Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Uihlein makes his Mark

American Peter Uihlein has been awarded the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award following a hugely successful first season on The European Tour, in which he won his maiden title and finished 14th in The Race to Dubai. The 24 year old is the first player from the USA to win the prestigious award, and follows in the footsteps of golfing legends such as Sir Nick Faldo (1977), Sandy Lyle (1978), José María Olazábal (1986) and Colin Montgomerie (1988) and more recently Sergio Garcia (1999), Ian Poulter (2000), Paul Casey (2001), Martin Kaymer (2007) and Matteo Manassero (2010).Having turned professional in December 2011 following a glittering amateur career, Uihlein secured a European Challenge Tour card for 2013 and made a promising start. He also received several invitations for European Tour events, and took advantage of the opportunities to notch top ten finishes in the Tshwane Open and the Open de España early in the season. His season-changing victory came in May, at the Madeira Islands Open, through which he earned full European Tour playing rights and meant his schedule changed dramatically for the rest of the year. He continued to show he could deal with the step up, finishing tied tenth in both the BMW International Open and the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, before a fine spell in the second half of the campaign.In August the Floridian was denied a second title by a barnstorming finish from Grégory Bourdy in the ISPS Handa Wales Open where he finished second and he maintained that superb form at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, where he came within a whisker of recording the first 59 in European Tour history at Kingsbarns in the second round. The 12 under par 60 helped him tie for the lead after 72 holes, but he was thwarted by David Howell at the second hole of a sudden-death play-off. In his next appearance on The European Tour, Uihlein tied for fifth in the BMW Masters presented by SRE Group, the first event in the inaugural Final Series. The Oklahoma State University graduate was thrilled to be the 49th recipient of the award, which was launched in 1960. “It’s an honour to win the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award,” said Uihlein, who reached world amateur number one 2010. “I wasn’t expecting it, but it’s been a great year and I’m very pleased. I think I’m the first non-European to win it, so that’s a great honour. Any time you’re the first of anything, it’s neat. “The win in Madeira was great and I had a lot of top tens. I played well all week in Madeira and handled myself well in the wind, and it was nice to get the job done. The win opened a few doors for me and I was able to play at Wentworth (the BMW PGA Championship) the following week. “I was supposed to start the year on the Challenge Tour, but instead I was 11th in The Race to Dubai heading into the final event, so it wasn’t what I’d planned on but obviously it’s fantastic the way it has worked out.” Before joining the paid ranks, Uihlein won the 2010 US Amateur Championship, and won four points from four matches in the 2009 Walker Cup. George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “We heartily congratulate Peter on an outstanding season, during which he has thrilled golf fans and challenged for several titles. He is a worthy winner of the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year. “His incredible 60 at Kingsbarns, which ended with his eagle putt for a 59 missing by a fraction, will go down as one of the finest displays on The European Tour. “Peter enjoyed a wonderful career as an amateur and it is so pleasing to see him fulfilling his potential at the game’s highest level. We wish him every success for the future.”

Monday, November 18, 2013

Stenson steals the march in Dubai

Henrik Stenson was crowned The Race to Dubai Champion after finishing an incredible season in stunning style by romping to victory in the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. The Swede produced a golfing masterclass in the final round at Jumeirah Golf Estates, carding an eight under par 64 for a record 25 under par total to win by six shots from Englishman Ian Poulter, who pushed his rival all the way in the title race and signed off with a 66. Stenson became the first European to win the lucrative FedEx Cup on the US PGA Tour in September, and completed a brilliant double in Dubai despite battling a wrist injury throughout the week, to become European Number One.   Fittingly, his victory was completed with a majestic eagle on the par 18th, where he hit a three-wood approach to less than a foot from the hole. “It took a little time to sink in when I won the FedEx, and it just kept on feeling better and better as time went on and I'm sure this will be the same,” said Stenson, who has staged a remarkable comeback since falling out of the top 200 in the Official Golf World Ranking in early 2012. “I have managed to achieve something very special here this week.“To get the double‑double, winning the Tour Championship on both the tours, that's going to take some beating in the future. It's been a dream year, a dream summer for me, and the season of my life.“I’m just very, very pleased with the way I played. I knew it was going to be a tough week and I knew the guys were going to keep on charging and trying to catch me. Being in the lead, you want to play solidly and not make any silly mistakes. I had a couple of really good iron shots early in the round to set up three birdies in the first five holes. “It was blowing pretty hard with a lot of sand in the air on the back nine. I was just trying to hit fairways and greens and make pars coming in.” Poulter was the only player left with a realistic chance of pipping Stenson to The Race to Dubai title on the final day, needing to win the tournament and for his rival to finish worse than second, but his efforts were in vain as the Swede blew the rest of the field away with a record low total, beating by two the previous best set by Lee Westwood in 2009 and matched by Rory McIlroy last year. “I've tried to run Henrik down as hard as I possibly could,” said Poulter. “He's been in incredible form the last six months, and even with a sore wrist, he's managed to continue to press on and even today in the wind, he kept his head down and pressed on through. “He's played exceptional golf in the back end of the year - simply incredible, flawless. The guy is the hottest player on the planet right now, and all credit to him.”

Haye to hang up his Gloves

Hayemaker Boxing regret to inform that former world heavyweight and cruiserweight champion David 'The Hayemaker' Haye underwent five hours of surgery in Germany on Thursday morning (14 November) to reconstruct his right shoulder, and has since been told to seriously consider ending his glittering 11-year professional boxing career. The operation was to the right subscapularis and bicep tendon attachments, both of which were ruptured. “I genuinely believed the shoulder injury wasn't that bad,” said Haye. “But the doctor sent me for a detailed MRI scan and within 24 hours I was told the full extent of the damage. Twenty-four hours after that I was in the operating theatre. “It's a crushing blow for me. I had big plans for next year and the ultimate goal was to win back the world heavyweight title, something my amazing fans deserve. What I didn't anticipate was that this year would be the unluckiest of my career and that a number of injuries would disrupt my plans so much. Perhaps it just wasn't meant to be. The boxing Gods keep hinting that maybe enough is enough and that it's time to finally hang up my gloves.”  This latest injury obviously means Haye will now cancel his proposed February 8 bout with Tyson Fury on the advice of doctors.  “The surgery and subsequent results are a bitter pill to swallow because I truly felt I had a lot more to offer and was looking forward to paying back my loyal fans with some great fights in 2014,” said Haye. “But I've been boxing for 23 years now, amateur and pro, and this has clearly taken its toll on my body. “I can only offer my sincerest apologies to all those fans who have followed me over the years and, like me, wanted to finish on a real high. This wasn't how I wanted to end 2013.  “If I'm now destined to have won the European Championship, the Unified World Cruiserweight Championship and the WBA Heavyweight Championship of the world - with a record of 28 fights, 26 wins, 24 victories coming via knockout and only two defeats - then so be it. I'm proud of these achievements and consider my boxing career a huge success.”

Monday, November 11, 2013

Dubuisson wins in Turkey

Victor Dubuisson survived an intense challenge from a high-profile chasing pack to claim his maiden European Tour title by two shots in the Turkish Airlines Open by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The Frenchman took a five stroke lead into the final round at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal and that cushion proved vital for the 23 year old, with the likes of Ian Poulter, Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson hot on his heels. In the end it was Jamie Donaldson who proved to be his closest rival, the Welshman drawing level at the top of the leaderboard with a stunning hole-in-one on the 16th hole which won him 1 million Turkish Airlines air miles before setting the clubhouse target of 22 under par with a birdie on the last for a magnificent nine under par round of 63. However, Dubuisson, who had started with nine successive pars before his first birdie of the day on the tenth, found an extra gear on the back nine to pull clear once more. After bouncing back from his only bogey of the day on the 14th hole with a birdie on the 15th, the former World Amateur Number One responded impressively to Donaldson’s threat by finishing with back-to-back birdies for a final round of 69 and winning total of 24 under par. It was a calm display of front running from Dubuisson, whose positive approach paid off under pressure from some of the world’s leading playe “It feels so great,” said Dubuisson, who had finished third three times on The European Tour. “It hasn’t sunk in that I just won such a big tournament. Tiger, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, they were all in contention with me today. “So it's a really great feeling, and I'm really proud of what I did because it was the toughest golf day of my life. I'm played great on the front nine. I was struggling on the greens. On this course, level par is a good score, but with this level of players, you cannot win a tournament with a level par score, even with a five‑shot lead. “On the back nine, I tried to do my best to make some birdies, and I had this great putt on 17. It's one of those putts that you make to make a dream come true. Everything feels like a dream right now.” Dubuisson’s victory in the penultimate event of the 2013 season elevates him from 49th on The Race to Dubai to ninth, with just next week’s DP TOUR World Championship remaining. Donaldson’s second place also moves him inside the top ten that qualifies for the end of season bonus pool, up from 16th to fifth position. US Open Champion Rose did his chances of landing the European Number One spot a second time no harm with a closing 65 for a share of third place with World Number One Woods (67), with Rose disappointed to drop a shot on the last. He said: “I think I've gained some ground. It's nice to be able to control your own fate next week. If I go in and have a good week, win a golf tournament, that's going to obviously be the exact scenario I'm looking for. I was fifth last week and tied third this week, so I like the way that's trending towards number one.” Poulter picked up four shots in the opening 11 holes, but his challenge ran out of steam with a sole birdie, a bogey and five pars over the last seven holes adding up to a 69 and 19 under par. The Englishman shared fifth position with Frenchman Raphaël Jacquelin (68), while Stenson recovered from a one over par front nine with four birdies after the turn in a round of 69 to share seventh position on 18 under par with Bernd Wiesberger (64) and Marc Warren (65). That means the Swede remains on top of The Race to Dubai heading into next week’s season finale, with Rose now his nearest rival some €213,468 adrift.  “I feel like it could have been even my week this week the way I played and the chances I gave myself,” said Stenson. “I'm still happy with the week though and thanks to a few of the other guys, I've still got the lead heading into the last week.”

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Gonzalo hits top Spot in October

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño has been named The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month for October when he played a significant role in Continental Europe’s victory in the Seve Trophy by Golf+ then captured the BMW Masters presented by SRE Group. Fernandez-Castaño, who receives an engraved alms dish and a Jeroboam of Moët & Chandon champagne, earned three points out of five as his Spanish compatriot José María Olazábal captained Continental Europe to their first win since 2000 in the Seve Trophy when they overcame Great Britain and Ireland 15-13 at Saint-Nom-La-Bretéche, Paris, France. Then the resident of Madrid belatedly celebrated his 33rd birthday by claiming his seventh European Tour title, and his third sponsored by BMW, by compiling rounds of 71, 71, 67 and 68 for a winning 11 under par total of 277 in the BMW Masters presented by SRE Group at Lake Malaren Golf Club, in Shanghai, China. Fernandez-Castaño, who is currently fifth in The 2013 Race to Dubai, said: “It’s a great honour, I feel very proud to receive this award for the second time.  “Who could have imagined, playing the Qualifying School back in 2004, that ten years later I would have achieved seven victories. It’s amazing how time goes by. In 2004, you are at the School thinking where your life will end up – and in 2013, you find yourself with seven titles. “I look back at 2011, when I had problems with my back, and I can hardly believe how dark a time it was. I was full of doubts, and getting back to being competitive again was very tough. But since then, I’ve won three times. Now I am so happy!” The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year Panel, comprising members of the Association of Golf Writers as well as commentators from television and radio, selected Fernandez-Castaño whilst also considering the achievements of Frenchman Grégory Bourdy, who became the first player to claim a maximum five points in the Seve Trophy by Golf+ contest, and European Tour winners David Lynn (Portugal Masters) of England, and Korea’s Jin Jeong (ISPS Handa Perth International). Iain Carter, Golf Correspondent of BBC Radio Five Live, said: “Gonzalo added to his impressive Seve Trophy display by completing an excellent body of work in October with his victory over a strong field in the BMW Masters – although a special mention should go to Jin Jeong for his win in Perth.” Derek Lawrenson, Golf Correspondent of the Daily Mail and Chairman of the Association of Golf Writers, said: “You could make a strong case for any of October’s candidates. Grégory Bourdy certainly put himself on The Ryder Cup radar with his stunning performance at the Seve Trophy; Jin Jeong will clearly be winning these awards for years to come; and it was particularly hard to separate David Lynn, with his first win in nine years just days before his 40th birthday, and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño’s stirring success at the BMW Masters – although ultimately it came down to the gentleman from Madrid.” Chris Wood (January), Darren Fichardt (February), Marcel Siem (March), Raphaël Jacquelin (April), Matteo Manassero (May), Justin Rose (June), Graeme McDowell (July) and Henrik Stenson (August and September), all previous recipients of awards this year, will now with Fernandez-Castaño be considered for The 2013 Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year Award.