U.S. Open. Four tied at the Top.

White Dragon GolfChambers Bay

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

Honda Classic, Camilo Villegas,Surprise Leader,

Back on track

Camilo Villegas / Chris Condon / Getty Images

Camilo Villegas is the surprising first round leader of the Honda Classic at the PGA National Champion Course,Palm Beach Gardens, with a round of -6 under par 64. It is  four years now since his back-to-back wins in the FedEx Cup Playoffs events, when he  rose to as high as No. 7 in the world. The  31-year-old Colombian then plunged  into a slump that  was so bad that over the last 18 months he lost his card last year. Camilo won The Honda Classic in 2010 at PGA National, so he at least has that to build on. But despite the good start, he wasn’t afraid to risk ruining the day on the last hole. Even his caddie asked what he was thinking of when he was addressing a shot on the last hole;

“My caddie said, where are you going to go with this one,. And I said, I’m looking straight at that flag. And I hit a great shot.”

Tiger Woods saved his round with a shot from out of the water on the par 4, sixth hole, taking his shoes off to enter the hazard, he finished the day at even par;

“I was 1 over at the time, and if that ball is not playable from where it’s at, where I crossed was pretty far back, looking at six, three over and all of a sudden I flip it, make par there and birdie the next.”

Charles Howell 111, Chucky three-sticks,  opened with a -3 under par, 67. He has just until the end of the month to go from No. 64 to the top 50 in the World Ranking to qualify for the Masters in his hometown of Augusta.

Branden Grace,  Rickie Fowler, Graham DeLaet  and Robert Streb, are all tied in second place at -5 under par for the opening round of this tournament.

 

Joburg Open, 1st Round. Sterne and Kieffer Lead.

Richard Sterne   (Getty Images)

Richard Sterne / Getty Images

Richard Sterne and Maximilian Kieffer lead the Joburg Open with fabulous first rounds of -8 under par of 63 on Royal Johannesburg & Kensington’s par 71 West Course. Both players now face three rounds on the tougher par 72 East Course, but Richard knows this course pretty well, the South African had a victory here in 2008, the five-time European Tour winner said:

” I had three good rounds around the East Course that year. If I can do that now I’ll have a chance on Sunday.”

Richard suffers from a dodgy back, which held him back during the last two years, he said he never knows when its going to be good;

” Some days it feels good and everything kind of happens, golf is strange, you’ve got to hit the right kind of shots at the right time. I hit 17 greens today, so I was never really in trouble at all.”

Germany’s Maximilian Kieffer continued the impressive start he has made to his rookie year campaign, having already finished tied for fourth in Durban and tied for 17th in Dubai. Maximilian said he enjoyed his great first round here;

” When you come from the Challenge Tour everyone says that you have enough to play out here, but you still want to prove it. It’s a new world and you don’t really know what to expect, so I’m happy that it went pretty good so far. That round was great,  I’ve been playing well the last few weeks and I just tried to stay positive on the golf course, and luckily today was another good round.”

Bryce Easton of South Africa, had a hole-in-one on his way to posting the best round on the tougher East Course, a 65, which gave him third place on -7  under par. Speaking about his hole in one, Bryce said;

” It’s one of those things, you don’t think about it when you’re playing the hole, but when it goes in it takes a couple of seconds to realise that it’s actually disappeared.”

The defending champion Branden Grace, and two-time winner Charl Schwartzel also played on the East Course on day one, but while former Masters Tournament winner Charl opened with a four under 68, Branden could only produce a level par 72.

Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, Wood Carves out a Lead

Chris Wood   (Getty Images)

Chris Wood / Getty Images

Chris Wood of England has carved out a decent chance of his first European Tour Title win at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in Doha.

Chris has previously had nineteen top ten finishes, but now has an excellent chance to secure his first win after his third round of -8 under par 64, for a tournament total of -15 under par, three shots clear of the field. Chris said he was very excited to be in this position;

“I’m very excited. I wouldn’t say it was one of my best rounds, but I played very solidly and was giving myself loads of chances. Going out today I thought as long as I kept myself in the mix going into tomorrow, then I was going to be really looking forward to it. Leading gives me a bit of a cushion, obviously it’s going to be hard, it’s hard to win any tournament on The European Tour, so it’s going to be difficult.”

There are three players at -12 under par for the tournament, Simon Khan, Alexander Noren and New Zealand’s Michael Campbell. Michael is continuing with his recent good form, and a win here would complete his come-back to perfection. Currently at 264th in the World Golf Rankings, 40 year-old Michael has not won since his HSBC World Matchplay Championship at Wentworth in 2005. He is amazed at the feelings he is experiencing right now;

“It’s been a tough couple of years since winning at Wentworth and it’s amazing that the feelings start to come back quickly.  The confidence is increasing every day. Six months ago, I was desperate, I think I made two cuts in about two years, 18 months or something, and now I have a chance of winning a couple of times last year and maybe tomorrow. We are just going back to what is working and what worked before, and going back with my coach Jonathan Yarwood six months ago definitely helped. That’s really one thing I’ve been working the last six months is just smile after each round of golf, whether it’s a good one or a bad one, and it’s working so far.  It’s really simple stuff. It’s just nice to be out here and having some fun at the same time and maybe have a chance of winning.”

Michael Campbell  (Getty Images)

Michael Campbell / Getty Images

Tied for fifth at -11 under par are Branden Grace and Sergio Garcia. Sergio slipping back down the leaderboard after going in the water with his third shot to the par five last and taking an undignified six.

Good Luck to Chris Wood, I hope he gets his first European Tour Win.