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19th Hole
News and Opinion

Golf Blogs

Date CreatedMost Popular

Sean Donnelly
Be cautious of boarding the Tiger Woods hype train
Nov 22, 2017 11:40 AM
 
Shhhhh!!!...you hear it? That feint chugging noise in the distance? Yeah, well, the more you listen the louder it’s going to get, for we are now just eight days out from Tiger Woods’ much vaunted return to the professional circuit at the Hero World Challenge and the Tiger-hype-train is rapidly approaching full speed. Just three weeks have passed since the 41-year-old announced his intention to tee it up in the Bahamas after almost a year out owing to the recurrence of a longstanding back problem. The initial tenor of media response was sensibly cautious. For although everyone involved in the game is naturally excited at the prospect of Woods’ return, most commentators were keen to downplay expectations, warning fans not to expect anything too spectacular from the veteran while he builds himself back up to full fitness. Such temperance has dissipated at an alarming rate over the past few days. . We are nearing the return of a legend. While there's many haters and doubters, your true fans will never stop believing in you @TigerWoods. All the best as you embark on your comeback! pic.twitter.com/J3Xhfy9GD1 — Tiger Woods Spot (@TwSpot) November 19, 2017 For instance, Rickie Fowler’s confession that Woods is driving the ball "way by me" in practice rounds prompted GolfWorld’s Alex Meyers to declare that “Tiger is back!” ESPN’s Alex Malcom, meantime, responded to Jason Day’s reflection that Woods’ game is looking as strong as at any point over the past three years by declaring we may need to “look out” as the 14-time major champion gallops to the Hero World Challenge title next week. Clearly some such commentary is tongue-in-cheek, and it is a testament to the respect and admiration Woods continues to command in the dressing-room that his colleagues speak so glowingly about the prospects of his comeback. But it behoves any sensible golf fan to pause at this point and to reflect on the course of Tiger’s most recent attempt at a PGA Tour return 11 months ago. Sure, he impressed in carding a tournament-leading 17 birdies in the Bahamas last year; however, a conspicuous spate of double-bogeys mitigated such scoring and restricted him to a 15th-place finish in a modest 18-man field. He then went on to miss the cut on the occasion of his PGA Tour comeback at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in late January and was forced to withdraw from the Dubai Desert Classic the following week owing to a back-spasm. He has not played since and his career descended to a new low when he was arrested for driving under the influence of prescription painkiller medication in Florida in June. Few golf fans will be happier than this writer to watch Woods’ comeback develop into an unprecedented success; however, I refuse to get sucked into the hype-machine this time around. The experience of 12 months ago was simply too disappointing to allow it. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Austin Cook shoots 3-under 67 to win RSM Classic, earns trip to Masters next year
Nov 21, 2017 12:07 PM
Tags: RSM Classic   News   FedEx Cup   Austin Cook  
 
Okay, let’s be up front about this; you know and I know that the real golfing season ended with Xander Schauffele’s single stroke victory over FedEx Cup champion, Justin Thomas, in the Tour Championship at East Lake in October. And for all of the media hype designed to ‘big-up’ the Presidents Cup and the Asian Swing, every sensible golf fan is well aware that the 2017/18 PGA Tour season proper will begin with the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February. But although the wrap-around period might fail to set the pulses of the highest-ranking pros racing, it does provide a significant opportunity for mid-to-lower tier golfers and emerging young pretenders to generate some serious cash and make significant strides up the Official World Golf Rankings. Austin Cook embodied this dynamic at the RSM Classic at Sea Island last week. PGATOUR: The leaders have teed off!Live scores at TheRSMClassic: https://t.co/eiSwyRtr0R pic.twitter.com/p0Y4vPOVjF #PGATour— Wayne Willmore™ (@Crazy_Willows) November 19, 2017 The 26-year-old arrived in Georgia ranked 302nd in the Official World Golf Rankings; he was winless at all levels of the professional game in three years since graduating from the University of Arkansas and only earned his PGA Tour playing card courtesy of a top-30 finish at the most recent Web.com Tour Finals. Pitched against a field containing established PGA Tour pros, Ryder Cup veterans and major champions such as Kevin Kisner, Matt Kuchar, Charles Howell, Brian Harman, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson and Si-Woo Kim, therefore, there was little reason to suspect Cook would even make it to the weekend. After all, the Arkansas-native barely scraped past the cut mark en route to an indifferent, T50 finish at the OHL Classic in Mexico the previous week. A bogey-free, 6-under opening round 66, however, immediately thrust the rookie into contention and he seized outright control of the half-way leaderboard courtesy of an 8-under 62 on the Friday. It was not until the 14th hole of his third round that Cook dropped a shot en route to a solid, 4-under 66 which ensured he started the final day with a three stroke advantage away from veterans Brian Gay, Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner and Brian Harman. There was always the chance that a talent so raw as Cook would capitulate under the pressure that inevitably accompanies a 54-hole lead, but instead of playing defensively, he attacked and carded three birdies in his last four holes to seal a four-shot victory over J.J. Spaun. "It was definitely exciting -- real brutal with the wind," Cook said. "I got off to a slow start, but I was able to keep my head level and know there was a lot of golf to be played. With the wind and those conditions, a lot could happen." In addition to rising more than 150 places up the Official World Golf Rankings overnight, Cook has booked a major championship debut at the Masters in April. Not a bad week’s work for the rookie. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Rahm gate-crashes European Tour finale in Dubai
Nov 20, 2017 3:09 AM
 
It was ultimately with an air of anti-climax that Tommy Fleetwood was conferred with the European Tour’s Race to Dubai title at Jumeriah Golf Estate on Sunday afternoon. For although the outstanding quality of the Englishman’s performances through the first six months of 2017 were such that he cannot be labelled an unworthy Order of Merit Champion, it is a product of the nature of these end-of-season play-off events that it always feels as though the tournament winner should also be conferred with the top prize. Three players – points leader, Fleetwood, as well as Justin Rose and Masters champion, Sergio Garcia – arrived in Dubai knowing that victory would enable them to claim the lucrative Order of Merit prize pot; remarkably all three begin the final round with a bona fide chance of taking the title. Justin Rose’s flawless, 7-under third-round 65 propelled him to the top of the 54-hole leaderboard, two strokes clear of Fleetwood in a tie for third and five ahead of Garcia who remains threateningly positioned in a tie for fifth on 10-under. An emotional @TommyFleetwood1 learns that he is the 2017 #RaceToDubai champion. pic.twitter.com/ug9TbDNTUp— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 19, 2017 Rose looked set for a remarkable third win in succession to seal a second Race to Dubai title when he led by a shot with seven holes to play, only to bogey three of the next five. That left the Olympic champion needing to eagle the last hole to overhaul Fleetwood, but his long-range attempt slid past the hole as Fleetwood looked on, alongside his fiancée, Clare Craig, and their 7-week-old son. "I felt like I was in complete control until the 12th hole then I kind of hit the buffers," Rose reflected. "I don't know where it went wrong on the back nine. "I'm happy for Tommy. He's battled hard all year. It's good for him to finish it off." Fleetwood, for his part, had made things relatively straightforward for Rose. The 26-year-old carded 18 birdies through his first 54-holes in Dubai; however, a 3-over back-nine obliged him to sign for a 74 on Sunday and he consequently slumped from tied-third to a finish of tied-27th on the leaderboard. "It's kind of amazing," Fleetwood said. "It's not kind of sunk in yet. It was great being out there today trying to win it. It really was out of my control over the last few holes. "It was difficult being sat on the couch in the scoring area, just watching TV, not being able to do anything. You just have to watch how it unfolds and I felt for Justin a lot. I think how gracious he was shows a lot about his character. Ultimately the player who benefitted from Rose and Fleetwood’s profligacy was Jon Rahm. The 22-year-old has been a revelation since turning professional after a T27, low-amateur finish at the US Open at Oakmont last June. He has won twice on the European Tour and once in the US PGA Tour in just 41 professional starts and is already firmly ensconced as a member of the world’s top-5: one struggles to envision this being the last of Spaniard’s money titles. Rahm started the final round within two strokes of the 54-hole lead and a 5-under 67 was good enough to take the title by a single shot away from Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Ireland's Shane Lowry at 19-under. <div class="tk-news-body" "="" style="box-sizing: inherit; color: black; overflow: hidden; padding: 10px 40px; font-family: &quot;Open Sans&quot; !important;">[Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Lowry Dangerously Poised To Upset Dubai Finale
Nov 19, 2017 7:50 AM
 
Media coverage of this week’s season-ending, DP World Tour Championship at Jumeriah Golf Estates has understandably focused on the three-way battle for the European Tour’s Race to Dubai title at the top of the leaderboard. Three players – points leader, Tommy Fleetwood, as well as Justin Rose and Masters champion, Sergio Garcia – arrived in Dubai knowing that victory would enable them to claim the lucrative Order of Merit prize pot; remarkably all three begin the final round with a bona fide chance of taking the title. Justin Rose’s flawless, 7-under third round 65 propelled him to the top of the 54-hole leaderboard, two strokes clear of Fleetwood in a tie for third and five ahead of Garcia who remains threateningly positioned in a tie for fifth on 10-under. But while journalists across the world remain understandably focused on the Order of Merit battle, one of the most compelling storylines to emerge in Dubai has been the progress of one Mr Shane Lowry. The Offaly-native started the final round a full six strokes back from Rose after bookending a 2-under 70 on Friday with three and four-under rounds on Thursday and Saturday. Jaysus, where has this guy been all year? Well done @ShaneLowryGolf @EuropeanTour pic.twitter.com/jw9w1t8SxU — Joe Culley (@TheRealCulls) November 19, 2017 On Sunday, however, his play ignited: Lowry made a staggering 10 birdies - with just a single dropped shot - on his way to his best round since 2011 and seized the outright clubhouse lead by three shots away from Rose at 18-under. While it is, of course, deeply unlikely that the Irishman will be able to hold his position through to the end of the day, it is difficult to overlook the manner in which his performance fits into a broader pattern of gradually improving form. As this blog discussed last month, Lowry’s form has undergone a severe dip since he squandered a 4-shot 54-hole lead at the US Open last year. He missed five cuts and registered just a single top-10 through his first 16 starts of 2017; this form, allied to a CUT-T46-CUT-T48 run through the season’s four majors, caused him to slip outside of the top-80 in the Official World Golf Rankings. A T7 finish at The British Masters at the beginning of October, however, appeared to catalyse something of a revival in Lowry’s fortunes and he arrived in Dubai off the back of a T12-T8-T12 run through the Andalucia Masters, the Turkish Open and the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Another strong finish at the DP World Tour Championship will push Lowry further towards the world’s top-50 and position him strongly to re-ascend to the heights he reached after winning the 2015 WGC Bridgestone Invitational in the coming year. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Justin Rose takes two-shot lead ahead of final round in Dubai
Nov 18, 2017 12:00 PM
 
Okay, let’s cut right to the chase. In the eight years since the European Tour’s Order of Merit award was rechristened the Race to Dubai and reformatted in a manner evocative of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup play-off series, the drama of the season finale has seldom lived-up to the glamour of the competition’s name. In the vast majority of cases the ‘Race to Dubai’ was no race at all by the time the European Tour elite descended on the Earth Course at Jumeriah Golf Estates for the DP World Tour Championship – the money winner had already been long since confirmed. 2017, however, has bucked that trend. Three players – points leader, Tommy Fleetwood, as well as Justin Rose and Masters champion, Sergio Garcia – arrived in Dubai this week confident in the knowledge that victory would enable them to claim the lucrative Order of Merit prize pot. Justin Rose takes one-shot lead into final round in Dubai, eyes Race to Dubai crown https://t.co/kgXS5ub7ZI pic.twitter.com/ecHYWMBYkh— GOLF.com (@golf_com) November 18, 2017 Frequently in a sport as unpredictable as golf, a drab narrative would play-out whereby none of the three money leaders contend for the title and the pre-tournament leader takes prize by default. In this instance, however, all three players will begin the final round with bona fide hopes of taking the title and the money prize. Rose, who was a distant 10th on the money list until earning 2.3 million points with back-to-back wins in China and Turkey over the past three weeks, will start the final round with a single stroke lead away from playing partner Jon Rahm and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli at 15-under. The Englishman carded a sensational, bogey-free 7-under third round of 65 to surge to the summit of the leaderboard, and although Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood overcame a slow start to match Rose's score and remain two behind alongside Dean Burmester and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Rose has the upper hand in what has become a thrilling battle. "You couldn't have scripted it much better," Rose reflected after a crucial par save on the 18th, where his approach found the water in front of the green. "Tommy's last two rounds have been incredible and he is right there should I make any kind of mistake. He is doing everything he has to do and I'm doing the same, so it's perfectly set up for Sunday. Garcia sits five shots shy of the 54-hole lead in a tie for sixth, and while it is conceivable the Masters champion could ignite on Sunday and surge to the title, the strength of Rose and Fleetwood’s performances are such that he still unlikely to unseat them atop the money list. We await a thrilling finale. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Dubai Title Would Cap Garcia’s Banner Year
Nov 17, 2017 12:04 PM
 
When Sergio Garcia claimed his maiden PGA Tour title at the 2001 MasterCard Colonial in Fort Worth and then won again at the Buick Classic in New York the same year, it seemed only a matter of time until he made his breakthrough at major championship level. The Castellon-native finished as a runner-up to Tiger Woods at the 1999 US PGA Championship at Medinah as a 19-year-old and he seemed to possess all of the technical and physical gifts required to enshrine himself as Woods’ principal rival for the next decade: solid length off of the tee, pristine ball striking (especially with a mid-iron in hand), flair, guile and exceptionally well-developed course management skills. History, of course, did not pan-out this way and it ultimately took Garcia 17 years and an agonising 23-top 10 major championship finishes before he finally broke his duck in a play-off against Justin Rose at the 81st edition of the US Masters at Augusta in April. But for all the riches and acclaim that the Spaniard has accrued through the course of two decade-long professional career, decorated with 14 European titles and 10 PGA Tour wins, he has yet to finish top of the European Order of Merit and claim the Race to Dubai. This week’s DP World Tour Championship at Jumeriah Golf Estates provides the 37-year-old with a chance to right that wrong. Nearly, @TheSergioGarcia. pic.twitter.com/zaBhme2Ms9 — The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 16, 2017 "Obviously excited about this week and get to, hopefully, give it a run. Obviously it's very difficult to become the Race to Dubai winner, but it doesn't mean that we're not going to give everything we have this week and see where we end up," Garcia reflected when talking to reporters at the media centre on Tuesday. "It's been a wonderful year. Excited for these last few weeks of the year," It would, indeed, be an ideal and fitting way for Garcia to cap-off what has undoubtedly been the finest season of a glittering career. For in addition to claiming the Masters in April, he won February's Dubai Desert Classic, and at the Valderrama Masters last month. The world No.11 now sits within 1.2m points of Fleetwood and knows a victory, combined with Fleetwood finishing outside the top-20 and Rose failing to secure a top-four finish, would give him his first money list title. In light of Garcia’s fortunes over these past twelve-months, one would be leery of backing against such a scenario playing out. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Can Si Woo Kim get his career back on track in 2018?
Nov 16, 2017 2:56 AM
 
When Si Woo Kim became the youngest ever winner of the Players Championship courtesy of a three-shot victory away from Ian Pouter at the TPC Sawgrass back in April, it seemed only a matter of time until he took his place alongside the likes of Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm into the world’s top-10. After all, that victory catapulted the then 21-year-old into the top-30 for the first time in his career; it guaranteed him a consistent spot in major championship draws for the foreseeable future and persuaded International Team captain, Nick Price, to select him for a President’s Cup debut. Simply put, Kim’s triumph at Sawgrass convinced the golfing world that there was a real toughness underlying the effervescent talent that he so richly demonstrated to a global audience in order to win his maiden PGA Tour accolade by five shots away from Luke Donald at the 2016 Wyndham Championship. The fact that he parred every hole on the back-nine coming into the clubhouse in order to close-out The Players spoke to an extraordinarily early-developed sense of competitive maturity. However, the South Korean’s form contracted badly after his victory at Sawgrass and, far from consolidating that achievement by pushing on towards the world’s top-10, his ranking rapidly receded. The leaders are making the turn at @MayakobaGolf.1. Patton Kizzire (-18)2. Rickie Fowler (-15)T3. Charles Howell III (-14)T3. Si Woo Kim (-14)Leaderboard: https://t.co/H5DFVGXKVC pic.twitter.com/vzIcuRsnW1— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) November 12, 2017 He posted four MCs and a WD in his first six starts following The Players and arrived in Mexico for last week’s OHL Classic at Mayakoba ranked 45th in the world. An impressive T13 finish at the US Open in June was the only top-20 finish he had managed over the previous five months. It is in this context that it was so heartening to witness Kim perform strongly in Mexico. The Seoul-native shot four rounds in the 60s, and a final round of 65, en route to a T3 finish, four strokes behind champion, Patton Kizzire, at El Camileon Golf Course, and finished top-10 both for strokes-gained putting and strokes-gained approaching the green. That Kim stands as one of the most exciting young golfers in the world game is beyond dispute. With solid length off the tee, a penetrating range of iron-shots and a consistent putting stroke, he seems to possess all of the raw materials to establish himself as a bona-fide member of the sport’s elite in the future. But, like any young player, he is prone to bouts of inconsistency; the imperative in 2018 is that he does not allow short-term deviations in form to metastasise into lengthy barren spells as occurred in the second-half of 2017. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Rose & Garcia aim to spoil Fleetwood’s coronation in Dubai
Nov 15, 2017 12:32 PM
 
In the eight years that have passed since the European Tour’s Order of Merit award was formally rechristened, ‘The Race to Dubai’ and repackaged in a format evocative of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Play-Off series, it seems safe to asset that the drama of the golf has generally failed to reach a level commensurate with the glamour of the competition’s new name. In the vast majority of cases, the overall winner of the points-race was either determined, or a fait accompli, long before the European Tour elite descended on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates for the $8m, season-ending DP World Tour Championship. Such appeared set to be the case again in 2017. Tommy Fleetwood seized early control of the Race to Dubai following his single stroke victory away from Dustin Johnson and Pablo Larrazábal at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in late January; he consolidated his advantage courtesy of a runner-up finish at the WGC-Mexico Championship in March, and claimed his second title of the season at the French Open in July. However, Fleetwood’s form has undergone a considerable dip in the four months since triumphing at Le Golf National, and although he will arrive in Dubai for this week’s World Tour Championship confident in the knowledge that a victory will guarantee him the lucrative, Order of Merit prize-pot, he is under far greater pressure to perform than could have been envisioned back in June. Justin Rose’s back-to-back victories at the WGC-HSBC Champions and the Turkish Airlines Open over the past three weeks have shaved Fleetwood’s lead down to just 135,000 points, and the race-leader’s failure to seal the Order of Merit with a victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa last Sunday means that Sergio Garcia can also pip him to the overall title this weekend. Tommy Fleetwood must withstand strong challenge from Justin Rose to secure first Race to Dubai title https://t.co/LkPm7elM2r — Indy Sport (@IndySport) November 15, 2017 April's play-off victory over Rose at the 81st US Masters at Augusta ended Garcia’s long barren streak in the game's biggest tournaments. He also won February's Dubai Desert Classic, and at the Valderrama Masters last month. The Spaniard now sits within 1.2m points of Fleetwood and knows a victory, combined with Fleetwood finishing outside the top-20 and Rose failing to secure a top-four finish, would give him his first money list title. Still, the 37-year-old told the BBC that he does not believe he is on a mission to ruin an all-English party. "No, not at all," he told BBC Sport. "We are going out to play hard and whoever deserves to win will win. It is as simple as that. "I think it's been a great year for all three of us and what happens this week shouldn't take away from anything that any of us have done." Should Garcia top the Order of Merit on Sunday evening, he will have become the first Spaniard since Seve Ballesteros in 1991 to win the Harry Vardon Trophy – history is on the line. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Patton Kizzire is rewarded for perseverance at OHL Classic
Nov 14, 2017 5:19 AM
 
When Patton Kizzire took a single stroke lead into the back-nine Sunday at the Safeway Open last October, he seemed heavy-favourite to claim a long overdue maiden PGA Tour title. The 31-year-old had scarcely put a foot wrong through the first 63-holes in the Napa Valley and the manner in which he bookended a second round 71 with a 64 and a 66 on Thursday and Saturday respectively suggested that there were more birdies to come on the inward stretch. In the event, however, Kizzire’s scoring dried-up, creating space for Branden Steele to nip-in and take the title by a stroke after birdying each of his final three-holes into the clubhouse. Many commentators viewed this outcome as proof Kizzire simply lacked the composure required to win at the highest-level of the sport. After all, almost a decade had passed since the Montgomery-native turned professional back in 2008. And although he impressed in winning twice at Webb.com Tour level in 2015, he seemed increasingly likely to be remembered as one of the PGA Tour’s many journeyman professionals – an athlete who is technically competent but unable to excel. It is in this context that Kizzire’s single-shot victory over Rickie Fowler in the final round of the OHL Classic at Mayakoba on Sunday came as such a remarkable accomplishment. For not only did he outscore the world’s tenth highest-ranking professional in a pressure-filled, head-to-head environment, he did so while playing 36-holes in a single day after 48 hours of heavy thunderstorms along the Yucatan Peninsula severely disrupted the tournament schedule. Breaking through in Mayakoba.@pkizzire wins the @MayakobaGolf for his first win on the PGA TOUR. pic.twitter.com/Ok1jGshaAg — PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) November 12, 2017 Kizzire, who began the final day in a three-way tie for the lead with Fowler and Patrick Rodgers, hit a tree with his opening tee shot in the blustery third round and needed to make a 12-footer just to save bogey. However, he rallied from that position of adversity, dropping four birdies over his next seven holes and took four-shot lead into the final seven-holes. It was at this point, surely, that Kizzire began to reflect on the agonizing manner of his capitulation at the Safeway Open, but instead of crumbling under pressure, he converted a series of clutch par-putts to reach the clubhouse at 19-under, a single stroke clear of Fowler. When reflecting upon his defeat at the Safeway last autumn, Kizzire said: "I'm definitely disappointed. That was probably as close as I've been to winning, but I'm going to take the positives from it and try to put myself back in a good spot. I learned a lot today." There can be little doubt that loss helped him win last weekend and there is a lesson in this tail of redemption for golf fans everywhere: where we tend to view close calls as negative outcomes, players typically take more positives from the experience than anything else. Kizzire, who has jumped more than 100-places in the OWGR to 119th, embodied this dynamic in Mexico. [Photo Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Branden Grace cards bogey-free 66 to snatch Nedbank Challenge title
Nov 13, 2017 1:01 PM
 
For much of the past 10 months, 2017 looked poised to be a year to forget for Branden Grace. The 29-year-old exploded into the popular golfing consciousness on the back of 4th and 3rd place finishes at the U.S. Open and the U.S. PGA Championship in 2015; by the time he claimed his maiden PGA Tour accolade at the RBC Heritage event at Harbour Town Golf Club last April, therefore, it seemed just a matter of time until he made a breakthrough at major-level. After all, Grace opened 2016 by defending the flagship European Tour event, the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, in January and climbed as high as No.10 in the Official World Golf Rankings as a consequence. His progress stalled, however, in the 12 months that followed his PGA Tour breakthrough; indeed, Grace arrived at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City last week ranked outside of the world’s top-40 after carding just three top-10s through his first 24 starts of the season. "This is really the one I wanted to win. I grew up watching it," - Branden Grace, following an emotional win in South Africa on Sunday. https://t.co/KDmPAIQExe pic.twitter.com/BC1TAkaw2q— GOLF.com (@golf_com) November 13, 2017 Sure there were bright spots, not least a record-breaking second round score of 62 at The Open back in July, but serious doubts were beginning to emerge regarding Grace’s capacity to consistently perform at the highest-level of the sport. It is in this context that the South African’s home victory at the Gary Player Country Club on Sunday came a such a welcome surprise. In addition to rocketing Grace back inside of the world’s top-30, it has guaranteed him a regular spot at major-level for the foreseeable future and adds a further layer of intrigue to the Race to Dubai ahead of next week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship. The Pretoria-native entered the final round three shots behind narrow 54-hole leader, Scott Jamieson; however, a closing bogey-free 66 moved him to 11 under and handed him a 1-shot victory over the Scot, who signed for a 70. The undoubted highlight of Sunday’s play came on the 16th green when the home-favourite converted a stunning, 40-foot birdie putt to seize the outright lead. Frenchman Victor Dubuisson also recorded a 70 to finish at 9 under as the three playing partners produced a dramatic finish to the seventh Rolex Series event of the season on the European Tour. Grace’s victory came too late to force him into contention for the Race to Dubai title; however, his victory does mean that both Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia can still pip long-term leader, Johnny Fleetwood to the accolade next weekend. [Photo Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Fowler dangerously poised at OHL Classic
Nov 12, 2017 10:49 AM
Tags: Rickie Fowler   OHL Classic,   News   pga tour  
 
A change, the old saying goes, is as good as a rest; well, Rickie Fowler has had a bit of both over the past two months and appears to be reaping the rewards of such an approach on the occasion of his OHL Classic debut at El Camaleón Golf Course in Mexico this week. The world No.10 arrived in Mayakoba fresh off the back of a seven-week rest period, and while the fact he started the event as the highest-ranked player in the field went some way towards justifying his odds as an 8/1 favourite, it was difficult not to fear an element of ring-rustiness, particularly on a course he has never played before. A bogey-free 6-under opening round of 65, however, swiftly diminished such fears and he went on to seize a single-shot 36-hole lead courtesy of a 4-under second round of 67. Still, it was striking that Fowler and Patrick Rodgers had to wait out a five-hour rain delay just to resume their second round on Saturday. Fowler saved par from a bunker on the 18th hole to reach the clubhouse in 67, while Rodgers finally make his first bogey of the tournament on his 17th hole and needed to settle for a 65. The field is now facing into a marathon, 36-hole Sunday session to determine the winner. Six birdies.NO bogeys.65, solo 2nd.@RickieFowler shaking off that rust like ... pic.twitter.com/xmNCNYggAF— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) November 9, 2017 “We deal with weather every once in a while on the PGA Tour, around the world, really,” Fowler reflected. “You kind of just learn to play when you get to play, relax when you get to relax. Rest when you can, tee it up when you can.” Whether this tournament will be completed on Sunday is far from clear. The last three groups sent out on Saturday didn't have enough light to even start the third round and more thunderstorms, with heavy downpours, were in the forecast for the next two days. However, it is difficult not to feel as though Fowler may benefit from the disruption. The former world No.4, who has carded 10 top-10 through 21 starts in 2017, has only claimed one of his four PGA Tour titles from a leading position after 54-holes and has a poor track record when it comes to performing under pressure. One need only reflect upon his final round capitulation at the 2016 Phoenix Open and the exceptionally poor Sunday score he posted en route to winning the Honda Classic in March for evidence of this shortcoming. It may well be the case, therefore, that the sheer uncertainty that characterises the OHL Classic’s weekend schedule frees Fowler from the pressure of carrying a 36-hole lead, paving the way to PGA Tour title number five. [Photo Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Victor Dubuisson asserts Ryder Cup credentials at Nedbank Challenge
Nov 11, 2017 10:47 AM
 
2017 has not been kind to Victor Dubuisson. The 27-year-old, who acceded to a career-high ranking of No.17 after tying for second at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai three years ago, started the year positioned 79th in the OWGR. A run of five missed-cuts and just a single top-10 finish through his first 14 starts of the season fast caused the two-time European Tour winner to slip back outside of the world’s top-150 and memories of the form that earned him a place on Paul McGinley’s victorious European squad at Gleneagles in 2014 seemed to recede into the far distant past. Indeed, Dubuisson arrived in Scotland for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at the beginning of October ranked 194th in the world and his hopes of representing Europe on home soil at the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris were on the brink of evaporating entirely. Victor Dubuisson in slow motion.#NGC2017 pic.twitter.com/s9iz2Fi3c9— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 10, 2017 A two-over opening round 74 appeared to confirm that Dubuisson was a player in irreparable decline; however, the three rounds that followed served only to set the capriciousness of professional golf in sharp relief. He went 68-66-63 through the final 54-holes in Scotland and finished-up a tie for third, seven shots back from a runaway champion, Tyrell Hatton. That result pushed Dubuisson back inside of the world’s top-150 and he consolidated his progress with a solid T35 at the Turkish Open a fortnight ago. All of a sudden, the Cannes-native appeared to have his confidence back and his performance through the first 54-holes of the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa this week suggests he may yet force himself into Ryder Cup contention next year. Dubuisson, winless since claiming his second Turkish Open two years ago, opened with a 4-under 68 and seized a two-shot 36-hole lead courtesy of a second round 70. His advantage would have been greater had it not been for a bogey at the last after missing the green and then firing his chip 25 feet past the hole. Dubuisson’s scoring further contracted with a 1-under 71 on Saturday; however, he remains firmly in contention for the title, one shot shy of outright leader, Scotland’s Scott Jamieson. A victory would render the Frenchman a serious candidate for Ryder Cup inclusion in a year’s time. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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