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Weekly Tour Wrap-Up
Posted by: Nick Bonfield on Mon 25 Jun 2012
Two of the biggest events on both the European and PGA Tour calendar were contested last week, but with strong fields on both sides of the Atlantic, it was two first-time victors that would ultimately prevail.
At the European Tour’s BMW International Open, another talented, young Englishman, who has been threatening victory for some time, played some fine golf in terrible conditions to take the title after a four-hole play-off.
On the PGA Tour, a relatively unknown Australian produced the round of his life to surge from the pack and win the Travelers Championship by one shot, on a day where multiple golfers were in pole position for victory at different stages of the final round.
Willett Wins in Germany
Young Englishman Danny Willett won his first European Tour title at the BMW International Open, beating Australian Marcus Fraser in a four-hole play-off after the pair finished on eleven-under-par. A resurgent Paul McGinley, Chris Wood and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano finished a shot further back in the pouring rain at Gut Larchenhof Golf Club.
Fraser started the tournament as he meant to go on, shooting an eight-under-par 64 in the first round, which included five birdies in his last six holes. He was tied for the lead after 18 holes with Paraguayan Fabrizio Zanotti. McGinley, Wood and Willett were a shot further back on seven-under-par after opening with 65s.
It was Swede Joel Sjoholm who was leading after two rounds, however. The 27-year old Challenge Tour graduate shot a 66 – which included two eagles – to reach 11-under-par at the halfway stage. He led by two shots from overnight leader Zanotti, McGinley, Wood and Willett.
Sergio Garcia played himself into contention with a second round 67 to lie on six-under-par, with 54-year old veteran Berhard Langer one worse on five under heading into the weekend. Some high profile players to miss the cut included Ryder Cup captain Jose-Maria Olazabal and local favourite Martin Kaymer.
Roles were reversed in round three between playing partners Sjoholm and Willett as they swapped positions. Willet’s 69, which included six birdies, was enough to give him a one shot lead over the gregarious Chilean-born Swede, who returned a level-par 72.
Wood was also on 11-under-par after a third round 70, with Fraser and South African Keith Horne a shot further back with 18 holes to play. Home favourite Marcel Siem was six-under-par after 10 holes, but could only muster a 68 to sit three off the lead heading into Sunday.
In the final round, Callaway Staff Pro, Willett was caught early, but birdies at three and four extended his advantage. The Englishman drifted back into the pack, though, after bogeys at nine, 11 and 15, while Fraser edged in front with a birdie at 16.
The Australian bogeyed the last to set the clubhouse target on 11-under-par, and Willet did well to par the final three holes to match his score, despite some tree trouble coming up the 72nd hole.
It was so close but yet so far for Wood, who bogeyed the 17th to miss out by one shot. He finished in a tie for third with Fernandez-Castano and McGinley, who shot a superb 66 in horrible conditions to record his best finish since the 2008 KLM Open.
Leishman Lethal in Conneticut
Australian Mark Leishman won for the first time on the PGA Tour at the 96th time of asking at the Travelers Championship, finishing one shot clear of Bubba Watson and Charley Hoffman on 14-under-par after an enthralling final day at TPC River Highlands.
The tournament started off in exciting fashion as David Mathis, who led after round one with a six-under-par 64, birdied his first hole (the 10th), hole-in-oned the 11th and added another at the 12th. A shot further back were defending champion Frederik Jacobson, Will Claxton and Nathan Green, with 2012 major winners Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson on four-under-par after round one.
Jacobson surged into a one shot lead at the halfway stage after a second round 66, which included four birdies and an eagle. He finished on Friday, but rain delays halted proceedings meaning many had to return on Saturday to complete their third rounds.
One of those players was JB Homes, who returned a second-round 62 to sit in a tie for second alongside Claxton and Camilo Villegas.
The leaderboard had changed significantly after round three. Little-known American Roland Thatcher, who hadn’t made a cut since March, joined Brian Davis (64) atop the leaderboard on 12-under-par after a third-round 65.
John Rollins, James Driscoll and Stuart Appleby were a shot further back with 18 holes to play, with Charley Hoffman, Padraig Harrington and Matt Kuchar lurking near the lead.
Hunter Mahan set the early tone for the final round after a stunning 61 moved him up from 57th into a tie for 11th, and Mark Leishman was taking notes.
The Australian shot a sublime, bogey-free 62 to set the clubhouse lead at 14-under-par, two hours and 22 minutes before the final putt dropped.
After his round, he confessed to the media he felt he was one or two shots shy and, in reality, his total should have been.
Charley Hoffman was three strokes clear at one point on Sunday after he played his first 13 holes in seven-under-par. Disaster struck, however, when his tee shot found water for a double-bogey at 17 before a bogey at 18 saw him come up one shot short of Leishman.
Bubba Watson was stood on the tee of the reachable par-4 15th one shot behind Leishman, but his tee shot found water. He was able to get up and down for par but, like Hoffman, came up one shot short.
Tim Clark, returning from the golfing wilderness, had his chances too. He reached 13-under-par with birdies at 12 and 13, but missed a two-footer for par at the 17th to end his chances.
Neither Thatcher nor Davis were able to foray under-par (both finished in a tie for 4th on twelve-under-par), meaning Leishman had unexpectedly prevailed.
This week, the European Tour heads to Royal Portrush Golf Club for the sold-out Irish Open, while the PGA Tour stops in Maryland for the AT&T National, where Nick Watney defends.
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