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Posts tagged ‘Darren Clarke’

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.

Nanshan China Open. Charl Charges To Victory.

Charl Schwartzel charges to victory in the Nanshan China Open at  Nanshan International Golf Club.

Charl Schwartzel / Getty Images

The  2011 U.S. Masters Champion Charl calmly claimed the Nanshan China Open with a last round of -4 under par 68, for a tournament total of -9 under par.

Starting three strokes behind overnight leaders Darren Clarke and Liang Wen-chong, Charl said it was satisfying to win, and also had some good comments to make about Darren;

“It’s always very satisfying to win. I’ve played a lot of golf tournaments and done a lot of traveling in the past few months and it felt like I’ve been playing really good golf with no results, so it’s nice to have something finally go your way. I won the U.S. Masters from four shots behind and I won by two shots. I never thought I was out of it, for any second. It’s a matter of staying in there, hitting good golf shots and controlling your own destiny.”

“Darren has been one of my idols. I’ve always looked up to him and he has been fantastic to me. I regard him as one of the best wind players when conditions are bad, and he has taught me so many of those shots. I hope it didn’t work against him this week. Darren also hasn’t played very well this year, so it’s nice to see him compete this week. It’s never nice to lose, I know the feeling , but I know he can take a lot of positives from his performance this week.”

Darren was seeking his first victory since claiming his Major win at The Open Championship at Royal St George’s in 2011, he appeared to be cruising to victory until missing a three footer on the 13th. He rued the missed opportunity but still had a share of the lead on the 17th, until finding the thick fringe of a greenside bunker;

“It was horrible. It couldn’t have got any worse. I’m obviously disappointed with the day, it was another one of those days on the greens again where I couldn’t buy a putt from anywhere. Still, that’s golf and they’ve got a very good winner here, a fantastic winner, and that’s the way it is. It’s like that sometimes, unfortunately. “

Both Liang and Darren had the chance to force a playoff on the 18th,  the pair saw their attempts come up short. Liang said it had been a difficult putt to make;

” I knew I had to a make a birdie on the last but it was a delicate putt. Still, the Nanshan China Masters is my Major, one of the most important wins in my career and a good platform for younger China players.”

 

Nanshan China Masters. Darren Clarke & Liang Wen-chong Share Lead

Defending Champion Liang Wen-chong and Major winner Darren Clarke share the lead at the Nanshan China Masters at the Shandong Nanshan International Golf Club.

Darren Clarke

Darren Clarke / Getty Images

Liang and Darren are at -8 under par for the Nanshan China Masters, Darren with a third round -4 under par 68, while Liang carded -2 under par 70. Darren said the game is all about pressure;

“There is pressure in any event. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the Open Championship or the China Masters. I’ve practiced really hard these last couple of years since I’ve won the Open and just not been able to get the scores. Obviously I’d be delighted to win on Sunday, but there’s 18 holes of golf to go and a lot of talent there or thereabouts at the top of the leaderboard.”

China Masters lead shared by three

Liang Wen-chong / Getty Images

Liang won last years title in fine style, playing the 18th with South Korea’s Y.E. Yang five times before coming out on top of the play-off. He is very respectful of Darrens presence;

” He is a very respected player and as the local I’m ready to face his challenge and will try my best to play well.”

Zhang  Xin-junKwon Sung-youl and Scott Strange share third place, all at -6 under par, just two shots off the lead.

Kwon is playing in his first OneAsia event after finishing 20th at Q-School in January, and is somewhat of a surprise package here;

“It’s my first time to visit China and also my first OneAsia event, but I am calm and stable. When I was doing my national service, I was really thirsty for golf. That is what has motivated me in Korea this year.”

Charl Schwartzel, other Major winner is currently tied in sixth place alongside Australian Terry Pilkadaris and Kiwi Gareth Paddison at -5 under par for the tournament. Charl is very frustrated with his recent performance;

“To have these sort of weeks frustrates me a lot because I know I can play a lot better, especially on a golf course like this where you should be a lot more under par. On the brighter side, at least I’m not far behind. We all know the game and sometimes it changes overnight so hopefully I can find something that will get me through tomorrow and let me hit the ball the way I know I can and at least give Darren a run.”

The Open Championship, Royal Lytham & St Annes G.C.

 

Adam Scott/ getty images

Birthday boy Adam Scott lead The Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes G.C. by just one shot after the first round on Thursday. Adam celebrated his birthday a couple of days ago, receiving a strange present from his family, he said;

“I was given an interesting present from my family, a golf bag. A very nice golf bag, I have to say. And I will use it at home, if I carry my clubs. But, a golf bag ! “

Adam spoke about the possibility of shooting a 62, he actually finished at -6 under par for round of 64.

“I know there has never been a 62, I was waiting to use the bathroom, going to the 17th tee, and had a look up at the leaderboard. I realised then that it was a par 70, and also probably that I wasn’t going to be the guy to shoot 62. It’s one of those things that you don’t want to go through your mind, thinking about your final score.”

“I would say I haven’t achieved what I wanted until I win a major, or more. It’s something that at any time could help me, a guy with experience like Steve. We have talked about my mindset because I was playing well at the time of all the majors this year, then shooting myself in the foot in the first round. I was leaving myself too much work to get back in. Steve wanted me to go to the 1st tee today like it was the 72nd hole and I needed three to win, to switch myself on from the 1st hole. That was a good trigger he helped me with it.”

Paul Lawrie is tied in second place with a -5 under par round of 65, and that despite a poor start where he  chipped in twice and holed a putt from off the green within his first six holes, then topped of the round using only 23 putts. The 1999 Open champion said of his start;

“It was probably the strangest start of my career, I didn’t really hit many good shots and I was three under. I heard my name quite a lot today. Down in England, you can be a wee bit surprised at that, I guess. It’s nice; it’s The Open and everyone is here to support the British players. I have won a couple of tournaments when the weather has been particularly nasty, but I can play when it’s flat calm and play when it’s nasty. Nowadays the bad weather doesn’t just suit the British or Scottish players, all of these American boys can play in the wind, it doesn’t make any difference.”

Joining Paul on that -5 under score is American Zach Johnson and Nicolas Colsaerts from Belgium, Nicolas happily reported;

“It’s really cool, but then we’ve only played one round. So being in contention, that word wants to be used only when you get to Saturday and Sunday. I hit a lot of very good shots in succession early on, so it really got the momentum of the round going, and I just didn’t really hit any bad shots today. When you play that way, you go through the elements without thinking how hard they get.”

Most of the big name players are at par or better and should all make it to the weekend, those who are struggling include;

Ian Poulter and Davis Love 111, who are at +1; Sergio Garcia, John Daly, Louis Oosthuizen and Jim Furyk at +2. Lee Westwood +3 and Justin Rose +4.

Sadly the defending champion Darren Clarke definitely looks to be missing the cut, he said he was ” Disgusted” with his opening round of 76.

I have a soft spot for Darren, he and I share a liking for Irish Whiskey, although I can not afford 25-year-old Bushmills.

Royal Lytham, the 141st Open Championship.

The gallery’s around Royal Lytham are in anticipation of the 141st Open Championship, which starts in earnest on Thursday this week. The players have a lot of respect for the Old Claret Jug, revering its history, not even having a celebratory drink from it, no Champagne, nothing.

The current holder of the Claret Jug is Darren Clarke, who is well-known as a man who partakes of a tipple or two. Darren has too much respect for the trophy to even think about sipping a drink from it. Darren said after handing the Claret Jug back to the R&A  on Monday morning;

“I didn’t at any stage put any fluid in it. It is just too special a trophy. I have so much respect for the Open Championship, and I couldn’t get myself to do it. I was tempted on the Sunday evening and the Monday evening and Tuesday evening and Wednesday evening, and for about two weeks afterwards. But I never put anything into it.”

Talking about this years tournament, Darren has said the 206 bunkers on the course will really get everyone’s  full attention;

“It’s just a nightmare, they are very penal. There’s going to be occasions here this week where I think you’re going to see guys taking penalty drops out of them because they won’t be able to move their ball anywhere. Accuracy is going to be the key this week. It’s not really length off the tee, it’s keeping it on the fairways and keeping out of those bunkers.”

Darren Clarke

Darren Clarke hands back the Claret Jug to Peter Dawson, CEO of the R&A. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

In 1969 The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes was won by a nervous Tony Jacklin, he was the first Brit to win the old Claret Jug since the legendary Max Faulkner in 1951. At his presentation ceremony Tony turned to Jack Nicklaus and said;

” I didn’t think I could be so nervous and play. And he said: ‘I know, isn’t it great?’  I’d never been that nervous before.”

Talking of nervous people, Bubba Watson is having some trouble concentrating on this tournament, it is the first time he has been out of the U.S. away from his wife and new-born son. Bubba said on Monday;

 “No matter if I’ve won the Masters or not, I have a lot going on in my mind, I’ve got issues. It’s only Monday right now so I’m real calm. There are a lot of things running through my head. This is a week that my wife is not here, my new son is not here, so the first time out of the country away from them. My head is always racing about something. I’ve got to calm my mind down and focus on golf and try to get better. When I focus right, I play pretty good, and when I don’t focus right, I miss the cut pretty quick.”

Just to really focus the players minds, apart from the 206 bunkers, the rough is deep and lush because of the unusually wet spring England has experienced.  Royal Lytham club professional Eddie Birchenough attest’s;

“If you get in some parts of the rough then players won’t even be able to find their feet.”

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