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 ...
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Richard Sterne sank a birdie on 18 to take a one-shot lead over Danish youngster Thorbjorn Olesen and two others after the second round of the Dubai Desert Classic on Friday.
Meanwhile, Sergio Garcia pulled to within three of Sterne despite struggling with shoulder problems that required treatment midway through his round.
Sterne, a South African who has struggled with his own injuries in recent years, stands at 12-under 132 through 36 holes of the European Tour event at Emirates Golf Club. Olesen (66), Tommy Fleetwood (68) and Stephen Gallacher (70) were a shot back.
Sterne had a topsy-turvy round in which he grabbed the lead with a birdie on 13, only to fall back into a tie when his drive went into sandy rough and he bogeyed 14. He recovered, though, with a 3-wood that traveled 250 yards and landed on the fringe for a long eagle putt. He rolled it to 4 feet and converted the birdie for the outright lead at the halfway point.
"I'm pretty happy with the performance today. It was not as easy as yesterday," said Sterne, who was a shot from matching the course record on Thursday with ...
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Richard Sterne nearly broke the course record at the Dubai Desert Classic on Thursday, shooting 10-under 62 in the first round to finish one shot ahead of Stephen Gallacher.
The 165th-ranked South African, who has struggled in recent years with back problems, started with three birdies on his first four holes. Sterne was on pace to break the course record of 61 set by Ernie Els in 1994, but couldn't convert late birdie chances.
"It's as good a start as I could have hoped for," said Sterne, whose back trouble limited him to a handful of tournaments in 2010 and 2011.
Gallacher also had a strong start with three birdies and an eagle on the front nine en route to his 63. He had two straight bogeys on the back before an eagle and three birdies on the final four holes to pull into contention.
Scott Jamieson, Chris Doak and Tommy Fleetwood shot 65s. Paul Casey was another stroke back, while Lee Westwood shot a 67, five behind the leader. Sergio Garcia, who finished second last week in Qatar, shot a 68.
Westwood said he "really enjoyed" the first round. The Englishman has been ...
Peter Uihlein and Rhys Davies are among the main attractions as the 2013 European Challenge Tour gets under way in India this week. They tee it up in the Gujarat Kensville Challenge in Ahmedabad in the hope of acquiring one of 15 cards at the end of the season for the main European Tour.
Both players have ample Challenge Tour experience to succeed. Uihlein, the 2010 U.S. Amateur champion, spent last year on Europe’s junior circuit. The former Oklahoma State player competed in 15 tournaments and finished 26th on the money list. Expect Uihlein to play slightly more tournaments this year.
Davies begins this season on Europe’s junior circuit after losing his card on the main tour last year. Davies has had a hard time ever since winning the 2011 Trophee Hassan II on the main tour. The former East Tennessee State and Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup player defeated Louis Oosthuizen down the stretch in Morocco. However, while Oosthuizen has gone on to major glory and into the world top 5, Davies finished 121st on last year’s main tour.
Davies knows all about the Challenge Tour. He placed fourth on the 2009 Challenge Tour money ...
DOHA, Qatar — Chris Wood eagled the 18th hole to win the Qatar Masters for his first European Tour victory on Saturday, overtaking Sergio Garcia and George Coetzee who finished a shot back.
The 142nd-ranked Englishman had an approach shot that rolled within 12 feet of the 18th . He sank it to finish the final round at 3-under 69 and an overall 18-under 270. Garcia and Coetzee looked set for a playoff after both birdied the last hole.
Wood came into the final day with a comfortable three-shot lead. But he missed a birdie putt on No. 2 and then double-bogeyed the par-3 third.
DOHA, Qatar — Chris Wood shot an 8-under 64 Friday for a three-stroke lead on Michael Campbell and two others after the third round of the Qatar Masters.
Wood started the day two shots behind Ryder Cup stars Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer but moved up the leaderboard with five birdies on the front nine en route to a 15-under 201.
He had an eagle at the 10th when his second shot landed within 10 feet of the pin. He missed a short putt on the 12th for bogey but had birdies on the 14th and 16th to match fellow Englishman Simon Khan for the low round of the tournament.
"I played pretty nicely. I wouldn't say it's one of my best," Wood said. "I played similar to the way I played on Wednesday, the first round. Shot 67, could have been a few better."
Khan made a move on Friday, joining Campbell (68) and Alexander Noren (66) in second. The 486th-ranked Khan had six birdies on his first seven holes and finished with eight during his bogey-free round. He just missed a ninth birdie when his putt on the 18th came up short.
Garcia (70) fell into a ...
DOHA, Qatar — Ryder Cup stars Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia were among four players tied for the lead at the Qatar Masters after the second round on Thursday.
The leaderboard was crowded, with 15 players within three shots of the leaders, thanks to mainly calm conditions at Doha Golf Course.
Kaymer had a 5-under 67 and Garcia (66), overnight leader Ricardo Santos (70) of Portugal and Marcus Fraser (67) of Australia were at 9-under 135. They had a one-shot lead on five players, including former U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell (68).
Three shots behind after the first round, the former top-ranked Kaymer took the lead thanks to his short game. He holed a chip from the fringe on 13 and made several long putts including a birdie on the ninth. Kaymer had a bogey-free round that featured five birdies.
The understated German felt his round was merely "OK," and believed his score would not be enough to hold up over the last two rounds.
"I played a lot better than the last few rounds I played, especially in Abu Dhabi," Kaymer said. "But I was a little fortunate today, a few putts that dropped, but on those greens that ...
DOHA, Qatar — Ricardo Santos of Portugal had five birdies on his back nine to finish with a 7-under 65 Wednesday in the opening round of the Qatar Masters, taking a one shot lead over Anthony Wall and Peter Whiteford.
Santos finished with eight birdies to go with a lone bogey on his second hole. Coming off a fourth-place finish at the Abu Dhabi Championship on Sunday, the 30-year-old golfer from Portugal is looking for his second win on the European Tour.
Wall of England shot a bogey-free round that included four birdies on the front nine and a final birdie on the par-5, 18th. Whiteford, of Scotland, collected six birdies in a bogey-free round.
Several Manchester United players were in the gallery. The team is training in Qatar.
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Don’t call Jamie Donaldson a journeyman anymore. Victory in the $2.7 million Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship took care of that tag for good.
The Welshman needed 254 tournaments and 11 years to get his hands on his first European Tour trophy. It only took him another 14 tournaments and six months to lift his second.
Donaldson emerged as winner in Abu Dhabi after a 4-under 68 Sunday at Abu Dhabi Golf Club gave him a 14-under total of 274. That proved good enough for a one-shot win over Justin Rose and Thorbjorn Olesen.
Donaldson even had the luxury of a bogey at the par-5 18th. He missed a 4-foot par putt there after hitting his tee shot into the left rough. All he could do after that that was stand and watch as first Olesen missed from 17 feet for birdie, and then Rose missed from 11 feet for his own birdie.
“I got away with murder there at the last,” Donaldson said. “I thought one of them would make a birdie and I’d be in a playoff.”
Donaldson, 37, arrived in Abu Dhabi and thought he had no chance of ...
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – It’s hard to think of Justin Rose as a member of the European Tour’s old guard, but the Englishman assumes that role against a young upstart in the final round of the $2.7 million Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
Rose will go head-to-head with Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen, one of the most exciting prospects in world golf. The Englishman holds a two-shot lead at 12 under over Olesen and Welshman Jamie Donaldson, but plays with the 23-year-old Dane in the final group.
The 32-year-old “veteran” carded a 4-under 68 Saturday while Olesen and Donaldson had matching 69s to get to 10 under.
With the surprise exit of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods via the 36-hole cut, Rose, at No. 5 in the Official World Golf Ranking, is expected to win the title Sunday. Don’t discount Olesen, though. Rose says the Dane is quite capable of taking the title.
“Thorbjorn’s a good young player capable of shooting a 65 tomorrow,” Rose said.
Olesen, in only in his third season as a European Tour pro, improved in each of his two seasons. In 2011, he finished 48th on the money list and ...
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Don’t be surprised if Justin Rose goes on to win the $2.7 million Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. Belief might just carry him into the winner’s circle.
Rose holds the 36-hole lead at 8 under after a second-round, 3-under 69. He leads by a shot over Welshman Jamie Donaldson, Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark and Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.
The Englishman is the bookies’ favorite to take the title after the surprise exits of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods. British bookmaker William Hill lists him as a 7/4 favorite, with Olesen 6/1, Donaldson 7/1 and Fernandez-Castano 9/1.
It’s no surprise Rose is now the man to beat. The World No. 5 is the highest-ranked player left in the field. Rose has also proved in the recent past that he enjoys playing in this part of the world.
Rose signed off his 2012 European Tour season with a 10-under 62 just down the road in Dubai. He finished second in the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour’s season finale. He might have won the tournament if not for McIlroy’s five-birdie finish to take the title.
No wonder ...
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