Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. Benjamin and Daniel Still on Top

White Dragon Golf

Benjamin Hebert, France, and Daniel Im of the USA still sit on top of the  Dubai Duty Free Irish Open after two rounds at Portstewart Golf Club, in Northern Ireland.

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

Daniel Im / getty

Daniel and Benjamin both carded -5 under par 67 second rounds to continue their occupation of the top spot on the  Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, leaderboard, and will take a one shot advantage into the weekend at -13 under par.

Daniel needed only 22 putts today;

“I just kind of plugged along and just kind of kept putting and playing and hitting balls and putting and ended up with 22 putts.”

“I’ve actually been struggling with my putting the last few weeks. And then I just kind of kept working on it, and tried to read the greens a little bit better. Tried to get the pace right.”

“You get to learn to play a different type of golf, with all different weather and different conditions.”

“I’ve learned to play different types of shots, getting to up and down from different places, different types of grass. I feel as if day by day I’m getting better.”

Jon Rahm, Spain, stays in third place, one shot back at -12 under par, he also carded -5 under 67 in the second round, and stays well in touch with the leaders, but  he three putted the 4th hole, which cost him a share of the lead;

“It was a little windier and a little colder today for the first few holes which always makes it a little harder.”

“But I was able to adjust, and starting the way I started with two perfect shots to two feet for birdie, it kind of gives me a lot of confidence.”

“And then hang on till that putt on 14 and making that bomb for eagle really got me going.”

Three players are tied in fourth place at -11 under par, Oliver Fisher and Matthew Southgate, both from England, and both scoring -4 under 68 today, are joined by Ryan Fox, of New Zealand, who returned a second round of -6 under par 66. Matthew is the only player to be bogey free through 36 holes. Ryan could become only the second Kiwi winner of the Irish Open after Michael Campbell 14 years ago.

The defending Champion, and tournament host Rory McIlroy continued his golfing decline by missing the cut at his own tournament.

U.S. Open winner Michael Campbell to Retire from Golf.

White Dragon GolfMichael Campbell Golf

Kiwi and Maori Michael Campbell, who most famously held Tiger Woods at bay to win the 2005 U.S. Open, at Pinehurst, has decided to retire from professional golf at the age of 46 citing that he has lost the motivational spirit to play golf.

Michael followed his Major victory with a tie for fifth at The Open and also a tie for sixth at the PGA Championship in that same year.

He won 15 tournaments over his professional career, spending most of his time on the European Tour, but his last victory came at the World Match Play Championship, at Wentworth, just a few months after his Pinehurst triumph.

Listening to him speak he still seems a bit unsure if he should walk away;

“All of my friends who are the same age as me are still out there competing and doing well.”

“It makes you wonder maybe I should go back and play but right now I have got no motivation to play.”

“I have played golf for almost 40 years and that is a long time. I have played professionally for 20 years and that is a long time.”

“I have no complaints to walk away from the game that has given me such a wonderful life but it’s been a very hard decision.”

Michael Campbell

Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, Wood Carves out a Lead

Chris Wood   (Getty Images)

Chris Wood / Getty Images

Chris Wood of England has carved out a decent chance of his first European Tour Title win at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in Doha.

Chris has previously had nineteen top ten finishes, but now has an excellent chance to secure his first win after his third round of -8 under par 64, for a tournament total of -15 under par, three shots clear of the field. Chris said he was very excited to be in this position;

“I’m very excited. I wouldn’t say it was one of my best rounds, but I played very solidly and was giving myself loads of chances. Going out today I thought as long as I kept myself in the mix going into tomorrow, then I was going to be really looking forward to it. Leading gives me a bit of a cushion, obviously it’s going to be hard, it’s hard to win any tournament on The European Tour, so it’s going to be difficult.”

There are three players at -12 under par for the tournament, Simon Khan, Alexander Noren and New Zealand’s Michael Campbell. Michael is continuing with his recent good form, and a win here would complete his come-back to perfection. Currently at 264th in the World Golf Rankings, 40 year-old Michael has not won since his HSBC World Matchplay Championship at Wentworth in 2005. He is amazed at the feelings he is experiencing right now;

“It’s been a tough couple of years since winning at Wentworth and it’s amazing that the feelings start to come back quickly.  The confidence is increasing every day. Six months ago, I was desperate, I think I made two cuts in about two years, 18 months or something, and now I have a chance of winning a couple of times last year and maybe tomorrow. We are just going back to what is working and what worked before, and going back with my coach Jonathan Yarwood six months ago definitely helped. That’s really one thing I’ve been working the last six months is just smile after each round of golf, whether it’s a good one or a bad one, and it’s working so far.  It’s really simple stuff. It’s just nice to be out here and having some fun at the same time and maybe have a chance of winning.”

Michael Campbell  (Getty Images)

Michael Campbell / Getty Images

Tied for fifth at -11 under par are Branden Grace and Sergio Garcia. Sergio slipping back down the leaderboard after going in the water with his third shot to the par five last and taking an undignified six.

Good Luck to Chris Wood, I hope he gets his first European Tour Win.

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.

 

 

Lydia Ko, New Zealand’s Brightest Golfing Star

Lydia Ko and her Canadian Open Trophy/Getty Images

Lydia Ko is New Zealand’s brightest golfing star again this year, and while she intends to continue with her schooling, everyone his talking about her professional career to come in the future.

New Zealand Golf’s CEO  Dean Murphy said winning the Canadian Open was undoubtedly the greatest achievement ever by a New Zealand female golfer and it was a significant moment both in Lydia’s life and in the annals of New Zealand women’s sport.

“She’s playing the very, very best players in the world and at 15 she becomes the youngest ever winner of a tournament on that tour, so it’s enormously significant. Every time she plays she seems to rewrite history but this is right up there. This will be her most stunning achievement to date by a long, long way.”

This year 2012,  where Michael Campbell and Michael Hendry both improved their performances, and Danny Lee narrowly missed out on his PGA card, Lydia was still comfortably the star sports standout. She was the youngest ever winner on the LPGA Tour,  by more than a year, and the first amateur to win on the tour in 43 years.

Unfortunately Lydia  missed out on a share of the US$2m purse at the Canadian Open, but went on to earn individual honors at the Espirito Santo World Amateur Team’s Championship in Turkey, in October.

We wish Lydia well for 2013, in her continuing studies, and especially out on the golf course, keep knocking those drives straight down the middle.

 

UBS Hong Kong Open. Maical Miguel Makes it Three

Magical Miguel Angel Jiménez makes it three wins at this event, the UBS Hong Kong Open, and he also became the oldest winner on the European Tour in history. Miguel’s tournament winning score was -15 under par, with a last round of -5 under par 65, to lift the trophy.

Miguel Angel Jimenez  (Getty Images)

Miguel Angel Jiménez/ Getty Images

Miguel is six months older than Des Smyth was when he won the 2001 Madeira Islands Open, the victory was Miguel’s 19th on The European Tour and the 12th win since he turned 40, with two of which also came in Fanling in 2005 and 2008. Miguel, the  assistant Captain at The Ryder Cup at Medinah, said he hoped it was not his last victory;

It’s very nice , I hope it’s not the last one, I really love this place. I love the golf course, it’s a great golf course where you have to control the ball very well, it’s not a matter of distance.”

Of his longevity playing golf Miguel admitted;

“This is maybe the olive oil in my joints, and the nice Rioja wine and those things keep you fit and flexible. The most important thing, I do what I like to do in my life, and golf has given me all of this pleasure. Winning now, at 48.  My goodness 24 years I’ve been on the Tour. I still love it and I think that is fantastic, to love what you’re doing, and enjoy yourself, keep fit, keep working myself a little bit and stretching a lot, and that’s the main thing to do to compete with the new guns. “

Fredrik Andersson Hed , another veteran player, at 40, made a charge and could have got up to make it a play-off, but just came up short, claiming second place on his own at -14 under par, he rued a couple of missed birdies on the back nine that would have made the difference;

“I don’t think I’ve ever played better than I did today under pressure. There were a couple of loose shots on 15 and 16 that I got away with and made pars and then unfortunately couldn’t get the birdies in on 17 and 18. It always feels good to finish second in a golf tournament; you know you’ve done something good. It’s a pity I couldn’t get one of the putts on the last two holes to put a little bit more pressure on him on the last hole. He did fantastic, though, with a perfect tee shot, the perfect second shot and easy two-putt, so all credit to Miguel.”

Marcus Fraser was third at -12 under par, and tied for fourth was Peter Lawrie, who  sealed his place next week  at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai in the process, Scot Stephen Gallacher and the first of the young guns, 19-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero, last week’s Barclays Singapore Open champion, they finished at -11 under par.

The re-emerging Kiwi Michael Campbell, joint overnight leader with Miguel, and playing in the last pairing, fell away to joint eighth, with a sad last round of +2 over par.

UBS Hong Kong Open. Campbell Clings on to lead

Michael Campbell clings on to the lead in the UBS Hong Kong Open at the Hong Kong Golf Course in Fanling China,  with a clutch ten foot putt for par at the last hole  to retain a share of the lead alongside Miguel Angel Jiménez.

Michael Campbell  (Getty Images)

Michael Campbell / Getty Images

Michael had a third round of -1 under par 69, which he described as scrappy;

Today was sort of scrappy; apart from a couple of drives, it was pretty average really. But once again, I just managed to grind out a score, which is very important with me not playing so well. I turned a 73 into a 69, which is always nice. I’ve still got a chance to win tomorrow, and that’s what I wanted to do after three rounds , give myself an opportunity to go out there and hopefully lift the UBS Hong Kong Open trophy. Once again Miguel is playing great golf, and he’s won this twice before and he’s the man to beat.It’s going to be a very interesting day tomorrow and it’s going to be I think a lot of fun. It will be nice to be a part of it.” 

Miguel Angel Jiménez is tied at the top of the leaderboard with his third round effort of -2 under par 68, for his -10 under par tournament score, the Ryder Cup Vice Captain, and twice winner of this Trophy is happy to be in contention again;

” I love to be in contention, it’s been a long time since I’ve been there and I’m happy and I like this golf course. I like to be in contention on this golf course and you have to have patience and let everything happen. That’s what’s going to happen tomorrow, stay patient because anyone can win.”

Miguel Angel Jimenez

 

Miguel Angel Jiménez / Stuart Franklin / Getty Images

 

Lian-wei Zhang of China is tied in third place with teenage sensation Matteo Manassero of Italy, who won last week at the Barclays Singapore Open. Matteo has cheekily crashed the party of the veterans at the top of the leaderboard.  Lian-wei Zhang  will become the third oldest winner on the Asian Tour at 47 years and 171 days if he completes his dream ‘Chinese Slam‘ on Sunday. Matteo had a third round of -6 under par, 64, and has certainly made his presence felt. The 19 year-old Italian is looking for his fourth Tour win and is in form, he said;

” I played well throughout the whole round, I had a really good practise yesterday and today I have to say, I struck the ball really well. I had plenty of chances, and on the back nine I really had some short putts for birdie and I made a few good ones. Last week really made me relax a lot on the golf course, and these three rounds and my position coming into this Sunday is certainly due to and what happened last week, I’ve got more freedom.”

Matteo Manassero - Hong Kong Open - Day Three

Matteo Manassero, a rare missed putt/ Getty Images

The leaderboard is pretty tightly packed and anyone who shoots a low round tomorrow could win this tournament. I would like to see Michael Campbell take home the Trophy, but Miguel is a determined character and Matteo just oozes class. It will be a fascinating days play.