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 ...
The European Tour will not join forces with the PGA Tour and oppose the proposed anchoring ban suggested by the U.S. Golf Association and the R&A, according to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity at the London-based tour.
George O'Grady, chief executive of the European Tour, would not confirm his organization's position during an interview at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. However, he hasn't received nearly the level of opposition from his membership that his counterpart, Tim Finchem, has heard on the American tour.
"I've talked to our top players ... and I haven't had a lot of people who think it should be banned," O'Grady said last week in Marana, Ariz. "My door hasn't been beaten down saying we must repel this."
During a news conference Sunday at the Match Play, Finchem said the PGA Tour has asked the USGA and R&A to rescind their call for a ban on the anchored stroke when the Rules of Golf are updated Jan. 1, 2016. A 90-day comment period ends Feb. 28, and golf's ruling bodies intend to make a decision in the spring.
An estimated 18 percent ...
Tianlang Guan, the 14-year-old Asia-Pacific Amateur champion who will play in the Masters in April, will attempt to qualify for a second major championship this year.
Guan is scheduled to compete in International Final Qualifying-Asia, which begins Thursday at Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi, Thailand. The top four finishers will earn a spot in the Open Championship, to be held July 18-21 at Muirfield.
“I have played at some professional golf tournaments before and it is always great to play with the professional golfers," Guan said in a release. "I can learn so much from them and the experience of playing at the professional events."
Also in the field are Washington sophomore Cheng-Tsung Pan, two-time Asia-Pacific champion Hideki Matsuyama and GB&I Walker Cupper James Byrne, who currently plays on the Asian Tour.
Anyone wanting to know the difference between golf in the United States and British Isles only has to listen to Ian Poulter and Bubba Watson talking about match play. Poulter is quite happy to head out onto the golf course without a scorecard, whereas Watson seemingly can’t do without one.
The scorecard differentiates golf on either side of the Atlantic Ocean. British and Irish golfers hardly ever use it, while U.S. golfers can’t do without it.
Watson clearly doesn’t care for man-to-man golf. He’d rather play Old Man Par.
“I don't like it (match play). I'd rather play stroke play for four days,” Watson told Golf.com before the WGC–Accenture. “You can make an eight on a hole and you're only one down. That's not golf to me. I think it should be everybody gets up there and tries to shoot a score.”
Compare that to how Poulter talks about the oldest form of golf. “I love it, just absolutely love it,’ he said. “I like that it’s just me against the other guy rather than the rest of the field. There’s a different psychology to match play ...
I have a confession to make: I have a hard time watching the first 54 holes of most stroke-play tournaments. Actually, I struggle with the first 63 holes.
That’s why I am looking forward to this week’s WGC–Accenture Match Play Championship. It’s a rare chance to watch the oldest – and best – form of golf at the highest level.
The scarcity of match play in the professional game is an indication of how commercialization has taken over the game we love. To think this week is the only form of match play on this year’s PGA Tour affirms the influence of the TV networks.
Europe isn’t much better on the match-play front, but at least we have two more match-play tournaments this year: the Volvo World Match Play Championship and the Vivendi Seve Trophy.
And that’s it. This is how far we’ve come. The oldest form of golf is relegated to three tournaments on the two biggest tours in the world.
This situation exists because match play is not a good fit for television. A match ending on the 13th hole is not good for their precious schedules. Nor is an unlikely Joe ...
The golden boy of English golf has lost his luster. That much was obvious from the Africa Open leaderboard.
You had to go a long way down that leaderboard from winner Darren Fichardt to find Nick Dougherty’s name. In fact, you had to go all the way to the bottom.
The one-time can’t-miss-kid finished dead last. He came 154th out of the 156 field, but the other two – Carlos del Moral and S.S.P. Chowrasia – only played one round before withdrawing from the tournament.
Dougherty, a three-time European Tour winner, never threatened to make the weekend. He missed the level-par cut by 15 shots after rounds of 80 and 79. That was two shots worse than the previous week’s effort in the Joburg Open, when he recorded scores of 79 and 78.
This is not how the story of Nicholas Dougherty is supposed to turn out.
The affable Englishman shouldn’t even be teeing it up in tournaments like the Africa and Joburg Opens. Had he followed the script set out for him about 15 years ago, he should have been back in his home in Sunningdale, England preparing for next week’s WGC – Match Play ...
I’ve just received my entry form for this year’s 72 Club. I’m thinking of sending one to a few PGA, European, Ladies European and LPGA tour pros. Maybe if some of them played once in the 72 Club, there wouldn’t be a problem with slow play.
It’s just one of a few things I’m thinking this week.
The 72 Club does what it says on the tin. We play 72 holes in one day around Littlestone Golf Club in southern England, walking and carrying our bags. We’ll play 36 holes in less time than it takes some tour pros to play 18.
We average between 2 hours, 30 minutes and 2:45 for 18 holes around one of the nicest links gems in England. We’ll play 72 holes, and stop for lunch, in less than 12 hours.
We aren’t like most professional tours. We don’t talk about doing something about slow play. We get on and do something about it. Quite why the professional tours haven’t done the same is beyond me.
I’ve argued for years for a shot clock in golf, similar to basketball's. If a ...
Richard Sterne has some catching up to do. Actually, he has a lot of catching up to do.
He began making up ground by winning the Joburg Open.
The diminutive South African earned his first victory in four years with a seven-shot win over Charl Schwartzel on Sunday. It helps make up for years of injury that threatened to end his career.
Sterne is the forgotten man of South African golf. He is part of a South African triumvirate that includes Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen. It’s not too long ago that Sterne’s name was included along with Schwartzel and Oosthuizen’s in discussions of future South African major winners. Yet while Schwartzel and Oosthuizen have gone on to major glory, Sterne has spent the last few years wondering if he can ever fulfil his potential.
Sterne reached 28th in the world in 2008. He racked up five European Tour wins between 2004 and 2009, and then discovered he was suffering from a form of arthritis in his back that threatened his career.
The 31-year-old spent most of the 2010 and 2011 seasons on his couch at his home in Stellenbosch. He made only 10 starts in two years ...
JOHANNESBURG — South African duo Richard Sterne and Trevor Fisher Jr. each shot a 4-under 68 to move five shots ahead of the field at the Joburg Open on Saturday.
Both birdied the final hole for a 19-under total of 196 at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington GC.
Felipe Aguilar (68), Jaco van Zyl (67) and George Coetzee (70) and two-time tournament winner Charl Schwartzel (68) trail at 14 under.
Sterne and Fisher exchanged the lead on several occasions during the round, setting up an intriguing final day.
"A bit of nerves set in there," Fisher said. "You try not to think about the lead, but it's there in front of you. I was a bit jumpy with the swing and wasn't waiting at the top, so I hit a few bad shots there. But I came back nicely with a few birdies."
Sterne had birdies at Nos. 6 and 7 before Fisher went to the turn with three straight birdies.
On the back nine, Fisher recorded consecutive bogeys and Sterne birdied the 11th before Fisher drew even again. Both players dropped shots at No. 15 before finishing with birdies on the par-5 18th.
Schwartzel moved up the leaderboard with ...
JOHANNESBURG — Trevor Fisher Jr. shot a 9-under 62 and Richard Sterne had a 65 Friday to share the lead after the second round of the Joburg Open.
Fisher had an eagle and seven birdies, including a run of three straight in his back nine on the West Course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club. Sterne went bogey-free for the second consecutive round on the East Course.
The South Africans were 15 under at the European Tour event.
"My last three or four years have been good on the (South African) Sunshine Tour. But I need to get to the next level now," Fisher said. "It's been good for me in terms of the steppingstones I've taken in the last 10 years. But I've stepped on a lot of stones. I need to get to the top now."
George Coetzee (64) was three shots back and two-time winner Charl Schwartzel (65) trailed the leaders by five strokes.
Defending champion Branden Grace, No. 10 on the European money list, missed the cut after rounds of 72 and 70 for a 1-under total.
It’s time for the European Tour minnows to swim.
The end of the European Tour’s Middle East Swing heralds the start of a golden opportunity for the Tour’s lesser lights. We now enter a stretch of low-purse, low-key tournaments that give the minnows chances to play.
Getting a card off the European Challenge Tour or at the European Qualifying School might at the time seem like a ticket to the riches of European Tour. Unfortunately, many of the tickets don’t qualify for all stops.
The three-tournament swing through the Middle East often excludes many at the bottom of the food chain. With the bigger players turning up to play this swing, it means a three-week layoff for many players.
Then once the bigger events start up after the Masters, it can be back to many weeks off. It’s hard to deal with for many players.
Former North Carolina State player Stephen Lewton earned a card for the 2011 season, but didn’t manage to hold on to it. He made just eight of 23 cuts and now plays on the Asian Tour.
“It’s very stop, start for a lot of guys,” Lewton said. “You ...
Stephen Gallacher’s victory in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic might be one of the most deserved wins ever recorded on the European Tour.
It was long overdue.
It’s strange to think it was only the Scotsman’s second European Tour win, and his first since the 2004 Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews. Just two wins in 17 years as a professional wasn’t on the cards when Gallacher turned professional back in 1995.
The 38-year-old played on the same 1995 Walker Cup team as Padraig Harrington and David Howell. They were part of the Great Britain & Ireland team that beat a Tiger Woods-led U.S. Walker team at Royal Porthcawl, Wales.
Harrington has gone on to win three major championships and 11 European Tour wins. Howell, meanwhile, has racked up four European Tour victories. Not many would have predicted back in 1995 that Gallacher would have been behind those in the victory table at this point in their respective careers.
Gallacher was a rock on that Walker Cup team. He had to take a back seat to compatriot Gordon Sherry, winner of that year’s British Amateur Championship. However, Gallacher’s own record was nothing to sneeze ...
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Stephen Gallacher of Scotland shot a 10-under 62 on Saturday to take a three-shot lead at the Dubai Desert Classic and break a three-round scoring record set by Tiger Woods 12 years ago.
The 111th-ranked Gallacher, who just missed out on a playoff last year in Dubai, is looking for his first European Tour win since 2004. He holed a 25-yard bunker shot on the 18th for an eagle to finish with a 21-under 195 in rare rainy conditions in the desert. That improved on Woods’ tournament mark by a shot and just missed tying the course record of 61 set in 1994 by Ernie Els.
“It’s the best round I’ve had,” Gallacher said. “I was just trying to make as many birdies as I could.”
Overnight leader Richard Sterne (66), who also shot 62 in the opening round Thursday, tried to keep pace. He made long birdie putts on the eighth and 11th holes and a 45-footer from the fringe on No. 15. Thorbjorn Olesen (67) finished five shots back in third place, producing two bogeys on the back nine — his first of the tournament.
Lee Westwood had a 66 to move into ...
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