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19th Hole
News and Opinion

Golf Blogs

Date CreatedMost Popular

Sean Donnelly
Day seeking to resurrect flagging campaign at Mayakoba Classic
Nov 15, 2019 10:53 AM
 
By the standards of 90% of PGA Tour professionals, Jason Day has enjoyed a solid 2019 campaign. In addition to missing just four cuts through the course of 20 starts worldwide, he registered 11 top-25 finishes, comprising six top-10s. This form secured the Aussie a place in the FedEx Cup play-off series and an automatic qualification spot on Ernie Els’s Presidents Cup squad. The problem, of course, is that Day is not 90% of the PGA Tour; a former world No.1 and former US PGA Champion, he is a member of that elite, 1% who measure success purely in terms of tournament victories and results at major championships. The start time of the Mayakoba Golf Classic has been pushed back once again due to inclement weather. https://t.co/45pWJaExF5— Golfweek (@golfweek) November 14, 2019 Assessed by that lofty, highly specialised metric, 2019 has been a cause for real disappointment. Day began the campaign in solid fashion, recording top-5 finishes at the CJ Cup, the Farmers Insurance Open and the Pebble Beach Pro-Am leading into a tied-fifth finish at The Masters Tournament in April. However, his performances and results declined dramatically in the aftermath of his impressive showing at Augusta. Indeed, in 11 subsequent starts across all Tours Day managed just a single top-10 finish, missing four cuts, and an indifferent MC-T52 run through the first two FedEx Cup play-off events at the Northern Trust Open and BMW Championship confirmed that he would be watching the Tour Championship on television. Furthermore, the Aussie’s first two starts of the 2019/20 campaign have done little to inspire confidence regarding an impending uptick in form. He followed-up a promising opening-round 66 with three rounds over 70 at the CJ Cup in South Korea in mid-October, finishing in a tie for 31st against a distinctly average field. Two weeks later, at the Zozo Championship in Japan, he effectively played himself out of the tournament with an opening-round 73, finishing in a tie for 22nd. Day consequently travels to Club Playa del Carmen in Mexico to contest the Mayakoba Classic this week in desperate need of a positive performance. Speaking to reporters at Mayakoba on Tuesday, the world No.29 highlighted a lingering back injury and a rotating cast of caddies as two major contributing factors in his declining form over the past 10-months. "You put everything together, the results have pretty much spoken for themselves," Day said. "I went through three caddies — I'm on my fourth — and my back was injured. Like, that's not a good formula for success. What do I need to be successful? I need to not have to worry about any of this. All those things that I was worrying about throughout the year is a distraction." There can be no doubt that fitness issues and the lack of a strong caddie relationship have exerted a deleterious impact on Day’s golf in recent months; however, the facts are that his game has been in decline since the highs of 2015-16. Indeed, it bears restating that the 32-year-old didn’t win at all in 2017, and while he claimed two impressive regular Tour titles in the first half of last year, he still finished the campaign outside of the world’s top-10 and didn’t make any meaningful impact in the majors or FedEx Cup. Put simply, Day’s 2019 form has been consistent with the general standard of his performances for two full seasons; back injuries and interchangeable caddies are mitigating factors, however, the root cause of his struggles since reaching world No.1 lie far deeper. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Oosthuizen overcomes kidney stones to flourish at Nedbank Golf Challenge
Nov 15, 2019 4:25 AM
 
Less than eight hours before striking his opening tee-shot at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City on Thursday morning, Louis Oosthuizen’s participation was in serious doubt. The former Open champion had withdrawn from the Wednesday afternoon pro-am at the Gary Player Country Club as he battled kidney stones, with the pain eventually obliging a brief hospital visit in nearby Rustenberg. Slated for a 10:28 a.m. opening-round tee-time, he matter-of-factly informed reporters that at 3 a.m. he "didn't think I was going to tee it up." It is in this context that Oosthuizen’s achievement in signing for a 9-under 63 on Thursday was so impressive, opening-up a three-stroke lead away from Belgium’s Thomas Detry. Italy’s Guido Miggliozi sits in outright-third on 5-under, while veterans, Ernie Els and Lee Westwood form part of an intriguing three-man group on 4-under, alongside Zander Lombard. "I'm very chuffed with that round," Oosthuizen reflected upon returning to the clubhouse. Louis Oosthuizen shot a 9-under 63 on Thursday, despite his battle with kidney stones the day of the pro-am at the Nedbank Golf Challenge. "I'm very chuffed with that round." https://t.co/rq6iW2B62z pic.twitter.com/nfCUHDekMl — Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) November 15, 2019 "This morning was very uncomfortable, but it sort of eased in. By 6, 7 o'clock in the morning it started getting a lot better. This morning was just a little niggly, but I went up to the range, hit a few shots and it didn't really bother me. It was more the walking fast that got it, so I just slowed everything down and it worked nicely." "I played good at HSBC two weeks ago. I know the swing is there, the putting is there," he added. "I just need to be healthy to play." Health-dependent, Oosthuizen is extremely strongly placed to claim a 10th European Tour title in Sun City this week. The 38-year-old is winless since claiming his fifth career accolade on native soil at the South African Open last December; however, he hasn't missed a cut since Bay Hill in March (a run of 17 worldwide starts) and finished third earlier this month at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China. Significant, too, is Oosthuizen’s record of having finished inside of the top-15 on the occasion of each of his last six consecutive starts at the Nedbank Golf Challenge, highlighted by a third-place showing last year. He's in position for another similar showing this week after a bogey-free effort that included four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine. The world No.23’s performance, closely monitored by International Presidents Cup captain, Ernie Els, might also have ramifications for next month’s competition in Melbourne. Oosthuizen qualified automatically to Els’s team is widely expected to be a veteran leader upon making fourth consecutive representative appearance at the Presidents Cup. The strong nature of Oosthuizen’s early performance in Sun City will have served only to reinforce Els’s confidence in his leadership qualities. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Westwood targeting history Nedbank Golf Challenge
Nov 14, 2019 3:14 PM
 
When Lee Westwood carded an 8-under final-round 64 to close-out a three-stroke victory away from long-time friend and Ryder Cup colleague, Sergio Garcia at the Nedbank Golf Challenge 12-months ago, hopes were reignited suddenly that veteran may yet snap his notoriously frustrating major championship title drought. Westwood, after all, has long been regarded among the best golfers in history not to claim one of the sport’s four most prestigious titles. In the course of a decorated, 26-year professional career, the Englishman has recorded 19 top-10 finishes at major championship-level, including six third-place finishes and an agonising three runner-up finishes. The emphatic nature of his victory at the Nedbank last season, an achievement that marked the end of a four-year trophy drought at all levels of the sport, was consequently understood by many to signal his readiness to begin contending again for top-level honours. Such enthusiastic prophecies, sadly, have not quite worked-out to plan; indeed, in 21 subsequent starts across all Tours, Westwood has managed just four top-10 finishes, missing six cuts, and has consequently slipped back outside of the world’s top-60. Nevertheless, the 46-year-old travels to Sun City to defend his Nedbank title this week buoyed after finishing 10th at the Turkish Open on the occasion of his most recent outing, and just four months have passed since he tied for 4th at The Open at Royal Portrush. The former world No.1 has consequently expressed confidence regarding his chances of contending for a fourth career victory at the Gary Player Country Club on Sunday. @Louis57TM carded a nine-under 63 to open up a three-shot lead after the opening round of the #NedbankGolfChallenge! https://t.co/21sRcmioj9 pic.twitter.com/gDSxpseAzM— GolfLive24.com (@GolfLive24) November 14, 2019 “I’ve won three Nedbank Golf Challenge titles, so if I get into contention, I’m going to know what to do because I’ve been in that situation before,” Westwood reflected in a press conference on Tuesday. “It’s always great to come back to Sun City. I’ve been coming here for a long time now and it’s a place I love. It’s a great resort. I obviously enjoy playing the golf course. I played well on it in the past and well last year, so it’s nice to come back and defend.” Unsurprisingly, Westwood expressed an element of frustration regarding his inability to add to his haul of 24 European Tour titles in 2019; however, he avowed a firm belief that his title defence in Sun City provides an ideal opportunity to turn what he described as an “okay year” into a great one. “I played well in Turkey last week. I shot four good rounds and gave myself a chance of winning, and you know, hopefully I can carry that on and just keep working on what I’m working on and hopefully that will be good enough. “I’ve played well in spells this year. There have been runs where I haven’t played so well. But you know, that’s how golf is. I’m 46-years-old now and you know, I can’t commit as much time as I used to be able to practice and things like that. “But I’m just be trying to play my best and if I’m in there in contention on Sunday, I’ll be pleased with that.” Furthermore, as he emphasised in his opening remarks to the press, he’ll know exactly what to do if he is in contention. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
2019 Nedbank Golf Challenge betting tips – back Fleetwood for the title
Nov 13, 2019 3:40 PM
 
The Race to Dubai intensifies as the European Tour elite on converge on The Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, South Africa for the Nedbank Golf Challenge this week. Here follows our top three betting tips for the tournament. Outright Winner: Tommy Fleetwood (14/1) Louis Oosthuizen is trading as a 10/1 favourite to win this one and it’s not difficult to see why. The South African arrives in Sun City fresh off the back of a third-place finish on the occasion of his most recent start at the Zozo Championship in Japan and has carded six top-20 finishes through the course of his previous seven starts. Furthermore, the eight-time Sunshine Tour winner claimed the Dimension Data at the Gary Player Country Club 12 years ago and has finished 14th or higher at the Nedbank in each of his last eight appearances at the tournament. It cannot be overlooked, however, that Oosthuizen is winless in the guts of a year since claiming his 14th professional title at the South African Open 12-months ago and, at odds as short as 10/1, that drought is a cause for serious concern. Priced at four-points further out, Tommy Fleetwood is a significantly more attractive proposition at 12/1. Like Oosthuizen, Fleetwood is in the midst of a lengthy barren-run stretching back as far as his triumph at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship last January; however, he arrives in South Africa with seven top-10 finishes to his name through 26-starts and it is simply a matter of time before he reclaims a spot inside of the world’s top-10. Indeed, the Southport-native finished as a runner-up to Shane Lowry at The Open in July and has not missed a cut in over 16-months. He is one of the most consistent golfers on Tour and, on a shot-makers’ course such as the Gary Player Country Club, he seems well-placed to thrive. Only ONE more day to go...#NedbankGolfChallenge pic.twitter.com/UcYnbuiePP— SanlamGolf (@SanlamGolf) November 13, 2019 Fleetwood has played four of the last five Nedbank Golf Challenges with his worst finish a T21 in 2015; back him to snap his drought on Sunday. Top-10: Lee Westwood (30/1) A conscientious punter might struggle to resist sticking an each-way bet on the defending champion, Lee Westwood at odds of 30/1. 2018 marked the occasion of the veteran’s third career triumph at the Gary Player Country Club, a course he plainly loves, and while he has struggled for form since claiming his 43rd professional title in Sun City last year, he travels to South Africa off the back of an encouraging top-10 at the Turkish Open last week. Westwood ranks fourth in approach play, 16th from tee to green and 18th in greens in regulation percentage on the European Tour this season; expect him to thrive on a shot-makers’ golf course. Christiaan Bezuidenhout (40/1) One of the most improved players in world golf in 2019, Bezuidenhout started the year ranked outside of the world’s top-500 and arrives in his native South Africa to contest the Nedbank Challenge this week at No.100 in the rankings. The 25-year-old claimed his maiden European Tour accolade by a six-shot margin at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters in June and owns four further top-threes in 24 starts across all Tours in 2019. Back Bezuidenhout to make a mark on home soil. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Lowry in need of recovery following flat finish in Turkey
Nov 12, 2019 3:27 PM
 
In most circumstances, Shane Lowry would only be too happy to remain in the company of Padraig Harrington over the coming 12-months. For in addition to being a friend and countryman, Harrington will captain Europe at the 2020 Ryder Cup in Wisconsin. After missing out on the 2018 event in Paris, Lowry is more determined than ever to make his representative debut at Whistling Straits next autumn; clearly, Harrington is a useful ally toward that end. Upon finishing level with Harrington in a tie for 62nd at the Turkish Open last week, however, Lowry could hardly have wished to be further away from his putative future captain. Lowry looked drained of all energy and imagination as he slumped to a 3-over closing-round 75 in Antalya on Sunday. His odyssey of recent weeks – from Japan to China to Turkey – appeared finally to have caught up on him. Golfer Eddie Pepperell was disqualified from the Turkish Airlines Open Saturday because he ran out of balls. He hit as many as five balls into the water on the par-5 fourth hole of the tournament. https://t.co/dLwppOrfN0— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) November 9, 2019 The Offaly-native threatened briefly to feature at the top-end of the leaderboard at Montgomerie Maxx when a 7-under second-round 65 catapulted him to within five-strokes of Charles Schwab’s tendentious halfway lead atop a remarkably congested leaderboard. However, Lowry effectively played himself out of the tournament after signing for an uncharacteristically error-strewn third-round 75; by the time he carded the same score on Sunday, he had slipped 19-strokes behind the play-off places. There is, however, a silver lining for Lowry; the Irishman remains third in the Race to Dubai standings behind Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger and Spain’s Jon Rahm with two events to play. Clearly, his hopes of topping the Order of Merit will suffer as a consequence of his decision not to contest next week’s Nedbank Golf Championship in Sun City; however, Rahm has also elected to skip the South African event, while Wiesberger failed to emphatically capitalise upon Lowry’s poor showing in Turkey with a 46th-place finish. The gap between first and third consequently stands at just 700-points with two events remaining; everything seems set to come down to the European Tour season finale in Dubai at the end of the month. “I tried my best out there the last couple of days and it just didn’t really happen for me,” Lowry reflected. “Maybe I was expecting too much after my good day on Friday. I don’t know. I was thinking about it going around, and it shows me that I am probably doing the right thing in not going to Sun City. “I said I wanted to go to Dubai fresh and I am excited for a few days off and then towards the end of next week I will get the clubs out again and do a bit of practice. Hopefully I can go [to Dubai] and put up a good performance. No matter what happens in Dubai, I will be happy with what I have got at the end of the year.” Lowry is undoubtedly correct to adopt such a philosophical perspective, but in a year in which he claimed his maiden major championship title on home soil, it seems fitting that he should finish the season at the summit of the European game. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Noren’s struggles persist at Turkish Airlines Open
Nov 12, 2019 3:09 AM
 
When Alex Noren claimed his 10th European Tour title by a stroke away from Russell Knox, Julian Suri and Chris Wood at the HNA Open de France last July, it seemed only a matter of time before he made a breakthrough at major championship level. In addition to copper-fastening the Swede’s position inside of the world’s top-15 and assuring him of a prominent role in Thomas Bjorn’s Ryder Cup squad, the triumph in Paris propelled him to the upper-echelons of the Race to Dubai and consolidated the rapid progress he made upon climbing more than 100-places up the world rankings in 2016. Fittingly, Noren would go on to play a starring role in the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, claiming two wins from three matches before defeating Bryson DeChambeau in the Sunday singles as the Old Continent won out 17 1/2 to 10 1/2. The overall trajectory of his career was only trending upwards. It has been remarkable, therefore, to observe one of the most consistent performers in European golf over the previous three-years struggle so badly for form in 2019. Noren began the year at No.19 in the Official World Golf Rankings, a position inside the top-20 he had retained for each of the previous three consecutive seasons. Upon departing Montgomerie Maxx Golf Course in Antalya on the occasion of his most recent start at the Turkish Open last week, however, he had slipped back outside of the world’s top-60. "I went back to when I was a kid at Harleyford."@TyrrellHatton's immediate reaction to his second #RolexSeries title. #TurkishAirlinesOpen pic.twitter.com/lOlu2DnhlE— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 10, 2019 Noren started impressively in Turkey, birdying the 18th en route to a bogey-free opening-round of 66. Significantly, he consolidated that bright start with a 67 on the Friday to move firmly into contention for the title heading into the weekend. A double-bogey on the par-4 6th-hole, however, early stymied the Swede’s momentum during the third-round and, frankly, he never recovered. A 2-over third-round 74 effectively ended Noren’s tournament and, even if he had been in contention going into the final day, his 2-under closing-round total was nowhere near sufficient to match the scoring of players like Tyrrell Hatton and Charles Schwab. Ultimately, the 37-year-old was obliged to content himself with a T28 finish in Antalya, nine-strokes outside of the play-off, and this enduring inability to contend and win even against weak fields must surely now be regarded as a major cause for concern. Winless in well over a year, Noren has missed five cuts in 25 starts across all Tours in 2019 without registering a single top-10 finish. Many remarked upon the peculiar timing of the Swede’s late-career blossoming between 2016-18; it may well be the case that we have already seen the best of Noren on the European Tour. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Hatton triumphs in record six-man play-off at Turkish Airlines Open
Nov 11, 2019 3:22 AM
 
When Tyrrell Hatton holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th green to claim the Italian Open by a stroke away from Ross Fisher and Kiradech Aphibarnrat in the autumn of 2017, it seemed only a matter of time before he developed into a regular winner at the highest level of the sport. After all, the Englishman’s triumph in Monza marked the occasion of his third European Tour victory in the space of a year and consolidated his position inside of the world’s top-20. In this analysis of many commentators, including this one, 2018 was to be the year when he would crack the top-10 and potentially make a breakthrough at major level. Such lofty prophecies, of course, never transpired; indeed, Hatton arrived at Montgomerie Maxx Golf Course in Antalya to contest the Turkish Open this week in the midst of a battle to retain his spot inside of the world’s top-50. Winless since winning in Monza two-years ago, the Buckinghamshire-native looked to have entered into a dangerous cycle of regression. It is in this context that it was heartening to witness Hatton return to the winner’s circle in such dramatic fashion in Antalya on Sunday evening. Play-off under floodlights.Gave it my best. Congrats @TyrrellHatton #TurkishAirlinesOpen @EuropeanTour pic.twitter.com/ieMJqcXIu0— Matthias Schwab (@schwab_matth) November 10, 2019 The 28-year-old teed-off for the final-round as part of a five-way tie for second-place, three strokes shy of Austrian, Charles Schwab’s 54-hole lead atop a remarkably congested leaderboard. A 5-under closing-round 67 looked briefly to be sufficient for Hatton to claim the title outright at 20-under par; bizarrely, however, five other players – Schwab, Kurt Kitayama, Victor Perez, Benjamin Hebert and Erik van Rooyen – equalled that total, forcing the tournament into an unprecedented, six-man play-off. The players were sent out in two groups of three on the par-5 18th and Van Rooyen was first to be eliminated after a wayward drive led to a bogey six. Hatton, too, looked in danger of an early exit after a clumsy third shot from the back of the green, only to chip in from 40 feet for an unlikely birdie which was matched by Kitayama. The overnight leader Schwab, who had missed a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to win the tournament in regulation, was the only player in the second group to make birdie, leaving three players to head back to the 18th tee. All three remaining players missed makeable birdie putts on the second extra hole as the floodlights were turned on to illuminate a darkening course, imbuing already dramatic scenes with an added aura of excitement. Hatton appeared set for victory on the third play-off hole when he pitched an approach shot to within two-feet of the cup; but Schwab holed from 20 feet for a birdie before Kitayama missed from closer range and was eliminated. On the fourth extra-hole, however, Hatton’s anguish was transformed into joy when Schwab missed from close range for par after being on the back edge of the green in two. The Englishman stroked in for par to claim his fourth career victory on the European Tour. "It's hard to put into words," Hatton said. "It's just been a crazy day. Obviously the playoff was mental, and I'm just so happy to win again." The challenge for Hatton now will be sustaining such form into 2020. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Presidents Cup snub crystallises Fowler’s decline
Nov 9, 2019 12:39 PM
 
Ultimately, it was never going to be a straightforward decision for US Presidents Cup team captain, Tiger Woods. The 15-time major-winner, fresh off the back of equalling Sam Snead’s record 82 PGA Tour victories at the Zozo Championship in Japan, was always going to select himself as one of four wildcards to round-out the 12-man squad he will take to Melbourne to contest the Presidents Cup next month. That left three spots to be divided among four players, all capable of putting forward a strong case for inclusion: Gary Woodland, Tony Finau, Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler. Three doesn’t go into four and, in the end, it was Fowler who missed-out. “I think the toughest call to make was the closest to making the team is Rickie,” Woods said in the ensuing press conference. “That was a tough phone call. Rickie’s a good friend of mine and I’ve known him for a long time. Kept it short and quick. No reason to make it a lengthy conversation. He’s obviously going to be very disappointed by it. I’ve been on that side. I’ve been there when the captain didn’t choose me, and I get it. It’s not easy.” Rickie Fowler has pulled out of the Mayakoba Golf Classic, a move that might have bigger implications in the Presidents Cup conversation. https://t.co/ZjJfXTmauU— Golfweek (@golfweek) November 9, 2019 Clearly scheduling played a role in persuading Woods to overlook Fowler for selection. The 30-year-old got married in early October and has not played competitively since the Tour Championship in August. Add to this the fact that only one member of Woods’ squad (Matt Kuchar) is ranked below the highest-ranked International player (Adam Scott) in the world golf ranking, and one can begin to comprehend why Fowler was no included: competition was fierce and the Californian was not contesting and winning tournaments. Given world No.1, Brooks Koepka is rehabbing a knee injury that forced him to withdraw from the CJ Cup in October, Fowler could well end up playing in Melbourne as a first replacement, regardless. That said, the Ryder Cup veteran’s exclusion cannot be understood outside of the broader context of two consecutive seasons of deeply indifferent form. Fowler generated a great deal of media excitement when he closed-out a two-stroke victory away from Branden Graceat the Waste Management Phoenix Open in difficult circumstances in February. Many commentators understood the gritty nature of his triumph to signal that he had belatedly acquired the psychological maturity required to fulfil his enormous technical potential and begin winning regularly on the PGA Tour. Sadly, such excited predications failed to materialise. Indeed, in 17-starts across all Tours after winning in Arizona, Fowler managed just four top-10 finishes, missing three cuts, and failed to contend at any of the season’s four majors, following up a T9 at The Masters with a T36 at the PGA Championship at Bethpage, a T46 at the US Open at Pebble Beach and a T6 at The Open at Portrush (10-strokes behind Shane Lowry’s winning total). In addition to missing out on automatic qualification to the US Presidents Cup team, Fowler has fallen outside of the world’s top-20 for the first time in six-years and, on present form, no longer ranks among the 12-best practicing American golfers. The cold hard truth underlying Thursday’s squad announcement was that Woods was entirely justified in excluding Fowler; the onus is now on the Californian to re-stake his place among the American golfing elite looking ahead to the 2020 Ryder Cup. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Rose draws to within two of leader Schwab at Turkish Airlines Open
Nov 9, 2019 4:10 AM
 
Justin Rose arrived at Montgomerie Maxx Royal Golf Club to contest the Turkish Open on Thursday with a point to prove. Winless since claiming his tenth PGA Tour title by two strokes away from Adam Scott at the Farmers Insurance Open in January, the Englishman was a non-fixture during the quick-fire run of back-to-back majors over the summer, and a deeply indifferent period of mid-season form has caused him to slip as low as No.8 in the Official World Golf Rankings and No.29 in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai standings respectively. He consequently travelled to Antalya with a clear motivation to seek to round-out a disappointing campaign on a high by claiming a third consecutive Turkish Open title, thereby generating a crucial sense of momentum around his game looking ahead to the 2020 season. Tom Lewis looks to back up Korn Ferry win with another at Turkish Airlines Open https://t.co/hUAs6gAJGU pic.twitter.com/yELZVzZlag— Golf North Magazine (@golfnorthnews) November 8, 2019 Rose started impressively on Thursday, birdying two of his opening four-holes en route to a 2-under front-nine, and while the momentum generated by a sensational eagle on the par-5 11th was mitigated by dropped shots on 10 and 12, he finished strongly with three consecutive birdies to sign for a 5-under 67, drawing to within two strokes of Tom Lewis and Charles Schwab’s overnight lead. Significantly, the former world No.1 replicated that same level of scoring on Friday, mixing six birdies with a sole bogey to move to 10-under par. He will consequently tee off for the weekend within two strokes of outright leader, Schwab going into the weekend. Schwab birdied the par-five last to close a five-under 67 and move ahead of a congested leaderboard at The Montgomerie Maxx Royal, where four strokes separate the leading 24 players after another day of low scoring. The world number 104 is still waiting for a first European Tour title despite posting nine top-10 finishes this season. This lack of winning pedigree could well provide Rose with a crucial edge going into the final 36-holes in Antalya. "I put myself in position. The dream is alive, no doubt," said the 39-year-old as he bids to become the fourth player after Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam and Colin Montgomerie to win a regular European Tour event three years in a row. “I think a three-peat, so to speak, is something that sneaks up on you”, he added. Obviously, now, the third time, the pressure becomes a little more because it becomes a bit more than just the tournament itself. You’re trying to achieve something for the first time. “You win back-to-back on a certain golf course, you would rather maybe it was the same venue. But definitely there is something in the water for me here [in Turkey]. I think it’s the weather, the style of golf is really nice. You’d liken it to Sotogrande, or Valderrama, tree-lined, really fun golf. We shall see.” With 36-holes to play, Rose is well positioned to make history in Turkey. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Reed has Presidents Cup on his mind in Turkey
Nov 7, 2019 1:49 AM
 
There are a great many compelling storylines to look forward to heading into the Turkish Airlines Open at Montgomerie Maxx Royal Golf Course in Antalya this week. Can Justin Rose end a frustrating campaign on a high by claiming his third straight Turkish Open crown?; can Shane Lowry supplant Bernd Wiesberger atop the summit of the Race to Dubai standings?; and can Danny Willett maintain his late season burst of form leading into his title defence in Dubai later this month? But away from all these many fascinating European narratives, there is one particularly compelling American storyline set to play out in Antalya and it concerns Patrick Reed. Irrespective of the outcome of Presidents Cup captain, Tiger Woods’ squad announcement on Thursday morning, the Texan arrives at Montgomerie Maxx with a point to prove. If he is overlooked for selection, he will be imbued with a deep-seated determination to confound the expectations of doubters and highlight Woods’ folly by submitting a big performance. Equally, if he is included in the Presidents Cup squad, he will require a strong showing in Turkey to repay Woods’ faith and vindicate his selection. Without relitigating all of the various character flaws that have been attributed to Reed historically, it’s fair to say that his antics following Team USA’s defeat at the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris left him with a great to do in order to justify his inclusion at future representative events. Captain's pick on Patrick Reed? Pros: Reed’s game today is in much sharper shape, and firm, fast Royal Melbourne is just the place for the clutch shot-making we’ve come to know him for. Cons: Potentially killing team chemistry. https://t.co/yHDp600TCQ — GOLF.com (@GOLF_com) November 6, 2019 Some players’ positive influence in the dressing-room is sufficient to earn a spot in the team even when their game is not quite there. Reed is not one of those players; it is for this reason that he arrives in Turkey with an air of expectation surrounding his game. Simply put, it is open to debate whether the 29-year-old is performing at a level sufficient to compensate for his manifold character flaws. For as much as Reed impressed in ending a 16-month trophy drought at the Northern Trust Open in August –– winning by a stroke away from the Mexican, Abraham Ancer, who is assured of Presidents Cup selection — he has largely struggled to sustain the form that catapulted him inside of the world’s top-10 upon claiming his maiden major championship title at The Masters two-years ago. In 29 worldwide starts in 2019, Reed has mustered just five top-10 finishes, and his Northern Trust triumph is his only finish of sixth or better. While the seven-time PGA Tour winner has missed just two cuts during that sequence, it is revealing that he has slipped back outside of the world’s top-15 and, frankly, has yet to mature into the consistent winner many commentators anticipated he would upon winning the Masters. Reed remains a cut below the elite-level of professional golf; like players such as Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau, Gary Woodland and Kevin Na, therefore, the onus is him to persuade Woods and the broader public of his worth as a Presidents Cup selection. Whatever the outcome of Woods’ wildcard decision, Reed requires a big performance in Turkey this weekend. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Shane Lowry seeking to add European No 1 title to Open-winning year
Nov 6, 2019 3:43 PM
 
Rory McIlroy might have 25 worldwide wins, four majors titles, a slate of high-profile sponsorship contracts and untold millions in his bank account; however, the County Down native has not forgotten his roots and is still pulling for former amateur pal, Shane Lowry to form a part of Padraig Harrington’s European Team for the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. "Shane has turned into a great player," McIlroy told PGATour.com after claiming his fourth victory of the calendar year at the WGC-HSBC Champions event last week. "His swing has not changed since he's been on tour, he's one of the best players with a wedge in his hands and he does it his way and it works. “Hopefully Shane is in the [Ryder Cup] team," McIlroy added. "All the European guys love him. He would be great in the team environment and he's got a bit of fire to him. I know he feels a bit of pressure to make the team but if he keeps playing the golf he's been playing, he shouldn't have any issues.” Lowry, who claimed his maiden major championship title at The Open at Portrush in July, certainly doesn’t appear to be taking his countryman’s vote of confidence for granted. Speaking to the media ahead of teeing up in the 75-man field for this week's Turkish Airlines Open, the 32-year-old made clear that he has no intention of jeopardising his hopes of Ryder Cup qualification by chasing millions around the world during what the South African major winner, Ernie Els once famously dubbed, “wheelbarrow season”. "The main objective for the next two tournaments is to try and win the Race to Dubai," the Offaly man said ahead of this week's Turkish Airlines Open.https://t.co/BsphBq91E8— Off The Ball (@offtheball) November 6, 2019 While the Offaly-native’s decision not to follow Race to Dubai leader, Bernd Wiesberger to South Africa to contest the Nedbank Golf Championship in Sun City next week may be understood to belie an indifference to the Order of Merit race, Lowry insists he is focused on the bigger picture. That means sacrificing appearance fees and prestige prizes in the short-term in order to structure his playing schedule around the long-term goal of qualifying for the Ryder Cup next autumn. Not only has Lowry opted not to travel to the Gary Player Country Club - a venue where he has broken 70 just once in 16 rounds - he's also turned down a guaranteed $100,000 to play Tiger Woods' 18-man Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, a potentially lucrative trip to the Emirates Australian Open and the PGA Tour's Sentry Tournament of Champions. "The main objective for the next two tournaments is to try and win the Race to Dubai," Lowry said. "People might argue that if you are trying to win the Race to Dubai, you should be going to Sun City. But I think it is all going to come down to who plays the best in Dubai really." Lowry trails Wiesberger by just 651.1 points in the Race to Dubai standings with three events to play; however, he is firm in his resolve that the Order of Merit title cannot be privileged over the long-term health of his game. In this regard, the Irishman appears to be taking a leaf out of Jon Rahm’s book; the Spaniard has not contested a European Tour event since winning the Spanish Open last month in order to stagger his preparations for the 2020 major campaign. "I think it would be the icing on the cake," Lowry added. "I'm going to give it my best shot but if I don't win it, I won't be too disappointed. I've had a decent year and I'd be pretty happy with what I've got at Christmas." Still, a victory in Antalya this week would put the Irishman in a strong position to top the Order of Merit standings, irrespective of what transpires in South Africa next week. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
2019 Turkish Airlines Open betting tips
Nov 6, 2019 3:02 AM
 
The Race to Dubai intensifies as the European Tour elite on converge on The Montgomerie Maxx Royal Golf Course in Antalya for the Turkish Open this week. Here follows our top three betting tips for the tournament. Outright Winner: Patrick Reed (16/1) It will come as no surprise to European Tour watchers that Justin Rose is trading as a 10/1 favourite to win this one. The 39-year-old has won the Turkish Open in each of the past two consecutive seasons and arrives in Antalya off the back of a solid run of form, reading 8-T34-T15-T28 through the course of his last four starts. Furthermore, the Englishman’s pristine, ball-striking game aligns perfectly with the narrow tree-lined fairways that characterise Montgomerie Maxx, and while he won on a separate course in Istanbul in 2017 and 2018, he finished third when the event was last staged on the Antalya track in 2013. It cannot be overlooked, however, that Rose is winless since claiming his tenth PGA Tour title by two strokes away from Adam Scott at the Farmers Insurance Open in January, and an indifferent run of mid-season form has caused him to slip as low as No.8 in the Official World Golf Rankings. Odds of 10/1 for Rose to achieve a third straight Turkish Open victory on a separate course consequently seem a little short. A great first few days here in Antalya in preparation for the Turkish Airlines Open pic.twitter.com/z9RMe8SW8T— George Holt (@HoltGeorge7) November 5, 2019 In this context, Patrick Reed appears a substantially more attractive investment at odds of 16/1. The former Masters champion snapped a 16-month trophy drought in truly impressive style at the Northern Trust Open in August, and arrives in Antalya off the back of an eye-catching sequence of form reading: T15-T4-T17-T8. With a Presidents Cup wildcard to play for, Reed will not be wanting for motivation in Turkey and he strikes the 19th Hole as the best value in the outright winner’s market. Top-10: Tyrell Hatton (22/1) 2019 has not been kind to Tyrrell Hatton; winless in two-years since claiming his third European Tour title at the Italian Open in October 2017, the 27-year-old has missed almost double the number of cuts (6) that has recorded top-10 finishes (4) in 25 starts across all Tours and has consequently fallen to the edge of the top-50 of the Official World Golf Rankings. That said, Hatton was the big eyecatcher in Beijing last Sunday when he closed out the WGC HSBC Champions with a 7-under-par 65 to climb up to 14th, and he has finished an encouraging 19th and 26th on the occasion of his previous two Turkish Open starts. He may well be worth backing for a top-10 finish. Outsider: Martin Kaymer (50/1) The two-time major winner has shown some green shoots of recovery in 2019. In addition to climbing more 60 places up the Official World Golf Rankings back into the world’s top-120, he has finished 5th and 21st respectively in his previous two starts. Noteworthy, too, is the fact that Kaymer finished 5th in the Turkish Open last season and has previous course knowledge. He is worth backing as an outsider. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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