Scottish Open. Thorbjørn Olesen Shoots 63.

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Thorbjørn Olesen shoots 63 in the first round of the Scottish Open at Gullane Golf Club in Scotland.

Scottish Open

Thorbjørn Olesen / Getty Images

Thorbjorn opened the Scottish Open with a -7 under par 63, in benign conditions, to sit on top of the leaderboard with a two shot advantage at Gullane Golf Club.

Thorbjorn has recently returned from three months of injury, but in his first event back, the Mauritius Open in May, lost a play-off. He spoke of his rough times, and how good he is playing now;

“It’s been a tough time but I keep working on the right things and hopefully it will come.”

“I hit almost every green, only missing the 18th, and hit a lot of fairways, which was the key.”

There are no less than eight players tied in second place at -5 under par, after their first rounds of 65; American Ryder Cup player Jimmy Walker, Swede Johan Carlsson, Spaniards Alejandro Cañizares and Adrian Otaegui, and four Englishmen, Seve Benson, Matthew Nixon, Richard Finch and Daniel Brooks.

The next group, at -4 under par has nine players, which includes Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell, and Shane Lowery.

Graeme has been looking at old videos of his swing, when he was winning;

“I’m trying to get back to basics and we have narrowed my stance and used my body to swing the club how I used to.”

“I feel as if in an attempt to improve some things in my technique, I’ve actually got worse.”

“It was also nice to get back on a course that gives you a few opportunities in benign conditions. I just need a few low numbers to get my belief and confidence back and today will go a long way towards that.”

Defending Champion Justin is relying on caddie Mark Fulcher to plot a route around the Gullane Golf Club course;

“He’s doing the hard work and making my schedule a lot easier.”

“It was a pretty stress-free round and I did not burn up too much energy out there.”

Rickie has not played very well since winning The Players;

“There’s nothing you can really do about it. Things just start going the wrong way, and you can’t fix it, and you just kind of forget it. Unfortunate timing.”

“Those days just come, and there’s other days where it goes the other way and you can’t miss the hole.”

“So kind of give and take. That’s the way life is. That’s the way golf is.”

Phil Mickelson carded a -1 under par 69, he won The Open just one mile down the road at Muirfield in 2013, he struggled on the greens here at Gullane.

Scottish Open

 

AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open. Thorbjørn Olesen in Three-Way Tie at the Top

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Thorbjørn Olesen is in a three-way tie at the top of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open at the end of day 1 at Heritage Golf Club in Mauritius. This the first event to be tri-sanctioned by The European, Asian and Sunshine Tours.
 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open

Thorbjørn Olesen / Getty Images

Thorbjørn carded a -6 under par 66 to co-lead the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open on day one of the competition. He has been out of golf for three months, due to injury, but has burst back on the scene here in a big way;

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this, three months to play a competition round.”

“I was excited to get out there this morning. We had great conditions and I hit a lot of great putts, so it was fun.”

“Being out for three and a half months is a long time, especially when you can’t do anything. You are just doing rehab training, so it is frustrating. I’m excited to be out here again and I’ll be playing a lot of golf now.”

“I’m really pleased to be back out here on The European Tour and play competition golf. I’ve been practising hard over the last two weeks but you don’t know what it will be like when you get out here.” 

“I didn’t have the biggest expectations. I knew I was swinging the club better than I have been, but you never know what will happen, so I couldn’t be happier with this start. It’s an awesome start.”

“Having a break is very nice, but having a break because of injury is not very nice. You play so much golf so sometimes it is nice to get away from it and clear your mind, but I would definitely have preferred to have been without that injury.”

Joining Thorbjørn on that -6 under par score are Jeunghun Wang and Carlos Pigem .

Wang was really happy with his day’s work, especially in the  wet and windy conditions;

“I’m so happy with my score, the wind was so strong and the rain was very hard.” 

“I’m happy that I played like this and my putter was pretty nice today. The putter worked really well. 

“I’m enjoying my week in Mauritius. The weather wasn’t nice today but I want to keep my golf going like this.”

Carlos said his position on the leaderboard was quite unexpected;

“I didn’t expect to play quite so well because the conditions were tough, so I’m happy with my game.”

“It’s my third year in Asia. I played the European Tour Q-School last year but missed out at the final stage. It’s my target to be on The European Tour in the future and I know if I work hard I will be, but right now I’m enjoying it in Asia and learning a lot.”

“I have two or three more co-sanctioned events, and the Spanish Open next week, so if I can do well I might play more on The European Tour. It’s tough not having many events, but I will try.”

Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Gallacher Gate Crashes the Party.

dragon logo dark Stephen Gallacher has gate crashed the party at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club. A brilliant back nine in the third round has given the Defending Champion a two shot lead going into the final day.

Stephen Gallacher  (Getty Images)

Stephen tee’s off, watched by Tiger / Getty Images

Stephen is now in pole position to become the first man to successfully defend the Omega Dubai Desert Classic title following a brilliant round of -9 under par 63 on Saturday, to top the leaderboard at -16 under par. Stephen was actually ten under par for the last ten holes, he now has a two shot lead over Rory McIlroy, who could only manage a -3 under par 69 in his third round, he is at -14 under par.

Stephen did not know where the sudden blast of brilliance came from, he just said what an amazing game golf is;

 “I don’t really know to be honest, it was quite a struggle to start with, especially the first three holes. I was not quite right but if you stay patient and keep focused it’s amazing what this game throws up. I hit it stiff on nine and from then on just kept hitting it close, and if I hit it to 30 feet I holed it. I was just trying to make as many birdies as I could and get a lead because I found the last time it’s easier when you are leading than chasing. There’s a lot of golf left to go but I will certainly be giving it my best shot.”

Rory was not quite 100 per cent fit after a bout of food poisoning, caused by takeaway food on Thursday night. He said his round was just OK, and did not know that Stephen was ten under for his last ten holes;

“It was okay, I bogeyed the first again but birdied two and eagled three which was great. I didn’t drive the ball particularly well, I’m probably going to work on a few things on the range and I felt like I hit a lot of good putts that just didn’t go in. I felt like I left a few out there but it was a tricky day and shooting anything under 70 wasn’t a bad score. Obviously Stephen had a phenomenal round, 63 today is a really impressive effort.”

“I didn’t know that. That’s a great stretch of holes and hopefully he doesn’t continue it tomorrow! I played with him the first two days and he played very well. Obviously he was on fire today, I just need to go out there and try to hit a few more fairways, focus on a few things in my game, not really focus on what he’s doing and make a few putts and see where it puts me. It’s the second week in a row for me going into the last day with a chance to win, it’s a great position to be in.”

There are two players tied in third spot, at -12 under par, Brooks Kopeka and Thorbjørn Olesen, they had very different rounds. Brooks had held the lead midway through the back nine until Stephen’s charge, I don’t know if he was watching the scoreboard but he dropped shots at the 14th and 15th to card a -2 under par 70. Thorbjørn on the other hand  fired a flawless -7 under par 65 to move him up the leaderboard.

World Number One Tiger Woods shot -2 under par 70 to occupy a share of 37th place on -5 under par.

There are obviously low scores to had on this Emirates Golf Club course, so there is still a chance for many players to come from behind and take this title, I am looking forward to it.

Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. Garcia Grabs Title.

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Sergio Garcia grabbed the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters title in a sudden death play-off at the Doha Golf Club.

Gallant Garcia secures thrilling victory

Sergio Garcia / Getty Images

Sergio won the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at the third play-off hole, after he set the club-house target with his flawless final round of -7 under par 65. He defeated Mikko Ilonen, who fired a last round -6 under par 66 to level the scores and force the play-off.

Sergio said this win feels good;

“It feels good, it’s funny because I started the day thinking if I can shoot six or seven under maybe I can have a chance, and it turns out I had a very similar putt that I had last year to get it to seventeen under on eighteen. I hit a good putt and unfortunately it didn’t break. It’s been an amazing week already and I was definitely more nervous on my tee shot on the eighteenth in regulation than in the play-off. That’s probably why I hit three better tee shots. The up and down from the bunker in the play-off was key and I’m very happy to be able to win it. I almost feel less pressure because you feel like you’ve had a great week already and if you win it’s kind of like a little bit of a bonus.”

Mikko thought he would have to win it with an Eagle, last year England’s Chris Wood made an eagle on the 72nd hole to beat Sergio, but it was poor bunker play that let him down;

“I was expecting one of us would need to make an eagle to win it. I hit two poor bunker shots out of the same front right-hand trap, one in regulation and one in the play-off, and I’m not going to blame anything else. I came up two short of my target in regulation, I thought 64 would do it outright, and Sergio was a bit better than me this time. I needed a strong start and I got it being four under through eight, and I backed it up with a good end to the round with three birdies in the last five. I played good golf this week so I can’t be too disappointed.”

Third place was shared by Thorbjørn Olesen and Rafa Cabrera-Bello, both finished just one shot back on -15 under par. Thorbjørn  had a very good chance to join the play-off, but missed from 15 feet for an Eagle on the 18th hole. Rafa also needed an Eagle to join the play-off , but saw his chip from over the green pull up just three feet short of the hole.

Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. Two Tied At The Top.

dragon logo dark    Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Steve Webster are the two players who are tied at the top of the leaderboard in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters tournament heading into the final round tomorrow.

Webster catches Cabrera-Bello as exciting finish beckons

Steve Webster / Getty Images

Steve had a -2 under par 70 third round to join Rafa at the top of the leaderboard at -12 under par at the Doha Golf Course. He admitted that his golf was not very pretty, this from a man who started this tournament with an Albatross on the very first hole;

“That wasn’t pretty, I don’t know what happened the first six or seven holes. I hit it really well on the range and I think I got a bit cocky on the course and hit so many bad shots the first six or seven holes, it was like I had never played golf before.”

” On the back nine I gave myself a few chances and I knocked in a really good putt on 11 which made things feel a little better. But the pins were tucked away a bit today and that’s why the scores have pretty much stayed the way they were.”

Rafa started the day with a two shot lead, but had an even poorer round, a +1 over par 73, which allowed Steve to catch him;

“I still feel as though I played okay, I just did not manage to score as well. It was tough with the wind, I didn’t quite make the putts and struggled here and there with my chipping, but overall I got the not-so-good round out of the way and I am still in a fantastic position going into Saturday.”

Three players are tied in third position, just one shot back at -11 under par. One of these golfers is Adrien Saddier who easily shot the best round of the day, carding a bogey free -8 under par 64;

“It was a great round, I played very well, I played the first two rounds with Steve Webster  and in the long game we were pretty similar but he putted better, so I thought if I can make some good putts I can do the same as him.

“Coming from the Qualifying School I need some good results so it’s great to shoot 64 today. I finished 2013 very well and I am starting 2014 well too. I only turned professional in July so my only aim this year is to keep my card.”

Frenchman Adrien is joined in third place by Thomas Aiken and Thorbjørn Olesen, Thomas had a -2 under par 70, while Thorbjørn signed for a -4 under par 68 third round.

On this tightly packed  leaderboard there are seventeen players within four shots of the lead, including two-time winner Paul Lawrie on -10 under par and his Ryder Cup team-mate Sergio Garcia on -9 under par for the tournament. This should provide for some exciting entertainment in the final round for the spectators at the Doha Golf Club.

Pablo Larrazabal, who won last week sadly missed the cut here, the euphoria of winning quickly doused.

Arnold Palmer Invitational. Tiger Trounces the Course. Justin suffers the Jitters.

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Tiger Woods trounced the Bay Hill course in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, shooting a third round -6 under par, 66. Meanwhile Justin Rose, who seemed to be cruising with a two shot lead, suddenly suffered a severe case of the jitters.

Can he be stopped?

Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler / Greenwood / Getty Images

Tiger putted like a champion today, it helped him to his -6 under par round and a tournament total of -11 under par, a lead of two shots over the field. The man looking most likely to mount a serious challenge to Tiger is Rickie Fowler, no slouch himself today, with a third round of -5 under par, which elevated him to -9 under par and in a tie for second place. He will also play with Tiger for the final round, something that he could not handle last year when he faced the same task. He shot a last round 84 that day, compared to the winner Tiger Woods, who came home in 67.

Tiger said he now knows how to fix his game while out on the course;

” I just understand how to fix my game, it’s taken me a while. I was hurt for a long time. The changes to make the swing from where I was to now is a pretty big change.I hit a bad shot here and there, and that’s easy to fix. I know what my fix is going to be and that makes a big difference. I’m much more comfortable, but also I think that I’m feeling pretty good physically, that was huge. I’ve had one more year of working on my game, and here I am. Just because I’ve won here doesn’t ensure that I’m going to win the tournament, the conditions are different. The game might be different. But the objective is still to put myself in position to win the golf tournament and somehow get it done on Sunday. Over the course of my career, I’ve done a pretty decent job of that.”

Rickie remembers that bad day at Memorial;

” After Memorial, I’m looking for a little redemption, I’m feeling good about the pairing, about my game. I’m going in there with the attitude that I have nothing to lose and we’ll see what happens from there. He’s definitely the guy to beat but I’ll be right there to see what’s going on. With him having leads on courses he loves like this and Torrey Pines and Doral, and I’m sure there are others, he’s basically never lost with a lead in the final round. So I’m looking forward to tomorrow and seeing if we can go do that.”

Tied in second place with Rickie are jittery Justin Rose and John Huh, Justin with an even par round and John a -1 under par round.

There are five players another shot back at -8 under par for the tournament, they are; Thorbjorn Olesen, Gonzalo Fedez- Castano, Jimmy Walker, Ken Duke and Bill Haas.

To be honest I can not see anybody challenging Tiger for this title, it is his for the taking. Winning would move him to the top of FedExCup leaderboard, becoming the first player to hold the top spot in five different seasons. Additionally, he’d match Sam Snead as the only other player to win the same tournament eight times and of course he would move back to No. 1 in the World, for the first time since Oct. 30, 2010.

Nobody is going to stop Tiger.

Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Stephen Gallacher Wins

 

Eagle swoops Gallacher to victory

Stephen Gallacher / Getty Images

Stephen Gallacher won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Course in Dubai on Sunday, with a final round of -1 under par 71, for a -22 under par total. Stephen won by three strokes from Richard Sterne who also had a last round of -1 under par and a tournament total of -19 under.

The defining moment came when Stephen holed his approach to the par four 16th, for his fifth eagle of the week to finally shake off the strong challenge of Richard. Obviously Stephen was delighted with his second European Tour win;

“I’m obviously delighted. I’ve holed four shots this week, but you’ve got to do that these days to win, you need that little bit of magic.”

Stephen is now  set to climb into the top 60 of the Official World Golf Ranking in time for the WGC-Accenture Match Play, and has a great chance to move into the top 50 in time for a Masters Tournament debut at Augusta National. It’s the only Major he has not competed in;

” It’s the only Major I’ve never played, I sit and watch it in the house with the kids every year and obviously it would be a dream to play there.  My plan at the start of the year was to try and get into the top 50 to try and make The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2014.”

Richard Sterne was understandably upset at not being able to clinch victory here, but took some positives out of the week, he said the chip in Eagle at the 16th took the wind out of his sails;

” Second place is obviously pretty good, but when you’re tied for the lead and there’s one shot in it here and there. Everything swung around on 16 really, that took the wind out of my sails. I gave it as good a run as I could, I’m not too disappointed.”

Chile’s Felipe Aguilar and Dane Thorbjørn Olesen finished tied for third and England’s Lee Westwood was joint fourth after hitting his second shot into the water on the par five last hole.