Volvo China Open. Alexander the Great.

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Alexander Levy fired a great round of 62 to lead the Volvo China Open at the Half-way stage.

Alexander Levy  (Getty Images)

A casual Alexander Levy / Getty Images

Alexander recorded a -10 under par 62, a course record which put him in command of the Volvo China Open at Genzon Golf Club, with a four shot lead. He has a desire to follow the lead of the other French players into the winners circle, especially his friend Victor Dubuisson;

“It is a great round for me, I played unbelievably today and it’s the first time I have played like that. I really like the course and it is in great shape. I played really well and made a lot of putts to make the lowest score of my career. I shot 63 at Kingsbarns during the Dunhill Links in Scotland last year but this course is a lot tougher and I am only starting to realise how good that score is. “

“I played the right strategy today and I just have to try to do that over the next couple of days. I hope that I can play with Ralph tomorrow because he is a great friend and it would be funny if we could play in the last group together tomorrow.”

“I just tried to play one shot at a time. I didn’t realise how good the score was to be honest because I was focussed on playing shot by shot. I am very happy to be here, this is my first time in China and I feel great to be playing so well in what is a really big event for me.” 

“I think the French players are all very close and Victor’s performances over the last few months is helping all the French players and inspiring them to try to do the same. I am friends with Victor. It is mainly through golf that we have a relationship but we are friends. What he has done over the past few months has been amazing and it has really had an effect on all the French players so hopefully I can try to emulate that.” 

Adrian Otaegui, from Spain, is in second place, a -6 under par 66 for a -10 under par total kept him in touch with the leader. Fellow countryman Alvaro Quiros is a further shot back at -9 under par following his more modest second round of -4 under par 68.

Fourth place belongs to Raphaël Jacquelin, his second round of -5 under par 67 gives him a tournament total of -8 under par, and maybe a slim chance of catching Alexander. He was pretty happy to be where he is, saying he is not playing too well;

“I played a bit better today compared to how I was hitting the ball yesterday, so I feel pretty good. Still a few bad shots, but overall, five under, I’ll take it, definitely.”

Ian Poulter just managed to make the cut, a -1 under par total was due to some poor play and a rules infraction, on the 13th hole. he had driven the ball into trees off the tee, and took the penalty two clubs length relief. The drop left him on a cart path, so he was entitled to relief from that position. A free drop is only one club length, but Ian took two, which incurred a one shot penalty. He finished the hole with an eight on his card.

Accenture Match-Play Semi’s. Victor Dubuisson in Final.

 

 

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Victor Dubuisson has a chance to become the First Frenchman to win  World Golf Championships at The Accenture Match-Play title.

Victor Dubuisson   (Getty Images)

Victor Dubuisson / Getty Images

Victor beat the veteran Ernie Els, 1 up, when Ernie failed to get up and down from a bunker on the 18th hole. Victor enjoyed the victory;

 “It feels great, especially because this morning I was not feeling comfortable.I didn’t sleep very well and when I arrived at the course I realised I was in the semi-final of a World Golf Championship event against Ernie Els. I am a big fan of him, always watching him winning majors, and I was not as comfortable as the round before. That’s why I had a poor start. I made three or four very bad shots and then I tried to focus again on my game and knew I had to play my best golf. That’s what I did and proved my mentality is very solid.”

Ernie was taking the positives away from this tournament;

“I hit a very poor second shot on eighteen, so it was a tough way to finish. But give Victor credit, he made quite a few birdies in the middle there. He was in a lot of trouble and he deserved to win. It’s tough to take. I didn’t play that nicely coming in. I missed quite a few makeable putts and had some bad irons shots. I’m playing with brand new equipment with Adams, and it’s only my fourth event.  I had a chance to actually get to the finals. So I’m looking forward to the rest of the year and I’m really excited about things.”

Jason Day beat  Rickie Fowler 3 and 2, Jason  looked to be cruising to victory when he led by three holes with seven to play, but lost the next two to give Rickie some hope of mounting a successful comeback. After Rickie bogeyed the 15th, the match came to an anti-climactic end as he then three-putted the 16th green, from six feet;

Rickie said he knew it was going to be a tough match;

“I knew Jason was going to be tough. He made quite a few good putts, he didn’t give me a whole lot. He missed a par putt on twelve, but other than that he played solid all day. On fifteen I was in a tough position, I couldn’t really make anything of it and sixteen was a complete misread. Jason played well and he’s going to be tough to beat this afternoon.”

Jason said he thought he could win this week;

 “I felt like I had a really good chance of having a shot of winning this week and I am really looking forward to it. I played some nice golf today so hopefully I can keep it going in the final.”

Accenture Match-Play. Rickie Rolls On.

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Rickie Fowler rolls on at the Accenture Match-Play tournament at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Course on Dove  Mountain in Arizona.

Day 4: Match recaps

Rickie Fowler / Getty Images

 Rickie Fowler has a strange nightly routine, climbing a rugged hill adjacent the Ritz-Carlton where he is staying. The process seems to be working wonders as Rickie is on a roll here at the Accenture Match-Play, today beating Jim Furyk 1 up.

He spoke about the ritual;

“It’s a good little workout. It will get you sweating, I guess it’s been working.”

 Jason Day beat an ailing Louis Oosthuizen, who needed  lengthy treatment for a long-standing back injury before play started and received more massage out on the course, before eventually losing 2 and 1 to Jason.

Jason talked about being wary of the wounded golfer;

“It’s that old saying, beware of the wounded golfer. I think he went out the last four days with no expectations and I think that’s why he’s playing so great. I wanted to play good myself and get through to the next day. I love the golf course and I just like that one-on-one match. It’s fun fighting it out to see who’s best”

Louis admitted he was not feeling that great;

“I was disappointed to start on the range this morning not feeling too good. It got better, the last four or five holes I felt I could get through the ball better. It’s a bit painful that it always happens when I’m playing well and I need to address it big time and get it sorted. I felt I played really well but you can’t give away holes to a guy like Jason. I had a tough start and it was really tough to get back from that. If I take two or three days off, everything feels brand new, but it’s irritating that it’s coming back all the time.”

Ernie Els duly completed a 4-3 victory over Jordan Spieth, and said he was elated;

” I’m obviously elated to be going through, It’s been a wonderful week up to now. At times I haven’t played my best, as you guys have well documented and know, but it is match play – I’ve just done enough to get through. Today I felt like I played a little bit more solid, but still not quite to my expectations. Jordan obviously didn’t play as good as he did yesterday, thank goodness, and I was just a bit more solid.”

Jordan Tweeted;

“I’m embarrassed about the way I acted on the course today. Played like the 13 year old version of myself mentally.”

At the course he said;

“I didn’t have my swing, but I was a little mental midget out there. Actually kind of embarrassing looking back. I was dropping clubs and kind of just whining, and you just can’t do that. In match play you’ve got to keep your cool. Anytime you show that, it’s weakness.”

Victor Dubuisson prevented Graeme McDowell from completing his fourth comeback win, Victor  the winner on the 18th hole,1 up.

Semi-Final match ups, Jason Day will face Rickie Fowler, while Ernie Els plays Victor Dubuisson.

     

Accenture Match-Play. Garcia’s Gentlemanly Conduct. G-Mac King of Comebacks

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 Sergio Garcia was guilty of serious gentlemanly conduct in his loss to Rickie Fowler, conceding a seventeen foot putt. G-Mac came back from the dead once again, a resurrection indeed.

No regrets: Garcia concedes 17-footer in loss to Fowler

Sergio & Rickie / Getty Images

 Rickie Fowler defeated Sergio Garcia, 1 up, Friday at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship , but that included the conceded putt of seventeen feet. The incident took place took place at Dove Mountain’s seventh hole, Sergio felt that he  had taken too much time to take a drop at No. 6, and conceded the halving par putt to Rickie. Sergio’s 7-foot par was conceded in return.

Sergio explained the extraordinary event like this;

I don’t regret it at all. I think that this is a gentleman’s game and lately, it hasn’t felt like it’s been like that. This is the way I was brought up by my dad. I felt like my drop on six took too much time. If I would have been in his position, I wouldn’t have enjoyed waiting so long to hit my birdie putt after the great shot that he hit. I thought that was the only thing I could do on seven to make myself feel better and not feel guilty about anything.”

The real problem was bee’s, Sergio asked for a drop away from the bee colony, saying;

 “I don’t want to hit the shot, I’ve had bad experiences with bees.”

Rickie was confused for a while;

“I had to kind of find out what he was asking or offering there, it took me a minute to figure it out.  It would be stupid not to take a half. He said, ‘You wanna halve’ I didn’t know what he meant. I thought maybe he had a sandwich”

For a the third day on the trot, Graeme McDowell came from behind to win. Claiming victory in  his quarter-final clash with Victor Dubuisson at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Graeme McDowell  (Getty Images)

G-Mac / Getty Images

Graeme was again on the ropes at two down with two to play, he rallied with two closing birdies, which saw the former US Open Champion force extra holes, and a 15 foot birdie putt at the third extra hole, after Hunter had found a greenside bunker. The victory sealed a last-eight spot for the Volvo World Match Play champion.

Graeme was amazed to still be in the tournament;

 “It’s entertaining for sure but I’d much rather have it much easier, believe me. I can’t get my head around it. I was pretty sure I was beat against Gary Woodland, yesterday I thought I had a chance and today walking off the 16th green I thought I was beat again. The par save on the second play-off hole was just ridiculous, he holed from 20 feet there. I can’t believe it really, I have just robbed three players at this tournament and I can’t believe I am still in it.”

Victor Dubuisson avoided a comeback by Bubba Watson, clinging on for a one up victory after being three up with four to play. Making his World Golf Championships debut, Victor feels he is ready to join the next Ryder Cup team;

“I’m definitely ready because I have good experience of match play as an amateur. I hope the three matches I have won will help me get into the team.”

Ernie Els came up with a brilliant approach shot to within two feet at the 18th to see off Jason Dufner 1 up, while the other South African Louis Oosthuizen dispatched Webb Simpson 5-4.

Jason Day defeated George Coetzee 3-1, and Jordan Spieth beat Matt Kuchar 2-1. Jim Furyk defeated Harris English 1 up.

So far this week I have manged to avoid using the word bracket, but thought I had better mention it just in case you thought I was not aware.

Accenture Match-Play. Rose & Rory Out. Magic McDowell Survives Again.

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Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy crashed out of the Accenture Match-Play tournament at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Course on Dove Mountain. Graeme McDowell survived another match where he looked like losing, once again.

Graeme McDowell  (Getty Images)

Survivor G-Mac / Getty Images

Justin went down to Ernie Els, 1 up, while Rory lost to Harris English, on the 19th hole. G-Mac went three down after six holes against  Hideki Matsuyama, of Japan. He then birdied the seventh and eighth to get within one hole, only to then lose the 14th to be two down with four holes to play. Graeme won the 15th and the 17th, and rounding off with  a ten foot putt on the final green to seal a one up win.

He joked afterwards;

“Why do it the easy way when the hard way will do. I just got off to a slow start again, probably less so today. I was quite proud of myself when I got a half on three, so I was only two down after three, as opposed to three down. I tried to go out there today and execute my game plan and try not to give him any room, try not to make any mistakes, try not to give him anything, and he kind of played the same kind of golf back. He played very, very well. 

“I made big putts on 15 and 16. The 16th especially was a massive putt to give me the opportunity.I feel very fortunate again today. I’ve certainly expended all my energy and emotions the last couple of days, but thankfully it’s early in the season and I’ve plenty left in the tank.”

Louis Oosthuizen dumped out Henrik Stenson 4-3, and Webb Simpson dispatched Brandt Snedeker by the same score.

George Coetzee is still doing fine, winning the 21 hole battle with Patrick Reed. Jason Day took even longer to overcome Billy Horschel, 22 holes.

Sergio Garcia is going along smoothly, a 3-1 victory over Bill Haas, while Jason Dufner eliminated Matteo Manassero by 2-1. 

Sergio said he had fun out there today;

“It was good fun, we both played hard. We both tried to play as well as we could to beat our opponent and I was fortunate to be just a little bit better than him today.”

A resurgent Rickie Fowler beat Jimmy Walker 1 up, Matt Kuchar beat Ryan Moore by the same score. Jim Furyk took care of Charl Schwartzel 3-2, and Jordan Spieth was too strong for Thomas Bjorn, beating him 5-4.

Victor Dubuisson continued to impress on his World Golf Championships debut as he overcame Peter Hanson 3 -1 to progress to face former Masters Tournament winner Bubba Watson, who saw off Jonas Blixt at the 17th hole when Jonas lost his ball under a bush. ( would have been ironic if Jonas had got a free drop, wouldn’t it)

Some good match ups tomorrow and any of the remaining players could win, as Graeme McDowell said yesterday, this is a brutal format.

European Tour. Volvo Golf Champions. Louis Lifts Trophy.

 

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Louis Oosthuizen lifts the European Tour Volvo Golf Champions trophy at Durban Country Club in South Africa. A final round of -4 under par 68 was good enough to see off the competition.

Oosthuizen starts 2014 in style

Louis and some local fans / Getty Images

Louis had some nervy moments towards the end of his round, a poor shot on 16 where he was lucky to be able to chip out, but still made bogey, and then he needed to make a birdie on the last to win;

“After my tee shot on sixteen I was lucky that I could chip it out and nearly made a great par. But when I stood over the ball on seventeen I saw that Branden had made birdie on eighteen so I knew that second shot was crucial to give myself a good opportunity and I hit it really close.

“And then eighteen, everyone thinks you just need to make a birdie but around that green it’s not easy and luckily I was far enough past where I could pitch it back into the grain and get it close. It was nerve-wracking through the round but I finished strong and I’m just happy that I got it done. It’s an awesome start for the year. Confidence-wise it’s great. I haven’t really played well last year with all the injuries so hopefully I can build from here on and just go better next time.”

Branden Grace captured second place, he also carded a -4 under par 68 in his final round, finishing with a -11 under par total, one shot adrift. He admitted it was terrible watching Louis pass him on the final green;

 “It was terrible watching it. But the winner at the end of the week is going to be the true champion and he played well so he deserves it. I thought I played some superb golf today. I let a couple slip out there which was unfortunate but if you had told me my first event I would start off with a second place, I would have taken it. This really gives you a push in the right direction so I’m really stoked.”

Tommy Fleetwood was the leader at the start of play, but he unfortunately could only produce a par last round of  72, which dropped him into a tie for third place with Joost Luiten, both at -10 under par.

Tommy said he hit the ball better off the tee, but it was the rest of his game that let him down at the crucial stage;

“Today was the best I have hit it off the tee all week and it was a shame the rest of the game let me down. After the long birdie putt on the second my putter went cold and it was not meant to be. It’s always great when you can be leading going into the final round of such a big event. I could have been four under, shot 66 and finished on the same score and not learned half as much. You have to take the positives and I have finished tied third in the first event and overall it’s been a very good week.”

Padraig Harrington and French duo Raphaël Jacquelin and Victor Dubuisson were another shot back on -9 under par.

European Tour. Volvo Golf Champions. Tommy Fleetwood Tops the Table.

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Tommy Fleetwood tops the table at the European Tour Volvo Golf Champions event at the end of day three on the Durban Country Club course.

 

Tommy Fleetwood  (Getty Images)

Tommy Fleetwood / Getty Images

Tommy Fleetwood managed to grind out a -3 under par 69 on moving day, to lead by shot one at -10 under par going into the final round of the Volvo Golf Champions in Durban.

Tommy said it was a tough course, made worse by him not playing too well;

“It’s a tough course as it is but obviously when you’re not quite on your game it turns into a very, very difficult course. I played four or five really good holes, but obviously the rest of it, I struggled. You miss your tee shots you’re always going to struggle for pars. I made one bogey but the bogey was always coming at some point, so I was quite cool and calm at the end of it.”

 “Three under around this golf course, when you’re not on your game is an absolutely brilliant score, and so I think it’s showing that I’m maturing as a golfer and I can actually score when I’m playing bad, which is one of the most important parts of being a professional golfer. Knowing that you can win and thinking you can are miles apart. That week at Gleneagles I was good at staying focused on my own game because that last round, things didn’t go my way all the time.”  

“I stayed patient and came in good at the end. If you can stay in with a shout with three or four holes to go, you never know what’s going to happen. That’s going to be key, just keep going and stay patient. All we want to do is win golf tournaments. That’s the best reason to win, you beat everybody over the week and it just gives you so much joy. It would mean a lot obviously, and first tournament of the year, and I haven’t played for five weeks. I would be in a very happy way if I could come away with the trophy tomorrow.”

Tied in second place at -9 under par are Victor Dubuisson and Joost Luiten.

Victor also had a very demanding day, due to him not striking the ball correctly;

“I’ve never hit the ball so badly but my short game saved me today. I could have been three or four over. I was a little tired this morning, I didn’t sleep well, and I missed a lot of shots. The win at the Turkish Airlines Open gave me a lot of confidence, but you can still have bad rounds.”

Defending Champion and local favourite Louis Oosthuizen is in fourth place on his own, but it could have been so much better. He was leading the tournament with three holes to play, but clocked up a sad seven on the 16th after hitting his second shot into thick undergrowth and having to declare it unplayable.

Louis was obviously very frustrated at the turn of events;

“It’s frustrating that I finally got my seven birdies, which you need to do around this course, but made too many bogeys. I was not great off the tee and hit a few wayward shots but I’m still happy to be right in there. You don’t want to give yourself unnecessary work and I had the chance to get to 12 under today, so I need to be more focused tomorrow.”

European Tour. Volvo Golf Champions. Jacquelin Jumps Ahead.

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Raphael Jacquelin jumps ahead after the first round of the European Tour event at the Durban Country Club.

 

 

Raphael Jacquelin  (Getty Images)

Raphael Jacquelin / Getty Images

The conditions were blustery but that did not stop Raphael from carding a first round of -5 under par 67, to lead the Volvo Golf Champions by one shot.

Raphael said he was happy with his bogey free effort;

“I managed to get everything right, a bogey-free round; that’s the key, to go bogey-free every round on this course. It’s a new year and pretty good way for me to start, so that’s great.”

Defending Champion Louis  Oosthuizen is just one shot behind, after he recovered from a poor start, a bogey on the first hole, to score -4 under par 68.

Another shot further back, on -3 under par, sharing third place are Darren Clarke and Victor Dubuisson. A now slimline Darren, who has lost three stone in weight over recent months, delivered birdies on the second, eighth, tenth, 14th and 18th. He mentioned his new look;

“It’s something, I took a look at myself in October and thought it’s time to make a change. I am feeling strong. I reached 10 today, whatever it was, hit it 300 off the tee into the wind and hit driver from 285 to 12 feet and I couldn’t have reached there maybe five, six months ago.  So hopefully it will pay off.”

Colin Montgomerie is playing well and finished his first round at -2 under par with his opening round of 70. Colin said he struggles on the longer courses, so chooses his events carefully;

“I was playing well at the end of last year and I started to play a lot more golf. I had not been having much fun on 7,500-yard courses on the main tour but I am a member of three tours now (European Tour and two seniors tours) and it’s given me more freedom to choose courses I can get round. It’s very difficult and tricky out there, the wind was coming off the sea and made every hole a crosswind. You have to be very careful, you can make a mess out there in a hurry.”

Asides

I would love to see Volvo join the campaign to stop South Africa killing endangered species like Lion, Elephant and Rhino in penned in areas, just for the fun of rich tourists. It’s called canned hunting, the operators breed these animals and put them in penned in areas for tourists to shoot them, and it is legal. It is time to stop the killing of these creatures.

Turkish Airlines Open. Victor Victorious.

Victor Dubuisson was victorious at the Turkish Airlines Open on the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course in Antalya.

Victor Dubuisson  (Getty Images)

Victor Dubuisson / Getty Images

Victor kept his head while the high-profile chasing pack tried to whittle away at the five shot lead he started the day with. A final round of -3 under par 69 was good enough to keep him in front and pick up the Turkish Airlines Open, his total score at -24 under par.

He said the pressure was great, it was the longest day on a golf course for him;

“I don’t know how to describe it, now I don’t realise what’s happening. I felt so much pressure on the last hole. Holing this putt on 17 was like; it was incredible. It was incredible, and the birdie on 18, it’s a bonus. But even on the last putt, I was feeling so much stress.  After this day, it was the longest day on the course that I’ve ever had. I’m very proud of what I did.”

With the big guns failing in their task of catching Victor, Jamie Donaldson worked his way up the leaderboard, to finish in second place at -22 under par, just two shots adrift.

Jaime received one million air miles from the tournament sponsor after holing his tee-shot at 16 for an Ace, using a seven-iron. This result has moved him up to fifth place in the Race To Dubai standings.

“It’s mad, it’s weird, when it goes in. You hit it right down the flag and you’re hoping in the air that it’s going to be close.When it lands and vanishes it’s like, ‘Where’s that gone?’. The fact you get something extra for it as well, is nice.”

Tied in third spot at -20 under par were US Open Champion Justin Rose and Tiger Woods.

 Justin was happy that he had made up ground on Henrik in the Race to Dubai.

“I think I’ve gained some ground, yeah, for sure. It’s nice to be able to control your own fate next week. So if I go in and have a good week, win a golf tournament, which is obviously the aim any time you tee it up, but if I go ahead and do that, that’s going to obviously be the exact scenario I’m looking for. Fifth last week, probably tied for third this week, I like the way that’s trending towards No. 1.”

Tiger lamented that he just did not make enough birdies;

“On a golf course like this where you have to make so many birdies, I just didn’t make enough. You just had to be so aggressive all of the time and that is reflected by how many guys made runs of four or five birdies in a row.”

Ian Poulter tied in fifth place, his final score at -19 under par, but he too is closer to Henrik for next week’s finale in the Race to Dubai.

Henrik battled on with his wrist injury and finished just two shots adrift of Justin and one behind Ian. He hopes to have the wrist sorted out by next week;

“I’m still happy with the Top 10 and thanks to a few of the other guys, yeah, I’ve still got the lead heading into the last week. My preparation is going to be less than I would have liked (due to his wrist), but again, I’ve played Jumeirah Golf Estates so many times, so hopefully I shouldn’t have to be further behind than I need to do that. So the most important thing is to get healthy long-term, and be able to play next week.”

Turkish Airlines Open. Victor Eyes Victory.

Frenchman Victor Dubuisson eyes victory in the Turkish Airlines Open, topping the leaderboard at the end of day 3.

Victor Dubuisson   (Getty Images)

Victor Dubuisson / Getty Images

Victor upstaged the high-ranking players around him, shooting a third round of -9 under par 63 at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course, to lead the tournament by massive five shots going into the final round tomorrow. His -21 under par total will be hard to chase down, even for the likes of Tiger, Ian and Henrik.

Understandably Victor said he felt very tired after his heroics;

 “I’m very tired now, so I think I will sleep easy tonight, but it will be very stressed I think. I’ll try not to think about it because if I think about it, I will put too much pressure on myself.  But I know tomorrow Ian, Tiger and Henrik, they will shoot very low scores, so I have to keep the same strategy. I know I have a five-shot lead, but with all these great players, tomorrow it will be a very tough day.”

In second place at -16 is Ian Poulter, his third round of -4 under par 68, paled into insignificance in terms of winning this tournament, but he is still hopeful of winning The Race to Dubai;

“It would be a highlight right now if I can pull it off.  So I need to go deep tomorrow. I mean, I need to make as many birdies, certainly as I’ve made in any round in the last couple of weeks. I need to go and throw eight, nine-under par tomorrow, hopefully put a lot of pressure on Victor and see what happens.”

Tied in third place are four players at -15 under par, and six shots behind the runaway leader, they are, Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson, Raphael Jacquelin and Alejandro Cañizares.

Henrik admits he is in a race for second place, and hopes his ongoing wrist injury holds up under the strain;

” Dubuisson seems to be playing really well; he’s kind of pulled away. But then it’s a tight race for second, five, six guys tied on second position at the moment. There is still some hope there for tomorrow. I’ll try to finish strong tomorrow and carry on to next week.” Of his injury he said, “It desperately needs rest and recovery time and I don’t have that at the moment, so I’m just trying to scrape by and it’s going to be limited preparations for next week.”

Tiger also admits to carrying an injury;

“My arm is a little tender. I smoked it on something. I don’t know what I hit but I hit something hard. I just dealt with it and just played through it. I won’t need any treatment.”

These guys need a 63 themselves tomorrow, but would still need an epic collapse from Victor to have any hope of winning, but that is golf, strange things happen.