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HSBC Champions. Dustin Does It Easily.

Dustin Johnson does it easily at the HSBC Champions event at Sheshan International Golf Club, ShanghaiChina with a three shot winning margin.

Dustin Johnson  (Getty Images)

Dustin Johnson / Getty Images

Dustin’s final round of -6 under par 66 included an Eagle two at the par four 16th hole and a birdie two at the par three 17th. He finished the tournament with a -24 under par total.

Dustin said that he was under pressure at the start because of his slow start to the round compared to Ian and Graeme;

“I didn’t get off to the best start and Poulter and McDowell got off to great starts and put a lot of pressure on me, but I am swinging well and putting well so I thought just stick to my game plan and play the golf course how I want to play it and it’s going to come. I played really well the last few holes on the front nine and then had a great back nine. The guys made it really interesting but I just played really well coming down the stretch. The last few holes here you can make some birdies. It was a lot of fun out there, it was a good match from both of them. They put a lot of pressure on me but I am really proud of myself and the way I handled it. It takes a while to learn that maturity and patience, I wish I would have had some of that a few times a few years ago, but you learn from your mistakes and try to get better from them and I think I showed a lot of patience and a lot of discipline with clubs I picked and shot selection. This is probably my biggest win and hopefully there are better things to come.”

In second place on his own at -21 under par was defending Champion Ian Poulter. Ian matched Dustin’s -6 under par 66 final round score, but sadly it was not enough for him to retain his trophy.

Third spot was secured by Graeme McDowell, finishing the tournament on -20 under par. He also had a final round -6 under par 66, but could not reel in Dustin.

Sergio Garcia had a super final round of -9 under par 63, a par at the par five 18th robbed him of the chance to equal the course record. Sergio finished in fourth place at -18 under par.

Justin Rose completed the tournament at -16 under par, just one shot ahead of the improving  Rory McIlroy at -15 under par.

HSBC Champions, Dustin Holds Firm, And He Needed To.

Dustin Johnson held firm to hold the 54 hole lead at the  World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions at  Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China.

Dustin Johnson / Getty Images

Dustin needed to be strong in the third round, and he was, shooting a -6 under par 66, which kept him on top of the leaderboard at the HSBC Champions event, by three shots, on -18 under par. He felt he left a few shots out on the course;

“If you would have told me I would shoot 6 under before teeing off today, I’d have taken it. Obviously left a few shots out there.”

Hot on his heels for most of the day was defending Champion Ian Poulter, Poults had a -9 under par 63, for a -15 under par total, which keeps the pressure on Dustin going into the final round tomorrow;

” I just need to do my thing tomorrow and make a lot more than what he does. I’m going to have to see what happens coming down the stretch. It will always be great to be in the last group, seeing what’s going on.  It fires you up even more. It’s only Saturday, you can’t win tournaments on Saturday. It’s all about playing well on Sunday. I need to do that. I need to make plenty of birdies, try and make an eagle. if I can, I can get close.”

Graeme McDowell is alone in third place at -14 under par four off the pace after his third round -8 under par 64. Graham DeLaet (65), Justin Rose (65) and Rory McIlroy (67) were two more shots back at -12 under par, tied in fourth place.

Graeme thinks Dustin is pretty safe;

“From here, it looks like Dustin is going to have to beat himself for anybody to have a chance to catch him. Race to Dubai points will be very important to me. I have a lot to play for tomorrow. If not the trophy, second place will certainly be worth my while.”

Martin Kaymer shot up the leaderboard with  a record breaking third round of -10 under par 62, he was looking like shooting 59 but finished up parring the last two holes, as well as making par on two par fives;

“I didn’t really play much different than the last few days. I just made a few putts, a couple unexpected ones.”

HSBC Champions, Dustin Delivers On Day 2

Dustin Johnson delivers the goods on day two at the HSBC Champions event on day two in Shanghai.

Johnson surges ahead

Dustin Johnson / Getty Images

 Dustin equalled the course record at Sheshan International Golf Course, shooting a second round -9 under par 63, for a tournament total of -12 under par. That equates to a five shot lead after just two rounds of golf.

Dustin modestly admitted he played very well;

“Yesterday, I didn’t start off so good but I played well after that. I hit it really good out of the gates today and obviously I putted really well.”

Yesterdays first round leader Rory McIlroy had a rather quiet round today, an even par round of 72, leaving him tied in second place at -7 under par. Sharing that spot with him are Bubba Watson and Boo Weekley, Bubba with his -3 under par second round and Boo with a -5 under effort.

Rory said he was disappointed;

“Disappointing, frustrating, obviously played nicely the front nine and then started to hit a lot of sloppy shots on the back. Missed the last six greens in a row. Missed seven greens on the back nine, so a bit of work needed on the range this afternoon. It would have been nice to play a bit better and start tomorrow with a few more shots in hand but I guess I’m in a decent position going into the weekend, and still have a great chance at winning this tournament,” 

Bubba made a mistake today, but finished strongly;

” I made a double on No. 10, a quick double after being in the middle of the fairway, but then I made some good putts, some good quality shots, and finished up strong.  We’ve still got two more days, two more days, a lot could happen. I could be dead last by the end of the week. Right now I’m just taking it in my stride and hopefully come out and make some putts and hit the ball just as could.”

There are six players tied in fifth place at -6 under par, six shots off the lead and must be thinking the title is already destined to go elsewhere. Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Gonzo Fdez-Castano, Ernie Els, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter are going to be fighting for the minor placings, unless Dustin somehow implodes.

HSBC Champions. Mighty Mac Is Back

Rory McIlroy proved that mighty Mac is back, by leading the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai, China, on the first day of play.

Rory McIlroy   (Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy / Getty Images

Rory reminded everybody that he is still a force to be reckoned with by firing an opening round of -7 under par 65 at Sheshan International Golf Cub, for his opening round. This follows his victory over Tiger Woods in that irrelevant exhibition match last week.

Rory is currently 62nd on The Race to Dubai rankings, and needs to move into the top 60 this week to have a chance of qualifying for the DP World Tour Championship in November. He spoke about how he likes this golf course;

“I came here yesterday and talked about how I like this golf course and how I felt like it set up well for me, it felt good to be out there and be in control of my golf ball. I gave myself a lot of looks for birdies. 
It’s a great start. It’s only one round of golf but it’s definitely the way I wanted and needed to start this week, keeping in mind that I obviously want to play myself into Dubai and try to pick up my first win of the season, as well. 
It felt pretty good out there. I let a couple of putts get away from me, a couple of the downhill ones, but I was able to hole ones coming back, which was good. I’ve tried to stay patient the entire season, and I know that if I believe that I’m working on the right things and I am working on the right things, then things will start to fall into place sooner or later. 
It’s obviously frustrating when you’ve had a couple of seasons previously where you have had success, and not being able to emulate that, there’s times where you definitely get frustrated. I wouldn’t say that I was restless in terms of trying to get a win this season, because I think that the best way to approach it is to stay patient and not to force the issue too much.” 

Tied in second place at two off the pace of the leader, at -5 under par after their rounds of  67 were Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Jamie Donaldson. 

Jordan Spieth, Tommy Fleetwood, Bubba Watson and Justin Rose all opened with -4 under par 68. There is a long way to go, but Rory seems like he is back in business.

Natalie Gulbis Has Malaria

Natalie Gulbis

Natalie Gulbis

The LPGA and Natalie’s agents, IMG, confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that she  has withdrawn from the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup that begins Thursday in Phoenix, because she has been diagnosed with Malaria.

Natalie first became ill at the HSBC Champions in Singapore, an event from which she withdrew. The early reports suggested she was suffering from flu.

David Livingston, Natalie’s’ IMG agent told the Golf Channel.

” She’s not feeling well. She does have flu-like symptoms, but, to be clear, she has not been hospitalized and there is no diagnosis of malaria.”

Luckily for Natalie she has not contracted the fatal form of the disease, the LPGA doctors have been consulted and they believe she is on appropriate medications, under great care, and her prognosis is excellent. She is expected to be at full strength in three weeks.

Lucky girl, Malaria is a potentially fatal tropical disease that’s caused by a parasite known as Plasmodium. It’s spread through the bite of an infected female mosquito. The infected person may have feverish attacks, tiredness, diarrhoea or a whole range of other symptoms.

Malaria is one of the leading causes of disease and death in the world. It is estimated that there are 300 to 500 million new cases every year, with 1.5 to 2.7 million deaths worldwide.

We wish you well Natalie, and a full and speedy recovery.

The Honda Classic. Michael Thompson Comes Up Trumps.

A bear of a win

Michael Thompson / Franklin / Getty Images

Michael Thompson came up trumps in The Honda Classic at PGA National Champion Course, Palm Beach Florida. Young gun Michael cruised to a two shot win over the more experienced Geoff Ogilvy, with a last round of -1 under par and a tournament total of -9 under par. The win gets Michael into his first World Golf Championship next week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral, and qualifies for two more WGCs this year at the Bridgestone Invitational and at the HSBC Champions. He is also now  in the PGA Championship, gets to start next year in Hawaii and earned a two-year exemption on the PGA TOUR.

Michael said in interview that the whole week had been magical, something he had been dreaming about for a long time;

“This week was magical, just had a groove and kept feeling it. This is everything, this is a childhood dream come true. I’ve dreamed of playing out here since I was 7 years old and to win, it’s just unbelievable. I just can’t put it into words, the whole day was awesome.”

He particularly enjoyed walking up the eighteenth fairway after his second shot on the par five landed in the greenside bunker, giving him the opportunity of an up and down birdie, and he did just that;

“That for me kind of sealed the deal, it allowed me to walk up the fairway and enjoy the experience, see the crowd and just finish strong.”

Geoff Ogilvy will also be at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral, thanks to putting together four good rounds of golf, for his total of  -7 under par.

Geoff admitted that he had already given himself next week off;

“I kind of penciled in a week off, so it’s nice, and it gets me back in the mix for the Masters.”

Geoff was also full of admiration for Michael, and the way he played this golf course;

You don’t have to do much wrong to be making a bogey out there, so it’s pretty impressive, it’s a great effort really. As you see by the rest of the scores, it’s a very hard golf course and it seems to get progressively harder in some ways. There’s a disaster waiting everywhere. There’s a lot of golf courses on tour that it might be easy to close out a golf tournament, or easier, but this is not one of them.”

Luke Guthrie, Michael’s sparring partner at the top of the leaderboard for most of this event fell back during the last round, carding a miserable +3 over par 73, and a tournament total of -5 under par, but it still left him alone in third place.

 

Humana Challenge, Three Tied at the Top

Logo Image

There are three players tied at the top of the leaderboard at the Humana Challenge event at PGA West ,  La Quinta California, the event that was formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic.

Jason Kokrak, Roberto Castro and James Hahn share the top of the leaderboard at -9 under par with rounds of 63.

Jason said he was concentrating on getting the ball in the fairway;

“I just tried to put it in the right spots, put it in the fairways, out there, that’s key. They’re tighter fairways and if you can be in the fairway, you’ll have a good opportunity for birdie.”

Roberto Castro had nine birdies at PGA West’s Jack Nicklaus Private Course, and James Hahn had nine birdies on PGA West’s Arnold Palmer Private Course. 

James said he was happy with his day, especially the two chip-ins;

” It was a great day, chipped two in. Hadn’t done that since I was 9.”

Russell Henley, who won the Sony Open in Hawaii last Sunday, shot a round of -8 under par, 64 on the Nicklaus Course, he said it was a perfect day;

” It was a perfect day, the weather is perfect, the greens were true. So, it’s just trying to stay patient and let the birdies come to me.”

Phil Mickelson made his first tournament start since tying for second in early November in the HSBC Champions in China, the only event he played in after the Ryder Cup, he finished at even par, after a miracle shot at the par three twelfth. His tee shot flew to the left, leaving him behind a  tall tree blocking his path to the green.  A full blooded swing flop shot climbed miraculously nearly straight up and over the 25-foot tree and stopped 2 feet from the hole. It helped him salvage his par on the hole and eventually his round. Phil spoke later about that shot;

“That was one of my better wedges, but, as I was telling my partner, `You hit it there as much as I do, eventually you’re going to learn how to hit those shots.’”

Referring to the tee shot that lead up to it, Phil just said;

” It was just very bad timing, quick from the top, lower body fast, just a bad swing. I did the same thing on the next par 3 with the same club. Only it went the other way. I made par both times, though.”

I just wish I could get away with a bad shot and make par, my bad shots are usually terminal.

Mike Weir,  opened with a -5 under par round of 67, the 2003 Champion has unfortunately missed 16 consecutive cuts,he was pleased to get of to a good start here;

“I drove it well and putted well and everything was pretty good. It was a nice solid round to get off to a good start.”

 

Talisker Australian Masters. Poulter Pulverises Kingston Heath Golf Course

Golf Australia  

Ian Poulter pulverised the Kingston Heath Golf course in the third round of the Talisker Australian Masters, shooting a -8 under par round of 64, to lead the tournament going into the last day with a one shot lead over Adam Scott. Ian won at his last start, charging home in the HSBC Champions tournament in China.His tournament total here stands at -13 under par, and it could have been lower, his  9-iron approach on 18 nearly holed out from the fairway and left him with a tap-in birdie to finish his round. Ian said of the shot;

“I just hit it, let it ride up the crest and feed down, it turned out to be a decent shot. When you go out with a reasonable breeze and you produce a score like that, you have to be happy.”

Ian is approaching the last round knowing that someone can always go out and shoot a really low round;

“It’s stroke play, it’s all about not making mistakes, taking your chances and I’m fully aware that other guys can go out there tomorrow and shoot a low score.”

He told reporters that it was good to pay alongside Adam;

 ” Collectively we’ve had 17 birdies which is a lot of birdies on that golf course, when at times, there was a nice breeze. It’s nice to play with someone who you know really, really well. You can feed off them, as much as they feed off you. I think that’s exactly what we did today, there was a great vibe on the course. There were good shots being played, nice putts being holed and it’s always nice to be in a good two-ball like that.”

Bright start. Ian Poulter was hard to miss early in his third round.

Ian Poulter / photo Sebastian Costanzo

Both Ian and Adam fired blistering third rounds in the calm conditions scoring with plenty of birdies, ensuring that there will be a brilliant finish to the Talisker Australian Masters tomorrow.


Adam Scott hits out of the sand.

Adam Scott / photo Sebastian Costanzo

Adam is aware of what Ian can do when he plays with confidence;

 “Ian’s playing beautiful so he’s not going to fade away,  I’m going to have to shoot something in the sixties to even think of having a chance, I don’t need to let Ian get any more comfortable up there than he probably is.

He’s high on confidence , I need to stick right with him and keep the pressure on, even overnight. I realised at some point in there that I need to get in that same kind of rhythm or he’s going to run away from me today. Sometimes when you’re playing well, you can get in the rhythm of the other guy and you’re seeing good shots and just kind of follow his lead, so I did that a little bit today and we both played nicely. Ian made just a couple less mistakes and hit a couple more good shots early on, so fantastic round from him today.”

Matthew Guyatt is alone in third place, at -7 under par, after his disappointing third round of +3 over par 75.  Barring a miracle no one else even has a sniff of a chance here, it’s either Adam or Ian, whoever makes the least mistakes on the day.

Euro Tour, WGC-HSBC Champions, China. It’s Oosthuizen and Scott

Louis Oosthuizen  (Getty Images)

Louis Oosthuizen/Getty Images

Louis Oosthuizen and Adam Scott lead the World Golf Championship, HSBC Champions event at Mission Hills, China, with opening rounds of -7  under par, 65, in the calm and excellent low scoring conditions. Both players finished with Eagles on their last hole, the par 5 ninth.

Louis said he did not think that there was a low score to be had;

“I don’t think I saw a really low number out there but once you look at the leaderboard and see the guys are firing it up, all of a sudden you started seeing birdies. I played well, I made five birdies on the par fives, and that got the round going, and then I made two more birdies. I hit a few bad iron shots, but made good up and downs for pars and just glad to have a bogey-free round. I’m always happy with that. There are three rounds left and a lot of golf to be played. The main key is to try to put myself in a spot to win it on Sunday. If I can keep doing what I’m doing on the par fives and hitting fairways, you’ve got a good chance.” 

Adam Scott, he of the long putter, which could be banned shortly, is seeking a win before the ban arrives. Adam, the eight-time European Tour winner said he was having a solid day, that turned into a good day;

It was a solid day that all of a sudden turned into a really good day. I hit a lot of good shots, and they ended up finishing close on the last couple holes and I took advantage of that. With five par fives, it sets up well for my game, and the plan is to just take advantage of the fives and hopefully hang in there with the leaders all week.”

Phil Mickleson, who also managed to eagled the ninth, says his game feels really good. Phil joined the group at -6 under par, with his round of 66;

 “My game feels really good, It’s gotten better each week since the PGA Championship and hopefully I can carry on. I certainly feel confident that I will be able to.”

Bubba Watson, Peter Hanson and Shane Lowry are the other players who completed their opening  rounds in 66. It certainly looked like Shane was going to be the clubhouse leader after he bounded into a clear lead when he holed a six footer for birdie at the 15th and gained another shot from ten feet at the 16th. Unfortunately Shane failed to save par from the green-side bunker on seventeen, and then also hit it into the sand on the last, finishing with two bogeys for his 66.

Shane said he was disappointed to finish like that, but he was happy with his position;

I’m happy with six under and I’m in a good position with three days to go. Obviously was very disappointed bogeying the last two, I felt like I had the ball on a string all day and felt like it came very easy to me today.  Just to bogey those last two was disappointing but six under is a good score out there, and I’m looking forward to the next few days.”

Luke Donald has made a good start to this tournament, a -4 under par 68, a good solid start, Luke has a good record in the WGC, and could figure in this one.

Robert Rock Wins HSBC Abu Dahbi Championship

With this win - Robert Rock

Robert Rock has won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship by one shot over Rory McIlroy. Roberts final round 70 earned him a winning total of -13 under par and edged out Rory McIlroy whose last round 69 left him on -12 under par for the tournament.

Tiger Woods final round of 72 left him two shots in arrears at -11 under par, the once legendary last round charge never appeared. Still with his appearance money he still took home more cash than anybody else. As I said in an earlier blog, just a well paid vacation for him. What is evident is that although Tiger is playing good golf, he is still not the world beater he once was.

Finishing with Tiger on -11 under par were Thomas Bjorn and Graeme McDowell, who both showed good form in this tournament and that bodes well for the rest of the season for them.

Lee Westwood finished with -6 for a share of 17th place and world number one Luke Donald could only muster a total of  -1 and finished in 48th spot. The first time for a long time that Luke has not finished in the top ten. I hope that’s not a sign of things to come for him or his position at #1 could be in jeopardy.

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