Tag Archives: oosthuizen

Louis Oosthuizen hits 500-yard tee-shot at Ballantine"s Championship

Happy Gilmore! Oosthuizen hits 500-yard tee-shot but can only manage par as the ball takes a long stroll down country path

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

11:24 GMT, 26 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:02 GMT, 26 April 2013

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Louis Oosthuizen already averages more than 300 yards per drive on the European Tour this season, but not usually in the manner he did in the Ballantine's Championship today.

Oosthuizen's tee-shot on the 583-yard first hole at Blackstone Golf Club was pushed right of the fairway and bounced onto a winding cart path running down the side of the hole.

Scroll down for video

Big hitter: Oosthuizen regularly hits over 300 yards on the European TourEuropean

Big hitter: Oosthuizen regularly hits over 300 yards on the European Tour

It then rolled downhill for more than a minute and a half, picking up speed after almost coming to a halt at one point and trundling past two bemused spectators before coming to a halt against a kerb – around 500 yards from the tee.

From there the world number seven took a free drop and pitched back onto the fairway, eventually recording a par five on his way to a round of 71 and four-under-par halfway total of 140.

It is still not known whether Oosthuizen's drive ended up further than the previous longest hit in tournament history – courtesy of 64-year-old Mike Austin, who hit 515 yards on a 450-yard par 4 in Las Vegas.

Stroll: The South African's drive rolled for a minute and a half down a path, and he ended up making par

Stroll: The South African's drive rolled for a minute and a half down a path, and he ended up making par

That way! Oosthuizen stands with his caddie Wynand Stander on the tenth hole in South Korea

That way! Oosthuizen stands with his caddie Wynand Stander on the tenth hole in South Korea

THE MASTERS: Hole-by-hole guide

THE MASTERS: Hole-by-hole guide to Augusta National

PUBLISHED:

08:55 GMT, 8 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:02 GMT, 8 April 2013

The waiting is over for the year's first Major as the best players in the world arrive at Augusta National for The Masters.

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy stroll down Magnolia Lane as the top two in the world while Bubba Watson is defending the Green Jacket he won 12 months ago.

Woods is the man to beat with three wins under his belt already in 2013 while McIlroy looks like he's finally getting used to his Nike clubs following a fine display finishing second at the Texas Open.

But this is Augusta National where anything can happen and here, Sportsmail has everything you need to know in our hole-by-hole guide.

The Masters: Hole by hole

Hole-by-hole guide to Augusta National – everything you need to know ahead of the season's first major

*Holes ranked from 1 (most difficult) to 18 (least difficult) based on how the course played in 2012

1st (Tea Olive), 445 yards, par four: A deep bunker on the right of the fairway and trees both sides make for a daunting start, while long and left of the undulating green both spell big trouble. Unsurprisingly played the hardest hole on the course last year. 2012 average: 4.39 (rank 1)

2nd (Pink Dogwood), 575 yards, par five: Driving into the trees on the left cost Padraig Harrington a nine in 2009, but Louis Oosthuizen memorably holed his second shot for an albatross in the final round last year before losing in a play-off to Bubba Watson. Important early birdie chance.
2012 average: 4.64 (rank 18)

3rd (Flowering Peach), 350 yards, par four: Shortest par four on the course but a pear-shaped green with steep slope in front allows for some wicked pin positions. 2011 winner Charl Schwartzel pitched in for eagle in the final round. 2012 average: 3.90 (rank 14)

4th (Flowering Crab Apple), 240 yards, par three: The back tee – not always used – turns it into a beast with the green sloping from back to front. Phil Mickelson took six here in the final round last year and finished two shots outside the play-off. Jeff Sluman's ace in 1992 remains the only hole-in-one here in Masters history. 2012 average: 3.22 (rank 6)

5th (Magnolia), 455 yards, par four: Jack Nicklaus twice holed his second shot in 1995 and Colin Montgomerie did it in 2000, but it is another devilishly difficult green. To clear the fairway bunkers requires a 315-yard carry. 2012 average: 4.21 (rank 7)

6th (Juniper), 180 yards, par three: From a high tee to a green with a huge slope in it. Four holes-in-one, but Jose Maria Olazabal took seven in 1991 and lost by one to Ian Woosnam, while Arnold Palmer has also run up a seven. 2012 average: 3.17 (rank 8)

Say your prayers: Amen Corner claims many victims each year - the 11th green is on the left with the 12th in the distance towards the back right

Say your prayers: Amen Corner claims many victims each year – the 11th green is on the left with the 12th in the distance towards the back right

7th (Pampas), 450 yards, par four: What used to be a real birdie chance has been lengthened by 35-40 yards, while trees were also added and the putting surface reshaped. More bunkers – five – around the green than any other hole. 2012 average: 4.17 (rank 9)

8th (Yellow Jasmine), 570 yards, par five: The bunker on the right, about 300 yards out, pushes players left and from there it is harder to find the green in two up the steep hill. Still a good birdie chance and Bruce Devlin made an albatross two in 1967. 2012 average: 4.86 (rank 15)

9th (Carolina Cherry), 460 yards, par four: The tee was pushed back 30 yards in 2002. The raised green, with two bunkers on the left, tilts sharply from the back and anything rolling off the front can continue down for 50-60 yards. 2012 average: 4.25 (rank 4)

10th (Camellia), 495 yards, par four: A huge drop from tee to green on this dogleg left and over all the years of the Masters the most difficult hole. It was here that Rory McIlroy began to fall apart in 2011 with a seven, while Watson clinched the title 12 months ago by making par in the play-off from the trees. 2012 average: 4.249 (rank 5)

11th (White Dogwood), 505 yards, par four: The start of Amen Corner. Toughest hole in 2011, with the water front and left scaring many. Best remembered for Larry Mize's chip-in in 1987 and Nick Faldo's back-to-back play-off wins. 2012 average: 4.32 (rank 2)

12th (Golden Bell), 155 yards, par three: Probably the most famous par three in golf. Narrow target, water in front, trouble at the back, it has seen everything from a one to Tom Weiskopf's 13 in 1980. McIlroy four-putted it in 2011. 2012 average: 3.06 (rank 13)

Dangerous: The 12th hole at Augusta National - measuring just 155 yards - is probably the most famous par three in golf

Dangerous: The 12th hole at Augusta National – measuring just 155 yards – is probably the most famous par three in golf

13th (Azalea), 510 yards, par five: The end of Amen Corner. Massive dogleg left with scores ranging from Jeff Maggert's albatross two in 1994 to Tommy Nakajima's 13 in 1978. Watson's crucial run of four birdies in succession last year started here. 2012 average: 4.72 (rank 16)

14th (Chinese Fir), 440 yards, par four: The only hole on the course without a bunker, but three putts are common on the wickedly difficult green. Course record holder Nick Price took eight here in 1993, while Phil Mickelson holed his approach en route to 2010 victory. 2012 average: 4.09 (rank 12)

15th (Firethorn), 530 yards, par five: Often a tough decision whether to go for the green in two across the pond on the hole where Gene Sarazen sank his 235-yard four-wood shot for an albatross in 1935. There have also been three 11s here. 2012 average: 4.67 (rank 17)

16th (Redbud), 170 yards, par three: Tiger Woods' memorable chip-in in 2005 came the same year as 73-year-old Billy Casper's 14, while Padraig Harrington and Ian Poulter are among 15 players to record holes-in-one. 2012 average: 3.11 (rank 11)

17th (Nandina), 440 yards, par four: Tee shot is played over the Eisenhower Tree on the hole Justin Rose double-bogeyed when one off the lead in 2007. Jack Nicklaus birdied here to take the lead as he won his 18th major in 1986. 2012 average: 4.16 (rank 10)

18th (Holly), 465 yards, par four: The drive through an avenue of trees was made much harder when the tee was moved back 60 yards in 2002. The fairway bunker from which Sandy Lyle got up and down to win in 1988 is now 300 yards away. 2012 average: 4.31 (rank 3)

THE MASTERS: Hole-by-hoe guide

THE MASTERS: Hole-by-hole guide to Augusta National

PUBLISHED:

08:55 GMT, 8 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:55 GMT, 8 April 2013

The waiting is over for the year's first Major as the best players in the world arrive at Augusta National for The Masters.

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy stroll down Magnolia Lane as the top two in the world while Bubba Watson is defending the Green Jacket he won 12 months ago.

Woods is the man to beat with three wins under his belt already in 2013 while McIlroy looks like he's finally getting used to his Nike clubs following a fine display finishing second at the Texas Open.

But this is Augusta National where anything can happen and here, Sportsmail has everything you need to know in our hole-by-hole guide.

The Masters: Hole by hole

Hole-by-hole guide to Augusta National – everything you need to know ahead of the season's first major

*Holes ranked from 1 (most difficult) to 18 (least difficult) based on how the course played in 2012

1st (Tea Olive), 445 yards, par four: A deep bunker on the right of the fairway and trees both sides make for a daunting start, while long and left of the undulating green both spell big trouble. Unsurprisingly played the hardest hole on the course last year. 2012 average: 4.39 (rank 1)

2nd (Pink Dogwood), 575 yards, par five: Driving into the trees on the left cost Padraig Harrington a nine in 2009, but Louis Oosthuizen memorably holed his second shot for an albatross in the final round last year before losing in a play-off to Bubba Watson. Important early birdie chance.
2012 average: 4.64 (rank 18)

3rd (Flowering Peach), 350 yards, par four: Shortest par four on the course but a pear-shaped green with steep slope in front allows for some wicked pin positions. 2011 winner Charl Schwartzel pitched in for eagle in the final round. 2012 average: 3.90 (rank 14)

4th (Flowering Crab Apple), 240 yards, par three: The back tee – not always used – turns it into a beast with the green sloping from back to front. Phil Mickelson took six here in the final round last year and finished two shots outside the play-off. Jeff Sluman's ace in 1992 remains the only hole-in-one here in Masters history. 2012 average: 3.22 (rank 6)

5th (Magnolia), 455 yards, par four: Jack Nicklaus twice holed his second shot in 1995 and Colin Montgomerie did it in 2000, but it is another devilishly difficult green. To clear the fairway bunkers requires a 315-yard carry. 2012 average: 4.21 (rank 7)

6th (Juniper), 180 yards, par three: From a high tee to a green with a huge slope in it. Four holes-in-one, but Jose Maria Olazabal took seven in 1991 and lost by one to Ian Woosnam, while Arnold Palmer has also run up a seven. 2012 average: 3.17 (rank 8)

Say your prayers: Amen Corner claims many victims each year - the 11th green is on the left with the 12th in the distance towards the back right

Say your prayers: Amen Corner claims many victims each year – the 11th green is on the left with the 12th in the distance towards the back right

7th (Pampas), 450 yards, par four: What used to be a real birdie chance has been lengthened by 35-40 yards, while trees were also added and the putting surface reshaped. More bunkers – five – around the green than any other hole. 2012 average: 4.17 (rank 9)

8th (Yellow Jasmine), 570 yards, par five: The bunker on the right, about 300 yards out, pushes players left and from there it is harder to find the green in two up the steep hill. Still a good birdie chance and Bruce Devlin made an albatross two in 1967. 2012 average: 4.86 (rank 15)

9th (Carolina Cherry), 460 yards, par four: The tee was pushed back 30 yards in 2002. The raised green, with two bunkers on the left, tilts sharply from the back and anything rolling off the front can continue down for 50-60 yards. 2012 average: 4.25 (rank 4)

10th (Camellia), 495 yards, par four: A huge drop from tee to green on this dogleg left and over all the years of the Masters the most difficult hole. It was here that Rory McIlroy began to fall apart in 2011 with a seven, while Watson clinched the title 12 months ago by making par in the play-off from the trees. 2012 average: 4.249 (rank 5)

11th (White Dogwood), 505 yards, par four: The start of Amen Corner. Toughest hole in 2011, with the water front and left scaring many. Best remembered for Larry Mize's chip-in in 1987 and Nick Faldo's back-to-back play-off wins. 2012 average: 4.32 (rank 2)

12th (Golden Bell), 155 yards, par three: Probably the most famous par three in golf. Narrow target, water in front, trouble at the back, it has seen everything from a one to Tom Weiskopf's 13 in 1980. McIlroy four-putted it in 2011. 2012 average: 3.06 (rank 13)

Dangerous: The 12th hole at Augusta National - measuring just 155 yards - is probably the most famous par three in golf

Dangerous: The 12th hole at Augusta National – measuring just 155 yards – is probably the most famous par three in golf

13th (Azalea), 510 yards, par five: The end of Amen Corner. Massive dogleg left with scores ranging from Jeff Maggert's albatross two in 1994 to Tommy Nakajima's 13 in 1978. Watson's crucial run of four birdies in succession last year started here. 2012 average: 4.72 (rank 16)

14th (Chinese Fir), 440 yards, par four: The only hole on the course without a bunker, but three putts are common on the wickedly difficult green. Course record holder Nick Price took eight here in 1993, while Phil Mickelson holed his approach en route to 2010 victory. 2012 average: 4.09 (rank 12)

15th (Firethorn), 530 yards, par five: Often a tough decision whether to go for the green in two across the pond on the hole where Gene Sarazen sank his 235-yard four-wood shot for an albatross in 1935. There have also been three 11s here. 2012 average: 4.67 (rank 17)

16th (Redbud), 170 yards, par three: Tiger Woods' memorable chip-in in 2005 came the same year as 73-year-old Billy Casper's 14, while Padraig Harrington and Ian Poulter are among 15 players to record holes-in-one. 2012 average: 3.11 (rank 11)

17th (Nandina), 440 yards, par four: Tee shot is played over the Eisenhower Tree on the hole Justin Rose double-bogeyed when one off the lead in 2007. Jack Nicklaus birdied here to take the lead as he won his 18th major in 1986. 2012 average: 4.16 (rank 10)

18th (Holly), 465 yards, par four: The drive through an avenue of trees was made much harder when the tee was moved back 60 yards in 2002. The fairway bunker from which Sandy Lyle got up and down to win in 1988 is now 300 yards away. 2012 average: 4.31 (rank 3)

Martin Kaymer wins Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City

Former world No 1 Kaymer shines in Sun City to secure first title of the year

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UPDATED:

16:17 GMT, 2 December 2012

Martin Kaymer survived a late wobble to hold on for his first title of the year with victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City.

The overnight leader bogeyed the 15th hole to see his advantage at the top of the leaderboard cut to one stroke by South Africa's Charl Schwartzel but held his nerve the rest of the way to prevail by two strokes.

Kaymer finished on eight under par overall, with Schwartzel at six under and American Bill Haas alone in third, three strokes further back.

Long wait: Kaymer won his first title of the year in Sun City

Long wait: Kaymer won his first title of the year in Sun City

Long wait: Kaymer won his first title of the year in Sun City

South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen began the final round just one stroke behind Kaymer, but a 74 saw his challenge run out of steam and he ended in fourth place on two under, one stroke ahead of defending two-time champion Lee Westwood of England, who carded a 73.

Scotland's Paul Lawrie, the leader after the second round, went over par for the second day running as he managed 74 to finish in sixth place overall.

Kaymer famously sank the putt that ensured Europe retained the Ryder Cup earlier this year, but on a personal level this season has been a disappointment for the German.

And he admitted that as the opportunity to finally break his year-long victory drought edged closer, nerves began to tell.

Clinging on: Kaymer bogeyed the 15th hole

Clinging on: Kaymer bogeyed the 15th hole

Clinging on: Kaymer bogeyed the 15th hole

'It was always tight,' Kaymer told reporters.

'Charl played a great round of golf and I was telling (my caddie) that I need a win. I need a win in 2012.'

Rainy conditions on the final day at Gary Player Country Club were in keeping with the previous three, meaning yet again that scores were kept in check by the weather.

No-one shot better than 69 all week, and that mark was again achieved by Kaymer on Sunday having also managed a three-under total over the second round.

The German began in positive fashion on Sunday, hitting a brilliant eagle on the second only to see his hard work erased with a double-bogey at three.

Birdies at nine, 10 and 11 took him clear of the pack again, although Schwartzel's birdie on the 14th trimmed the lead to one.

Swinging in the rain: Schwartzel made a late bid for the title

Swinging in the rain: Schwartzel made a late bid for the title

Swinging in the rain: Schwartzel made a late bid for the title

Kaymer hacked his way out of the rough to make an unlikely birdie on 14 and take his lead back out to two, but a bogey at the next meant the pressure stayed on.

Schwartzel's victory bid finally stuttered as he committed his first bogey of the day at the 17th, as Kaymer made par the rest of the way to close out an overdue victory.

'I'm very happy to finally win this year, that was the most important thing for me, because I was practising very hard,' Kaymer added.

'I played very well the last few weeks and months, but it just did not happen for me on the golf course.

'I said to Craig, my caddy, we have to win one tournament every year and this is our last chance. Fortunately we could bring it home.'

Martin Kaymer enter Nedbank Golf Challenge final round with one-stroke lead

Kaymer holds nerve at Sun City to take one-stroke lead into final round

PUBLISHED:

17:56 GMT, 1 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

17:56 GMT, 1 December 2012

Martin Kaymer will take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City after holding his nerve in testing conditions at the Gary Player Country Club.

A windy, overcast day made for a low-scoring third round, but Kaymer tallied three birdies and just one bogey to post a two-under 70 and move to five under overall.

Steady start: Martin Kaymer putts on he first green during the third round

Steady start: Martin Kaymer putts on he first green during the third round

Kaymer, who began the day a shot behind overnight leader Paul Lawrie, was required to hold his nerve at the last to maintain the outright lead, the German sinking a tickly putt from around 10 feet to make par.

South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen went round in 69 to sit one off the lead, while compatriot Charl Schwartzel is in the mix in third place, two shots off Kaymer after a 70.

Tough day: Paul Lawrie hits out of a bunker on the sceond hole

Tough day: Paul Lawrie hits out of a bunker on the sceond hole

Lawrie suffered a trying day as the Scot carded a three-over 75 to drop back to sixth place, while England's defending two-time champion Lee Westwood (70) is in a share of fourth place on two under alongside America's Bill Haas.

Kaymer knows he is there to be shot at tomorrow with such a slender lead and some real quality in the chasing pack, and insists the only option is to go on the attack.

'I think a mistake would be if I try to defend my lead,' he said on europeantour.com.

One behind: Louis Oosthuizen acknowledges the crowd

One behind: Louis Oosthuizen acknowledges the crowd

'You cannot approach the last round like that.

'You hit fairways and greens and that is the most important, then think you will have a few more chances to make birdie.

'You cannot play too aggressive at certain holes, but you must take your chances. That is my goal.'

Oosthuizen is bidding to become the first South African winner of this event since 2007 and set five birdies against two bogeys to give his chances of claiming the title a huge lift.

And he admits the final round will be all about staying in touch until the final holes with conditions forecast to remain difficult.

'I would not be surprised if it is seven under winning it tomorrow,' he said. 'I think tomorrow you just need to stay very patient and give yourself a shot with four to five holes to go.

'It will be a great finish to a good season. I have played really well the whole season, one or two came really close to a few as well and I think winning it here would mean everything.'

Nedbank Challenge: Paul Lawrie grabs halfway lead at Sun City

Lawrie grabs halfway lead at Sun City but Kaymer and Westwood lurk

|

UPDATED:

19:32 GMT, 30 November 2012

Scotland's Paul Lawrie is the one-shot leader at the halfway stage of the Nedbank Challenge, with his three-under-par 69 giving him the edge at Sun City.

The Ryder Cup winner takes the slenderest of advantages into the third day, with Martin Kaymer a shot behind.

Four players then trail on one under; Bill Haas, Francesco Molinari, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, with two-time defending champion Lee Westwood on level par.

Great Scot: Paul Lawrie shot a second round 69 in testing cconditions in the Nedbank Golf Challenge

Great Scot: Paul Lawrie shot a second round 69 in testing cconditions in the Nedbank Golf Challenge

Great Scot: Paul Lawrie shot a second round 69 in testing cconditions in the Nedbank Golf Challenge

Behind him is Peter Hanson (one over), before a real gap to the rest, with Carl Pettersson three over, Nicolas Colsaerts and Garth Mulroy four over and finally, Justin Rose, a further four shots back.

It was a horror day for the Englishman, a seven-over 79 not amongst his finest rounds, but Lawrie will at least sleep easy tonight after his 69.

Nedbank Challenge

Round one – Colsaerts puts Ryder Cup pals in the shade to lead

He could have signed for an even better score too, with a bogey on the 15th-hole par four stopping him from registering the outright best round of the day.

Kaymer also carded a 69 consisting of five birdies and two bogeys, while Westwood, looking for a third successive win at the event, was left to rue a bogey and a double-bogey six at the par-four 16th as he ended one over for the day.

He had little on compatriot Rose, though, whose score was heavily undermined by a triple bogey on the par-four third. Lawrie's controlled round was all the more impressive considering the wind which ripped around the course.

In the chase: Lee Westwood (above) and Martin Kaymer (below) in action at the Gary Player Country Club

In chase: Lee Westwood (above) and Martin Kaymer (below) in action at the Gary Player Country Club

In the chase: Lee Westwood (above) and Martin Kaymer (below) in action at the Gary Player Country Club

Save for a couple of close shaves with the putter, he could have done even better.

'I played nicely, I struggled a bit with the driver so I hit a lot of three-woods off the tees. I hit my three-wood pretty far, but I also hit a lot of good shots with my irons. The greens are a little slower and I left a few putts out there,' he said.

'The wind was swirling, and it was quite difficult. It was chopping and changing – a little bit like Augusta. It is difficult to get the distance right this week, but so far we only got a couple wrong so we've done okay.'

In such a compact field, though, he knows he has little time to relax.

'The leaderboard is pretty damn packed, and pretty close together,' he added. 'There is still a lot of golf to play and a lot of time for guys to come back who struggled in the first two days. So far, so good for me, but there is still a long way to go.'

Lee Westwood to play Greg Norman for short-game returns – Derek Lawrenson

Long-haul Lee swims with the Shark for short-game returns

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 26 November 2012

Where next for Lee Westwood in his search for salvation on and around the greens Here’s an eye-catching name – Greg Norman.

Before anyone adds the Aussie great to the long list of hired help Westwood has acquired over the years in the short-game department, it should be said that seeing Norman will be more along the lines of two friends getting together for some social golf and bouncing ideas off one another.

‘Lee has always been an admirer of Greg’s short-game technique,’ said Westwood’s manager Chubby Chandler. So it is that when the Englishman begins his brave new adventure in Florida in January he will seek out a long-time pal and neighbour for some brain-storming.

Old pals: Lee Westwood (right) with Australian legend Greg Norman

Old pals: Lee Westwood (right) with Australian legend Greg Norman

Not just Norman, either. Nick Price, another legend with a gossamer touch, also lives in the vicinity. Then there are contemporaries Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, who are both moving to the same gated community as Westwood at Old Palm, near Fort Lauderdale. There’s also Ernie Els and Luke Donald.

This will be the first time in his career that Westwood will play some serious social golf against players of his own calibre. Up to now, he has always lived miles from anyone, in Worksop. Imagine what difference it might make to his short game mixing with the likes of Norman and Els, and playing regular $100 money games with a competitive edge.

It can only help in terms of sharpness, can’t it The Norman connection is particularly intriguing. One of the finest victories of Westwood’s career came as a young man playing against the Shark in his ferocious prime at the Australian Open. It gave Westwood the belief to go on an astonishing run that would see him claim 17 more victories over the next three seasons.

Fifteen years on, could the wily Norman prove the catalyst once more We can but hope.

More from Derek Lawrenson…

Derek Lawrenson: If Augusta can see sense on women members, why can't the R&A
12/11/12

Derek Lawrenson: It's already been a November to remember
05/11/12

Derek Lawrenson: HSBC Championship shows golf faces hurricane alert over fees
29/10/12

World of Golf: Rose blooming, so let’s not rake over the coals
22/10/12

Derek Lawrenson: Overpaid Most earnings aren't on a par with Rose's fortune
15/10/12

Derek Lawrenson: It's a Turkish delight as eight greats battle it out for big bucks
08/10/12

Derek Lawrenson: Why we should be saying Yanks for the memories to gracious losers
01/10/12

Derek Lawrenson: McIlroy a victim of trash talk in American press ahead of Ryder Cup
24/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

About time too

Given the chronic lack of tournament golf in England at a time of vast riches in the playing department, the idea of three events taking place in the country in 2014 is a pleasant one indeed.

Traditionalists too will be cheered immensely by the prospect of the Volvo World Match Play returning home, if only for one year. This event has been held in Spain for the last two years and will break new ground in Bulgaria next season. The idea after that is for it to rotate between three nations, with England next up.

If the plan comes to fruition, it would mean two events in England in May — the other being the flagship PGA Championship at Wentworth — alongside The Open at Royal Liverpool in July.

Quote of the week

‘Every goal I set myself at the start of 2012 I’ve achieved this year. It really doesn’t get any better than that and I’m already excited about 2013.’

How typical that while patting himself on the back with one hand, Rory McIlroy should be driving himself forward with the other. Rory’s era has begun in truly thrilling fashion.

Simply the best: Rory McIlroy has enjoyed a quite brilliant year on the course

Simply the best: Rory McIlroy has enjoyed a quite brilliant year on the course

Long putter: Open champion Ernie Els

Long putter: Open champion Ernie Els

Belly rumbles

Is tomorrow the big day in terms of a decision from the governing bodies regarding the vexed subject of the belly putter

Such were the whispers in Dubai last week. ‘We’re about to have some fun and games,’ said Luke Donald, smiling.

Rather than a straight ban, most of the money is on a form of wording that effectively prevents any player from anchoring a putter to his body. Which would be a smart way of effectively bringing in a ban while reducing the chances of this ending up in a messy court battle — the fun and games to which Donald refers.

No changes to the Rules of Golf can be introduced until the next review in 2016, but there is some talk it will be introduced in the professional game before then. Among the players who would be affected are three of the last five major winners — Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els.

Bold course for new ideas

Any talk of changes to the Old Course at St Andrews is always a move into ‘painting a moustache on the face of the Mona Lisa’ territory.

So it was that the Royal and Ancient Golf Club got another shellacking last week following the announcement, in conjunction with the St Andrews Links Trust who manage the course, of a number of changes before The Open is held there in 2015. It has to be said, some of the planned amendments sound positively radical.

Widening the Road Hole bunker and recontouring the area around it, for example; the first alterations to the 11th green for about 250 years.

Let’s go easy on the outrage, however, and have a little faith in the two bodies in question. After all, they have more to lose than anyone.

Rory McIroy, Luke Donald and Marc Warren lead DP World Tour Championship

McIlroy v Donald battle still on as Warren joins big two at top of Dubai leaderboard

|

UPDATED:

14:22 GMT, 23 November 2012

There's some storm brewing here in the desert with Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald disputing the halfway lead with Marc Warren in the DP World Tour Championship.

McIlroy defied an overnight bout of sickness to post a 67 for an 11-under-par total of 133.

Ten minutes later, Donald struck a trademark nine iron to 4ft for a birdie at the last to tie the world No 1.

Share the joy: Rory McIroy is in a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard

Share the joy: Rory McIroy is in a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard

DP World Tour Championship

Click here for the full leaderboard

Then Warren tapped in for a par to make this season finale an England-Scotland-Northern Ireland affair at the top after 36 holes.

Next come the South Africans Branden Grace and former Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen.

How easy it would have been for McIlroy to come here and take his foot off the pedal, with the Race to Dubai already sewn up, but no-one got to be the world's best player thinking like that.

Indeed, McIlroy handed out a warning to everyone else seeking to deny him making it a notable double here on Sunday.

'I came here as motivated as I have been all season and I am determined to end the season with a bang and win here in the desert,' he said.

There didn't appear much chance of that when he looked like he was coming down with a sickness bug on Thursday night.

A cup of lemon tea from girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki and a couple of pills, however, and he was feeling much better on Friday.

Where he wants to be: Luke Donald has a share of the lead at the DP World Tour Championship

Where he wants to be: Luke Donald has a share of the lead at the DP World Tour Championship

Driving the ball imperiously, he gave himself a host of chances in another accomplished round.

'I feel this course gives me a good advantage if I'm driving it well because I can clear a lot of the fairway bunkers,' he explained.

'I missed a couple of short putts on the front nine but I've got to be happy tied for the lead going into the weekend.'

Like McIlroy, Donald has just two rounds of his season left to play and enters the final 36 holes with the same focus.

Winner last week in Japan, Donald said: 'I've got 36 holes to go and I really want to sign off with a victory.'

Donald doesn't have the length off the tee that gives McIlroy his advantage but counters that very handily with iron shots like the beauty he played at the last.

As for Warren, he had a golden opportunity to win the Scottish Open on home soil in July and is intent on showing what he has learned from that experience, when he was two ahead with three to play only to lose out in a sudden death play-off to Indian Jeev Milkha Singh.

Making a splash: Marc Warren is on 11 under after a 65 on Friday at the Earth Course

Making a splash: Marc Warren is on 11 under after a 65 on Friday at the Earth Course

All those nervous hopefuls preparing to take part on Saturday in that nerve-wracking experience known as the European Tour's Qualifying School can take great heart from the sight of South African Grace so high up the leaderboard. This time last year, he was one of them.

'It's one of those hard weeks where you don't care if you win it or finish 30th, as long as you secure your card for next year, so good luck to all the guys,' he said.

As it happens, Grace finished 11th before embarking on a season that, as he puts it, is 'beyond a dream.'

Not only has the 24-year-old won no fewer than four times, he is in a great position in this event going into the weekend, and will play with Donald on Saturday.

'I guess you could come here with the attitude of freewheeling and enjoying it but I came here with a couple of goals for the last event and I'm determined to pull them off,' he said.

In contention: South African Branden Grace is just one shot off the leaders

In contention: South African Branden Grace is just one shot off the leaders

'Obviously I can't win the Race to Dubai as Rory has already done that but I could finish second and I want to try for that.

'Then there's obviously lots of world ranking points at stake and I want to push for as many of those as I can.'

No question about the most remarkable round of the day. Sergio Garcia had nine birdies and two eagles on his card, which was just the amount of gains he needed to shoot the European Tour's first-ever round of 59.

Even with a couple of tees pushed forward, what a remarkable achievement that would have been on a course measuring around 7,400 yards.

Up and down: Sergio Garcia had an eventful day as he fired a 64 in his second round

Up and down: Sergio Garcia had an eventful day as he fired a 64 in his second round

Alas for the gifted Spaniard, there were not only a couple of bogeys coming home but a potentially very costly triple at the 16th that leaves him four adrift of the leaders.

'I don't think I have ever had a roller-coaster round quite like that, with so much going on during the back nine,' said Garcia, who eventually signed for a 64 that tied the course record.

The 32-year-old is playing for just the second time since having laser eye surgery and certainly had his eye in on Friday.

There are plenty of gifted shot-makers lurking just off the lead, like former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel on nine under and Justin Rose and Nicolas Colsaerts on eight.

Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, however, are a distant eight and nine shots adrift after rounds of 74 and 70 respectively.

Singapore Open: Rory McIlroy clinches European Tour money list

McIlroy nabs European title as Manassero helps him out by beating Oosthuizen

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UPDATED:

12:58 GMT, 11 November 2012

A 30-foot eagle putt on the final green at the Barclays Singapore Open made Rory McIlroy the European Tour's youngest money list winner since Sandy Lyle in 1980.

But it was only when 19-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero also eagled the same hole more than two hours later that McIlroy could crack open the champagne again.

Already with the PGA Tour title in the bag, the 23-year-old world number one emulated the double achieved by Luke Donald last season when Manassero beat South African Louis Oosthuizen with a 12-foot putt at the third play-off hole.

That's the ticket: Rory McIlroy finished third in Singapore

That's the ticket: Rory McIlroy finished third in Singapore

LEADERBOARD

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If Oosthuizen had won he could still
have caught McIlroy, but instead Manassero became the first player to
win three times on the circuit before the age of 20. Not even Seve
Ballesteros managed that.

McIlroy, watched during the week by
girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, stormed through to third place with a
closing six-under-par 65.

'I left myself a little bit too much
to do to win, but it was a great way to finish off the round and the
tournament,' said the Northern Irish star, who still has his defence of
the Hong Kong Open and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai to come
this next fortnight.

The race would still have been alive
if either Peter Hanson or Oosthuizen had played in Hong Kong or at this
week's South African Open, but they have not entered.

On clinching the money list double McIlroy said: “It really is hugely satisfying to finally become the European number one, especially after finishing second two of the last three years.

Helping hand: Matteo Manassero of Italy with the winners trophy after winning in a three hole playoff with Louis Oosthuizen

Helping hand: Matteo Manassero of Italy with the winners trophy after winning in a three hole playoff with Louis Oosthuizen

Race to Dubai money list standings

1 Rory McIlroy 2,966,985

2 Peter Hanson 2,120,959

3 Justin Rose 2,059,798

4 Louis Oosthuizen 2,044,184

5 Ian Poulter 1,822,644

6 Branden Grace 1,671,036

7 Francesco Molinari 1,630,171

8 Luke Donald 1,475,622

9 Graeme McDowell 1,462,726

10 Paul Lawrie 1,425,216

11 Nicolas Colsaerts 1,363,063,

12 Lee Westwood 1,317,982

13 Matteo Manassero 1,198,873

14 Marcel Siem 1,070,584

15 Thorbjorn Olesen 995,685

16 David Lynn 952,025

17 Rafa Cabrera Bello 939,767

18 Bernd Wiesberger 822,449

19 Jamie Donaldson 815,188

20 Alex Noren 805,292.

'It has always been one of my goals
ever since securing my Tour card five years ago, but then to also end
the year as both European and PGA Tour number one is just amazing.

'I feel so proud and humbled to join so many fabulous names in Europe who have won the Order of Merit.

'To be able to accomplish this goal
with still two events remaining means that I can head to my UBS Hong
Kong Open defence and the DP World Championship Dubai without that added
pressure and just really enjoy my golf.

'Winning a second major championship
(the USPGA in August by eight shots just like his US Open triumph last
season) already made it a fabulous season, but then to follow Luke
Donald in becoming number one in both Europe and the States is the icing
on the cake after a fabulous season.

'I set myself a number of ambitious goals at the start of the year, and to have ticked so many of the boxes feels great.

'A lot of hard work went into this
and I am really proud of what I've achieved in 2012. I would like to
give special thanks to the team around me for all the support they have
given me throughout the year.

'I've still got two events remaining
this year and the goal is still to try and win at least once more before
the end of the year. Beyond that I'm looking forward to a good break
over the winter!

Taking a swing: Oosthuizen of South Africa takes a shot during round three

Taking a swing: Oosthuizen of South Africa takes a shot during round three

'I've got a healthy lead in the world
rankings, but with so many very good players on both sides of the
Atlantic it will not be a time to be resting on my laurels. My goal is
to push on in the new year.

'Monty (Colin Montgomerie) won eight Order of Merits in his prime and I have won one, so there is plenty of ground to make up.

'Also Jack Nicklaus won 18 Majors and
I now have my name on two, so targeting the majors will still be my
main focus next season.'

Manassero, just 17 when he became the
Tour's youngest-ever winner in Spain two years ago, had slipped from
29th in the world to 85th and said: 'This year has been a little tough
for me and I'm glad this came.

'I'm going through a few swing
changes and have picked up length. The driver is the most important
thing – I changed it this week and it gave me a few extra yards.

Strolling: McIlroy walks with Gregory Bourdy of France (right)

Strolling: McIlroy walks with Gregory Bourdy of France (right)

'It's been an extremely long day, but
the adrenalin kept me going and the key, I think, was starting really
well with a few birdies this morning.'

The Verona youngster made four in a
row from the third hole in a third round that resumed at 7.30am and
after posting a 64 for a two-stroke lead he grabbed two more birdies
early in the final round.

They dried up after that, however,
and Oosthuizen caught him with three in a row around the turn, only to
bogey the 12th and 13th.

A chip-in for a two on the 201-yard
next increased the pressure again, however, and Manassero bogeyed the
15th after driving into rough.

When Oosthuizen pitched to a foot on
the last for a 67 he went ahead again, but Manassero's two-putt birdie
gave him a 69 and forced sudden death on 13 under par.

Both birdied the 18th again, then
parred it with Oosthuizen lipping out from under five feet and after
returning to the tee again – they actually played the 542-yard hole five
times during the day – it was Manassero who came up with the decisive
stroke to claim the first prize of over 618,000.

He has earned over 2.5million in his career already – and will not be 20 until next April.

Lee Westwood shoots 61 to share HSBC Champions lead

Westwood shoots super 61 at Shenzhen to share HSBC Champions lead with Louis

PUBLISHED:

11:15 GMT, 3 November 2012

|

UPDATED:

11:15 GMT, 3 November 2012

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods may have angered officials by not participating in the HSBC Champions, but Lee Westwood more than made up for their absence on a thrilling third day at Mission Hills.

The no-shows of the sport's two biggest names were not well received by sponsors or organisers alike, but Westwood and a strong supporting cast did their best to prove there is a depth of talent on the tour.

The world No 4's scintillating 11-under-par 61 helped him take a share of the lead, while overnight pacesetter Louis Oosthuizen added a late touch of drama when he missed a chance to go back out in front on the last.

Storming into contention: Lee Westwood shot a superb 60 to share the lead with Louis oosthuizen

Storming into contention: Lee Westwood shot a superb 60 to share the lead with Louis oosthuizen

Beyond the lead duo, who are locked together on 18 under, Brandt Snedeker went within inches of achieving golf's magical 59 when he missed a 15-footer for birdie on the final hole, with the American instead having to be satisfied with a course-record 60 – a shot better off than Westwood.

But although Snedeker shot the lowest, Westwood was the day's biggest winner. The 39-year-old had an unblemished third round of 11 birdies and soared up the leaderboard from 12th to joint first, with he and Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, three shots clear of nearest challenger Phil Mickelson.

The Ryder Cup star set his stall out with birdies at the first three holes and he did not look back. His putting was in good fettle – he landed a tricky 10-footer on the ninth to emphasise such – and he looked in control all the way round.

Oosthuizen had led by five going into Saturday, but a sluggish display with the putter cost him dear.

Good day's work: Westwood was more than happy with his third round at Mission Hills

Good day's work: Westwood was more than happy with his third round at Mission Hills

He had several near misses on his way around – showing signs of decline when he slid one wide from five feet – and things were summed up by his penultimate shot of the day when a 15-footer on the last would have given him a one-shot lead heading into Sunday. He missed by an inch.

The same fate befell Snedeker, who looked set to go sub-60 when he approached the 18th, only to pull up just short.

Earlier in the day, Ernie Els had briefly snagged a share of the lead on his way back to the clubhouse, but undid his hard work when he found the water on the 15th, taking a double bogey.

He finished with a 69 and sleeps on 14 under, along with Bill Haas and Ian Poulter.

So close: Brandt Snedeker just missed out on a 59 in the third round of the HSBC Champions

So close: Brandt Snedeker just missed out on a 59 in the third round of the HSBC Champions

Snedeker is a shot further back but seemingly the man with the momentum to mount a last-day assault. His overnight mood could have been even better too.

'I was disappointed not to shoot 59,' he said. 'In a career you might only get a couple of chances to do it. When I made eagle at the 15th the idea of shooting 59 came to me but I knew I needed to make birdie at the last three holes.'

Indian Gaganjeet Bhullar is a shot further back after an impressive nine-under round, with Martin Kaymer, Carl Pettersson, Scott Piercy and Adam Scott alongside him on 12 under overall.

In a highly competitive field, Luke Donald and Jason Dufner are next on 11 under, although it was not such a good day for everyone, as Dustin Johnson slipped from nine under to three over thanks to a horror 12-over round, with a quadruple-bogey nine on the 15th the lowlight.