KAVARNA, Bulgaria –– It took 12 months, but Graeme McDowell finally gained revenge on Nicolas Colsaerts for losing last year’s Volvo World Match Play final.
The Northern Irishman defeated Colsaerts, 2 and 1, even though the Belgian made one of the more famous up-and-downs in the history of golf, saving a par from a restroom on the 10th hole.
Yes, a restroom.
McDowell was 3 up at the time when Colsaerts went for the green. His ball ended up in a small restroom to the left of the green. Bizarrely, he was forced to take a drop inside the restroom. Eventually, he was allowed to take relief since the rest room was an immoveable obstruction. He then pitched onto the green and made a par to halve the hole.
“I don’t remember the last time I had a half out of a toilet,” Colsaerts said. “I’m sure it’s going to make the news about some Belgian playing golf out of a toilet. Even when I was a kid you’d have thought I was crazy enough to try some shots out of a toilet but I never did.
“I was just amused more than anything else. I ...
KARVARNA, Bulgaria – Pre-tournament favorite Ian Poulter bowed out of the Volvo World Match Play Championship looking for the “tallest tree and the shortest rope.”
That quote described the Englishman’s mood after losing his second match in two days, going down by one hole to South Africa’s Thomas Aiken. Ever honest, Poulter vented his frustration after a day that saw him play so poorly he lost two balls in three holes, hooking drives at the 10th and 12th.
“It’s simply disgusting, disgraceful and there is no explanation for it,” Poulter said. “It’s simply not good enough. It’s a long year; it’s one week. I’m [upset]. I’m going to stay [upset] for a couple of hours and get back to England and go and win at Wentworth (next week’s BMW PGA Championship).”
Poulter was never really in the match. He lost the first hole to a birdie and gave away the second with a bogey after needing two shots to get out of a greenside bunker. He struggled all the way around.
The Ryder Cup star managed to get the match back to all square with wins at the eighth and ninth holes ...
KARVARNA, Bulgaria – Thank goodness the €3 million Volvo World Match Play Championship doesn’t adhere to the conventional match-play format of lose and you’re out. Otherwise the king of match play would be on his way home along with several other contenders for this tournament.
Ian Poulter’s chances of winning the €800,000 first-place prize are alive and well thanks to Volvo’s insistence on a group format instead of the traditional knockout system the tournament used to employ.
Poulter lost 3 and 2 to Thongchai Jaidee, but a win tomorrow against South Africa’s Thomas Aiken, the other player in the group, will see the Englishman through to the knockout rounds. The top two from the eight groups of three go through to the pure knockout stages.
“No dramas,” was how the Ryder Cup star described his loss. Poulter began with three consecutive birdies but handed Jaidee holes with poor shots at Nos. 4, 6, 11, 12, 13 and 14.
“He’s a great player but I gave him holes today and you don’t do that in match play. It’s dead simple," said Poulter.
“It’s a tough golf course where if you hit a ...
KARVARNA, Bulgaria – Just as well the words “match play” are placed after “Volvo World” and before “Championship,” because we’ll probably never see a European Tour stroke-play event around Thracian Cliffs.
Make that definitive never.
Thracian Cliffs is a stunning location. Hard by the Black Sea some 220 miles from Bulgarian capital Sofia, Gary Player has somehow carved 18 undulating holes into sheer white cliffs that will provide stunning television pictures. Whether it produces stunning golf is another story.
But then you don’t need stunning golf in match play. You just need to beat the other guy. That’s why players were being ultra diplomatic when asked about the golf course.
“It’s an interesting course,” Geoff Ogilvy said. “It’s a stunning bit of land. I don’t know if I’ve been in a place as impressive – a bit like Torrey Pines.
“There’s some extreme type golf holes out there. It’s perfect for match play. I’m glad we’re not adding them (strokes) all up. I think there could be a few train-wreck holes out there.
“There will be a lot of birdies and quite a lot of others. So I think that’s ...
KAVARNA, Bulgaria -- The €3 million Volvo World Match Play Championship couldn’t come soon enough for Ian Poulter. It also comes at exactly the right time for Graeme McDowell.
Poulter arrives in Bulgaria after a horrid run of form, looking forward to his favorite type of golf. McDowell, on the other hand, has no problems with his form. Everything in his world seems to be in perfect alignment.
The Englishman has missed his last two cuts – The Players Championship and Masters. He began the year with a T-9 in the Hyundia Tournament of Champions before reaching he semi-finals of the WGC Accenture World Golf Championship. However, in the run up to the Masters his best finish was T-21 from three events.
“I’m not overly happy with my performance the last couple of weeks,” Poulter admitted. “I think it’s good timing. I have had two poor weeks.
“I’m a confident person. I would expect to put myself under pressure this week to go out there and play well. It’s match play. I love the format, and I just think it’s come at the right time of year for me.”
McDowell also missed the cut at The ...
Don’t be surprised if Charley Hull makes this year’s European Solheim Cup team. The way she’s going, she looks like a lock to make the trip to Colorado this August.
There’s a good chance the Ladies European Tour rookie will turn up as a tournament winner, if not a multiple tournament winner on this year’s LET.
The 17-year-old English woman recorded a second-place finish in the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open in Belek, Turkey. Hull tied with Carlota Ciganda of Spain and Finland’s Minea Blomqvist on a 2-under total of 290, just one shot behind South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace.
It was Hull’s third consecutive second-place finish in just three starts on this year’s LET. She began the final round tied for the lead with Ciganda, but could only manage a 2-over 75.
“I’m pleased but just a bit annoyed,” Hull said. “At least I parred the last. I didn’t play very good on the first 11 holes. The back nine, I played a lot better. I seem to perform better when I’m under pressure and I have to chase, like the last couple of holes. I just edged my ...
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.
• • •
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 ...
TIANJIN, China — Brett Rumford became the first Australian in 41 years to win back-to-back European Tour titles with Sunday's victory at the China Open.
Rumford shot a final-round 68 to win by four shots with a 16-under 272 total. Finland's Mikko Ilonen shot a 71 to finish second at 12 under, with Victor Dubuisson (68) another shot back in third.
It had taken Rumford more than five years and 121 tour events to capture a fourth title at last week's Ballantine's Championship, but he has managed a fifth just seven days later.
"As with my win 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."
The 36-year old Rumford holed a 45-foot putt for eagle at the par-5 12th hole to pull away from Ilonen, who could manage only a par to fall three behind.
Rumford then extended his lead to six shots when he birdied the 13th and 14th holes.
The only Australians to win back-to-back ...
Ye Wocheng, the 12-year-old who made history Thursday in becoming the youngest player to compete on the European Tour, shot consecutive 79s to miss the cut at the Volvo China Open in Tianjin, China.
At 12 years, 242 days, Wocheng broke the previous record held by Tianlang Guan, who was 13, 177 days when he played in the 2012 China Open. Guan made history at the 2013 Masters when he became the youngest to compete at 14 years old.
During two rounds, Wocheng made one birdie, 13 bogeys and one double bogey on the 7,378-yard layout at Binhai Lakes GC.
Only one amateur, Zecheng Dou, made the cut with rounds of 70-72. Dou is No. 199 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and made it to the Round of 16 at the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2012. Dou missed all 28 fairways in the first and second round, but his scrambling stat of 31/36 is impressive.
Jim Liu of Smithtown, N.Y., No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings, finished at 3-over 147 to miss the cut by three shots. The Stanford signee fired a 7-over 77 in the first round, but bounced back with a ...
TIANJIN, China — While 12-year-old Ye Wocheng was making history Thursday at the China Open, Robert-Jan Derksen was making birdies.
Ye became the youngest player to compete on the European Tour, shooting a 7-over 79 in the first round with a 40-yard chip-in for bogey on his 15th hole.
Derksen shot a 66 to take a two-stroke lead. The 39-year-old Dutchman had six birdies in a seven-hole stretch from the sixth. He added two more on the final three holes at the Binhai Golf Club course.
At 12 years, 242 days, Ye broke the previous record held by Guan Tianlang, who was 13 years, 177 days when he played at last year's China Open. Guan made history last month when he became the youngest to compete in the Masters at 14.
Defending champion Branden Grace (74) struggled early but birdied three of his final five holes.
At No. 23 on the PGA Tour in driving distance and No. 11 on the European Tour, where he's averaging just more than 300 yards, Louis Oosthuizen is no stranger to long shots off the tee. But even he had to be surprised to hit one last week in Incheon, South Korea, during the Ballantine's Championship that measured 500 yards.
As far as mis-hits off the first tee go, it's not the worst. (Watch the drive here.) As the ball's two-minute journey gradually shows, finding the cart path can sometimes create a good break.
Longer would not have been better, as the announcers make it clear the path was about to turn away from the hole.
The South African went on to make par from the rough – despite being within wedge range on the 583-yard hole – and eventually shoot 71. He finished fifth this week, three shots back of winner Brett Rumford.
Kind of makes you wish more courses had curbs on their cart paths, no?
GULLANE, Scotland –– The world’s elite shouldn’t expect radical changes when they turn up at Muirfield this year to play the 142nd version of the Open Championship.
The R&A has adopted an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach to a venue staging the game’s oldest championship for the 16th time.
Muirfield is widely regarded as one of the top five courses in the British Isles, links or otherwise. It ranks fourth on Golfweek’s list of classic British and Irish courses.
“Muirfield is often regarded as the toughest but fairest of the Open championship venues,” said Jim McArthur, chairman of the R&A’s championship committee. “Jack Nicklaus said ‘what you see is what you get’ and that’s certainly the case.”
R&A chief executive Peter Dawson agreed. “It’s an immensely popular venue with the players. They like this golf course. Nicklaus’s ‘what you see is what you get’ was perhaps directed at many links courses where good fortune and bad fortune come into play more. Here at Muirfield the golf course is laid out in front of you. The actual ground is relatively flat and doesn’t tend to ...
GULLANE, Scotland –– Royal Portrush’s hopes of staging the game’s oldest championship are not dead. That seems to be the message from the R&A.
Many aficionados have been calling for the Open Championship to return to arguably the best links on the Emerald Isle. The 1951 Open Championship was staged at Royal Portrush, when colorful Max Faulkner won the title. It remains the only time the Open Championship has been held off mainland Britain.
Calls for Royal Portrush’s inclusion on the Open Championship rota have increased since last year when the Northern Ireland venue staged a successful Irish Open.
“The main thing that came through for us was the enthusiasm of the Irish golf crowd who supported the event,” Dawson said. “They turned out in very big numbers and were great supporters of golf.”
The R&A sent a delegation to last year’s Irish Open as part of its ongoing study into the viability of taking the Open Championship back to Portrush. Johnny Cole-Hamilton, the R&A’s executive director of championships, headed that delegation and came away impressed.
“It was a hugely successful event, and it was important that we saw how that important event ...
Despite all the fears over saber-rattling in nearby North Korea, the Ballantine’s Championship took place without incident – at least no incident off the golf course. There were quite a few on the Blackstone Golf Club layout in Incheon, near Seoul.
Here are 5 Things to Know from the South Korean capital and this week’s European Tour.
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1. Thanks Pete, Happy Birthday Honey: If Brett Rumford was unsure what to get wife Sally for her birthday, then the first-place check of €367,500 he picked up for winning the Ballantine’s Championship might just come in handy. The 35-year-old Australian won his fourth European Tour title when he eagled the first playoff hole in a sudden-death playoff with countryman Marcus Fraser and Peter Whiteford of Scotland.
Rumford struggled with his driver during the final round, but still managed to post an 11-under-par total to ensure his playoff spot. A quick phone call to coach Peter Cowen got him back on the straight and narrow for the playoff.
“A lot of thanks goes to Pete,” Rumford said “I battled with my driver constantly, and I guess that’s what keeps me out of most golf tournaments.
“So I had a ...
Jeff Rude’s “Hate To Be Rude” column appears on Golfweek.com on Wednesday.
• • •
Why is Tiger Woods skipping the Wells Fargo Championship? A better question is this: Why not?
Woods has missed but 11 PGA Tour cuts as a professional, and two of them have come in his last two starts at Quail Hollow, last year and in 2010.
The guy has been a master over the years at picking venues that give him the best chance of winning. Yes, he won at Quail in 2007 and has a couple of other top-4 finishes, but that was then, and this is now.
He’s hardly the first Tour player to skip a tournament where he has unpleasant memories. Or a tournament that potentially will have suspect greens.
• Speaking of choosing carefully ...
China’s 14-year-old sensation, Tianlang Guan, will play this week’s Zurich Classic in New Orleans two weeks after remarkably winning low-amateur honors at the Masters.
Guan, who hit hybrid after hybrid into greens at Augusta, surely will boost interest in the Big Easy’s tournament. But going forward, he needs to choose his events carefully based on courses that suit him. Namely, shorter ones.
The TPC Louisiana ...
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