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Weekly Tour Wrap-Up #16th July
Posted by: Nick Bonfield on Mon 16 Jul 2012
The week before the Open saw low scores and high drama on both sides of the Atlantic. Whilst neither tournament provided an adequate test ahead of the third major of the year, the excitement on offer was unquestionable, with both tournaments ending in play-offs.
On the European Tour, the highest ranked Indian in the Official World Golf Ranking put recent injury troubles behind him to win for the first time in over four years at the Scottish Open.
On the PGA Tour, a home favourite won his local event to the delight of a record-breaking gallery at the John Deere Classic.
Singh on song in Scotland
Jeev Milkha Singh won for the fourth time on the European Tour at the Scottish Open, beating in-form Italian Francesco Molinari at the first extra play-off hole after the pair finished on 17-under-par at Castle Stuart Golf Links.
Molinari opened up a two shot lead after the first round, breaking the course record with a bogey free ten-under-par round of 62. Whilst he wasn’t able to record the European Tour’s first 59, he played the back nine last Sunday in France in 29 and turned in 30 in Scotland on Thursday.
Spaniard Alejandro Canizares birdied his last six holes to come home in 29 for an eight-under-par 64, with Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin and Dane Soren Kjeldsen a shot further back on seven-under-par. Defending champion Luke Donald opened with 67.
Swede Alex Noren rose up the leaderboard to tie Molinari (70) after a second round 66, with Alejandro Gonzales a shot further back at the halfway stage. Phil Mickelson – who asked for a last minute sponsor’s invitation – charged through the field with a 64 to reach seven-under-par, with Martin Kaymer just three back heading into the weekend.
Scoring was excellent on ‘moving day’, with Kjeldsen lighting up the golf course in the early stages of his third round. He birdied seven of his first eight holes en route to a 64 to trail Molinari – who returned five birdies and no bogeys for a 67 – by two shots on 15-under-par.
Marc Warren, of Scotland, also reached 15-under-par with a third round 64, with Dane Anders Hansen alone in second on 16-under-par after a third round 65.
Singh stormed out of the blocks on Sunday, making birdies on four of his first six holes to reach 16-under-par.
Molinari got off to a solid start, turning in one-under-par to reach 18-under-par. Alex Noren was also playing steady golf in the toughest conditions of the week, playing the first 14 holes in three-under-par. They were all trailing Warren, however, with a handful of holes remaining.
After birdies on his first two holes, he parred to the turn to trail Molinari by one stroke, but after birdies at 10,11 and 12, he was two clear.
Nightmare would strike, though, starting at the 15th hole. He three putted from 15-feet for a costly double bogey. At that stage, he was still in the lead on 18-under-par, but further bogeys at 16 and 17 put paid to his chances.
Molinari bogeyed 15 to fall back into a tie with Singh on 17-under-par, with both players parring home to force a play-off. Alex Noren, finishing just before Molinari, made bogey at the par-5 last to miss out on extra holes by one shot.
Both players found the fairway on the 600 yard 18th and laid up with their seconds. Molinari hit his approach to 25 feet and left his birdie putt short, leaving Singh to calmly roll in his 15 footer for the championship and a place at this week’s Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
Johnson jubilant after Illinois victory
Zach Jonson hit the shot of his life from a fairway bunker on the second play-off hole to defeat Troy Matteson at the John Deere Classic in his native Midwest.
Matteson, a two time PGA Tour victor, was in and around the lead from day one, opening up with a bogey free round of ten-under-par 61 to lead by three from Rickie Barnes. Big hitting Robert Garrigus was in the group tied for third on six-under-par with Steve Stricker, champion since 2009, returning a five-under-par 66.
Matteson held on to his lead in round two, carding a three-under-par 68 to lead by two from Jeff Maggert – who shot a birdie-free 62 – and Brian Harman, who returned a second consecutive 65. Stricker moved to within striking distance after a second round 67 left him three back with 36 holes to play.
Matteson continued his fine form on Saturday, recording seven birdies and two bogeys for a five-under-par 66 at 18-under-par total with one round remaining.
Stricker was alone in second on 15-under par after matching Matteson’s 66, with Johnson – who also shot 66 - one further back on 14-under par.
Matteson played a steady front nine on Sunday, turning in level par 35 after two birdies and two bogeys, but playing partner Sticker was closing in. He birdied 11 to reach 18-under-par, one behind Matteson who made a birdie four at the 10th.
Johnson – a member of the tournament’s board of directors – parred the first seven holes, but spurred into life with three birdies in four holes from the 8th. He birdied 13 and 14 to reach 19-under-par, and sat atop the leaderbaord after Matteson double bogeyed the 15th hole. Australian John Senden had reached 19-under-par a few minutes earlier after an eagle at 14 and birdie at 15, but fell back with bogeys at 16 and 17.
Stricker had fallen out of contention with bogeys at 14 and 15, and as Johnson walked onto the 18th green and saluted the gallery, it seemed as if the tournament was over.
Matteson, though, had other ideas. He found the green of the par-5 17th in two and holed a 60 foot putt for the unlikeliest of eagles. Johnson missed his birdie effort on 18 and after Matteson parred the final hole, the pair headed back to the 18th tee.
Johnson found sand from the tee and Matteson was in and amongst the trees, and both players remarkably found water with their second shots. Both were unable to salvage a five and the hole was halved in six. Johnson found the very same bunker second time around, but hit a remarkable six iron that pitched on the front of the green and rolled up to within a foot of the cup. Matteson couldn’t hole from 43 feet, giving Johnson the easiest of putts for the victory.
This week, players from all over the world will contest the Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes, where Darren Clarke defends the title he won so memorably at Royal St George’s last year.
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