The Open. An Irish Amateur Shares the Lead.

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An Irish amateur Paul Dunne shares the lead at The Open Championship with Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Day at the end of round three on Sunday, at a calm St. Andrews.

The Open

Paul Dunne / Getty Images

Paul Dunne shot a bogey free third round -6 under par 66, to share the clubhouse lead at -12 under par for the tournament. Louis and Jason both had -5 under par 65’s to join Paul at the top of a congested The Open Championship leaderboard.

Paul is the first amateur since the legendary Bobby Jones to lead The Open after 54 holes, Bobby went on to lift the Claret Jug at St Andrews in 1927.

Louis played alongside Paul, and this to say of the young mans talent;

“He’s played unbelievable golf, that second shot on 17 was one of the best I’ve seen.”

“I think he made me so nervous on my second shot because I was going a completely different route, low, running up there, and I tugged it a little bit to the left. But it was an amazing shot. He deserved to birdie that.”

Paul was asked if he could win The Open, he replied;

 “I don’t see why not. I’m well capable of shooting the scores that I need to win if everyone else doesn’t play their best.”

“Whether it happens or not, I can’t really control. I can just go out and try to play my game and see where it leaves me at the end of the day. Hopefully I play great again and post a good number.”

“It’s surreal I’m leading The Open, but I can easily believe that I shot the three scores that I shot.”

“If we were playing an amateur event here, I wouldn’t be too surprised by the scores I shot. It’s just lucky that it happens to be in the biggest event in the world.”

“Hopefully I can do it again tomorrow, but whether I do or not, you know, I’ll survive either way.”

In fourth place on his own is Masters Tournament and US Open Champion Jordan Spieth, who brought his grand slam dream back to life with a third round -6 under par 66, which has given him a tournament total of -11 under par, and just one shot back going into the final round tomorrow. History beckons.

Jordan insists he is not really thinking about it;

“It hasn’t come up in my head while I’ve been playing yet.”

“I can’t speak for tomorrow given it’s the last round and if I have a chance coming down the stretch, if it creeps in, I’ll embrace it. I’ll embrace the opportunity that presents itself.”

“I don’t look at it as a negative thing, I look at it almost as an advantage.”

“Why should it add more pressure in a negative way? If it adds more pressure, it just makes me feel like this is something that’s a little more special, let’s go ahead and get the job done.”

“I know it’s easier said than done, but when you say added pressure, most people associate that with negativity or something that can hinder what’s comfortable.”

“For me, I think it could be advantageous. You hit the ball a little bit further, you can really get your mind around a more specific target and block out other things.”

Fifth position belongs to another Irishman, the three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington, he posted a bogey free third round -7 under par 65, to reach -10 under par in the competition, and definitely has given himself a chance of grabbing another Major title. He joked with the media about this not being the final round;

“I always wanted to shoot 65 on Sunday at an Open. Unfortunately there’s another round to go.”

There are no less than nine players tied at -9 under par, in sixth place for the tournament; Australians Marc Leishman and Adam Scottanother amateur, American Jordan Niebrugge, Sergio Garcia from Spain, Justin Rose and Danny Willett from England, South African Retief Goosen, and two more Americans, Robert Streb and Zach Johnson.

Marc shot the low round of the day, a -8 under par 64, to put him in position to win his first Major.

Retief, the two-time US Open champion, was happy with his position;

“Three, four shots off the lead going into tomorrow is a good place to be.”

 “I’m feeling great. I have no back pain. I’d rather play bad golf and have no back pain than good golf and back pain and not being able to sleep or anything else.”

“I’ve had a good run in my career, but it’s nice to be up there and hopefully have a good day tomorrow, see where we end up.”

Longtime leader Dustin Johnson, who battled through the bad weather, collapsed in the calm conditions of the third round, carding +3 over par, and dropping to -7 under par for the tournament, and tied in 18th place, with his chances of picking up The Open Championship title in tatters.

Maybank Malaysian Open. Lightning Lee Westwood Wins

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A lightning storm delay could not de-rail Lee Westwood as he wins the Maybank Malaysian Open at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.

Westwood romps to victory

Lee Westwood / Getty Images

This win ended a  near two-year absence from the winner’s circle for Lee Westwood, he had to wait a bit longer than he expected due to the threat of lightning, which forced play to be suspended for over four hours at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.
Lee carded a final round -4 under par 68, to post a winning total of -18 under par, a massive seven shot margin over his nearest rival.

Knowing what works was the key for Lee, along with putting well;

“I started working with a new coach a few weeks ago, Mike Walker, and Billy Foster came back on the bag at the end of last year, so I was going back to what I had done before because it had worked. It’s started to work already the last couple of weeks, I’ve played well in Houston and at the Masters last week and this week I’ve obviously played very well. It’s a golf course that suits my game; it’s very tight in certain areas. I played well, I putted well, and the short game is good.”

” Now I feel like I’ve got a short game and starting to roll a few putts in. It makes a helluva difference if you can get up-and-down if you miss a few greens and keeps the momentum going.”

Lee will now be heading back up towards the top ten in the World Golf Rankings, he had slipped back to 36th on the ladder.

Three players tied in second place at -11  under par, a whopping seven shots off the pace. Nicolas Colsaerts, Louis Oosthuizen and Bernd Wiesberger were the closest competitors.

Andy Sullivan, who had featured at the top of the leaderboard for a couple of days managed to triple-bogey the second hole, after finding water with his tee shot. Things did not improve much for him as his final round collapsed to a +6 over par 78. He finished the tournament T11 at -7 under par, with four other players.

The Masters. Haas Heads the Field.

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Bill Hass heads the field following the conclusion of the first round of The Masters at Augusta National.

Bill Haas / Getty

Bill opened his account at Augusta with a -4 under par 68 round that took him to the top of the Masters leaderboard. He admitted it could easily have been worse, his putter saved him over the first five holes;

“I easily could have still been 1 over, the putter kind of saved me and settled me down. I know there’s tons of golf left, and maybe understanding that, I know that I can’t expect too much. You’ve just got to go out there and keep playing golf, try to hit that fairway on No. 1 tomorrow.”

The defending champion Adam Scott is sitting comfortably, tied in second place at -3 under par after his first round of 69, and spoke about nerves;

“The first few holes of the Masters is the most nervous I ever get on a golf course. I certainly feel like I prepared very well for this event and I was comfortable with my game anyway.”

Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen are tied with Adam at -3 under par after they also carded opening efforts of 69. Bubba  was the only player to go bogey-free, and it put him within one shot of the lead.

Brandt Snedeker takes a penalty, but thinks the course is in perfect shape, scoring a first round -2 under par 70;

“The ball was on a spot on a hill on the side of the bunker and in the rough, it was right on the edge. I couldn’t believe it stayed where it did. I took a practice swing and the ball;  just kind of nestled over. Then it rolled an inch or something like that and I had to replace it and take a shot penalty.”

“The greens are as firm and fast as I’ve seen for a Thursday, the wind changed 15 times today. This golf course is right on the edge, it’s in perfect shape, and they got it exactly how they want it. The pin positions today were brutal. There was not one getable pin out there where you felt like you can make a birdie and get it going. You had to hit some quality golf shots to make birdies.”

I have a lot of good memories here, I have a lot of good friends here. I love the golf course, and it comes through in my play, I have a lot of fun here. I like the challenge of this place and how much pressure it puts on you on every shot.”

Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose both shot a +4 over par 76, while Rory McIlroy returned an opening scorecard of -1 under par 71 to be T12.

Rory was happy to be under par on the day;

“For the most part, I felt like I put my ball in the positions they needed to be in and it was just one of those days it was tough to get it close to the hole, the greens are firming up. The wind was all over the place. Anything under par today was a good score.”

“It’s about putting your ball in the right place and it becomes more of a mental challenge than anything else, just playing to your spots. It almost becomes like chess, where you’re just making these moves. That hasn’t been my forte in the past, but I’ll learn to love it this week.”

Looks like Phil and Justin will have to fight to make the cut.

Shell Houston Open. Sergio Surges Ahead.

dragon logo darkShell Houston Open Logo The Shell Houston Open  was brought to life when Sergio Garcia surged into the lead in round two.

Sergio Garcia's score of 12-under 132 matches the 36-hole low at the Golf Club of Houston. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Sergio Garcia / Getty Images

Sergio surged into the lead early on in the second round of the Shell Houston Open, shooting a -7 under par 65 that took him one shot clear of the field at -12 under par for the tournament. He said he feels like he is play nicely, he needed only 25 putts today;

“I do feel like I’m playing nicely, I feel very comfortable with my equipment. I feel comfortable with myself in and outside the golf course.”

Matt Kuchar is just one shot back of the leader, a second round -5 under par 67 saw him climb up the leaderboard, finishing the day at -11 under par.

Matt and Sergio have a history of rivalry that goes all the way back to their amateur days. The two battled it out in the quarterfinals of the 1998 U.S. Amateur as the reigning British and U.S. Amateur champions. Sergio won that time around, and Matt is still quite taken with the way Sergio is playing, even tho he will likely be a Ryder Cup foe later this year;

“He’s fun to watch swing a golf club, he’s been putting it really well for a couple years now, he’s switched over to the claw grip and really rolls it nicely.”

Matt Jones is one of four players tied in third spot, at -8 under par for the tournament, sharing that place with him are, Cameron Tringale, Shawn Stefani and Jimmy Walker.

Matt needs a victory here to qualify him for his first Masters, he missed a chance at the BMW;

“I had a chance on the last hole at BMW Championship, from 6 feet, and I hit a great putt that I thought was in, and it lipped out, and that was the difference between me finishing top 30 and not. But I had a good year, I can’t complain at all.”

The FedExCup points leader, Jimmy Walker, is happy that the putts are dropping in again;

“I feel like I’m hitting it good and my putts are going back in, so I’m looking forward to the weekend and seeing what happens.I think when you’re really playing well, you make a lot of putts. I just kind of went through a stretch where I wasn’t making a ton. I think that plays a lot into it.”

 Local boy Shawn Stefani said it was nice to be playing golf in his home town;

“It’s just nice to come out here and play well at home.”

Phil Mickelson is excited to be in the mix for the week-end;

“I’m excited about the weekend because first of all I haven’t had many opportunities this year. I haven’t been in contention and I can feel my game start to get sharp.”

 Padraig Harrington is one of the notables who are missing the cut, he was disappointed, but will watch on TV;

The Masters is a great tournament. It’s worth watching. I’ll enjoy watching it. It’s disappointing to miss out.”

Padraig is joined in the going home crowd by, Charles Howell IIIJordan SpiethLouis OosthuizenTrevor Immelman and Defending Champion D.A. Points.

Accenture Match-Play. Rickie Rolls On.

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Rickie Fowler rolls on at the Accenture Match-Play tournament at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Course on Dove  Mountain in Arizona.

Day 4: Match recaps

Rickie Fowler / Getty Images

 Rickie Fowler has a strange nightly routine, climbing a rugged hill adjacent the Ritz-Carlton where he is staying. The process seems to be working wonders as Rickie is on a roll here at the Accenture Match-Play, today beating Jim Furyk 1 up.

He spoke about the ritual;

“It’s a good little workout. It will get you sweating, I guess it’s been working.”

 Jason Day beat an ailing Louis Oosthuizen, who needed  lengthy treatment for a long-standing back injury before play started and received more massage out on the course, before eventually losing 2 and 1 to Jason.

Jason talked about being wary of the wounded golfer;

“It’s that old saying, beware of the wounded golfer. I think he went out the last four days with no expectations and I think that’s why he’s playing so great. I wanted to play good myself and get through to the next day. I love the golf course and I just like that one-on-one match. It’s fun fighting it out to see who’s best”

Louis admitted he was not feeling that great;

“I was disappointed to start on the range this morning not feeling too good. It got better, the last four or five holes I felt I could get through the ball better. It’s a bit painful that it always happens when I’m playing well and I need to address it big time and get it sorted. I felt I played really well but you can’t give away holes to a guy like Jason. I had a tough start and it was really tough to get back from that. If I take two or three days off, everything feels brand new, but it’s irritating that it’s coming back all the time.”

Ernie Els duly completed a 4-3 victory over Jordan Spieth, and said he was elated;

” I’m obviously elated to be going through, It’s been a wonderful week up to now. At times I haven’t played my best, as you guys have well documented and know, but it is match play – I’ve just done enough to get through. Today I felt like I played a little bit more solid, but still not quite to my expectations. Jordan obviously didn’t play as good as he did yesterday, thank goodness, and I was just a bit more solid.”

Jordan Tweeted;

“I’m embarrassed about the way I acted on the course today. Played like the 13 year old version of myself mentally.”

At the course he said;

“I didn’t have my swing, but I was a little mental midget out there. Actually kind of embarrassing looking back. I was dropping clubs and kind of just whining, and you just can’t do that. In match play you’ve got to keep your cool. Anytime you show that, it’s weakness.”

Victor Dubuisson prevented Graeme McDowell from completing his fourth comeback win, Victor  the winner on the 18th hole,1 up.

Semi-Final match ups, Jason Day will face Rickie Fowler, while Ernie Els plays Victor Dubuisson.

     

Accenture Match-Play. Garcia’s Gentlemanly Conduct. G-Mac King of Comebacks

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 Sergio Garcia was guilty of serious gentlemanly conduct in his loss to Rickie Fowler, conceding a seventeen foot putt. G-Mac came back from the dead once again, a resurrection indeed.

No regrets: Garcia concedes 17-footer in loss to Fowler

Sergio & Rickie / Getty Images

 Rickie Fowler defeated Sergio Garcia, 1 up, Friday at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship , but that included the conceded putt of seventeen feet. The incident took place took place at Dove Mountain’s seventh hole, Sergio felt that he  had taken too much time to take a drop at No. 6, and conceded the halving par putt to Rickie. Sergio’s 7-foot par was conceded in return.

Sergio explained the extraordinary event like this;

I don’t regret it at all. I think that this is a gentleman’s game and lately, it hasn’t felt like it’s been like that. This is the way I was brought up by my dad. I felt like my drop on six took too much time. If I would have been in his position, I wouldn’t have enjoyed waiting so long to hit my birdie putt after the great shot that he hit. I thought that was the only thing I could do on seven to make myself feel better and not feel guilty about anything.”

The real problem was bee’s, Sergio asked for a drop away from the bee colony, saying;

 “I don’t want to hit the shot, I’ve had bad experiences with bees.”

Rickie was confused for a while;

“I had to kind of find out what he was asking or offering there, it took me a minute to figure it out.  It would be stupid not to take a half. He said, ‘You wanna halve’ I didn’t know what he meant. I thought maybe he had a sandwich”

For a the third day on the trot, Graeme McDowell came from behind to win. Claiming victory in  his quarter-final clash with Victor Dubuisson at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Graeme McDowell  (Getty Images)

G-Mac / Getty Images

Graeme was again on the ropes at two down with two to play, he rallied with two closing birdies, which saw the former US Open Champion force extra holes, and a 15 foot birdie putt at the third extra hole, after Hunter had found a greenside bunker. The victory sealed a last-eight spot for the Volvo World Match Play champion.

Graeme was amazed to still be in the tournament;

 “It’s entertaining for sure but I’d much rather have it much easier, believe me. I can’t get my head around it. I was pretty sure I was beat against Gary Woodland, yesterday I thought I had a chance and today walking off the 16th green I thought I was beat again. The par save on the second play-off hole was just ridiculous, he holed from 20 feet there. I can’t believe it really, I have just robbed three players at this tournament and I can’t believe I am still in it.”

Victor Dubuisson avoided a comeback by Bubba Watson, clinging on for a one up victory after being three up with four to play. Making his World Golf Championships debut, Victor feels he is ready to join the next Ryder Cup team;

“I’m definitely ready because I have good experience of match play as an amateur. I hope the three matches I have won will help me get into the team.”

Ernie Els came up with a brilliant approach shot to within two feet at the 18th to see off Jason Dufner 1 up, while the other South African Louis Oosthuizen dispatched Webb Simpson 5-4.

Jason Day defeated George Coetzee 3-1, and Jordan Spieth beat Matt Kuchar 2-1. Jim Furyk defeated Harris English 1 up.

So far this week I have manged to avoid using the word bracket, but thought I had better mention it just in case you thought I was not aware.

Accenture Match-Play. Rose & Rory Out. Magic McDowell Survives Again.

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Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy crashed out of the Accenture Match-Play tournament at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Course on Dove Mountain. Graeme McDowell survived another match where he looked like losing, once again.

Graeme McDowell  (Getty Images)

Survivor G-Mac / Getty Images

Justin went down to Ernie Els, 1 up, while Rory lost to Harris English, on the 19th hole. G-Mac went three down after six holes against  Hideki Matsuyama, of Japan. He then birdied the seventh and eighth to get within one hole, only to then lose the 14th to be two down with four holes to play. Graeme won the 15th and the 17th, and rounding off with  a ten foot putt on the final green to seal a one up win.

He joked afterwards;

“Why do it the easy way when the hard way will do. I just got off to a slow start again, probably less so today. I was quite proud of myself when I got a half on three, so I was only two down after three, as opposed to three down. I tried to go out there today and execute my game plan and try not to give him any room, try not to make any mistakes, try not to give him anything, and he kind of played the same kind of golf back. He played very, very well. 

“I made big putts on 15 and 16. The 16th especially was a massive putt to give me the opportunity.I feel very fortunate again today. I’ve certainly expended all my energy and emotions the last couple of days, but thankfully it’s early in the season and I’ve plenty left in the tank.”

Louis Oosthuizen dumped out Henrik Stenson 4-3, and Webb Simpson dispatched Brandt Snedeker by the same score.

George Coetzee is still doing fine, winning the 21 hole battle with Patrick Reed. Jason Day took even longer to overcome Billy Horschel, 22 holes.

Sergio Garcia is going along smoothly, a 3-1 victory over Bill Haas, while Jason Dufner eliminated Matteo Manassero by 2-1. 

Sergio said he had fun out there today;

“It was good fun, we both played hard. We both tried to play as well as we could to beat our opponent and I was fortunate to be just a little bit better than him today.”

A resurgent Rickie Fowler beat Jimmy Walker 1 up, Matt Kuchar beat Ryan Moore by the same score. Jim Furyk took care of Charl Schwartzel 3-2, and Jordan Spieth was too strong for Thomas Bjorn, beating him 5-4.

Victor Dubuisson continued to impress on his World Golf Championships debut as he overcame Peter Hanson 3 -1 to progress to face former Masters Tournament winner Bubba Watson, who saw off Jonas Blixt at the 17th hole when Jonas lost his ball under a bush. ( would have been ironic if Jonas had got a free drop, wouldn’t it)

Some good match ups tomorrow and any of the remaining players could win, as Graeme McDowell said yesterday, this is a brutal format.