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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. Three-Way Tie at the Top

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There is a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard after the second round of the Volvo Golf Champions event at Durban Country Club.

Tommy FleetwoodLouis Oosthuizen and Joost Luiten are tied at the top of the Volvo Golf Champions at -7 under par for the tournament. Joost carding a spectacular albatross, ( note it is not a double eagle) at  the par five tenth hole. He  holed his second shot, a four iron  from  248 yards, at the to the 560-yard hole.

Joost Luiten  (Getty Images)

Albatross man Joost Luiten / Getty Images

Joost explained how it went, and the good feelings involved;

“It’s my first albatross,  I hit a good drive down the middle of the fairway, 227 metres left, hit a four iron and basically went straight at it. It pitched exactly where I wanted, just front of the green and released up the slope and straight at the pin and went in. It was a good feeling. “

“I didn’t really do a lot over the winter. I had three weeks off and I didn’t really practice. You never know how you are going to play after that but luckily the game is still all right. The funny thing is yesterday it felt terrible but I was making some good swings today, so that gives you some trust hopefully for the coming days. I want to win again and if you do there’s a Ryder Cup coming up, that’s the main goal.”

Tommy is not thinking of the Ryder Cup at this moment;

“It’s not my motivation at the minute, although it would be a dream come true one day.”It’s the best sporting event in the world but there are a lot of guys ahead of me at the moment.

“The difference between winning at Gleneagles last year and coming fifth that week was a single putt in four rounds. I could have lost in the play-off (with Ricardo Gonzalez and Stephen Gallacher), finished 50th in the order of merit and not played in the WGC event in Shanghai or this week and the difference in mindset would be huge.

“I played in all four Final Series events and played with Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy, and just being surrounded by the big players is a massive learning experience that you can’t buy.”

Padraig Harrington, currently sharing eleventh place at -2 under par, had to contend with his caddie collapsing half way round the course. Regular bag-man Ronan Flood needed medical treatment, and could not continue. Pat Cashman,  a photographer for the Golfing Union of Ireland, and who has known Padraig for around 35 years was in the gallery following his fellow Irishman and stepped in to carry the bag.

Padraig Harrington and stand-in caddie Pat Cashman  (Getty Images)

Padraig and Pat / Getty Images

Pat said in interview;

“The bag was lighter than I expected. It was very comfortable. I saw Ronan on the range and he looked awful. I said if you need help, call me. They sent out a replacement caddie but Padraig asked if I would be happy to continue and I was. I told him I wouldn’t give him a line or a club but he was so easy to work for. I’ve given him my phone number if he needs me but hopefully Ronan will be okay.”

Padraig spoke about his stand-in caddie;

“He started off like he was carrying bows and arrows but by the end he had the double-strap going (on the bag) and was using all the lingo. It’s amazing how much caddies do for you and it gives you a new appreciation for what they do out there. I know now why we pay them the big bucks!”

Volvo Golf Champions, Awesome Oosthuizen Wins

Louis Oosthuizen   (Getty Images)

Louis Oosthuizen / getty images

Louis Oosthuizen won the Volvo Golf Champions tournament in South Africa at the Durban Country Club on Sunday. He shot an awesome last round 66,  -6 under par, for a -16 under par total, to win by one shot from Scott Jamieson, who could only manage a par round of 72, and watched as the title slipped through his fingers, he finished at -15 under par.

This win is Louis’ sixth European Tour title and one that elevates him to a career-high fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking, pushing England’s Justin Rose down to fifth in the world.

In interview Louis said;

” It was a great week, a lot of things happened. It’s a great start to the year, I knew I had to come out and get my name up there. After being five down, to make it up after 12 holes, I was really chuffed about that. I just played really well all day.”

Scott Jamieson had no shame in losing out to a Major Champion, but was annoyed about his double bogey on hole 5:

“Louis is a Major Champion, there’s no shame in losing to him, I gave it my all, but it wasn’t to be. The double bogey was a kick in the teeth, but I had tons of chances and couldn’t take them.”

Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand secured  third place at – 14 under par, closing with a round of 68, with Ireland’s Padraig Harrington also closing with a -4 under par 68, to climb to fourth position on his own at -12 under par for the tournament.

Grace wins Volvo Golf Champions in playoff

Branden Grace beat his more experienced countrymen Ernie Els and Retief Goosen in a playoff to win the Volvo Golf Champions on Sunday at The Fancourt Links in South Africa. The three South African players had finished the final round in a tie on 12-under. Grace, who had earlier missed a three-foot putt for birdie on the 18th in regulation play that would have secured victory, said about his triumph;

“It’s awesome. It’s been amazing, and it’s nice to sit here again on a Sunday afternoon as I did last week,”

“You know you’ve got a three-footer and if you make it you’re a hero. I didn’t think I hit a bad putt, to be honest. But the confidence from last week played an important role. I was lying in bed the night before the final round reading a couple of articles and saw that there were seven players with 13 Majors chasing me. I thought it’s a big field behind me. But I just stuck to what I was doing.”

“Standing on the tee with Ernie and Retief in the playoff was unbelievable. I was very calm though. It’s one of those awesome things to know I’ve beaten two of my idols in a playoff.”

 

 

Volvo Golf Champions – Colsaerts Powers Back.

Nicolas Colsaerts powered his way back into contention with a four- under-par 69 in the third round of the Volvo Golf Champions tournament at The Links at Fancourt, South Africa. Nicolas was tied for the lead with the second round leader Branden Grace on ten-under-par at the end of a day. He said of his effort;

“I was really glad that I put another good round together today after yesterday. It’s always difficult when you play that good on a course like this and nothing goes according to plan.”

Charl Schwartzel and Retief Goosen were tied for third on nine-under. Schwartzel shot a best- of-the-day 68, and Ryder Cup Captain Jose Maria Olazabal remained in contention on eight-under despite a double bogey on the par-three 17th.

Charl thinks the conditions would suit a home player best;

“I said at the beginning of the week that it is a golf course you need to know well. The first two days were pretty easy but it just shows that with a little change in the weather it is a completely different golf course.”

The weather conditions were much more difficult today than on the first two days, although the rain eventually ceased when the leading players were midway through their rounds.

Branden Grace started shakily, dropping three shots over the first seven holes and then recovering to grab birdies on the 9th and 11th holes. Unfortunately he had two double bogeys on the back nine which were offset by four birdies.

Humana Challenge- Toms Still There

David Toms, Ben Crane and Mark Wilson all share the lead at the Humana Challenge at the PGA West course in La Quinta, California. The trio are at -16 after the second round, three shots ahead of their nearest rivals, headed by Camillo Villegas.

Toms interview after Round 2 of Humana Challenge

Phil Mickleson had a better round today, 69 for a total of -1, but is still a long way from making the cut, a point he mentioned in his after round interview;

” After a rough start today, being three over, I played the last thirteen six under. Played much better and I’m excited about how I was playing heading into this tournament. But, I’ve had a bit of a slap in the face with my first two scores. I’ll try tomorrow to go out and play a good round, hopefully make the cut. Get a bit of momentum heading into next week’s event in San Diego.

Phil tried out a new driver today and it seemed to work pretty well, hitting it much straighter than yesterdays effort.

Mickelson interview after Round 2 of Humana Challenge

New Zealand’s Danny Lee gad another 3 under round 69 to finish the second day at -6. He is playing steady golf and making a good impression, while flying the flag for NZ.

 

Volvo Golf Champions – Grace leads after 2nd roundr

Branden Grace took over at the top of the leader board after the second round of the Volvo Golf Champions at The Links at Fancourt, firing a 66 to be at -12 for the tournament. He is now four shots clear of  Thomas Aiken in second place who is  at -8.

Nicolas Colsaerts went from four ahead to four behind in a dismal start to his second round eventually scoring a 76 finishing at -6 and six shots off the lead. Lee Slattery of England is tied for second place with a commendable round of 65, a real improvement from his first round effort. Compatriot Tom Lewis slipped to a 74 and is now eight stokes from the top.

Biggest surprise of the day was the great performance from Ryder Cup Captain  José María Olazábal who had a beautiful round of 68 today to add to his first round 71 . This gives him a tournament total of -7 and is in fourth spot on his own. Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington continue to struggle with the course and are now 8 shots adrift of the leader.

Volvo Golf Champions – Colsaerts Leads

Nicolas Colsaerts leads the Volvo Golf Champions tournament in round one after he birdied nine of the last 11 holes. His nine-under-par 64 is a record for The Links at Fancourt course. After the round he commented; “I can reach most of the par-fives in two so it’s quite a bonus when you get to birdie the par-threes. ”  He also sank  a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-three second, “pretty much the longest putt I holed all day.”

Nicolas Colsaerts (AFP/Getty Images/File, David Cannon

 

Twenty one year old  Englishman Tom Lewis shot a 68 to be in close contention, along with  South Africans Branden Grace and Thomas Aiken.  Grace said his round could have been even better.

“I missed a couple of short ones but I kept hitting the ball well and giving myself chances. It will be nice to see how I can follow it up.”

Padraig Harrington got to six under but drove into some trouble on the par-five 18th,  He said the tee shot on the last was a mental error, and had ruined what should have been,  “a comfortable six-under.” philosophically adding “Such is life.”

Pádraig Harrington plays into the 10th green during the first round of the Volvo Golf Champions at The Links at Fancourt on January 19th, 2012, in George, South Africa. - (Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

- (Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

 

Ernie Els dropped two shots on the first three holes, he then rallied to gain birdies on the last three holes, which enabled him to dip under par to finish at -1. He said about the day, “I played here I think about eight to ten times through the December holiday, making six, seven, eight birdies with my mates but it’s different when you are playing competitive golf. I’m glad I got it under par and I’m not out of the tournament.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volvo Golf Champions

An exciting mix in the  field of new stars and seasoned campaigners are this week preparing to line up in the second edition of the €2million Volvo Golf Champions at its new home, the Links at Fancourt, in South Africa. A €350,000 winner’s cheque will secured them a place in The European Tour’s ‘tournament of champions’. The 2011 Major Champions Darren Clarke and Charl Schwartzel lead the field and are joined by other major winners, including Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. Els commented;

“Obviously I love playing in South Africa and have won five of my European Tour titles there. I have great memories of playing at the Links at Fancourt, both in professional events and when on holiday there, and I’m looking forward to trying to win The European Tour’s first true ‘tournament of champions”.

“South African golf is in great shape at the moment, which is apparent by the number of South Africans in the field. Dr. Hasso Plattner’s vision in creating The Links at Fancourt will provide the perfect stage to showcase the wonderful golf opportunities offered in South Africa.”

Of the seasoned campaigners, two Ryder Cup captains are teeing up for this event. José María Olazábal and Colin Montgomerie will bring their enormous experience into the arena. By contrast in the experience on display, will be two of the more exciting youngtsers to grace the links in recent years. The new talents in European golf with 18 year old Italian Matteo Manassero and Englishman Tom Lewis 21, will be keen to compete against the old school players.

The Volvo Golf Champions is an exclusive, limited field event with no halfway cut, open only to European Tour players who have won an event on the previous year’s European Tour International Schedule. Joining them are the winners of the first two events of the 2012 season, the Africa Open and the Joburg Open. Other entries include current Tour Members, under the age of 50, with more than ten European Tour victories.

Three time major winner Ernie Els struggled on the greens last year which then affected his ability to have fun on the course, he bemoaned this loss saying,

“I’ve kind of lost my sense of humor, you know. When you don’t putt well your sense of humor doesn’t work very well. I’d like to get my sense of humor back. My work ethic and determination, especially this year, is better than ever because I had such a dismal season last year.”

“I would like to really turn things around this year and see if I can win some tournaments again.”

He needs to turn things around because he doesn’t qualify automatically for the Masters in April.

“I know where I stand and I know what I need to do. I have a couple of months to rectify that. I don’t want to be asking for an invite there.”

Padraig Harrington  also a three-time major winner, now ranked 89th in the world also finds himself in a similar position. He understands though that you can not win every year, talking about his two British Open titles and a PGA Championship victory.

“I certainly had a peak year in 2007 and another peak in 2008. It’s impossible to always have peak years. It doesn’t worry me in the greater scheme of things, because I know you can’t win them every year. You have to sit there and be patient and wait for your turn, and like 2007 and 2008, they all come at once.”

ALLAN HENRY / US PRESSWIRE

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