Spanish Open. Two Tied at the Top.

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There are two players tied at the top of the Spanish Open leaderboard, English pair David Howell and James Morrison.

Spanish Open

James Morrison / Getty Images

James and David will take a two shot lead into the final round of the Spanish Open at Real Club de Golf El Prat, both sharing the top spot at the end of 54 holes on -7 under par.

James carded a third round -4 under par 68, and David with a -3 under par 69 to reach the -7 under par totals, on another day of strong winds and fast greens in Barcelona.

James, who won his only European Tour title to date in Madeira five years ago, spoke about today’s up and down round, including a seven;

“It’s been three very silly days, the first day I was three over after five holes and today made a seven at the second out of nowhere and fought my way back again.”

“It’s what you’ve got to do really , it takes one good shot to get back in it.”

“I’ve done that all week; I’ve really maintained my process and my game plan.”

“It’s always a great week , it’s always really well run and it’s great fun.”

David came close to winning again last month in China, and is very happy to be maintaining his good form, and to be in contention once again;

 “I’m delighted to be in the mix again.”

“I haven’t managed to win this year but I’ve given myself three chances and this is going to be a fourth chance, hopefully I’ll do it tomorrow.”

“It’s a real challenge and the course is really firm. But it’s very fair,  you’ve got to be on the fairway.”

“As the week’s gone on it’s felt like a really, really good championship. It’s got tougher and tougher as the week has gone on and the crowds have come out so it’s just the way it should be.”

Francesco Molinari lies third alone on -5 under par for the competition, after a third round of 70, he is one shot clear of  Emiliano Grillo and Darren Fichardt on -4 under par, on a day when only three players in the field broke 70, and only 15 of them are under par for the tournament.

Biggest mover on the day was last week’s joint runner-up at TPC Sawgrass, Sergio Garcia, who carded a third round -5 under par 67 in the windy conditions, and it could have been better. He is now five shots behind the leaders, and in these difficult conditions could easily catch them;

“I obviously needed a great round today, and it would have been if I hadn’t made those two bogeys on 12 and 13. But to be able to birdie 14 and 15 with two very nice shots and good putts got me back on track.”

“I didn’t play much different than the first two days. I managed to make a couple of nice putts early on, and a couple of things went my way. I missed my drive on 18 and managed to get away with it and make birdie. That made the difference between today and the first two rounds.”

“The course is playing similar. The wind is not as strong but it’s still gusty. If you play well you can post a decent score, but if you’re a little bit off, you can struggle on this course.”

“If the leaders don’t go much lower than what they are, with another great round tomorrow I have a chance. If it doesn’t rain the course is not going to play any easier.”

 

Volvo China Open. Three-Way Tie at the Top.

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There was a three-way tie at the top of the Volvo China Open leaderboard at Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club in Shanghai, China. Kiwi Michael Hendry, England’s David Howell and Bradley Dredge from Wales share the top spot after round one.

Volvo China Open

David Howell / Getty Images

David, Michael and Bradley all fired opening rounds of -4 under par 68 to occupy first place in the Volvo China Open.

David, who won the last of his five European Tour titles at St Andrews in October 2013 said he was delighted with his progress with his golf game;

“I’m delighted, it’s a really different test this week.”

“We knew it was firm in practice, but it was hard to work out how difficult it was going to be. The scoring showed people are finding it tricky.”

“I drove the ball beautifully today, really found my rhythm on the range and took it out onto the course so I kept the ball in play well and did a lot of things right.”

“There was a decent breeze out there, but really it’s the firmness of the greens that is making it difficult for everyone. The greens are in great condition and you’ve really got to think your way round.”

“The greens were really firm so the big thing was if you were hitting fairways you had chances.”

“It was never easy getting the ball close to the hole with slopes on the greens and the firmness; it was quite tricky round there.

“This afternoon the wind is going to get up and it will be firmer still, so I’d be surprised if four under was beaten.”

Kiwi Michael won on the Japan Golf Tour last week, and he admitted that the win had provided a welcome confidence boost.

“It makes the game a little easier I think, it’s always nice to play tournaments when you’re in good form.”

The defending champion Alex Levy was one behind the leaders after a -3 under par opening effort, sharing fourth spot with Julien Quesne and Marcus Fraser.

Last weeks winner in China, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, opened here with a -1 under par 71, in his quest for back to back wins on the European Tour.

 

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. David Howell Wins.

David Howell won his first European Tour event in seven years with a victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.

David Howell  (Getty Images)

David Howell / Getty Images

David won in a sudden death play-off against American Peter Uihlein, both players had finished the tournament on -23 under par. David had the clubhouse lead after he set the target with his final round of -5 under par 67 on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Peter had a winning birdie attempt from 15 feet on the last hole which came up inches short, sending then into the sudden death play-off.

David won the play-off with a birdie from eight feet, Peters long rang birdie attempt was short.

David was ecstatic with his victory;

” It’s incredible, the sun is shining and the crowd have come out, I have never played in an Open Championship here but to win a golf tournament as a professional at the Home of Golf is quite amazing and I am really thrilled. I was really nervous all week and strangely less nervous today, I can’t explain that at all. I stayed calm and smooth under pressure and that was really pleasing. It’s been a long, long road from the depths of despair. I have had a lot of support from people around me and this is for them, too. It is sweet to win and a dream. “

Peter did not make the putts he needed to on the day;

“He made more putts than I did at the end of the day and he did great. Hats off to David, he played great and made a nice birdie so congratulations to him. I just didn’t make the putts when I needed to come out and that’s the way it is.” 

Shane Lowry and Tom Lewis finished tied in third place, just one shot outside the play-off at -22 under par. Tom came charging through the field with a final round of -8 under par 64, while Shane carded a closing round -4 under par 68.

Tom’s finish has put him into the top 110 in the Race to Dubai, and he said that he had played well all week;

“I played well all week, it’s just a shame a couple more putts can’t go in, and I messed a couple holes up yesterday at Carnoustie. Today was nice to have kept a clean sheet, no bogeys, and it was really important because I expected to drop a couple. It’s a great week and it’s my best week of the year and hopefully I can go forward from here.” 

Tommy Fleetwood was in fifth place on his own at -21 under par, a final round of -3 under par 69, was enough for a good tournament for him.

Tshwane Open Rd 1, Darren Fichardt Leads.

Darren Fichardt  (Getty Images)

Darren Fichardt / Getty Images

Darren Fichardt secured the first round lead as he goes in search of a second European Tour win in as many weeks at the inaugural Tshwane Open, at Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate in South Africa. Darren had a first round of -7 under par 65, and is looking to add to his  African Open victory a couple of weeks ago. Darren also likes the Ernie Els designed course here;

“The swing is good and I’m putting well, this golf course is awesome , it’s very fair. The greens are very soft, so you’re able to attack the flags. I’m happy with seven under to start off with. Right now it’s been eight weeks in a row and I don’t even know what’s going on! I’m just going with the flow and hitting one shot at a time. I’m looking forward to a break. I’ll take it one day at a time and do my best this week.”

In second place is  qualifying school graduate, Sweden’s Bjorn Åkesson, shooting a round of -6 under par 66, he said afterwards;

“I got off to a great start with two birdies through the first three, back nine I kept playing really good and made a lot of putts. That’s what you need to do to shoot low scores.”

This is the sixth and final event co-sanctioned between The European Tour and Sunshine Tour on The 2013 Race to Dubai, and so far they have been predominately South African winners. The only exception to this run was the win of   Scott Jamieson at the Nelson Mandela Championship, which was presented by ISPS Handa

The former Ryder Cup star, England’s David Howell, along with countryman Gary Lockerbie,  are accompanied by India’s Jeev Milkha Singh, Chilean Mark Tullo and South African Jean Hugo, all  are two shots off the pace in a share of third. Jeev Milkha Singh said he just loves playing here;

“I love playing in South Africa,  I’ve always had good results and it always gives me positive vibes and good memories when I come back. This year I played the Volvo Champs in Durban and it was my first time back in South Africa after eight years. Every time I wanted to come back there was an event in Asia or Europe and I was missing coming back.  Things have worked out nicely that I’m back here and I love the course. I’m happy with the way I hit the ball and I putted well. When it’s windy and you miss a few greens you need to make some up and downs and that’s what I did. I holed a lot of putts today and I’m happy with the way the round turned out.” 

Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, Justin Jogs Along

 

Justin Rose  (Getty Images)

Justin Rose / Getty Images

Justin Rose jogged through the third round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship with a -4 under par round of 68. He now has a two shot lead over the field. Jamie Donaldson is in second place at -10 under par after his third round score of -3 69, he shares second spot with Thorbjorn Olesen.

Thongchai Jaidee is alone in fourth place at -9 under par following his marvelous round of -6 under par, 66. New Zealand’s Michael Campbell is still showing some interest in this tournament, he now at -7 under par, five shots off the pace going into the last round.

Justin was pretty candid with his comments;

“I came here with no expectations, I came here to see where my game is at. Anybody who wins this week, they have beaten the Number One and Number Two in the world. You can say you’ve beaten the best. I believe that any tournament I tee up in I can win.”

Jaime Donaldson had a victory last year in the Irish Open, so far that is his only triumph, but he is feeling confident here;

“I feel pretty good, I played some great recovery shots out there. It was another tough day out there, even though there wasn’t much wind. I couldn’t have really scored much better than that.”

Thorbjorn Olesen won the Sicilian Open last year, and is also full of confidence;

“I won last year and that gave me a lot of confidence, and I had a few second places. So I’m learning in every tournament, and it’s been a really good process the last three years. Hopefully I can make a few birdies tomorrow and make it exciting.”

David Howell, is at -8 under par, his last victory was  in 2006 at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, but has kind of dropped off the radar since then. David commented about his record in this tournament;

 “I’ve never really played well here, a couple of top twenties I think maybe. But if I can have a great day tomorrow obviously I can post a very good total. I’ve played really consistently for the best part of a year and I’m playing some of the best golf I ever have really. I’m just coming from a low position. It’s hard to fight your way back up there, but I’m doing it bit by bit and a big finish or a win would go a long way to taking me right back to where I want to be.”

I honestly don’t think David, or anyone can catch Justin, with the mood that he is in. He was relegated to fifth in the Official World Golf Rankings by Louis Oosthuizen’s victory in South Africa last week, Justin would take the position back by lifting a title worth €336,725.

 

 

Euro Tour Down Under, ISPS Handa International, Bo Van Pelt Takes Control

Bo Van Pelt  (Getty Images)

Bo Van Pelt/getty images

American Bo Van Pelt took control of the ISPS Handa International at Lake Karrinyup Country Club in Perth Western Australia, in the third round. Bo holed a 60 foot birdie putt on the 18th green, for a third round score of -5 under par and a tournament total of -12 under par, to take a one shot lead into the final round.

Bo said of his monster putt on 18;

” Once in a while a hole just gets in the way.I felt like I hit a pretty good second shot, just carried about five yards further. I was just trying to get the ball down there and two-putt and get out of there, and lo and behold, it goes in the hole. There’s still a lot of golf to be played. It was just nice to finish with a birdie like that and hopefully take that into tomorrow. Jason is a great player, Grillo is playing well and he’s probably going to come out and probably shoot a low one tomorrow. You’ve got to drive the ball straight and then put the ball in position on the greens, because they have a lot of slope and they are getting firm and they are getting fast.”

Jason Dufner, the World’s Number Ten, and the highest-ranked player in the field was delighted to have given himself a chance going into Sunday. He also had a good third round, matching  Bo’s -5 under par round to sit alone in second spot, with a tournament total of  -11 under par.

” It was a nice day to get a good score and move up and have a realistic chance of not having to do anything crazy tomorrow and being in contention to try to win the tournament. Sometimes in the middle of a round, something happens that spurs you to some better play, and I got a little bit of a tough break on seven on my tee ball. Thought it would be in the fairway but hung up in the rough, which put me a good way back and I ended up getting into a bunker 70 yards or so and hit it over the back and then chipped in. So not really thinking that you’re going to make birdie; in your mind you’re almost feeling like maybe bogey might come on a pretty easy hole. Chipped in there and then hit one stone on nine and birdied 10, 11, 12.”

 Emiliano Grillo started the third round with a four shot lead, but had a poor round of +1 over par, a very costly inward nine of 37 strokes did the damage as the Qualifying School graduate hopes to cement his place in the top 115 on The Race to Dubai. Emiliano currently lies in 112th place. With a tournament total of -10 under par, and third place, Emiliano is still only two shots adrift of the lead and will be sure to contest tomorrow.

Tied in fourth place are Spain’s Alejandro Cañizares and England’s David Howell, and although the pair are five shots off the pace, they both have plenty to play for. In The Race to Dubai they are currently 70th and 71st on the list, meaning they both need a big finish to force their way into the top 60 players who will make the trip to Jumeirah Golf Estates next month.

Alstom Open de France, Marcel Siem Wins

Super Siem overcomes Molinari magic

Marcel Siem (Getty Images)

Marcel Siem of Germany won the Alstom Open de France at Le Golf National in Paris. It is Marcel’s second European tour win, and he had to fend off a charging Francesco Molinari to get it. Francesco fired a last round -7 under par 64, the lowest round of the week to finish just one shot behind Marcel. The new champion had a very respectable last round of -4 under par 67 in the blustery conditions for his -8 under par total and to lift the trophy. With this win Marcel also gains a place in The Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes, and becomes the third German to have triumphed at this event after Bernhard Langer and Martin Kaymer. Marcel was extremely happy with his win;

“I’m so happy, this means a lot to me.First, after eight years it doesn’t matter what kind of tournament you won, it’s huge because you’ve got the confidence again. Every time I’ve played consistent golf this year, and there were so many times up there, I couldn’t make it.  Stupid things happened the whole time. It means so much to me to win after that long stretch. It’s all about winning in the end and it puts so much pressure every time you don’t win and people start talking, you will never win again and stuff like that, so it’s very important for me. I love this golf course. I always loved it and I love it even more or even better now. I’m super happy. I was very nervous, I have to say, after 14 when I made the up and down out of the trap. The last stretch is one of the toughest stretches we have on Tour. In Cologne at last month’s BMW International Open, I hit it in the water on seven, when in the last round I was leading.  But I made great golf shots. I hit it close on 15, made a good shot on 16 that wouldn’t drop and even 17, hit the flag. I stayed very calm. That was very nice. Now I’ve got the win it’s going to make me relax a lot more now.”

Francesco enjoyed his unbelievable last round;

” It’s been just an unbelievable day really. I had a really bad start, but two years ago when I finished second here, I doubled the first on the last day. From then on, it was just great golf. I had a couple of good breaks and finally a lot of putts going in the hole. I was in the moment, in the zone and I wasn’t really counting the birdies. The game has been feeling well all week and everything was coming out perfect.”

The home crowd favourite Raphaël Jacquelin claimed the third spot on six under par, with the English trio of David Lynn, Ian Poulter and David Howell a shot further back in fourth place.

The World’s Number Three ranked player Lee Westwood climbed 18 places to 40th with a closing 70, just a  a day after it looked as if he might be pulling out with knee and groin trouble after he slipped walking to the first tee. Lee said;

“The leg is fine , it wasn’t a problem today. “