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Volvo China Open. It’s tight at the Top, Play Suspended for the Day.

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It’s very tight at the top of the Volvo China Open at the Genzon Golf Club in ShenzenAlvaro Quiros and Simon Dyson share the clubhouse lead at the end of day one. Play was suspended due to bad light, with some players still to complete their first rounds.

Alvaro Quiros  (Getty Images)

Alvaro Quiros / Getty Images

Alvaro and Simon both shot opening rounds of -5 under par 67, to top the leaderboard on the Volvo China Open. Alvaro is coming back from injury and said things are slowly getting better;

“It was a good round of golf. It was a bit of a shame on the last par five because I was half a metre away from having a great chance to make another eagle but I ended up on the lip of the bunker and had to settle for a chip and two putts. You can’t see it yet on the rankings but I have been playing better. The Middle East swing was a good three weeks for me then I had a good result in Joburg and the last couple of weeks have been better.” 

Simon started on the tenth tee, and played well. He has won here before and that gives him a good feeling;

“I started on the tenth today and the first nine holes I played was the best I have played for quite some time. I really didn’t miss a shot. I missed two fairways just, and didn’t miss a green so gave myself a lot chances which is always nice and then I managed to make a couple of birdies on the other side for a tidy five under. It was a good start and very pleasing.”

“I have to say that because I was absolutely horrendous in the pro-am yesterday. I just went on the range for a couple of hours and managed to find something which I took out on to the course and it seemed to work for me. I’ll tell you what, it is an unbelievable finishing hole. If you need to make par on that hole to win on Sunday and you manage to get it done then you will deserve everything you get because it is a very tough finish.”

“I have had a bit of success here and really enjoy playing in China. Obviously I have won this tournament before so that always gives you a good feeling and like I said, I just played nicely today so hopefully I can continue to do that over the next three days.”

In third place, just one shot off the lead are English rookie Tyrell Hatton and Spanish Challenge Tour graduate Adrian Otaegui, David Horsey and Brett Rumford, who have all compiled completed first rounds of -4 under par 68. Alexander Levy and Il-hwan Park were still on the course when play was suspended, having played seventeen holes, and are also at -4 under par.

There is a posse of players at -3 under par, including Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter, they all signed a card for 69. Defending Champion and World Number Three Henrik Stenson was way down the pack at T38 with a completed opening round of -1 under par. There are currently 55 players within four shots of the leaders. A very compacted leaderboard.

Accenture Match-Play. Who Lost on Day 1

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The Accenture Match-Play tournament was most noted for who lost on day 1 of the competition, at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain.

Day 1 recaps: Accenture

Ricky Fowler / Getty

It was a great victory for Ricky Fowler, defeating legendary matchplay exponent Ian Poulter 2-1. Even Ricky thought Poults was on a winner;

“I was definitely an underdog coming in. Heck, if I was filling out a bracket, I would have picked Poulter, too.  It feels like a big win after those missed cuts, it was nice to be the underdog. I had nothing to lose.”

Another Englishman on the wrong side of the leaderboard was Lee Westwood, he was defeated by Harris English 5-3.

George Coetzee, fresh from his win in South Africa, defeated Steve Stricker, an unlikely result at the start of play.

Zach Johnson, coming back from a layoff, lost to Richard Sterne 5-4. Everyone must now wonder if the unenforced rest period was a disaster, as Zach was playing really well beforehand. Another loser on day 1 was Keegan Bradley, falling to Jonas Blixt 2-1. Luke Donald also packed his bags, losing 5-4 to Matteo Manassero.

G-Mac only just made it,  he was four down through seven holes, and still three holes behind with three to play, when he staged an improbable rally against Florida neighbor Gary Woodland

Daily Wrap-up

Graeme McDowell / Getty

Graeme said he was surprised to get through;

“I’m sure he’s extremely disappointed right now, and I’m extremely elated. I’m surprised to be sitting here, having won. Yeah, I hit a couple of quality shots down the last couple of holes, but he had mistakes, as well. It’s a brutal format. I thought it was over, you’re not coming back from 3 down against a guy that’s playing as well as him. Yeah, I’m still going to try to hit my shots. But it required a mistake from him to give me half a sniff, even. It feels like a Sunday afternoon on Wednesday.”

The big names that made it safely through include, Henrik Stenson, the number one seed here, Webb Simpson, Rory McIlroy, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, albeit after 22 holes, Jimmy Walker, Justin Rose, Ernie Els, Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson.

     

Waste Management Phoenix Open.

 

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Bubba Watson and Matt Jones share the lead at the Waste Management Phoenix Open going into the week-end at TPC Scottsdale.

On a roll

Bubba Watson / Getty Images

Bubba  dressed in  lime green shoes and an otherwise all-black outfit, played in the morning, getting the best side of the draw, he birdied his first hole. Playing early in the cooler temperature does not suit him, back is a little stiff, but he said he is exactly where he wanted to be. Happily at the top of the leaderboard after his second round of -5 under par 66, for his -12 under par total;

“Back is not as loose as you want it to be, weather is not as warm as you want it to be. But I hit a good tee shot, and then I hit my wedge in there close and I made the putt, that got me going. It’s right where I want to be going into the weekend. I had two sloppy bogeys coming down the stretch, but I will take it.” 

Matt also played a morning round, and was thankful for the opportunity to be able to shoot his second consecutive -6 under par 65 for his -12 under par;

 ” We definitely got the good side of the draw. The golf course is so different tournament week than it is when you play out here regularly. It’s a lot harder, a lot faster. The greens are a lot quicker. The pins are a lot more tucked out here. So, it’s like a new golf course when you come here for a tournament.”

Two players are tied in third place, Greg Chalmers and Harris English are at -10 under par.

Brandt Snedeker shot the low round of the day, he also started in the morning, before the wind got up. His second round score of -7 under par 64 moving up the leaderboard to be at -8 under par. Brandt put his special round down to good putting, something I love to hear;

” My putting, plain and simple. I hit the ball extra good yesterday and had some of the worst putting I had all year. Today, I kind of did the opposite.”

Phil Mickelson, the Defending Champion, recovered with a bogey free  -4 under par 67, but he is still a long way from the leaders. Phil declared he is still in the race for this title;

” I’m not totally out of it, obviously heading into the weekend, I’d like to be closer, but as we have seen in the past, there is that minus eight, nine ten, and in some cases eleven-under par round out there. My back feels great, like I said, it was a simple fix. I just don’t want to overdo it.”

Among those missing the cut here are, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood, Rickie Fowler, Retief Goosen, Ian Poulter and Keegan Bradley.

DP World Tour Championship. Sweet Success For Stenson.

DP World Tour Championship proved to be a sweet success for Henrik Stenson, becoming the first man to win The Race to Dubai on the European Tour and FedExCup on the US PGA Tour

Sweet success for Stenson

Henrik Stenson / Getty Images

Henrik with new Rolex watch / Getty Images

Henrik won the DP World Tour Championship by six shots, carding a flawless final round -8 under par 64, and in doing so also won The Race to Dubai at the Jumeirah Golf Estates Earth Course. His winning total score was -25 under par;

“It has been an incredible summer for me, the autumn in America was great and now this. I played so well this week. I knew the guys would try to catch me, especially Ian who never gives up. I wanted to stay ahead of him and I managed to do that. I don’t know how I am going to be able to top this next year but I am going to give my best in the Majors and that becoming the first male Swedish player to win one would be the icing on the cake.”

In second place, and losing his bet, was Ian Poulter, a good final round of -6 under par 66 was not good enough to catch Henrik, but was a commendable effort. Ian finished with a -19 under par tournament total. He said of Henrik’s score;

 “I have to take my hat off to him, unbelievable. I tried to run him down as hard as I could but even with a sore wrist he has pressed on and I just could not get close enough. Henrik has not made a mistake all week and I just had to make sure of second place and some valuable Ryder Cup points. I have thrown a lot at him and given him so much stick, but he is the best player on the planet right now.”

Victor Dubuisson picked up third place, playing alongside Henrik today he could only manage a -1 under par round of 71. He looked shell-shocked out on the course as Henrik constantly bombed drives off the tee with a three wood, still out distancing his efforts with a driver. Victor was alone in third spot at -17 under par.

 Joost Luiten was in fourth place at -16 under par, and a trio of former World Number Ones,  Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, shared fifth spot on -15 under par. It was a welcome return to form for these three as they have not had good results this year.

 

DP World Tour Championship. Stenson’s Star Still Shines.

Henrik Stenson’s star still shines in the DP World Tour Championship as he takes a one shot lead into the final round at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Earth Course.

Henrik Stenson   (Getty Images)

Henrik Stenson / Getty Images

Henrik is sticking to his game plan to become the first man to win The Race to Dubai and the FedExCup in the same season. Saturday he shot a third round -5 under par 67 to maintain his lead at the top of the board, at -17 under par. He knows he does not necessarily have to win here to win the Race to Dubai, but he see’s no point in easing up;

“I am trying to avoid all that, I know I can win The Race to Dubai even if I don’t win here, but why not try my hardest to win this tournament? If I do I know that both trophies are coming home with me. It’s a great achievement to be the one who wins the most money throughout the year and I would love to emulate Robert. The guys are going to try their best to attack but if anything it makes me try even harder.They are the ones that need to overtake me so I am trying to stick to my game plan. It’s working so far so I don’t see any point changing.”

Second in this tournament is Victor Dubuisson, a winner already this season, beating Tiger Woods en-route to picking up the title at the Turkish Airlines Open.

Victor had a  marvelous -8 under par 64 third round and definitely keeps the pressure on Henrik if he wants this trophy.

Victor Dubuisson

Victor Dubuisson / Getty Images

More importantly for Henrik he has a four shot lead over Ian Poulter, who needs to win this title if he wants to win The Race to Dubai himself. Ian is currently tied in third place with Alejandro Cañizares at -13 under par.

Ian has a special motivation for beating Henrik here, he has a personal  100-dollar bet with Henrik, at 10/1, that he will overtake him, with the loser having to act as the winner’s personal waiter on a night out as well;

“The odds would be significantly shorter now and I have put myself in position to try to kick his backside tomorrow. It’s fun hunting Henrik and if I can get off to a decent start it’s going to be great on the back nine. Being European Number One would be a huge highlight in my career.”

The other two who could upset the odds in the Race to Dubai are Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell, who can still deny Henrik the title with victory here. Justin is at -11 under par and Graeme – 8 under par after both shot third rounds of 68.

Graeme says he is still in the competition;

“Alive and kicking, hats off to Henrik, he came here this week and is doing exactly what he needs to do. He has been the best player in the world the last six months and he needs to slip up tomorrow and I need to mount a massive challenge. I have not done much better than 68 round here before and I will need to do so tomorrow. I have not played my best the last three rounds but I am proud of how I have hung tough.”

DP World Tour Championship. Henrik Holds Lead At Half-Way.

 Henrik Stenson holds the lead at the half-way stage in the DP World Tour Championship, and also strengthens his grip on the title in The Race To Dubai.

Henrik Stenson   (Getty Images)

Henrik Stenson / Getty Images

Super Henrik Stenson shot a second round -8 under par 64 to lead the DP World Championship at the Jumeirah Golf Estates Earth Course, with a total of -12 under par. He is determined to become the first man to win The Race to Dubai and FedExCup in the same season and is firmly on course.

Henrik remarked that his game-plan is working;

“I have my game plan cemented on this course and it’s been working out great the first two days. It could have been a bit better but there is no point being greedy. I am delighted with the first two days’ work. I keep track of what’s happening with the other players, I’m too curious not to. I saw both Justin and Ian are seven under so they are chasing me as hard as they can. They are not going to back down so I better keep my foot and my head down, play another two good rounds and see where that takes me. I am in a great position to have a shot at winning and hopefully I will be there on Sunday afternoon.”

Just one shot back in second place is Alejandro Cañizares at -11 under par, who managed to save par on the 18th after finding water with his approach shot;

“I pull hooked it in the water, it was a terrible shot. I gave myself a chance and I really wanted to make that putt, because I haven’t dropped a shot in the whole day and I didn’t feel like I should have. I made that putt and it felt great. I played with Henrik on Sunday, and he’s a fun guy to play with, and tomorrow I’m just going to go out there and enjoy it and focus on my game. That’s all I can do.” 

Tied in third spot at -8 under par are Marcus Fraser and Victor Dubuisson.

Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell can still deny Henrik the title, with victory here. Justin is best placed on -7 under par under after a second round -5 under par 67 and Graeme shooting a -4 under par 68. Justin thinks this course is tailor-made to suit both Henrik and Rory McIlroy, with their extra length off the tee.

Rory shot a second round of -5 under par 67, which included an Eagle on the par five 14th hole. He said he needs a couple of rounds of 65 to get into contention;

“I think somewhere around 20 under par will win so I will need a couple of 65′s. I finally feel I have got to the stage now when I can contend week in, week out and on the rare times I have got into contention this year I feel like I have played my best golf.”

 

DP World Tour Championship. It’s Alejandro Cañizares Leading On Day 1

It’s Alejandro Cañizares Leading On Day 1 the DP World Tour Championship, the finale of The Race to Dubai.

Alejandro Canizares  (Getty Images)

Alejandro Cañizares / Getty Images

Alejandro shot a first round -6 under par 66, to lead the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. He was more concerned about his girl-friend being there than talking about his golf;

“My girlfriend is from the Czech Republic and I always forget she doesn’t have a Spanish passport and needs a visa. I only remembered when we got to the check-in desk at the airport in Turkey on Sunday evening and handed over the passports. Fortunately we had help from a lot of people and the tournament director Nick Tarratt was waiting with Dubai’s captain of immigration when we got to Dubai at 3am on Monday morning.”

Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Marcus Fraser are tied in second place, just one shot adrift of the lead at -5 under par.

Of the main contenders for the Race to Dubai title, Henrik Stenson has made the best start with a -4 under par 68, even though he managed to three putt the last hole today;

“It has been a lot of hard work all season and I just let my focus slip on the last. That sucks, but I am still in good shape and playing nicely. The guys are running on fumes so everybody is looking forward to getting done. You can’t win a tournament on Thursday but you can certainly play your way out of it. I would have taken four under at the start of the day so I just have to let the disappointment of the last slip away.”

Justin Rose, Henrik’s playing partner, is suffering from an inflamed shoulder that required an MRI scan recently. Justin shot -2 under par 70. He said Henrik is going to make it hard for them;

“Henrik is making it hard for the rest of us but that’s why I wanted it in my own hands and that’s still the case, so my goal remains the same for the rest of the week.”

Ian Poulter, -3 under par 69, carded four birdies and one bogey in his opening 69, but was frustrated at missing a number of chances to be higher up the leaderboard. He reflected on the missed opportunities;

“I am annoyed, I made two putts which were outside birdie chances and took a couple more but the rest were missed. I am frustrated but happy to be only three behind. I need to continue to be aggressive and see if I can nick it at the end. It’s a good mix to be really angry being three under par and still being in there for the next three days.”

 Rory McIlroy had to settle for an opening round of -1 under par 71, after being three under for his first four holes. But he reported his focus had improved.

” It’s much better than it has been the last few months and I am playing better, which is important. It’s good that the game is back on track. I have this event and two more so it would be great to get a win before the end of the season.”

Turkish Airlines Open. Victor Victorious.

Victor Dubuisson was victorious at the Turkish Airlines Open on the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course in Antalya.

Victor Dubuisson  (Getty Images)

Victor Dubuisson / Getty Images

Victor kept his head while the high-profile chasing pack tried to whittle away at the five shot lead he started the day with. A final round of -3 under par 69 was good enough to keep him in front and pick up the Turkish Airlines Open, his total score at -24 under par.

He said the pressure was great, it was the longest day on a golf course for him;

“I don’t know how to describe it, now I don’t realise what’s happening. I felt so much pressure on the last hole. Holing this putt on 17 was like; it was incredible. It was incredible, and the birdie on 18, it’s a bonus. But even on the last putt, I was feeling so much stress.  After this day, it was the longest day on the course that I’ve ever had. I’m very proud of what I did.”

With the big guns failing in their task of catching Victor, Jamie Donaldson worked his way up the leaderboard, to finish in second place at -22 under par, just two shots adrift.

Jaime received one million air miles from the tournament sponsor after holing his tee-shot at 16 for an Ace, using a seven-iron. This result has moved him up to fifth place in the Race To Dubai standings.

“It’s mad, it’s weird, when it goes in. You hit it right down the flag and you’re hoping in the air that it’s going to be close.When it lands and vanishes it’s like, ‘Where’s that gone?’. The fact you get something extra for it as well, is nice.”

Tied in third spot at -20 under par were US Open Champion Justin Rose and Tiger Woods.

 Justin was happy that he had made up ground on Henrik in the Race to Dubai.

“I think I’ve gained some ground, yeah, for sure. It’s nice to be able to control your own fate next week. So if I go in and have a good week, win a golf tournament, which is obviously the aim any time you tee it up, but if I go ahead and do that, that’s going to obviously be the exact scenario I’m looking for. Fifth last week, probably tied for third this week, I like the way that’s trending towards No. 1.”

Tiger lamented that he just did not make enough birdies;

“On a golf course like this where you have to make so many birdies, I just didn’t make enough. You just had to be so aggressive all of the time and that is reflected by how many guys made runs of four or five birdies in a row.”

Ian Poulter tied in fifth place, his final score at -19 under par, but he too is closer to Henrik for next week’s finale in the Race to Dubai.

Henrik battled on with his wrist injury and finished just two shots adrift of Justin and one behind Ian. He hopes to have the wrist sorted out by next week;

“I’m still happy with the Top 10 and thanks to a few of the other guys, yeah, I’ve still got the lead heading into the last week. My preparation is going to be less than I would have liked (due to his wrist), but again, I’ve played Jumeirah Golf Estates so many times, so hopefully I shouldn’t have to be further behind than I need to do that. So the most important thing is to get healthy long-term, and be able to play next week.”

Turkish Airlines Open. Victor Eyes Victory.

Frenchman Victor Dubuisson eyes victory in the Turkish Airlines Open, topping the leaderboard at the end of day 3.

Victor Dubuisson   (Getty Images)

Victor Dubuisson / Getty Images

Victor upstaged the high-ranking players around him, shooting a third round of -9 under par 63 at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course, to lead the tournament by massive five shots going into the final round tomorrow. His -21 under par total will be hard to chase down, even for the likes of Tiger, Ian and Henrik.

Understandably Victor said he felt very tired after his heroics;

 “I’m very tired now, so I think I will sleep easy tonight, but it will be very stressed I think. I’ll try not to think about it because if I think about it, I will put too much pressure on myself.  But I know tomorrow Ian, Tiger and Henrik, they will shoot very low scores, so I have to keep the same strategy. I know I have a five-shot lead, but with all these great players, tomorrow it will be a very tough day.”

In second place at -16 is Ian Poulter, his third round of -4 under par 68, paled into insignificance in terms of winning this tournament, but he is still hopeful of winning The Race to Dubai;

“It would be a highlight right now if I can pull it off.  So I need to go deep tomorrow. I mean, I need to make as many birdies, certainly as I’ve made in any round in the last couple of weeks. I need to go and throw eight, nine-under par tomorrow, hopefully put a lot of pressure on Victor and see what happens.”

Tied in third place are four players at -15 under par, and six shots behind the runaway leader, they are, Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson, Raphael Jacquelin and Alejandro Cañizares.

Henrik admits he is in a race for second place, and hopes his ongoing wrist injury holds up under the strain;

” Dubuisson seems to be playing really well; he’s kind of pulled away. But then it’s a tight race for second, five, six guys tied on second position at the moment. There is still some hope there for tomorrow. I’ll try to finish strong tomorrow and carry on to next week.” Of his injury he said, “It desperately needs rest and recovery time and I don’t have that at the moment, so I’m just trying to scrape by and it’s going to be limited preparations for next week.”

Tiger also admits to carrying an injury;

“My arm is a little tender. I smoked it on something. I don’t know what I hit but I hit something hard. I just dealt with it and just played through it. I won’t need any treatment.”

These guys need a 63 themselves tomorrow, but would still need an epic collapse from Victor to have any hope of winning, but that is golf, strange things happen.

 

Turkish Airlines Open. 4 Way Tie At Half Way Point.

There is a four-way tie at the top of the leaderboard in the Turkish Airlines Open at The Montgomerie Maxx Royal course.

Henrik Stenson   (Getty Images)

Henrik Stenson / Getty Images

Henrik, the current leader in the Race to Dubai, is now joint leader in the Turkish Airlines Open after his second round score of -4 under par 68, for a total of -12 under par at the end of day 2.

Henrik spoke about the challenge Ian Poulter poses;

“I’m trying my hardest, I know he’s not going to back down.  He’s not that kind of guy so I’m going to have to keep on making birdies.”

Joining Henrik on that score is Ian Poulter who is at number four in the Race to Dubai. Ian had another superb round of -6 under 66, this one was bogey free. He said he is looking forward to a fun week-end;

“I’m right there at the top of the board, and that’s always good fun. There are some great names at the top of the board, as well, so it’s certainly going to be a fun weekend. Henrik has definitely got fired up this week.  He’s a great player and he doesn’t need a lot to get fired up, but he obviously is this week.”

Victor Dubuisson and Justin Walters are also at -12 under par for the tournament, both of these players will be targeting a maiden European Tour title this week. It will be a hard task to beat the likes of Henrik and Ian, not forgetting Tiger Woods, who is now just one shot back at -11 under par following his stellar second round of -9 under par 63.

Tiger actually said he missed some putts today;

 “I’m right there, and that’s the whole idea, I’ve got two more days of hopefully making a lot of birdies. I hit a lot of good shots and made some putts, but I missed quite a few putts today that were within ten feet. So it could have been one of those really low, special rounds, but I’ll take it.”

Tomorrow is moving day, could Tiger up-stage the Race to Dubai contestants, and top the leaderboard himself. We will have to wait and see.

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