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Weekly Tour Wrap-Up #30th July
Posted by: Nick Bonfield on Mon 30 Jul 2012
Golf is set for an exciting period, with the World Golf Championship Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship taking place over the next fortnight, and thanks to some fine performances this week, two players who weren't previously exempt will have the chance to tee it up with the world's best.
On the European Tour, one of the least popular tournaments on the rota was contested, but try telling that to the young Austrian golfer who won his home open after a scintillating back nine on Sunday when he seemed to be out of the running.
On the PGA Tour, which crossed the border into Canada last week, a play-off looked like a certainty with three holes remaining, but pressure told, leaving a young American to decide whether to defend his title at the Reno-Tahoe Open this week or appear in a World Golf Championship event.
Brilliant Bernd takes Austrian Open
Austrian Bernd Wiesberger won his native Open to the delight of home fans after a blistering final ten holes left him two clear of Thomas Levet and Irishman Shane Lowry on 19-under-par.
Despite coming through for his second European Tour title of the season, he got off to a slow start. The same cannot be said for boisterous Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal, who carded an opening, bogey-free eight-under-par 64 to lead the field by a stroke. Round one was suspended due to inclement weather and resumed on Thursday, but Thorbjorn Olesen - who was seven-under-par overnight - soon caught the Spaniard, with a resurgent Levet a shot further back after round one.
In the second round Olesen, who teed off early, left the field trailing in his wake with a 68 that propelled him to 12-under-par. He led by three shorts from Levet, who shot 70, and four short from Richard Bland, who needed a good week to secure his playing privileges for next season. Home favourite and Ballentines champion Berndt Wiesberger entered the final 36 holes on seven-under-par after a second-round 66, with overnight joint leader Larrazabal plummeting down the leaderboard after more putting woes.
The gap between Olesen and the field remained at three with one round remaining after a solid, bogey-free round of 68 from the Dane, who had only recorded one bogey in 54 holes. The biggest mover on day three was Swede Rikard Karlberg, who mixed seven birdies with one bogey for a 66 to reach 13-under-par. Levet was one further back after a 69, alongside Bland (68) and Wiesberger (67).
After six holes of the final round, Olesen was cruising. His advantage was extended to four shots after he birdied the third hole, but had been cut to three after Levet birdied five and seven.
The Frenchman continued his good playing around the turn and, after he birdied 10, 12 and 13, the deficit had been wiped away.
Minutes later, the Frenchman had a one shot lead after Olesen bogeyed 14, but it wasn't just the Dane who he had to keep an eye on. After an indifferent start, Wiesberger caught fire around the turn. He birdied nine, 10, 12 and 13 to reach 16-under-par, before adding another two at 15 and 16.
He parred 17, and standing on the 18th tee he found himself in the lead on 18-under-par, with Levet making bogey at 17 to fall back to 16 under alongside Olesen. Knowing a par would probably be enough, he causally birdied the final hole to rapturous applause from the Austrian gallery to set the clubhouse target on 19-under-par, sensationally playing his last ten holes in seven-under-par. Olesen wasn't able to conjure the miracle he needed and limped to a bogey-bogey finish, handing the title to Wiesberger.
Pierce prevails in Canada
American Scott Piercy capitalised on a final-hole bogey from William McGirt to claim the RBC Canadian Open by one stroke on 17-under-par. McGirt finished one back alongside Robert Garrigus, who had a great chance to force a play-off at the 72nd hole. Piercy must now decide whether to defend his title in Reno - which will be decided on modified stableford - or compete in the WGC Bridgestone Invitational.
It was a deserved victory for Piercy, who started the tournament as he meant to go on with an opening eight-under-par 62, eagling both of Hamilton Golf Club’s par gives in the process. He led by one from McGirt and Englishman Greg Owen, with big-hitting Garrigus a shot further back after 18 holes.
Piercy added a second round 67 to his 63 but had McGirt - who returned a Friday 66 - for company atop the leaderboard heading into the weekend.
Garrigus recorded a 67 for a 10-under-par halfway total, one better than Bo Van Pelt and two ahead of Tim Clark, who surged through the field with the second 62 of the week. Vijay Singh, champion in 2004, and American Josh Teater joined Clark on eight-under-par with 36 holes to play.
The tussle between Garrigus, McGirt and Piercy continued in round three, with the former shooting a 64 - including four birdies and an eagle - to lead his two compatriots by one and two shots respectively on 16-under-par. It was a good day for the Americans, with no other nation in the top ten after 54 holes. Van Pelt, Chris Kirk - who had seven birdies in eight holes in a dream run from the third - and last week’s winner Scott Stallings were tied for fourth on 12-under-par.
Piercy, trailing Garrigus by two with 18 holes to play, got off to an electric start with birdies at two, three, four and five. It could have been even better for the Las Vegas native, who saw two eagle putts from within 20 feet slide past the hole on four and five.
McGirt also made a strong start, tying Piercy for the lead with birdies at three, four and seven. Piercy bogeyed eight and 14 to drop back to 16-under-par and, despite bogeying 14, McGirt led by one on 17-under-par. Garrigus parred his first 13 holes but tied McGirt with a birdie at 14, only to drop back to 16 under with a bogey at 16.
Piercy bounced back from a five at 14 to birdie 15 and parred in one group ahead of Garrigus and McGirt to post 17-under-par. Standing on the 18th tee, Garrigus needed a birdie and McGirt needed a par to force a play-off. McGirt leaked his second into a greenside bunker and hit a modest third, leaving 15-feet for par. He missed, as did Garrigus - who let a ten foot birdie putt slide by the cup - and Piercy was crowned champion.
Next week, the third World Golf Championship of the year, the Bridgestone Invitational, takes place, where defending champion Adam Scott will be looking to bounce back after a harrowing collapse at the Open.
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