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European Tour. Volvo Golf Champions. Louis Lifts Trophy.

 

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Louis Oosthuizen lifts the European Tour Volvo Golf Champions trophy at Durban Country Club in South Africa. A final round of -4 under par 68 was good enough to see off the competition.

Oosthuizen starts 2014 in style

Louis and some local fans / Getty Images

Louis had some nervy moments towards the end of his round, a poor shot on 16 where he was lucky to be able to chip out, but still made bogey, and then he needed to make a birdie on the last to win;

“After my tee shot on sixteen I was lucky that I could chip it out and nearly made a great par. But when I stood over the ball on seventeen I saw that Branden had made birdie on eighteen so I knew that second shot was crucial to give myself a good opportunity and I hit it really close.

“And then eighteen, everyone thinks you just need to make a birdie but around that green it’s not easy and luckily I was far enough past where I could pitch it back into the grain and get it close. It was nerve-wracking through the round but I finished strong and I’m just happy that I got it done. It’s an awesome start for the year. Confidence-wise it’s great. I haven’t really played well last year with all the injuries so hopefully I can build from here on and just go better next time.”

Branden Grace captured second place, he also carded a -4 under par 68 in his final round, finishing with a -11 under par total, one shot adrift. He admitted it was terrible watching Louis pass him on the final green;

 “It was terrible watching it. But the winner at the end of the week is going to be the true champion and he played well so he deserves it. I thought I played some superb golf today. I let a couple slip out there which was unfortunate but if you had told me my first event I would start off with a second place, I would have taken it. This really gives you a push in the right direction so I’m really stoked.”

Tommy Fleetwood was the leader at the start of play, but he unfortunately could only produce a par last round of  72, which dropped him into a tie for third place with Joost Luiten, both at -10 under par.

Tommy said he hit the ball better off the tee, but it was the rest of his game that let him down at the crucial stage;

“Today was the best I have hit it off the tee all week and it was a shame the rest of the game let me down. After the long birdie putt on the second my putter went cold and it was not meant to be. It’s always great when you can be leading going into the final round of such a big event. I could have been four under, shot 66 and finished on the same score and not learned half as much. You have to take the positives and I have finished tied third in the first event and overall it’s been a very good week.”

Padraig Harrington and French duo Raphaël Jacquelin and Victor Dubuisson were another shot back on -9 under par.

European Tour. Volvo Golf Champions. Jacquelin Jumps Ahead.

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Raphael Jacquelin jumps ahead after the first round of the European Tour event at the Durban Country Club.

 

 

Raphael Jacquelin  (Getty Images)

Raphael Jacquelin / Getty Images

The conditions were blustery but that did not stop Raphael from carding a first round of -5 under par 67, to lead the Volvo Golf Champions by one shot.

Raphael said he was happy with his bogey free effort;

“I managed to get everything right, a bogey-free round; that’s the key, to go bogey-free every round on this course. It’s a new year and pretty good way for me to start, so that’s great.”

Defending Champion Louis  Oosthuizen is just one shot behind, after he recovered from a poor start, a bogey on the first hole, to score -4 under par 68.

Another shot further back, on -3 under par, sharing third place are Darren Clarke and Victor Dubuisson. A now slimline Darren, who has lost three stone in weight over recent months, delivered birdies on the second, eighth, tenth, 14th and 18th. He mentioned his new look;

“It’s something, I took a look at myself in October and thought it’s time to make a change. I am feeling strong. I reached 10 today, whatever it was, hit it 300 off the tee into the wind and hit driver from 285 to 12 feet and I couldn’t have reached there maybe five, six months ago.  So hopefully it will pay off.”

Colin Montgomerie is playing well and finished his first round at -2 under par with his opening round of 70. Colin said he struggles on the longer courses, so chooses his events carefully;

“I was playing well at the end of last year and I started to play a lot more golf. I had not been having much fun on 7,500-yard courses on the main tour but I am a member of three tours now (European Tour and two seniors tours) and it’s given me more freedom to choose courses I can get round. It’s very difficult and tricky out there, the wind was coming off the sea and made every hole a crosswind. You have to be very careful, you can make a mess out there in a hurry.”

Asides

I would love to see Volvo join the campaign to stop South Africa killing endangered species like Lion, Elephant and Rhino in penned in areas, just for the fun of rich tourists. It’s called canned hunting, the operators breed these animals and put them in penned in areas for tourists to shoot them, and it is legal. It is time to stop the killing of these creatures.

Volvo China Open. Dutchman Derksen Leads.

Dutchman Robert- Jan Derksen leads the Volvo China Open after the first round at Binhai Lake Golf Course in China.

Derksen back to his best in China

Robert-Jan Derksen / Getty Images

Robert-Jan,  a two-time European Tour winner, has not had a top-ten finish on tour for over two years, but he has suddenly found some good form here in China. In his first round he carded eight birdies, and two bogeys for a -6 under par, 66, and top the leaderboard, he said it had been a funny day, but was hoping for a good week;

” It was a funny day, because I started well with a birdie from about five feet, but then three-putted the third and fourth and ended up in three divots on the fairways later in the round. I made a lot of birdies, and I’ve ended the day in a really good position. The wind was difficult to judge, even on the greens. But I started making a few putts and my confidence lifted. I played well here last year, and decided to skip Korea last week to better prepare for this tournament, because the travelling can take it out of you. So it looks like a good decision. It’s only the first day, I know, but I haven’t led a tournament for quite a while, so if I can keep rolling in the putts, hopefully we could be in for a good week.”

Close behind Robert-Jan, tied in second place at -4 under par  are three of  the European Tour’s last five winners.  Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Frenchman Raphaël Jacquelin and last week’s Ballantine’s Champion Australian Brett Rumford all carding matching rounds of 68.

Brett had a bogey free round, but said he was short on sleep;

“I didn’t get much sleep on Sunday night and then I took Monday and Tuesday to recover, Wednesday I just played the pro-am, so that was my practice for the week to give myself a chance to recover and get the body right. Mentally I feel nice and fresh, and obviously it was a bit of a mental grind out there with the wind. You had to be really patient, so it was a good test for the first round back after my victory last week. It’s just a matter of  keep doing what you’re doing.”

Kiradech, won his maiden European Tour title at the Maybank Malaysian Open in March said he was full of confidence following last weeks effort at the Ballantines;

I still have a lot of confidence from how I played last week, and obviously from Malaysia. I have played well for three or four weeks in a row now, and will try to finish high up the leaderboard again this week. In this type of wind you don’t know how you will do, but I’ll just try to do my best.”

Raphaël, who won last month’s Open de España was very happy with his start to this tournament;

It’s a great start, any time you have no bogeys and four birdies, it’s always a good day,” said the Frenchman.

“The wind’s picking up now, so we were lucky to play seven or eight holes without much wind. The course gives you a few birdie chances, but there were some holes, like the fourth, ninth and 17th, which were playing really long into the wind. I’m playing really well at the moment. Obviously my win in Spain was amazing, and I guess it was always going to be hard to keep the same high level in Korea last week.”

China’s newest young player, 12-year-old Ye Wo-cheng struggle on his debut on the European Tour, carding a first round of +7 over par 79. Sixteen year-old Dou Ze-cheng , finished his day by signing for an impressive round of -2 under par 70.

European Tour.Open de España. Record 9 hole Sudden Death Play-Off.

There was a record 9 hole play-off required to decide the eventual winner of the Open de España, on the European Tour in Valencia at Parador de El Saler. Frenchman Raphaël Jacquelin needed all his experience to beat Maximilian Keiffer from Germany and Chile’s Felipe Aguilar.

Raphael Jacquelin  (Getty Images)

RaphaëlJacquelin /Getty Images

Raphaël finally overcame the persistent challenge of Maximilian at the ninth play-off hole. Felipe dropped out early on leaving the others to battle it out.

Once Felipe had gone anyone expecting a quick conclusion to this event was sadly mistaken, they ended up playing the 18th hole nine times, taking two hours, before Raphaël won it with a birdie. He said he was tired, but very happy;

“That is very tiring but I am really, really happy. I could not make any putts in the play-off but the last one dropped, which means a lot for me and my family. There’s another baby coming at the end of November; every time I get a baby, there’s a win so I’ll have a football team after a few years!”

Raphaël was gracious with his comments about Maximilian, who playing in only his tenth European Tour event;

“He is starting this year very well. He is going to do very well and going to win a lot, I am sure.”

The Ladies European Tour and the PGA Tour in America also needed play-offs to decide the winner, is this going to become the norm, will be interesting to see what happens next week, I will be watching.

 

European Tour, KLM Open. Graeme Storm leads after 1st round

Storm pleased to overcome trying time

Graeme Storm /Getty Images

Graeme Storm of England leads the European Tour KLM Open after the first round at Hilversumsche Golf Course with a faultless round of 63, a -7 under par effort. Graeme is trying to overcome personal tragedy away from the course, with his grandfather passing away prior to June’s BMW International Open.

“I’ve had a tough run and it’s all been a bit of a struggle. I’ve just not been enjoying it. I lost my grandfather on the Wednesday morning of Germany and since then I have really struggled. I kind of kept it to myself what happened but it hit me really hard. You can get punished round here but I played the best I have probably played all year. I’m just happy to get a round like that under my belt after recent months. The golf course here is fantastic, the best I have ever seen it, so you have to hit it straight and that is what I did. I made the birdies when I gave myself the chances and got up and down when I missed the greens. There is still a lot of play for this season. Keeping my card is the goal. At the start of the season it was getting into the top 60 on The Race to Dubai but I’m a long way from that so my goal now is to keep my card.”

I wish Graeme well, and hope that he will retain his card.

There are three players tied in second place, European Ryder Cup player Martin Kaymer, Raphaël Jacquelin and  Fabrizio Zanotti, who all had rounds of 65, -5 under par and two shots adrift of the leader.

Martin and Raphaël both had eagles on the par five twelfth hole, Martin saying he is working hard as he seeks to recapture his best form.

” Two years ago when I won here was very nice but that was a period of time I could have played golf with my eyes closed. Now is a different time when I need to work and it takes a lot of energy and a lot of concentration. I really need to focus on the things on the range. Two years ago it was more automatic.”

Defending Champion here is Simon Dyson, a three times a winner of this event, he began his defense of this title beginning the week with a 70 that featured a welcome Eagle on 18.

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. “

Alstom Open de France, 3rd round, Howell & Hansen Lead

Howell and Hansen hold slender advantage

David Howell (Getty Images

David Howell and Anders Hansen share the third round lead at the Alstom Open de France at Le Golf National, Paris, with a tournament total of -6 under par. There was a brief interruption, around 35 minutes, for a thunder-storm and Anders Hansen and George Coetzee who were then leading, at 8 under, dropped shots at the last couple of holes. That gave David Howell the opportunity to make up ground with his third round of -4 under par, 67, to tie Anders and pass George, who is now one shot back at -5 under par.

David is very satisfied with the way he is playing;

“I played beautifully. It’s been three good rounds so far. Today was probably the way you want to play the golf course. The way I played, I kept the ball on the whole in the fairway and took my chances when they came along. You’ve got to play steady golf around here. You can’t smash it all over the place and expect to score. You’ve got to be patient and play strategically, not make too many stupid errors and when the birdie chances come, the greens are perfect, so you can hope to hole some putts from 20 or 30 feet as well.
The confidence is building by the day and today’s round was important for me, and tomorrow’s will be of course. In decent position after 36, you never want to go backwards, and to play such a nice round, I was very pleased for my confidence. “

Anders was disappointed to drop shots late on in his round;

“I’m very pleased. Obviously disappointed to drop shots on six and 16, and on 17 I hit a bad drive, but two bogeys on a tough, tough day like today, it’s very decent. I’ve heard it’s going to be very, very windy tomorrow. We’ll see what’s going to happen. This is where I want to be and this is what I’ve worked towards. I’m happy to see the changes are working well and I’m hitting a lot of good shots out there. The more comfortable I get with the things I’m doing, you think the chances are that I’m going to play better, so all in all I’m very pleased.”

Frenchman  Raphaël Jacquelin went round in 70 to lie two behind Howell and Hansen. He was joined on four under by overnight leader Marcel Siem, who struggled to 73 after carding back to back 68s earlier in the week. Raphaël was happy with the home support he has been receiving;

” It was great to see the public coming, even if the weather was not very good. I hope they are going to be there a lot tomorrow and support me.  I will try to do my best, and we’ll see. It’s like a fifth major for us, and so it would mean a lot but I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. The course is putting a lot of pressure on myself already. So I will try to do my best again.”

Lee Westwood dropped off the planet, with a third round 76, but Ian Poulter is still in with a chance at -3 under par and three shots of the pace.

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