Friday, August 08, 2014

McIlroy on a Mission

Rory McIlroy’s sensational summer of success has earned him a second Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month award for 2014. McIlroy, who receives an engraved alms dish and a Jeroboam of Moët & Chandon champagne, was a unanimous choice for July following ‘back-to-back’ wins in The 143rd Open Championship and the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational with which he reclaimed Number One spot in the Official World Golf Ranking. The 25 year old Northern Irishman, who won the May award following his BMW PGA Championship triumph at Wentworth Club, will tee off in this week’s US PGA Championship as leader of The 2014 Race to Dubai after becoming the tenth player in European Tour history to win more than €20 million in European Tour Official Career Earnings. McIlroy, who has won three tournaments in the same season for the first time on The European Tour International Schedule, said: “Any time you win a Golfer of the Month Award it means you have had a great stretch of golf. And I’m glad to say I have. Winning The Open Championship followed by my first World Golf Championship title the next time I teed up was really special. After an amazing few weeks for me, I’m now back to World Number One. It really is a great feeling. “And hopefully I am not done for the year just yet. Obviously we have the US PGA here at Valhalla this week, the year’s last Major, before heading into some really important tournaments to bring the season to a close. I hope I can continue to be in contention right up to the end and perhaps pick up a bit more silverware.” The European Tour Golfer of the Month Panel, comprising members of the Association of Golf Writers as well as commentators from television and radio, focused their attention on winning and exceptional performances on The European Tour International Schedule – Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell (Alstom Open de France), England’s Justin Rose (Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open) and England’s David Horsey (M2M Russian Open) were all winners in July – with consideration also given to performances worldwide.Spain’s Sergio Garcia came within a whisker of denying McIlroy in both The 143rd Open Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational while McDowell augmented his Alstom Open de France victory with top ten finishes at The 143rd Open Championship and WGC – Bridgestone Invitational and Rose also tied fourth in the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational. Elsewhere Argentina’s Ángel Cabrera captured The Greenbrier Classic while Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie won back-to-back Majors with his win in the US Senior Open and was runner-up to Germany’s Bernhard Langer in The Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex. Derek Lawrenson, Golf Correspondent of the Daily Mail and Chairman of the Association of Golf Writers, said: “Has any Member of The European Tour ever enjoyed a month to rival what Rory McIlroy achieved in July? “It says everything that Graeme McDowell could pull off a win and two top tens in a Major and a WGC event and still not get a look-in; that Justin Rose could win for the first time on Scottish soil; Colin Montgomerie claim a second Senior Major; and Bernhard Langer run away with The Senior Open Championship, and yet none of them got a peek. Hard luck to all those gentlemen, plus other notable achievers in July like David Horsey, winner of the M2M Russian Open. But they will all be among the first to appreciate this was McIlroy’s month – one that in the European annals might well stand alone.” Bill Elliott, of Golf Monthly, said: “Impossible to vote for anyone other than Rory, but impossible not to mention Colin Montgomerie and especially Bernhard Langer whose total domination of The Senior Open Championship on a Royal Porthcawl course Tom Watson said was three shots harder than Royal Liverpool underlines the fact that Bernhard really is the last man standing from Generation X – Seve, Sir Nick, Sandy, Woosie and himself.” McIlroy, who won The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year Award in 2012, will now be a contender for the 2014 award along with Spain’s Miguel Ángel Jiménez, winner of this year’s first monthly award in December, Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher (January), France’s Victor Dubuisson (February), Welshman Jamie Donaldson (March), France’s Alexander Levy (April) and Germany’s Martin Kaymer (June). Sweden’s Henrik Stenson won the DP World Championship, Dubai in 2013 to secure Number One spot in The 2013 Race to Dubai following which he was voted The 2013 Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year.


Thursday, July 03, 2014

Kaymer King of the Castle

Martin Kaymer has been named The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month for June after becoming the fourth European golfer in the last five years to capture the US Open Championship, following in the footsteps of Ryder Cup team-mates Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose. Kaymer, who receives an engraved alms dish and a Jeroboam of Moët & Chandon champagne, launched his challenge on Pinehurst No. 2 with back to back rounds of 65, before following a third round of 72 with a closing 69 to claim an eight shot win and become only the sixth player in US Open history to lead outright in every round.The 29 year old German, winner of the US PGA Championship in 2010, has now amassed 20 wins worldwide, following his success in The Players Championship in May, and is targeting victory in The Open Championship in two weeks’ time in addition to a third successive appearance for Europe against the United States in The Ryder Cup in September. Kaymer said: “It’s obviously great to win this award again, although I would’ve been a little surprised if I hadn’t won – it would be strange to win a Major and not be named the Golfer of the Month! “It’s always nice for people to recognise your success and your hard work. I’m just moving into my new apartment in Düsseldorf and I have a big wall with lots of shelves to put my trophies on, so I’m sure I can find a very nice spot for this award.” The European Tour Golfer of the Month Panel, comprising members of the Association of Golf Writers as well as commentators from television and radio, focused their attention on winning and exceptional performances on The European Tour International Schedule – Sweden’s Mikael Lundberg (Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity), Finland’s Mikko Ilonen (Irish Open) and Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti (BMW International Open) were all winners in June – with consideration also given to performances worldwide, which in June included England’s Justin Rose capturing the Quicken Loans National on the US PGA Tour. Derek Lawrenson, Golf Correspondent of the Daily Mail and Chairman of the Association of Golf Writers, said: “This is one of those months where the enormity of one man’s achievement left no room for doubt as to whom should claim the prize. Certainly Mikael Lundberg, Mikko Ilonen, Fabrizio Zanotti and Justin Rose deserve acknowledgement for their stirring victories in Vienna, Cork, Cologne and Washington respectively, but Martin Kaymer’s stunning triumph at the US Open ranks among the finest performances by a European golfer of all time, let alone the month of June. While 155 players toiled around Pinehurst, the German plotted his way so skilfully around that majestic layout he played golf on another level. It was one of those performances when it felt a privilege simply to be a witness.” James Haddock, Golf Reporter for Sky Sports News, said: “Martin Kaymer’s imperious performance at Pinehurst, opening with a pair of 65s and demolishing the field in a Major before the weekend, was, as many people have already said, reminiscent of Tiger Woods in his prime and simply sensational to watch. This was a vintage display from tee to green. A class act.” Spain’s Miguel Ángel Jiménez (December), Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher (January), France’s Victor Dubuisson (February), Welshman Jamie Donaldson (March), France’s Alexander Levy (April), Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (May) and Kaymer, along with the next five monthly winners, will all be considered for The 2014 Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year Award which was won in 2013 by Sweden’s Henrik Stenson following his victory in the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, which secured the Number One spot in The 2013 Race to Dubai.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Arsene Wenger signs to May 2017

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has signed a new three year extension to his current contract, taking his tenure at the Club to May 2017. Wenger has been with Arsenal for 17 years, making him the longest-serving and most successful manager in the history of the Club. He is the longest-serving current manager in English football, has won eight major trophies and has qualified for the UEFA Champions League for 17 consecutive years, a record only equalled by Spanish giants Real Madrid. Wenger, who has now taken charge of 1,010 Arsenal matches, said: “I want to stay and to continue to develop the team and the Club. We are entering a very exciting period. We have a strong squad, financial stability and huge support around the world. We are all determined to bring more success to this Club.“The Club has always shown faith in me and I'm very grateful for that. We have gone through fantastic periods and also periods where we have had to stick together. Every time when that togetherness was tested I got the right response. I think I have shown some loyalty as well towards this Club and hopefully we can make some more history. I am sure we can.” Arsenal chairman, Sir Chips Keswick, said: “We are delighted that Arsène has renewed his contract for a further three years. He is a man of principle, who lives and breathes Arsenal. He has established Arsenal for its exciting playing style around the world, continues his commitment to young players and has the ability to bring top class players to the Club. I have no doubt we have an exciting future ahead of us with him leading the team.”Arsenal’s majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, said: “Sustained excellence is the hardest thing to achieve in sport and the fact Arsenal has competed at the top of the game in England and Europe throughout the time Arsène has been manager, is the ultimate testimony to his consistency of performance, talent and ambition. We are delighted with the FA Cup success which has added to his already outstanding record. Under his guidance we look forward to adding more trophies in future seasons.” Wenger (64) has led Arsenal to three League titles, five FA Cups and four Charity/Community Shields, including two League and Cup ‘doubles’ in 1998 and 2002. He is the only Arsenal manager to have won the FA Cup more than once and the only manager to take the Club to a UEFA Champions League Final. He was the first manager in English League history to complete an entire 38-match season unbeaten in 2003/04 on the way to the Club’s historic 49-match unbeaten run in the Premier League. He joined Arsenal from Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight in October 1996. He also managed in his home country France, where he was manager at AS Monaco and Nancy; assistant manager at Cannes and worked in the youth section at Strasbourg. In addition to his honours at Arsenal, Wenger has also won the French League championship (1988); French Cup (1991); French ‘Manager of the Year’ (1988) (all with AS Monaco); Japan’s ‘Manager of the Year’ (1995); the Japanese Emperor’s Cup (1996) and the Japanese Super Cup (1996) (Grampus).

Monday, March 10, 2014

Patrick posts winning Score

Patrick Reed overcame a late wobble to win the WGC-Cadillac Championship by a single shot as Jamie Donaldson posted his best World Golf Championships finish with a share of second place. Reed was two shots clear overnight at Trump National Doral and doubled that advantage with three birdies and a bogey in his opening four holes. Donaldson and Bubba Watson reduced the gap to three as Reed recorded nine straight pars, before a missed putt from inside five feet cost the American a bogey at the 14th. Welshman Donaldson then got within one shot after a magnificent approach to the 17th left him a tap-in birdie, only to bogey the last after finding sand with his approach. That meant the 38 year old signed for a closing 70 to join former Masters Tournament winner Watson in the clubhouse on three under par, with Reed still needing to negotiate a 55 foot birdie putt on the 17th and the Blue Monster’s daunting 18th, the latter where Martin Kaymer carded the only birdie of the final round. Reed knocked his effort on the 17th to tap-in range to erase any concerns of a three-putt bogey, then laid up at the last and two putted for victory in his first WGC stroke-play event, having made his debut at the recent Accenture Match Play Championship. At 23 years old he also becomes the youngest winner of a WGC event, breaking the record of World Number One Tiger Woods by 26 days. “It means a lot to come out here and play as well as I did, with Tiger close to the lead and Hunter Mahan really close, Jason Dufner, all those great guys that are Major winners who have been on Ryder Cup teams. They are just outstanding players. “I have a lot of confidence in my game. It's one of those things that you build confidence by how hard you work, and I feel like I'm one of the hardest workers out here and it definitely shows,” Meanwhile, Donaldson’s consolation is that he firmly underlined his Ryder Cup credentials courtesy of his best performance on American soil. “I played really well all week,” said Donaldson, whose previous best WGC finish came when he was eighth at last year’s HSBC Champions. “My long game was really good from tee to green. I think in the end, it's come down to not quite holing enough putts, but I hit a lot of good putts this week and sometimes they just don't go in. “I’m happy with the week overall. I've gone out there and played as well as I can, and shot as low a score as I can in the conditions that we've had to play in all week, and that's all I can do really.  “It's nice to come here and have a great week on what is a very tough golf course.”  There were plenty of other impressive displays from European Tour Members on the final day, with South African Richard Sterne sharing fourth place with Dustin Johnson on level par after a closing 71. Thongchai Jaidee and Omega Dubai Desert Classic winner Stephen Gallacher were a shot further back in sixth position after rounds of 68 and 69 respectively, with Major Champions Charl Schwartzel (68) and Graeme McDowell (73) sharing ninth place on two over par.

Friday, March 07, 2014

A Victor in February

Victor Dubuisson gained worldwide acclaim by sensationally extending his WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship final duel with Jason Day to five additional holes, and the Frenchman has received a further tribute by being named The 2014 Race to Dubai Golfer of the Month for February. Dubuisson, who receives an engraved alms dish and a Jeroboam of Moët & Chandon champagne, won the 17th hole with a birdie and the 18th with a stunning save from a greenside bunker to force a sudden death finish, then halved each of the first two extra holes with astounding recoveries from the desert before finally losing at the 23rd hole to 25 year old Australian Day. Sir Nick Faldo said: “I saw Seve (Ballesteros) pull off some belters, but nothing as good as those from Victor. They were truly amazing, and a privilege to witness.” The 23 year old, who captured his maiden European Tour title in the Turkish Airlines Open presented by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism 2013 last November, is the third recipient in the 30th anniversary year of an award given to the European Tour Member judged to have produced the outstanding performance in each calendar month throughout the season. Dubuisson said: “It is a very nice award to win. It feels amazing. I couldn’t believe even a few months ago that I would be winning something like this. I hope I will prove that I can do it again, and maybe win Golfer of the Month another time. “Hopefully this is the start of something big for me. It was a big performance for me in Arizona and helped really improve my world ranking. I’m still a little disappointed not to have won the final, but I’m sure there will be plenty more opportunities to win more tournaments.” The European Tour Golfer of the Month Panel, comprising members of the Association of Golf Writers as well as commentators from television and radio, focused their attention on winning and exceptional performances in The Race to Dubai on The European Tour International Schedule – South Africans George Coetzee (Joburg Open) and Thomas Aitken (Africa Open) and England’s Ross Fisher (Tshwane Open) all claimed titles in February – while also taking into account events worldwide. James Haddock, Golf Reporter for Sky Sports, said: “The calm and measured way Victor went about playing his golf – in his first WGC event – was impressive enough, but the manner of his two amazing shots from the scrubland in extra holes of the final were invention, risk taking and sheer genius all rolled up together.“The measure of just how good those miracle shots were was supported by the sheer number of players praising him for showcasing European Tour talent and revitalising memories of the great Seve Ballesteros. In fact, even Seve’s son tweeted: ‘I think I have a new hero.’ Who am I to argue?” Michael Harris, Editor of Golf Monthly, said: “Although Victor just missed out on the WGC title, he defeated a trio of Major champions and entertained golf fans with his attacking golf, feats of escapology and smiling, positive approach.” Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiménez and Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, winners of the December and January awards respectively, and Dubuisson will all be considered with the next nine monthly winners for The 2014 European Tour Golfer of the Year Award, which was won in 2013 by Sweden’s Henrik Stenson following his DP World Tour Championship, Dubai triumph which secured the Number One spot in The Race to Dubai.

Monday, March 03, 2014

A right old Charlie

Former Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel has been voted by My European Tour fans as the winner of the January Shot of the Month after a stunning effort from a cart path at the Volvo Golf Champions. Faced with a shot from the concrete of 198 yards over what looked an impossible wall of trees and bushes, the South African clipped a glorious five iron from the path and pitched it right next to the hole. “I got lucky there, but I’m sure Seve would have been very proud of it,” he said. “I still missed the putt, though, so I might as well have been short and chipped and putted!” It was a spectacular shot from this season’s Alfred Dunhill championship winner, and as such it received 43 per cent of the vote, beating Dutchman Joost Luiten into second place after his magnificent albatross during the same tournament at Durban Country Club received 28 per cent. Sergio Garcia’s chip-in en route to the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters title rounded out the top three, but it was Schwartzel who took the lion’s share of the vote. As a result, one lucky fan will receive £200 to spend on European Tour merchandise, while Schwartzel will join Thomas Björn as the second entrant into the 2014 Shot of the Year competition after the Dane’s spectacular approach in the final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge in December. The long iron in question set up one of two crucial eagles on the final day at Gary Player CC, in Sun City, that would culminate in Björn taking the title by two strokes from Garcia and Jamie Donaldson. Both he and Schwartzel will now go forward to contest the yearly prize, along with the rest of the season’s monthly winners, as they look to follow in the footsteps of Henrik Stenson, who won last year’s award thanks to a spectacular three-wood to the 72nd hole at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. You can watch Schwartzel’s winning effort here:

Monday, February 24, 2014

All in a Day

Frenchman Victor Dubuisson was denied victory on his World Golf Championships debut by Australian Jason Day in the most thrilling final in the history of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Dubuisson edged out South African Ernie Els one up in the morning semi-final before taking on Day, who beat Rickie Fowler 3&2 in the other last-four clash. Day looked set for victory at two up with two to play, but Dubuisson fought back in sublime fashion with up-and-downs from sand on the 17th and 18th to win both holes.  The 23 year old kept the match alive with miraculous shots from cacti following errant approaches on the first two extra holes, saving par both times, and had a 20 foot putt to win on the 22nd, which came up agonisingly short. His short game was magnificent all day, but on the 23rd hole his chip from thick rough ran way past the flag, and Day’s par was enough to clinch the title and the US$1,530,000 first prize. Dubuisson’s performance drew comparisons with the late Seve Ballesteros for his never say die attitude and ability to conjure shots from nowhere, and he described the two chips from the desert as “amazing”. “I just played them like I had nothing to lose,” he said. “I’m happy but at the same time disappointed, because this afternoon I didn't play very well. I just battled, especially on the back nine. “I made some good shots, but Jason made some very good putts during the round. His birdie on the par five was amazing. And then he made a very important putt to win. “I tried to do my best. I tried to fight back. I made a good birdie on the 17th, but in a play-off, you never know how it can go. Next time I will be ready.”Dubuisson is virtually assured of his place on the European Ryder Cup team in September, achieving his main goal for the season. “I didn’t like to say it was my number one target, because that would have put extra pressure on me, but it was my number one target,” he added. “I'm very excited and this was very good preparation for me because now I know what I need to work on.” Day praised Dubuisson’s comeback, saying: “Coming down the stretch he was just unbelievable. I've never seen someone as young, apart from Jordan Spieth, and in the old days Tiger Woods, be so clutch, especially out of the cactus. “I kept shaking my head because it was so surprising. There were a couple of times where I thought he was absolutely dead. The tournament was mine. I just stuck through it and it was tough, but I'm glad I got it done.”