5 Things: Coach's call lifts Rumford to win
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 quick word with Pete, hit five or six balls off the first tee [before the playoff] and it obviously did the trick.”
It did. Rumford had hit two bad drives on his final two holes, including a double bogey at the 17th when his drive found a bush. However, a driver and a 5-iron to four feet at the first extra hole, the par-5 18th, saw Rumford win his first tour title in six years.
As for what he planned to do with some of the prize money, Rumford was returning home to his wife’s birthday the very next day.
“I’m really lost for words at the moment but there are a lot of people I need to thank – starting with my wife Sally,” he said. “It’s been pretty hard golf-wise and raising twins is not easy; she’s an amazing lady and she’s a great support to me and that’s why I’m standing here today.”
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2. Consolation Card: Whiteford might have recorded his first European Tour victory if he had converted a five-foot birdie putt at the final hole. However, he left Korea safe in the knowledge he has a job next year.
The 32-year-old Scot earned €191,516 for finishing runner-up, the biggest check of his career. While disappointed not to win his first tournament, second-place money takes him to 37th on the European money list with €252,678 in earnings. That should be good enough to keep him in the top 115 at the end of the season and secure his playing rights for next year.
“I'm sure once it's all settled it will be a great week,” he said. “Probably made just enough to keep my card now. I know that's not what I should be thinking about, but I’ve done that and can press on for the rest of the season.
“Guys like me don't get many chances to win tournaments, and whatever it was, four or five feet, hit a decent putt and didn't go in. But to be fair, at least we got beat by a three on the last and didn't throw it away. Brett deserves it.”
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3. A game of fractions: Sweden’s Alex Noren held the overnight lead, but saw his chances of winning disappear early in the final round when he recorded a bogey five at the second hole.
It should have been a par, but Noren was assessed a penalty shot when his ball moved a fraction of an inch as he addressed his par putt.
The former Oklahoma State player closed with a 2-over 74 to finish joint sixth.
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4. Calmels has no challengers: François Calmels was simply untouchable in winning the Challenge de Madrid on the European Challenge Tour. The Frenchman began the final round with a one-shot lead, but put together a classy 5-under 67 to win by seven over nearest competitor Tapio Pilkkanen of Finland.
Calmels began the week with a course-record 9-under 63 at the El Encín Golf Hotel in Madrid, but his performance in the final round was just as sweet. He began the final round by holing an eagle putt on the first green to set the tone for the day.
The Frenchman earned €25,600 and moved to fifth on the Challenge Tour money list.
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5. Welcome to the big time, Alan: British Amateur champion Alan Dunbar seemed to have gotten his professional career off to a great start when he opened with a 4-under-par 68 in Madrid. However, he soon discovered that the vagaries of professional golf are the same as those in the amateur game.
The Northern Irish player was 10 shots worse in the second round, returning a 6-over-par 78 to miss the cut by two shots. Welcome to the big time, Alan.