Qatar Masters. Amazing Grace Wins

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Amazing Branden Grace successfully defended his title in winning the Qatar Masters, at Doha Golf Club.

Qatar Masters

Branden Grace / Getty Images

Defending champion Branden carded a final round -3 under par 69, for -14 under total to retain his title and lift the Mother of Pearl Trophy again, in winning the Qatar Masters, making history as the first man to successfully defend this title;

“It’s great, I’m pretty much at a loss for words.”

“It’s a big thing to come to a week defending. You’ve got a lot more pressure and a lot more things going on that week.”

“To get the first proper defence under the belt is something great, and something I’ve been dreaming of.”

“There’s no better place to do it than Qatar. This was really one of my biggest wins to date last year, and I think this is just going to push it up even higher.”

“It’s all a big learning curve as your career goes on. I’ve learned a lot this week, learned patience, and I’ve learned what it takes now to defend a title.”

“And not just that; to win a title again. It happened last year, but it feels long gone. So it’s great to be in the winner’s circle again.”

Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Thorbjørn Olesen shared second place, two shots back at -12 under par. Rafa was -2 under 70 today and Thorbjørn -1 under 71.

Tied in fourth place were Bradley DredgeAndrew Johnston and Lee Slattery, all at -11 under par.

Paul Lawrie, in his attempt to make history of his own, by becoming the first man to win here three times, failed miserably, returning a last round of +6 over par 78 and drop to -7 for the competition, after starting the day with a two shot lead.

BMW South African Open. Branden Stone Wins.

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Branden Stone wins the BMW South African Open, the second oldest national Open Championship in the world.

BMW South African Open

Branden Stone / Getty Images

Branden carded a finale round -1 under par 71 to win the BMW South African Open, with a -14 under par tournament total. First thing today was to complete his third round, which he accomplished well, giving himself a two shot lead going into the final round. At one point during that last round he had a five shot lead, but got pegged back, eventually getting over the line with two shots to spare.

Naturally he was very emotional, and very happy to join the list of great names from South Africa who have won their National title;

“To join the likes of Retief Goosen, Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman and a whole bunch more, it’s really special.”

“It’s such a prestigious event, especially for a South African golfer.”

“It’s too good to be true. I’m overcome with emotions at the moment. There was a lot of ups and downs in that final round but to come out on top at the end is incredible.”

“I was just trying to focus on what I needed to do, there was obviously a few birdie holes after that.”

“After 12, when I birdied that, I was: Let’s get going, let’s get started. This is a great birdie here, let’s get going.”

“The way that I’ve been playing towards the end of last year, I’ve really been practising hard during the Christmas and festive period which has really helped.”

“On Thursday I felt that my game was in the right spot to compete for this week.”

Christiaan Bezuidenhout finished in second place following his charge up the leaderboard, firing a last round -5 under par 67 for a -12 under par total.

Daniel Brooks from England claimed third spot, with a -11 under par total. He was leading at the turn on the last day, but could not capitalize on the back nine, ending up with a final round of even par.

Behind him at -9 under par were the South African quartet of Retief Goosen, Branden Grace, Keith Horne and Justin Walters.

Best round of the day went to  American Daniel Im, -7 under par 65, it left him T8 at -8 under.

WGC. HSBC Champions. Branden Grace Leads.

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Branden Grace leads after the first round of the WGC HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Gold Club in China.

WGC Championship HSBC Champions

Branden Grace / Getty Images

Branden carded a first round -9 under par 63 to lead the WGC Championship, HSBC Champions in China. He is currently at #6 in the Race to Dubai, and knows a good result here could put him into contention, but he needs to sink a few more putts;

“Coming into these events, knowing that I’m sixth, I know one good week can change everything and give it a last final push.”

“There’s a lot still to play for.”

“It was a fun day. From the start I started hitting the ball nicely and missed a couple of short putts which was costly.”

“Could have been lower but made a couple nice ones that cancelled the others out.”

“The ball-striking was probably the best it’s been in a long time, so that was the main key today.”

“Barely had a breath of wind out there and the golf course is playing probably as easy as it could be playing.”

“There’s some low scores out there. The guys are playing some great golf, and when you play on greens like this, as well, it helps. You just have to get the ball on the right line and it goes in.”

Thorbjørn Olesen, Steven Bowditch and Kevin Kisner are tied in second place, all a shot behind at -8 under par.

Danny Willett, who is just behind Rory in the Race to Dubai, signed for an opening -7 under par 65, to sit just two shots off the lead alongside American duo Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed.

Rory McIlroy, coming back from his illness returned in a respectable -4 under 68, despite a double bogey on the par four 15th, to be T16.

 

U.S. Open. Four tied at the Top.

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There are four players tied at the top of the U.S. Open leaderboard after 54, mostly disappointing holes. Jason Day teed off and then proceeded to work his way to the top, along with Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Branden Grace, all at -4 under par for the title.

U.S. Open

Jason Day / Getty Images

None of the leaders could make the final break to top the U.S. Open leaderboard on their own, although they all had some serious chances, the Broccoli like greens defeating their best efforts. Of the top four only Jason broke par today, -2 under par 68, Dustin and Branden were even and Jordan was +1 over.

No one else could catch them, only six players managed to break par on the day, with Louis Oosthuizen carding the lowest round, -4 under par 66. That’s back to back 66’s for Louis, shame about the opening round 77, or he could have been right up there with them. He is currently T5 at -1 under par, with Cameron Smith, Shane Lowery and J.B. Holmes.

The next best all at +1 over, and seeing as the pin positions will be at their hardest tomorrow, I don’t expect anyone to topple one of those top four. But anything could happen, because no one can putt on these variable speed, lumpy greens.

Jason only spoke to a USGA official, and then headed to his motor home to lie down;

“I didn’t feel that great coming out early.”

“I felt pretty groggy on the front nine just from the drugs that I had in my system, then kind of flushed that out on the back nine.”

“The vertigo came back a little bit on the 13th tee box, and then felt nauseous all day. I started shaking on 16 tee box and then just tried to get it in, really.”

“Just wanted to get it in. I think the goal was just to go through today and see how it goes.”

Caddie Colin Swatton summed it all up;

“That was the greatest round I’ve ever watched.”

“I said, ‘You’ve got the heart of a lion. You get to show the world today you get to be the greatest you can be and look, let’s do it.’ And he just put his head down and kept walking, one foot in front of the other.”

“It was pretty impressive.”

Jordan wants to try and limit the mistakes tomorrow, and thinks he has a solution to playing 18;

“We’ll just have to check where the wind is, there’s an option to play down No. 1.”

“All in all, I thought it was a dumb hole today, but I think we’re going to play it from there again, so I’ve got to get over that. Just need to limit the mistakes tomorrow.”

U.S. Open

18th hole Via 1st Fairway

The  Fox Sports’ U.S. Open telecast is one of the poorest attempts I have ever witnessed at presenting golf to the world. The background music was so loud the commentator could not talk over it. The camera at times was unable to follow the ball flight, and had no idea where it was. The commentators mixed up players names, twice I heard Jason Spieth. So all in all this championship has been let down by the poor course condition, and inadequate presentation on the TV.

Do you think watching this tournament would make you want to out and play golf? certainly not at Chambers Bay.

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.

Scottish Open. Phil;s Presence Prevails.

Phil Mickelson made his presence felt in the Highlands by winning the Scottish Open in a dramatic shoot-out with Branden Grace on the Castle Stuart Golf Course in Scotland.

Phil Mickelson  (Getty Images)

Phil Mickelson / Getty Images

Initially Phil  required just a par on the par five 18th hole  to secure victory in regulation play, but he  uncharacteristically took three from the edge of the green, to set up a play-off. Both Phil and Branden finished on -17 under par for the tournament, but Phil managed a birdie next time around on the last hole, to claim his first victory on British soil. He was rightly ecstatic;

This is really cool, I have been coming here for some time and had some opportunities and I almost let it slip away today. To come out on top was terrific. I was so mad at myself for mentally losing my focus that I came out on that 18th pretty focused to make a four. I started coming here around 2000 or so and spent a lot of years here enjoying my time in Scotland and enjoying this competition, I’ve come close a couple of times, and to finally win, that feels great. It’s important to me, and it’s probably the biggest challenge of my career hitting the shots that are required here. And so to win here and to play well here, finally win on a links golf course, it really means a lot to me, and it also builds my confidence heading into future Scottish and British Opens.”

Tied in third place at -15 under pat were Henrik Stenson and J.B. Hansen.

Volvo World Match Play Championship

Results after the opening round of the Volvo World Match Play Championship on the European Tour at the Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort in Bulgaria. The biggest upset of the day was Thongchai Jaidee beating Ian Poulter 3&2 in the Pool Gabrielsson.  Poults now has to beat Thomas Aitken tomorrow to progress through to the knock-out rounds. Although it must have come as a bit of a shock to Poults, regarded as the King of match-play, he said it was no drama;

“No dramas. He’s a great player but I gave him holes today and you don’t do that in match play, it’s dead simple. It’s a tough golf course where if you hit a couple of errant shots then you’re going to be struggling to be back in the hole. If you miss a couple of shots then it’s very penal and it’s hard to put your opponent back under pressure. But I’ll be fine. It’s not often you lose in match play and everything is fine.”

Ian Poulter lost to Thongchai Jaidee on Thursday in the first round at the Volvo Match Play, but is still alive due to the group format of the event.

Ian Poulter / Getty Images

Another player with work to do is Nicolas Colsaerts, the defending Champion,who lost his opening match to Branden Grace. He has to beat Kiradech Aphibarnrat to progress. Nicolas also remarked that he was lucky the first matches were not knock-out;

” I know that if I have a good game tomorrow then at least I’m in a playoff. I’ve got the possibility to go through, that’s the consolation of the format.”

Other results are as follows, winners in blue:

ESPGonzalo FDEZ-CASTAÑO 1 up Jamie DONALDSONWAL

DENThorbjørn OLESEN 4&3 Carl PETTERSSONSWE

SWEHenrik STENSON 2&1 Francesco MOLINARIITA

RSABranden GRACE 4&3 Nicolas COLSAERTSBEL

USABo VAN PELT Match Halved Richard STERNERSA

SWEPeter HANSON 2&1 George COETZEERSA

ENGIan POULTER 3&2 Thongchai JAIDEETHA

NIRGraeme MCDOWELL 5&3 Chris WOODENG