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Joburg Open, Super Sterne Wins.

Stunning Sterne back on top

Richard Sterne / Getty Images.

Richard Sterne won the Joburg Open with a super last round 64 on the East Course at  Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club on Sunday. His final tournament total of -27 under par, a record for this event, was an amazing seven shots ahead of second placed Charl Schwartzel. Richard’s recent woes with injury are now well behind him, although even he did not expect to be away from the game for nearly two years;

” I didn’t think I was going to be out for so long, but six months became a year and then almost two.  After all the hard work and the time out with injury, I did think whether I was ever going to win again. At one point the pain was so bad that I even wondered if I’d ever play golf again. But now I know I can. The only thing that kept me going was all the other South Africans, they kept winning a lot of events and I believed that if they could do it then I could.”

Richard is the first player since Tiger Woods in 2002 to drop just one shot in a 72 hole European Tour event, he now leads the Race To Dubai and will definitely be in the top 60 when the Official World Golf Rankings are updated on Monday. Only the top 50 players qualify automatically for Major Championships,  a huge incentive for Richard, who admits the Majors is where he wants to be;

” I’d like to get back into all the Majors, that’s where I want to be playing. It’s a big year,  I’ve got off to such a nice start so hopefully I can keep it going. I played really good golf today and the whole week really,  that was probably the best final round of my career. It was quite special to finish the way I did.”

Charl Schwartzel’s 66 left him one better off than  Chilean Felipe Aguilar, George Coetzee and Ricardo Santos, who matched the victor’s final round of 64. Sadly Trevor Fisher Jnr had a final round of  73, which left him tied in sixth place, alongside Keith Horne and Thomas Aiken on -18 under par for the tournament.

Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, Chris Wood Wins

Chris Wood won his first European Tour Title at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in Doha, finishing the tournament at -18 under par.

Chris Wood   (Getty Images)

Chris Wood / Getty Images

Chris had some problems during his last round, his three stroke overnight lead had been transformed into a two shot deficit by the end of the first nine holes. He clawed his way back into the match, but was still one shot adrift of Spaniard Sergio Garcia and South African George Coetzee.

Chris needed a birdie at the last hole to get into a play-off. He boomed his drive down the fairway and followed that with a six iron shot over water to the green. The perfect six iron strike flew 202 yards and finished just ten feet from the cup, Chris calmly rolled in the Eagle putt to claim his maiden victory. He said the win had lifted an enormous weight off his shoulders;

” There’s an enormous weight lifted off my shoulders today, I feel like I can go on and win more. I knew it was going to be hard no matter how I played, winning on The European Tour is not easy. I’ve been knocking on the door in previous times and it’s not happened. To get it today, to get my first win, it’s such an honor, I’m so pleased. It feels good, blimey, I’ve seen a few mates picking up trophies and I’ve been waiting patiently for my time. I felt like I was due to win for a couple of years. Nice way to finish!” 

Sergio Garcia and George Coetzee were forced to settle sharing second place at -17 under par, but must have thought they would be in a play-off for the title, until Chris sank his eagle putt.

Sergio would have regained a place in the Worlds Top Ten if had won, but the Ryder Cup star was gracious in his defeat;

” Chris hit a great drive and a great six iron and then a wonderful putt. Obviously he’s been trying for a while and he deserves it, and after the start he had today, it’s quite impressive for him to come back the way he did and win.  I gave it my best effort.”

The top three golfers were way ahead of the field, the next best score was -13 under par, five shots adrift. Justin Rose finished in joint 16th place, and remained at number four in the World Golf Rankings.

 

 

 

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 Championship, Jamie Donaldson Wins

Donaldson wins desert thriller

Jaime Donaldson / Getty Images

The Abu Dhabi Championship was won by Welshman Jaime Donaldson, giving him his second European Tour Title. Jaime finished at -14 under par for the tournament, just one shot better than  Justin Rose and Thorbjorn Olesen who had to settle at tied for second place with at -13 under par.

Both Justin and Thorbjorn needed to birdie the last to get into a play-off, but they bother managed to miss their respective attempts. Thorbjorn’s effort slid by the hole, while Justin’s attempt from twelve feet lipped out.

Jaime was amazed at the end, believing one of the boys would have birdied the last, and forced a play-off;

” It’s pretty surreal really, I’ve played really good all week although I’ve got away with murder up the last. I thought one of them would hole if not both, but when both putts slipped by it was my week. I’m very happy to be stood here holding the trophy. It’s like buses isn’t it. I played the pro-am on Wednesday and thought the course was too difficult and I had no chance. I thought if I could get a decent finish I would be chuffed.To be holding this trophy is just mad.”

Justin closed the tournament with a -1 under par 71, not what he was hoping for, but his second placed finish was enough to move him back up the World Golf Rankings, regaining fourth spot from Louis Oosthuizen after his win in South Africa last week;

“It was definitely hard work today, for some reason it was hard to see the breaks on the front nine, but I pulled it together really well and felt I got into a really good competitive mode. When I birdied 14 I didn’t realise Jamie had had a hot round. I had actually expected to be one ahead at that point and I was one behind, so every credit to Jamie. I didn’t do a lot wrong. It’s hard to beat yourself up about it. I felt like I brought my best stuff on the back nine rather than the front nine, so that’s encouraging. I don’t think I need to do anything different , just need to keep chipping away and keep swinging well. But was a long, hard week to end up finishing second.”

Thorbjorn said in retrospect he wished he had not tried to reach the green at the sixth hole, from a bad lie;

” I was trying to go for the green but I knew the lie was bad and I tried anyway. Maybe I should have just laid up, but you can always say that after. I tried to make birdies today, and I didn’t make that many unfortunately.”

 

 

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The McGladrey Classic Round 1

McGladrey Classic Golf

Bud Cauley/photo A/P

Bud Cauley shares the lead at the McGladrey Classic on the Seaside Course, Sea Island, Georgia, after the opening round, with fellow American Marco Dawson. Both players took advantage of the course to fire in rounds of -8 under par, 62.

Bud has already earned $1.7 million dollars this year and has moved up to position 55 in the World Golf Rankings, all achieved without a win. He hopes this tournament will change the zero in the win column;

”Obviously, I’ve thought about winning every tournament I’ve teed up in this year. ‘It’s been a long year, and although I’ve played a lot this year, I haven’t won. It’s still a goal of mine, but I’m not thinking about that while I’m out there, or putting any more pressure on myself this week. The season is kind of winding down. It would be great to win here.”

Marco Dawson is in a totally different position, this tournament it is the penultimate PGA Tour event on the schedule that counts toward the money list, with Marco way down at No. 216 on the list and with only $62,026 in his 20 tournaments this year. Realistically Marco has to win The McGladrey Classic to avoid a return to Q-school, his year has gone so awry that  he doesn’t even look at the money list anymore.

”I’m so far away from it that the only thing I can do is just try and play well. And when I am playing well, just to keep it going instead of kind of messing it up like I have during the year.”

Boo Weekly is one of three players tied for third place with rounds of  -6 under par 64. Boo has changed to a new thicker putter grip, something that we at White Dragon Golf always recommend, and it has dramatically altered his putting stats, sinking putts from 14, 7, 15, 8, and 7 feet. Boo is currently at 121 on the money list, and is aware of the danger;

“I’m pretty aware of it, The last two weeks I’ve actually played pretty good but I just seem to get nothing out of my round. It just gets more frustrating. The more frustrated you get out here you start getting negative, you start talking trash to yourself saying, ‘You ain’t gonna make the cut because you can’t make this 5-footer. You missed three already the first five holes.’ It just kind of wears on your mind.  It’s been a long time coming, finally started making some putts. I’ve been hitting the ball pretty good the last few weeks and finally today the putts showed up. It just felt good, started making some putts and that started building some confidence.”

The other two players tied at third with Boo are, England’s Greg Owen and Rod Pampling from Australia.

No Americans in World Golf Rankings top 5

 For the first time in 17 years, no American player will be ranked in the top five of the final World Golf Rankings of the year. That’s pretty sobering news for a country that used to dominate the golf scene. The question is, will things change in 2012, do you think Tiger Woods and co will put in a stellar season or will the Europeans consolidate their positions. It will be an interesting year and I am looking forward to the opening tournament in Hawaii. The Tournament of Champions event starts on Thursday, January 5.  Unfortunately a lot of big names passed on the event, including Phil Mickelson and Luke Donald, not sure why these guys would not attend. Only one of last year’s four major winners will be in attendance, and he is USPGA champion Keegan Bradley. I wish all the contestants  good luck with taking home the 1.2 million dollar prize money, not to mention the 500 FedEx cup points to be the first leader on the board for 2012.

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