleased, Celtic Manor is a tough golf course which doesn’t quite suit my eye. It’s been hard for me this week to keep focused and try and see the shots, if you take your foot off the pedal, and there’s a lot of trouble about.”

“I’m happy the way I played over the last four or five weeks, building up to the Ryder Cup. I couldn’t have asked for any more, really.”

Ryder Cup team-mates Thomas Björn and Lee Westwood carded closing rounds of 74 and 76 respectively, so will need to perform better next week at Gleneagles.

Lee said he will be ready;

“I needed to play some competitive golf and I’ve done that. I hit a few good shots this week, not so good today, but I probably had one eye on next week. I don’t think the concentration and the focus was there.”

“The Ryder Cup is very special, I am looking forward to getting there tonight and preparing for Friday when it starts.”

Wales Open. Joost Luiten Back In The Lead

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Joost Luiten is back in the lead at Celtic Manor and will take a two shot lead into the final round of the Wales Open tomorrow.

 

Wales Open

Joost Luiten / Getty Images

Round one leader Joost regained the lead in the third round carding -6 under par 65, to top the Wales Open leaderboard at -14 under par, and has the comfort of a two shot lead for the final round.

Joost reported he had played consistently well, and was happy with it;

“I’m happy with a good score today, I played solid, consistent, hit a lot of greens and holed some nice putts to start with. I didn’t really make a lot in the middle part, but came back strong at the end with three birdies on the last four, and I’m happy.”

“You’re in the last group, the greens are not as good as in the morning maybe and you just have to be patient out on the greens. They are quite soft and you have to create chances every hole and they will go in eventually and luckily it did for me at the end.”

Shane Lowery, yesterdays leader could only score -3 under par 68 in the third round, giving him a tournament total of -12 under par.

Shane had a fast start, recording three birdies in the first six holes, and then nothing, luckily not even a bogey;

“I got off to a flyer and just nothing really happened for me. I did make three good par saves, but I would have liked to make a couple more birdies and probably should have.”

“I’m right where I want to be for tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it. I’m still there. If you had given me this Thursday morning before I stood on the first tee, I would have taken your hand off. I’m where I want to be and I feel like I have a chance tomorrow.”

“Joost is playing lovely but I felt like I played lovely myself. Just warm up the putter tonight and see what happens tomorrow.”

Grégory Havret carded a -5 under par 66 to lie three shots off the lead on -11 under par, alongside former champion Thongchai Jaidee, who shot -4 under par 67.
Grégory  was happy to be recording rounds in the red, under par numbers, and hopes for another one tomorrow;

“I played good. Unfortunately the last three holes were not as good as the first 15, but it was definitely a good round.”

“Anything red in this beautiful course is always good, and that’s three in a row and hopefully another one tomorrow.”

Jamie Donaldson, of the three Ryder Cup players left in the competition, was best placed on -8 under par  under after a 68. Lee Westwood had a -3 under par third round, which included  a birdie-eagle finish, to post a -3 under total. Thomas Björn carded a level par 71, which was  made up of 18 straight pars to remain at -2 under par for the tournament.

Wales Open. Lowery Leads at Half-Way Point.

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Shane Lowery leads the Wales Open at the half-way point at The Celtic Manor Resort.

Wales Open

Shane Lowery / Getty Images

Shane shot a second round -6 under par 65 to lead the Wales Open at -9 under par after 36 holes. He admitted his lofty position was a bit of a surprise, as he had never played that well before at Celtic Manor;

“I’m pretty happy. I’ve never, ever done well here before, so to be leading after two rounds is nice.There is still a long way to go in the tournament but I’m really looking forward to the weekend.”

“I didn’t drive it that good yesterday but still shot a decent score. I drove it a lot better today, drove it a lot straighter and gave myself a lot of chances and rolled in a few putts, so it was nice.”

“I felt like coming over that I could give it a go this week. I was around tenth going into the back nine on Sunday last week, and similar the week before in Switzerland. If I can get myself in a good position come the back nine this weekend, again, hopefully I can give it a go.”

First round leader Joost Luiten is tied second place, carding -2 under par in the second round for a -8 under par tournament total. Joost said the course played much tougher today, overnight rain being the main factor;

“I’m happy. It was tough today because the greens were very soft compared to yesterday with all the rain they had last night, and with the back pins, even seven irons spun back four or five yards, and it was tough to fly them all the way to the back.”

Big hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts is also tied in second at -8 under par, and would love to win again, his last victory was in 2012;

“It would mean a lot to win again after two years and struggling the first few months of the season.”

“Today I started very nicely but made two silly mistakes in the middle of the round and I almost lost it but it was nice to hole that putt on the last. It was about 35 feet with eight feet of break.”

The two Gleneagles Ryder Cup wild cards, Stephen Gallacher and Lee Westwood experienced differing results but similar emotions.
Steve shot -1 under par 70, and went home, missing the cut; Lee scored -2 under par 69 and made the cut. He was happy to have two more rounds of golf before heading to Gleneagles;

“I needed a couple more rounds, I was not particularly competitive yesterday, it was pretty scratchy, but today was more solid. A few iffy shots but it was nice to finish with two birdies in the last four holes to ensure being here for the weekend and two more competitive rounds.”

“I have been working on my game and been in the gym quite a lot, but I’m not quite match fit. I had three weeks off and you lose your sharpness.”

Steve was in a relaxed and philosophical mood as he left Celtic Manor;

“Yesterday was quite tough, it was tough to get going and get my head around it but today was a lot better. I was maybe trying a wee bit too hard yesterday and still thinking about next week.”

“I feel good, I’m physically and mentally good so I am really looking forward to next week. I’ll get up the road this afternoon and relax this weekend and maybe play nine holes with Thomas (Björn) on Monday morning.”

“I’ve done my preparation for it and I just want to get up there and get going.”

Wales Open. Joost Luiten Leads on Day 1.

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Joost Luiten leads  at the end of day 1 of the Wales Open at Celtic Manor Resort.

Wales Open

Joost Luiten / Getty Images

Joost shot an opening round at the Wales Open of -6 under par 65 to sit on top of the Celtic Manor Resort course leaderboard.

Nicolas Colsaerts and Andrew McArthur are tied in second place at -5 under par following their first round scores of 66. Nicolas hit the longest drive in European Tour history , mighty a 447-yard bombshell that left him with just a gap wedge into the 613-yard par five 18th hole at Celtic Manor, to set up the Eagle. Even that record could not console him as he rued not having the chance to play once again in the Ryder Cup, in his previous outing he carded eight birdies and an eagle in a four-ball win alongside Lee Westwood at Medinah two years ago.;

“I saw them having dinner and thought ‘I wish I was in that room. It’s their adventure and I am not part of it, but once you play in one Ryder Cup, you don’t want to miss another one.”

Of the longest drive, “The muscles from Brussels” only mentioned the wind assistance and some heavenly help;

” I thought it was too far right but it’s all downhill and downwind and it must have luged down the fairway. If all the stars align you can hit it a long way.”

Tied in fourth place are Justin Walters, Robert Rock and Sam Walker, these three carded rounds of -4 under par 67.

Robert admitted he had not played well this year;

“Probably for the last month I’ve been playing good, the rest of the year has been pretty horrific. I’ve been driving the ball well for months, and wasting every opportunity that brings.”

” My iron play has been good for two weeks, the putting has been hit and miss, but the past two weeks have been good, so I hope I can drag that on for a little bit longer.”

Of the four Team Europe players competing at The Celtic Manor Resort, Jamie Donaldson’s -1 under par 70 was the best score, with Thomas Björn returning with level par, Lee Westwood +2 over par and a rusty Stephen Gallacher signing for a +7 over par 78, Steve had this to say afterwards;

“I did half expect it, generally if I’ve got something to play for I’ll play pretty well. When I go through the motions I’m useless.’

“All eyes are on next week and it’s hard to put it out of my mind when I’m already in. Once you’re in it, I just want it happen. Next week it’ll be different, you’re in a heightened mood and I’ll be better.”

“One swallow doesn’t make a summer, so I’m not really bothered to be honest. I’ll just go out tomorrow and try and make a few birdies, see what happens. I’ll give it my best shot, I shot 63 around here once (in 2010).”

The longest drive this season on the PGA Tour was hit by Bubba Watson, who sent one 424 yards on the 16th hole at Firestone Country Club. He was the only player to eclipse 400 yards this season.

Tour Championship, FedExCup, Billy Wins It All

White Dragon GolfTOUR Championship

Billy Horschel wins it all, the Tour Championship and the FedExCup.

The Tour Championship   The FedExCup

Billy and Two Trophies.

Billy described it one word;

“Unbelievable.”

He cruised through the final round in -2 under par 68 to finish with a total of -11 under par, and a three shot victory. He spoke about his pregnant wife and how they had discussed this tournament;

I remember flying home and talking with my wife and she said, ‘You’re probably just waiting for the season to be over and start a new season.’ I sort of was.”

 “But at the same time, I knew my game was in the right shape and I just needed to get out of my own way. I needed to allow my golf game to show.”

“Hopefully, she’s not going into labor right now.”

I was able to rise to the occasion and get the job done, and it just gives me so much confidence, such a thrill to accomplish something like this, especially with the guys I was going up against.”

Rory McIlroy failed to fire in the final round, carding a +1 over par 71, he finished the tournament tied in second place with Jim Furyk, at -8 under par.

Rory had to admit that Billy played the best golf;

“Billy deserved it, he played the best golf this week. I was making bad swings at the wrong time and getting punished for them.”

“When Billy was making bogey on ten I thought I had a decent chance and then I three-putt there for the second day in a row and I felt like any chance I had to win the golf tournament went.”

“To win two Majors, my first WGC event and give it a real good run in these FedEx events, I’m really proud of myself the way I hung in there and dug deep the last few weeks.”

“When I look back on the year as a whole it’s been my best year to date so I can’t complain.”

Rory and Jim will be heading off to the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland, the European Team will be happy that Billy Horschel will not be there, especially in the form that he is in right now.