This week’s European Tour saw an Australian double up, 12-year-olds competing, Paul Casey on the comeback and flying Finns. Meanwhile an American dominates the European Challenge Tour while an Englishman is struggling to stay on it.
Here are 5 Things — plus a bonus item — from this week’s European Tour.
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1. RUMFORD CAN DO NO WRONG: Brett Rumford shouldn’t make any drastic changes to his life. Things are working out just fine.
The Australian waited five years and 231 days for his fourth European Tour victory, the Ballantine’s Championship, then just one tournament to make the Volvo China Open his fifth win. He became the first Australian since Jack Newton in 1972 to win back-to-back European Tour events (Newton won the Dutch Open and Benson and Hedges Festival in consecutive weeks in 1972.)
“As with last week I’m kind of speechless at the moment,” Rumford said. “It’s quite surreal. It’s the first time I’ve actually played the week after a win so I’m more than pleased. It’s hard to get my head around it at the moment.”
Rumford jumped to the top of the European Tour money list with €811,806. Two weeks ago he was 138th, but earning €775,406 in two weeks takes care of a lot of things.
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2. KNOCKING ON THE DOOR: Finland’s Mikko Ilonen hasn’t won on the Euro Tour since 2007, when he won the Enjoy Jakarta Astra Indonesian Open and the Scandinavian Masters. However, it might not be long before he wins his third tournament.
Ilonen’s runner-up finish was his second of the season following the Trophee Hassan II.
“It’s my second second place this year, so hopefully there’s a win round the corner,” the former British Amateur champion said. “The confidence is building; I’ve been hitting the ball nicely most of the time this year. Today I drove the ball really well, and I feel a lot more confident all round.”
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3. COMEBACK, ON TRACK: They say familiarity breeds contempt. Not for Paul Casey.
The Englishman will spend a full season in Europe this year after failing to keep his PGA Tour card last year. A shoulder injury from a snowboard accident set the former World No. 3 back, and he’s returned to Europe to try to regain his form.
So far, so good.
The former Arizona State player finished T-8 at the China Open for his first top 10 of the season. He has only missed one cut in seven events, the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea. Expect him to contend for at least one win this year, if not several.
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4. FAIRYTALE ENDS: Ye Wocheng, 12, became the youngest player to compete in a European Tour event, but that was as far as his fairytale went. He shot a pair of 79s to miss the cut. Nevertheless, he said the experience should stand him in good stead for the future.
“Golf is a hard game to play at this level of competition and on these courses,” he said. “But I feel I will soon be ready for it. I’m looking forward to the next time I can play out here.”
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5. USA, USA, USA! American Brooks Koepka is the new European Challenge Tour money leader after a seven-shot victory in the Montecchia Golf Open in Padova, Italy.
The Floridian compiled a 23-under total of 261 to better Spain’s Agustin Domingo and take the €25,600 first-place check. It’s Koepka’s second Challenge Tour victory following last year’s Challenge de Catalunya.
The former Florida State player is one of a few Americans playing on the European Challenge Tour this year. He graduated last year and decided to play in Europe rather than stay in the U.S.
“At the moment I see my future in Europe,” Koepka said. “I wanted to become a well-rounded player. A lot of the guys want to play in the States, but I believed coming over here would help me be a more well-rounded player and able to compete in Open Championships.”
So far, so good on that front.
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6. DOWNBEAT DEBUT: Three-time European Tour winner Nick Dougherty made his debut on the 2013 European Challenge Tour but didn’t last long. The Englishman returned an opening 78 and didn’t play the rest of the tournament.
Once considered the next big English star, Dougherty has struggled with his game the last few seasons. He’s had to drop down to the Challenge Tour to try to regain his status for the main tour, but he’s clearly struggling.
Last year he finished 39th on the Challenge Tour money list, and obviously has his work cut out this year too. He’s made two starts on the main tour but has failed to break 78 in four rounds. His stroke average from five rounds of European golf is a dismal 78.8.