Monday, June 24, 2013

Els makes it look easy at Eichenried

Ernie Els fired a closing 69 on Sunday to complete a wire-to-wire victory over two-time champion Thomas Björn at the 25th edition of the BMW International Open. The South African was in imperious form for much of the week at Golfclub München Eichenried, having opened with a round of 63 on Thursday en route to an impressive 18 under par total over the four days in Munich. The victory was Els’ 28th on The European Tour and his first since the 141st Open Championship last July, and needless to say he was extremely satisfied with another winning display. He said: “I’ve got to just start off with saying again, thank you to BMW for their continued support in golf in Europe, especially here in Munich. It’s wonderful to have sponsors like that around the world, and especially on The European Tour. “Obviously my play this week has been great, as we talked about how much tougher the course is, but I just felt good this week. I just felt my game was there and lucky enough it was one shot good enough. “As always, when you get to my age, to get a win, it’s a wonderful feeling, and hopefully it gives me the confidence that I need as there are two more Majors left [this year], and I've played quite well the last two but I need a bit of a spark in the next two. “Hopefully this will help; it definitely will, especially the way the week went. From day one, I had the lead, and to keep the lead all the way through, that was quite a lot of pressure, so it’s been a good week.” Denmark’s Björn had to settle for second place at the end of 72 holes having made much of the early running, as a trio of birdies from the third saw him take a narrow lead. However, although he was able to bounce back from a bogey at the 11th, where he found a water hazard from the tee, the two-time champion at this event was unable to recover from a very costly double bogey on the hardest hole of the week, the 14th. Having found the trees left of the fairway and been forced to take a penalty drop, Björn still found himself unable to advance his third to the green from the thick rough, before a chip and two putts saw him drop out of the lead. Despite birdies at the 16th and 18th coming home, he would end up finishing alone in second on 17 under par. “I played well and got off to the start I needed today to get myself out in front,” said Björn. “The thing that’s been great this week is the driver, and that let me down on the back nine. “The bogey on 11 didn’t come at a good time and obviously the one on 14, but I fought all the way to the end, and you know, Ernie hit two very classy shots on the last. When you go up against Ernie, you’ve got to take it 18 holes to the end and I didn’t quite do it today.” In contrast to his more experienced counterparts, Alexander Levy is a novice, having made just 13 European Tour starts prior to this week. But the young Frenchman belied his tender years with a superb start, notching three birdies on the front nine at the fifth, sixth, and eighth holes. However, the 22 year old, who earned his card at last year’s European Tour Qualifying School Final, made a few too many mistakes coming in – four of them to be exact – before a late rally saw him register a third place finish, the best finish of his fledgling European Tour career. Unfortunately for those watching, the German challenge from playing partners Martin Kaymer and Marcel Siem never quite materialised, but they still gave the largest following of the week plenty to cheer. Kaymer, the 2008 champion, got off to a slow start with a bogey at the third, but six birdies, including one at the last, added up to a closing 69 and a tie for fourth on 14 under par alongside Alex Noren and Bernd Wiesberger, while Siem finished two shots worse off after a closing 71. England’s Danny Willett also put up a spirited defence of the title he won 12 months ago in Cologne, and a closing eagle at the last was a nice way for the Sheffield native to sign off in a tie for 18th place.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

May is the month for Manassero

Matteo Manassero has been named The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month for May following his “sensational” victory in the BMW PGA Championship – The European Tour’s flagship event – at Wentworth Club, Surrey, England, with which he continued to re-write the record books of golf. Manassero, who receives an engraved alms dish and a Jeroboam of Moët & Chandon champagne, overcame first Scotland’s Marc Warren then, at the fourth extra hole, England’s Simon Khan to claim his fourth European Tour title 37 days after celebrating his 20th birthday. After becoming, in 2009, the youngest – and first Italian – winner of the Amateur Championship, Manassero progressed by becoming the youngest winner of the Silver Medal awarded to the leading amateur in The Open Championship (2009), then the youngest winner in European Tour history with his success at the age of 17 years and 188 days in the 2010 CASTELLÓ MASTERS Costa Azahar. Victories in the 2011 Maybank Malaysian Open and the 2012 Barclays Singapore Open enabled Manassero to become the first teenager to win three European Tour events, and his triumph at the age of 20 in the 30th anniversary edition of the BMW PGA Championship made him the youngest winner in the history of an event first played in 1955. Manassero said: “Winning the BMW PGA Championship was definitely the highlight of my career so far, and now to win the Golfer of the Month is a real bonus. With Brett [Rumford] winning back-to-back titles and Graeme [McDowell] winning the World Match Play Championship the competition was really tough, so I’m very proud to be named the Golfer of the Month and I will put the award next to my BMW PGA Championship trophy.” The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month Panel, comprising members of the Association of Golf Writers as well as commentators from television and radio, were unanimous in their choice of Manassero despite several outstanding performances in May, launched by Australian Brett Rumford (Volvo China Open) winning for the second successive week; Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell (Volvo World Match Play Championship) claiming a second title in five weeks; American Peter Uihlein capturing the Madeira Islands Open – Portugal – BPI; and Mikko Ilonen winning the Nordea Masters – in addition to Austrian Bernd Wiesberger and South African James Kingston winning elsewhere in the world. Michael Harris, Editor of Golf Monthly, said: “A very, very tough month to judge with high-profile wins by Brett Rumford and Graeme McDowell, a superb breakthrough win by Peter Uihlein and an excellent comeback triumph for in-form Mikko Ilonen. Nevertheless, the vote had to go to Matteo Manassero for his sensational win – coming from two shots back, winning a tense three man play-off, becoming the youngest winner of the Championship, collecting his fourth European Tour title little more than a month into his 20th year and winning at Wentworth wearing green slacks that conjured up happy memories of Seve.” Manassero will now be considered – along with previous winners Chris Wood (January), Darren Fichardt (February), Marcel Siem (March) and Raphaël Jacquelin (April) – for The 2013 Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year Award, and all will be seeking to follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner Rory McIlroy.