HUMBLE, Texas Four days make a tournament. Four years can’t dull a priceless memory.
“It’s just lovely. I like the golf course. Great memories,” said Paul Casey, meandering his way along the practice range at TPC Redstone, where in 2009 he won the Shell Houston Open to validate his stature in the world golf order.
Having ranked 41st at the end of 2008 in the Official Golf World Ranking, Casey soared to No. 6 on the strength of his playoff win over J.B. Holmes. He would get as high as third in late August of that year and only in his worst nightmares could Casey have envisioned things sliding the other way in painful fashion.
Unfortunately, those worst nightmares occurred in a series of health-related issues that contributed to Casey’s slide in the world rankings, currently resting at No. 136.
But with a morning frost long gone and sun offering much-needed warmth, hardly did Casey seem to be a man reeling from the anguish that golf can dish out. Smiling warmly and offering reflection, the 35-year-old Englishman felt comfortable in these Texas surroundings.
Sure, that million-dollar winner’s check has something to do with that, but ...
HUMBLE, Texas – Rory McIlroy is World No. 2 and not bothered in the least by the demotion.
For most of the past year, McIlroy stood on the top of the golfing world and – for a while – put the name Tiger Woods in the rearview mirror. That all ended Monday when his friend Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the eighth time and his third PGA Tour event in 2013.
The victory, Woods' 77th, not only has pushed McIlroy off a lofty perch, but now the Northern Irishman believes he has been relegated to the background with a cadre of others on the PGA Tour.
McIlroy texted his friend Tuesday morning to congratulate Woods on his win. Woods responded in a kidding yet pointed manner.
“Just congratulated him and stuff as well, and he said everything was good there,” McIlroy said of his back-and-forth with Woods. “Told me to get my finger out of my (rear end) and win this week.“
Playing this week at the Shell Houston Open, McIlroy makes his final preparation for the Masters. While his coach from Northern Ireland, Michael Bannon, is with McIlroy this week (as he was at Honda and Doral), the purpose is ...
PORTHCAWL, Wales -- Lovers of classic links like Royal Porthcawl should watch this year’s U.S. Open at Merion with interest. A successful staging of America’s national championship at Merion should provide food for thought for those who would love to see Royal Porthcawl one day host the Open Championship.
Wales has never staged an Open Championship. Indeed, it is the only country in the United Kingdom not to host the game’s oldest major. It’s maybe about time that was corrected.
Merion could provide the template.
Anyone who’s been to Merion will tell you it’s hard to imagine staging a modern U.S. Open over this fine Philadelphia course. It may have staged four U.S. Opens in the past, but the last time the USGA took the U.S. Open to this fabled course was in 1981, when David Graham became the first Australian winner of America’s national championship.
Of course, 32 years ago the U.S. Open wasn’t as big a deal as it is now. Merion hasn’t been on the USGA radar since because it was previously seen as too short, and not having the space to accommodate a ...
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat shot a 2-under 70 on Sunday to beat Eduardo Molinari by a stroke and win a Malaysian Open shortened to 54 holes after constant rain interruptions.
Kiradech had five birdies and four bogeys at the Kuala Lumpur Golf Club for a three-round total of 203. Molinari had a 67, one stroke ahead of Denmark's Anders Hansen, who shot 66 for a 205 total.
Charl Schwartzel (71) and Victor Dubuisson (70) shared fourth place, three strokes off the lead.
After thunderstorms shortened play on each of the first three days, organizers announced Saturday the tournament would be decided over three rounds. Play was suspended again Sunday for more than two hours because of rain.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat led the Malaysian Open at 11 under when third-round play was suspended Saturday because of another series of thunderstorms at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
Aphibarnrat completed only two holes in the third round before play was stopped for the day. South Africa's Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, was a stroke back, also after two holes.
Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington was tied for third at 9 under. He played four holes.
Third-ranked Luke Donald missed the cut, completing a second-round 73 on Saturday to finish at 3 over.
The tournament is sanctioned by the European and Asian tours.
• • •
Ye Wocheng, a 12-year-old from Dongguan in the Guangdong province, qualified for the China Volvo Open on Tuesday to become the youngest player to qualify for a European Tour event. Ye breaks the record set by Tianlang Guan last year at the age of 13.
The Volvo China Open will be played May 2-5.
Ye shot an opening-round 4-under 68 to grab the early lead. He made bogeys on Nos. 11 and 14 and recorded a triple-bogey on No. 16. His qualifier total 2-under 142 at Wolong Valley Country Club was enough to secure a spot in the tournament.
He played in the 2012 5th annual San Diego Junior Masters at Carlton Oaks Country Club on July 2-6. He shot rounds of 69-67 to finish in solo second place in the boys 11-12 division. He carded an eagle, 12 birdies, three bogeys and a triple bogey.
Ye is a member of Hillview Golf Club. He is an AJGA member but has not played in tournaments yet.
Bifurcation is the big word on everyone’s lips these days. I’m not sure why. A bifurcation of one part of the rulebook already seems to exist. An example of that was obvious in the closing stages of the Avantha Masters in Delhi.
Once again we saw that professional golf doesn’t always conform to the simple laws of etiquette most ordinary club golfers obey.
South Africa’s Thomas Aiken triumphed in India to win his second European Tour title. However, he waited longer to record that victory than he should have done.
Playing in the last group along with China’s Wenchong Liang and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, Aiken faced an interminable wait on the 18th tee while Scott Hend in the group ahead consulted a rules official after hitting his tee shot into a pond.
The Aiken trio spent nearly 15 minutes waiting back on the tee while Hend discussed where to take a drop along with playing companion David Drysdale and the official. Of course, any club handicapper knows the correct procedure in this situation. It’s obvious from the rulebook – simply let the group behind play through.
Page 19 of my rulebook makes it pretty ...
GREATER NOIDA, India — South African Thomas Aiken shot a 10-under 62 to lead in the Avantha Masters by three shots after three rounds on Saturday.
Aiken had eight birdies and an eagle to total 18-under 198 to move ahead of Liang Wenchong of China, whose 69 gave him 15 under. Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (66) and Scotland's David Drysdale (68) were at 14 under.
A further stroke behind were Australian Scott Hend (68), Finland's Joonas Granberg (69) and England's Tommy Fleetwood (69).
Aiken, whose only previous win on the European Tour was the 2011 Open de Espana, said an eagle on the second hole boosted his round.
"I concentrated very hard to play one shot at a time and it seemed to work," he said. "It just shows what can happen. I got off to a great start - holing a pitch shot on the second for eagle always helps - and from then on I just stuck to my game plan. I'm very pleased with the way I played."
Aiken believed he had been playing well lately, but everything seemed to be finally clicking on Jaypee Greens.
"I've been playing very well the last four months ...
Well done to Rory McIlroy for fronting up this week and admitting he made a mistake in walking out of the Honda Classic. You have to admire him for his honesty. If only more players were as honest, then the game would be much better off.
I expected nothing less from Rory. He’s always been open, honest and well grounded. Gerry and Rosie, his father and mother, have made sure of that. Working class Holywood Golf Club made sure of that. The members wouldn’t put up with kids playing the big shot at the club near Belfast.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Gerry got hold of him and told him to ditch the wisdom tooth idea and tell the truth.
Maybe Gerry didn’t need to tell Rory. Given his upbringing, Rory probably knew better to open up and tell the truth.
Gerry never wasted any time in putting Rory in his place during his amateur days — such as the time he shot his son down when his offspring was trying to impress an attractive young lady.
Back in Rory’s amateur days, father and son happened to arrive at The Barns at Kingsbarns hotel at the ...
Justin Harding of South Africa will make his first trip to the British Open after winning the international qualifier in Africa by three strokes.
Harding's 14-under 130 for the 36-hole qualifier distanced him from Spain's Eduardo De La Riva at 11-under and South Africa's Darryn Lloyd at 9-under, both of whom also qualified for the Open.
“All of us as youngsters avidly watched The Open over the years and I’m really looking forward to my first major," Harding said after an 8-under final round that featured nine birdies. "With Ernie Els defending it will be a special one, and I’ve heard that Muirfield is a phenomenal place, so everything feels perfect right now.
De La Riva was 5-under on the front during his final round on the strength of a first-hole birdie, en route to a 66. Lloyd also eagled the first, yet needed a birdie on 18 to avoid a playoff against Jake Roos and Garth Mulroy for the last qualifying spot.
"I live in England and that adds to the importance of this Championship for me – it’s really amazing that I’ll be playing at Muirfield,” said Lloyd, 23.
• • •
Scores after British ...
It’s official – the European Tour will back the R&A’s proposed ban on anchoring. In a statement released by the European Tour today, chief executive George O’Grady states:
“The European Tour has been fully involved in the consultation process which ended on February 28th, and deeply value this involvement. Our Members support the unique role played by the governing bodies in formulating the Rules of Golf.
“Additionally, virtually all of our Tournament Committee and player representatives support the proposed rule even though they are aware, and have taken into account, the fact that some members and especially our senior members use the anchored method.”
As reported on Golfweek.com last week, the European Tour’s board of directors and O’Grady agreed Feb. 25 to back the R&A on anchoring. O’Grady had already consulted with representatives of the 15-man tournament committee by phone or email before the board meeting. Both the tournament committee and the board overwhelmingly endorsed the R&A’s proposed rule change on anchoring.
The European Tour’s stance is consistent with the Ladies’ European Tour and the British Professional Golfers’ Association. All three bodies have backed the R&A‘s proposed ...
CENTURION, South Africa — Dawie Van Der Walt became the fifth South African winner in 10 European Tour events this season with his two-shot victory at the Tshwane Open on Sunday.
Van Der Walt posted a final round 5-under 67 to finish at 21-under overall for his first win on the Tour.
The Texas-based golfer is ranked 436th in the world. Van Der Walt was among four players tied for the lead after the third round, including fellow South African Darren Fichardt, who shot 69 to finish second at 19-under in the European and Sunshine Tour event.
"You start doubting yourself and at 30 years old you start to wonder if you're good enough and this shows me that I am," Van Der Walt said. "I would have liked to win before 30, but I'll definitely take this. Golf is a game where you don't get a lot of chances to win, and to do it is fantastic.
"I hit the ball really good and I never really had to chip, which is not my strength. If you hit a lot of greens and don't three-putt then you're going to do well."
Local favorite Fichardt broke ...
CENTURION, South Africa – South Africa's Charl Coetzee will take a one-stroke lead into the third round of the weather-delayed Tshwane Open.
Play in the second round was completed early Saturday due to a thunderstorm late Friday which forced an abandonment at the Els Club course at the Copperleaf Golf Estate.
Coetzee, who turns 32 on Monday and is still seeking his first professional tournament victory after a prolific amateur career, had moved to the clubhouse lead at 12-under 132 before the stoppage with a second-day score of 65.
Chile's Mark Tullo (66) and South African Tawie Der Walt (65) are in second place at 11-under 131. Former U.S. Amateur champion Peter Uihlein (66) headed into the third round at 10 under as he also looks for his first professional victory.
The English trio of Richard Finch (66), Danny Willett (68) and David Howell (69) were among a group of 10 players tied for fifth at 8 under and just four shots behind Coeztee in co-sanctioned European and Sunshine Tour event.
Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain returned to the course in the morning to birdie his last hole in a round of 66 to make the cut at ...
Hideki Matsuyama, No. 5 in the R&A's World Amateur Rankings, qualified for the Open Championship on Friday at Thailand's Amata Spring Country Club. The two-time Asia-Pacific Amateur champion was one of four players to advance to the Open Championship, which will be played July 18-21 in Muirfield.
Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat shot 68-63 to win the qualifier by four shots over Matsuyama, who fired 66-69. Daisuke Maruyama (71-65) and Ashun Wu (68-68) earned the final two spots.
Matsuyama made the cut in the past two Masters and became the first amateur since Ryo Ishikawa to win on the Japan Tour. Matsuyama is No. 144 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He had four top-10s, including two runners-up, in six Japan Tour starts last year.
Asia-Pacific Amateur champion Tianlang Guan finished 53rd at 3-over 147 (73-74), falling 11 shots short of a spot in the Open Championship. Guan won the Asia-Pacific Amateur at Amata Spring.
CENTURION, South Africa — Darren Fichardt of South Africa birdied the longest par-5 in European Tour history Thursday to lead the inaugural Tshwane Open by one stroke after the first round.
Fichardt shot a 7-under-par 65 and was one of three players in the top 24 to need only four shots on the 685-yard fourth hole.
"I hit driver, 3-iron, 7-iron and holed a 12-foot putt," said Fichardt, who lives 10 minutes from the Els Club course at the Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate. "But I mean, at that length, into the wind and with the fairways not running, it's not a fun hole."
Bjorn Akesson of Sweden was at 66, with six players at 67. Darren Clarke opened with a 69 while Michael Campbell was at 72 and Jose Maria Olazabal at 76.
"This golf course is awesome, it's very fair," Fichardt said. "The greens are very soft, so you're able to attack the flags."
Two weeks ago, Fichardt captured a fourth European Tour title in winning the Africa Open at East London. Last week, he was seventh in a Sunshine Tour event.
"I've been playing for eight weeks in a row and I don't ...
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