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Archive for April, 2012

Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Jason holds off Ernie in playoff

Understated joy

Stan Badz/PGA TOUR

Zurich Classic of New Orleans was won by Jason Dufner, after a two hole play off against the resurgent Ernie Els. Both players were tied at -19 under par at the conclusion of the final round, with Luke Donald two shots behind. The title was decided at the second playoff  hole Jason getting a birdie against Ernie’s par at the 18th. This win, Jason’s first PGA tour win, should also stamp out some of the bad memories haunting Dufner since the Masters, when he shared the lead after two rounds but faded to 24th. Congratulations to Jason for his win, and good luck next week for your wedding ceremony to your lovely fiancée Amanda Boyd.  Jason said afterwards;

“There’s a been a good bit of pressure. People talking about, `Why aren’t you winning? Why can’t you close the deal?  Friends, family, media, even people in my inner circle. And not in a negative way, but when you’re leading tournaments going into weekends and you’re finishing 24th, there’s going to be some questions. It’s always really tough playing on Sundays whether you’re in lead or middle of pack, and today I was fighting, trying to win event, and I think I showed myself a good bit out there. It was tough. Ernie made a great run at me and it felt like with five or six holes (to go) we were probably going to be battling for the win. To get the monkey off of my back, it’s a great feeling.”

Amanda was ecstatic;

“It’s awesome. He’s been so close so many times. I don’t feel like it’s real.It will be a good wedding.”

Jason also added;

“Great wedding present for both of us. It helps with paying for the wedding, obviously. They’re a little more expensive than I thought or had imagined. It’ll be a big celebration not only for our marriage but also for my first victory out on the Tour.”

Ernie, The Big Easy, hasn’t won on the PGA TOUR since 2010,  he did not have a single bogey in the final round or playoff, and would have won his 19th career PGA TOUR title in, of all places, the Big Easy. Ernie reflected on his missed chance;

“It was a nice little charge I made and, you know, nice to catch the leader. I had a chance to win the tournament with a 6-footer and missed it, but I made quite a few putts on the back nine to keep myself in it. Hit the ball pretty well today, no bogeys on the final round so there’s a lot of positives.”

Luke Donald shot a 67 to finish the tournament at -17 under par, and in doing so regains the number one spot in the world. Luke said;

“That’s a nice consolation. It’s been going back and forth a little bit. Rory’s turn next week. It was a little bit of a motivation to try and play well today.”

 

Ballantine’s Championship @ Blackstone GC Seoul South Korea, Wiesberger Wins

Bernd Wiesberger  (Getty Images)

Bernd Wiesberger (Getty Images

Bernd Wiesberger won the Ballantine’s Classic at the  Blackstone GC in Icheon,  Seoul, South Korea on Sunday to record his first European Tour victory.  Bernd cruised through a bogey free last round of -4  under par 68 and a winning tournament total of -18 under par, to give him a deserved five shot victory. It was a majestic tournament from Bernd with rounds of  72, 65, 65, 68.

Richie Ramsay finished alone in second spot after a final round -7 under par 65, and a tournament total of -13. Tied in third place was Victor Dubuisson, and Marcus Fraser. Victor had a last round of -6 under par 66 to give him a total of -11 under par for the tournament. Marcus finished on the same score after a disappointing final round of -2 under par 70. He had been hoping to put some pressure on Bernd at the start of play but the Austrian cruised along while he struggled.

Miguel Angel Jimenez,  and Anthony Wall finished the tournament with a total of -10 under par and tied for fourth  spot.

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Zurich Classic of New Orleans @ TPC Louisiana

  

Still Dufner's game

Stan Badz/PGA TOUR

Zurich Classic of New Orleans, 3rd round at TPC  Louisiana, Jason Dufner had a nice -5 under par, 67 to lead the tournament by two shots, with a tournament total of -17. Tomorrow Jason will be trying to break his weekend jinx at TPC Louisiana, and having a two shot lead should make the last round a bit more comfortable for him.

Close behind is Canadian Graham DeLaet who shot a -6 under par 66 for a -15 under par total. He is one of five players who have shot in the 60s each of the first three rounds and he’s improved by one stroke each day.

South African Ernie Els, who is desperate to end a victory drought of more than two years, is tied for third along with John Rollins, both at 14 under par. John was tied for the lead three times on Saturday and ended up shooting 69 while Ernie had a 68.

Ryan Palmer made the biggest move of the day, he tied the course record with an -8 under par for 64. He is the third player to make a 64  this week, and that effort moves him up 25 spots into a tie for fifth, with Steve Stricker and Cameron Tringale. The trio are hovering just behind the leaders at 13 under par.

Luke Donald continues to rise up the board, having a third round 66 for -6 under par and a total of -12 under par for the tournament. He is joined on that score by Ken Duke, and the pair of them will need something really special tomorrow to move into contention for the trophy. Luke also needs to finish in solo 7th spot, or above to regain the World number one from Rory McIlroy.

Ballantine’s Championship, Bernd Wiesberger in control @ Blackstone GC, Seoul

Wonderful Wiesberger races clear

Bernd Wiesberger (Getty Images)

The Ballantine’s Championship is just about done and dusted, Bernd Wiesberger is in full control after the third round after shooting another -7 under par round of  65 to lead the tournament at the Blackstone GC,  in Seoul, South Korea. Bernd’s magnificent lead is five shots, and total score of -14 under par.

Bernd, who won twice on The Challenge Tour in 2010 and was a runner-up twice on The European Tour last year, said of his round;

“I think that’s what we call a great day at the office. It was fun out there. It was nice conditions again like yesterday, and really nice set up for the course. I enjoyed myself out there, made a lot of putts and that was the key to another perfect day. Out there on the greens I really felt like I saw the lines perfectly today and I putted the ball nicely.,

“It feels like I’m getting into position more often, and played well when I was in those positions in the last half of the year last year. It was a good preparation the last two years, and I hope it pays off tomorrow.”

In second place is Marcus Fraser, the 2010 champion, with a third round score of -3 under par 69 for a tournament total of  -9 under par. Bernd would need to fall over badly tomorrow to not win this trophy. Marcus was realistic in assessing his chances tomorrow;

“I felt really comfortable out there, hit a lot of good shots inside 20 feet, and just couldn’t get anything going. I hit putts where I was wanting to hit them, but they just weren’t taking the break. I felt like I was playing chase out there most of the day and trying to keep up. Bernd is playing great , so much game and definitely a star of The European Tour to come. He’s obviously a great player now but he’s got big things in front of him, that’s for sure. It reflects the way he’s playing. He played great here and gives himself a chance on every hole and he’s a great putter, as well. If I was a betting man, I would put the house on him. He’s just played so well and looks very comfortable.”

Everyone else is really fighting for second place, Marcus Fraser is the player closest to the man in form, but five shots over one round is a huge mountain to climb, not impossible in golf, but very unlikely.

Oliver Fisher and Felipe Aguilar are another shot back with a tournament score of -8 under par, but have no realistic chance of catching Bernd.

Queen Sirikit Cup, NZ finishes runner-up in Singapore

Defending champions South Korea triumphed over the rest of the field on the final day of the 34th Queen Sirikit Cup, easily winning their sixth consecutive crown in the event.  New Zealand finished as runners-up in the tournament in Singapore at the Tanah Merah Country Club. South Korea have extended their lead as the most successful team in the Queen Sirikit Cup having won a total of 15 times over the Cup’s 34-year history.

The South Koreans finished with a three-day total of 413 strokes, 25 strokes in front of runners-up New Zealand  on 438 strokes, bit of a non contest really. Seems like South Korea just has to turn up to win, the women of Asia are far and away the best around. Ironic then that World number one Lydia Ko was actually born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand at an early age. One can only wonder what the score would have been if  Lydia was playing for the South Koreans. Lydia, who celebrated her 15th birthday on day one of the tournament, completed a  -4 under par 68 in the final round at the Tanah Merah Country Club to help New Zealand win the close battle for second place. She said after the tournament;

“I felt good playing the final round at that time of day, and just stumbled with a lone bogey. As for Kim [the Korean winner], she really played well today, as she had the whole week. She’s really in top shape, as is the whole Korean team.”

The premier women’s amateur team tournament will be held in Taiwan next year.

Zurich Classic at New Orleans, TPC Louisiana

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Jason Duffer sits atop the leader board at The Zurich Classic of New Orleans after the second round at TPC Louisiana. Jason had a -7 under par round of 65 to lead by one shot at -12 under par for the tournament. Just one shot back, after a magnificent round of – 8 under par, 64, for a tournament score of -11 under par is Russell Knox, from Scotland. Ken Duke and John Rollins are also at -11 after the second round, Ken continuing his good form.

Jason was really happy with round, including the eagle at 18;

Round 2, Zurich ClassicStan Badz/PGA TOUR

 “Really nice start on the front-9, I had a couple putts, I had a couple of easy birdies. I don’t think I missed a fairway or a green. Just had some tough reads. The greens are kind of tough to read. Sometimes you get competing grains, competing slopes, so you get a putt that might break to the right but the grain is going left. That can be kind of difficult to judge. And then 18 I had just a really good number for my 5-wood to get somewhere on that green and had a putt that was down-grain and breaking to the left with the grain so that was a nice way to finish the day.

AVONDALE, LA - APRIL 27:  Ernie Els of South Africa hits his tee shot on the 12th hole during the second round of the Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana on April 27, 2012 in Avondale, Louisiana. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Among the group at -10 under par, is Ernie Els who had a second round score of -4 under par which leaves him just two shots off the lead. Luke Donald was another player to have a -7 under par second round and at -6 for the tournament could manage to compete over the final holes come Sunday, assuming he has another good round tomorrow and stay in touch with the leaders.

Bubba Watson, the defending champion, had another 71 for his second round, leaving him just on the cut line, and he will be there to contest the final two rounds. A sigh of relief from the Watson fans, and I expect the sponsors.

Notables missing the cut were; Retief Goosen,73 and 71 at even and John Daly, 80 and 73 to finish at +9, a dismal tournament for John.

Ballantine’s Championship, Blackstone GC Seoul South Korea

Bernd Wiesberger  (Getty Images)

Bernd Wiesberger (Getty Images)

The Ballantine’s Championship from Blackstone GC, in Seoul South Korea was all change at the top in the second round.

Clubhouse leader is Bernd Wiesberger who carded a brilliant bogey free -7  under par 65 in the second round for a tournament total    of  -7 under par. He said in interview;

“Today I couldn’t really do anything wrong really. It felt like everything was going in the right direction. I’m just trying to hit a lot of greens and try and hit on the right spots, which is important here. It’s a tricky golf course when you hit into the wrong places.”

In second spot is Australian Marcus Fraser, who won this title on Jeju Island in 2010, he shot  a five under par 67 to move to six under at the halfway stage of the tournament. The two-time European Tour winner commented on the better golfing conditions today;

“Obviously yesterday was very windy, pretty tricky for everybody. And then today was completely different. We basically had no wind for most of the day and then it kicked up a little bit over the last maybe five, six holes. But overall, I’m very happy and very pleased with the way it’s going at the moment.”

He then joked about why he always plays well at the Ballantine’s Championship;

 “It’s obviously just the alcohol, I can’t really survive without it. It’s obviously one of our premiere events now on The European Tour, and Ballantine’s have been such a great sponsor and product. We have a great venue this year, same course as last year, and I think the brand, Ballantine’s, suits very well with the exclusive club, and it’s just a great week and somewhere I love coming back.”

Ryder Cup star Miguel Angel Jiménez, England’s Anthony Wall and Chile’s Felipe Aguilar were all in the clubhouse on four under.

Yesterdays first round leaders all fell away today, including Paul Casey who could only manage a par round of 72 in the second round and is now five shots off the pace. Ian Poulter enjoyed a good round of -5 under par, and is also -2 for the tournament. Adam Scott the highest ranked player in the field struggled to make the cut, shooting a +3 over par 75, to actually make the cut with a total of +2 for the tournament.

Queen Sirikit Cup, Korea in command

New Zealand is in a dogfight for the runner-up spot in today’s final round of the Queen Sirikit Cup in the windy but sunny conditions  at the Tanah Merah Country Club Garden course. Korea, who are looking for the sixth win in a row, raced away from the field in the second round, Kim Hyo-Joo fired a seven-under 65 to push Korea to a superb nine-under par total for the two best counting scores today to move to 11-under par after two rounds.

They are now 15 shots ahead of Australia, who in turn are two shots ahead of Philippines with New Zealand one shot further back.

Lydia Ko struggled with her putting during her round yesterday;

“I was trying to play my normal game, but I noticed I was short on a number of putts. I realised I was actually playing more conservatively compared with Wednesday. On a positive note, I started well, managed to birdie the third hole, but it was all average after that.”

Zurich Classic @ TPC Louisiana New Orleans

              

The Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana has two players leading after the first round. Both Ken Duke and Cameron Tringale had -7 under par rounds of 65, to lead the field by one shot. Following close behind are , Steve Stricker and Daniel Chopra, both firing very respectable rounds of 66,  -6 under par.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - APRIL 26: Ken Duke birdies the 12th hole during the first round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana on April 26, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.http://galleries.pgatour.com

The Big Easy, Ernie Els threatened to join the leaders for most of the day,until he bogeyed the par 3 17th, but then rallied to birdie the par 5 , 18th. he also finished with a round of 66 and -6 under par for the tournament.

Luke Donald continues his struggle this season with another sad round, finishing at +1, and suffered a double bogey at the par 3        17th hole, landing his tee shot into the water. He took a penalty drop, chipped onto the green then two putted for a 5. Luke will need a good day tomorrow to stick around for the weekend.

Another player not performing was Masters Champion, Bubba Watson, who had a first round 71, a -1 under par effort.

“My body is not where it wants to be. I can’t hit shots that I want to hit. I can’t hit it and make putts. I’m struggling out there. Just exhausted. Mentally exhausted.”

Zurich Classic, Round 1http://galleries.pgatour.com

 Since he’s the defending champion at TPC Louisiana, Bubba  knew he needed to show up and compete.

“I had to be here for that and I’m here but mentally I’m not here. I’m so out of it right now. Golf is a hard thing to do right now.”

Victor Dubuisson leads Ballantines Championship in Seoul

Dubuisson stars in Korea

Victor Dubuisson (Getty Images

Victor Dubuisson leads the Ballantine’s Championship at Blackstone G.C. Seoul in South Korea. Play was suspended due to darkness and will resume tomorrow morning. None of the players still waiting to conclude their rounds can affect the top of the leaderboard standings. Victor had a good first round of -4 under par 68 and leads by two shots from Richie Ramsay, Mark Foster, Paul Casey, Jamie Donaldson and Ji-ho Jung.  All of these chasers had rounds of -2 under par for 70.

Victor was certainly very happy with his opening round, and looking for his first Europen Tour win;

“Very pleased with playing four under today.  My putting was really, really good today and I think it’s the only way to achieve good scoring in these conditions.  On the third hole the wind was from the left, and so on the fourth tee I thought the wind was going to be sort of left to right, but the wind was turning all the time.  The wind just turned right to left and it went into the water. So I was not really upset after this double bogey because I didn’t hit a bad shot.  I did my best to get back my concentration, and I made two birdies, good putts on five and six, and that was the good turn today.”

Only Victor and  England’s Paul Casey played in the more blustery afternoon conditions, of those at the top pf the board. Jamie Donaldson, Mark Foster, Jung Ji-ho and Richie Ramsay all took advantage of more benign morning conditions to move into contention.

Paul Casey knows he has the ability to contend here in Korea, in his quest to return to form after his snowboarding accident;

“I know if I play the golf I’m capable of, I’ve got a very good chance to win. The way I played today, I need to keep that form going, because there’s a long way to go.”

Jamie Donaldson rued bogeying the easiest hole on the course;

“I played nicely. It is tricky. I made a lot of good up and downs but overall a pretty tough day.  You’ve just got to put it in position off the tees and see where it falls. One of the easiest holes was 18, and I bogeyed. You have to play well and put it in position.”

Richie Ramsay said it was a tough day, even though he played in the quieter part of the day;

“I putted beautifully. The greens are really, really nice. It still is tricky because you get gusts of wind.  When I made a mistake, I got up and down and I managed to convert a few opportunities. All in all it was a good day, but it was really getting tough out there. There’s lots of positives from it, and I drove the ball well. But ultimately, I putted nicely, which is great to see and long may it continue.”

Mark Foster also commented on the wind;

“I’ve not seen any scores, but the wind is wicked. It is just all over. It’s not the strength of the wind, it’s funneling, and you just hit it out there and hope it does what you want. Ball flight is everything, really.”

Ji-ho Jung said of his round;

“My iron shots went very well. I had one bogey and three birdies, and the one bogey came from a three putt, so overall I thought the game went very well.”

Highest ranked player in the field, World Number 12 Adam Scott was with the bunch that included Ryder Cup stars Paul McGinley and Ross Fisher, they all finished  in 71 as just 17 players finished under par.

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