Team Ireland Triumphs after Memorable Weekend at GolfSixes
Team Ireland won the second edition of GolfSixes in style as Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan defeated Team France 2-0 in the final match of the innovative six-hole event at Centurion Club, The event was staged over Saturday and Sunday and was blessed with two days of glorious weather. Although the Irish pair picked up the trophy, golf was the real winner on a weekend when thousands of spectators poured into Centurion Golf Club near St Albans.
This may be golf, but not as we know it. Rock music pumped out over the course, the players were cheered raucously as they played the par-three opening hole and a shot clock made sure that nobody took too long to play their shots on the par-four fourth hole. Entry for children was free and thousands of parents took advantage to bring their youngsters along and cheer on some of the best men and women golfers from around the world.
More than 10,000 fans - more than double the 2017 figure - saw the European Tour break new ground again as women's and mixed sides joined the 16 team field, with the England Women and European Women's teams both making it through to Sunday's knock-out stages. Unfortunately, both of them were unable to make it beyond the quarter-finals, but they more than held their own. Another nice innovation came at the par-three fifth hole, where amateur golfers faced the challenge of try to beat the professionals by getting the ball closer to the hole. There was a real party atmosphere, helped by the fact that the sun beat down, with scarcely a cloud in the sky.
Ireland met the England women's pair of Georgia Hall and Charley Hull in the quarter-finals, defeating them 2-0 and then secured their place against France in the final after defeating South Korea in a dramatic sudden-death playoff, with Gavin Moynihan chipping in from off the green after the teams finished their semi-final 1-1.
Ireland were birdie or better on 12 of the 17 holes they played on Sunday after finishing top of Group C. In fact, the only match Dunne and Moynihan lost all week was to the French team of Mike-Lorenzo Vera and Romain Wattel in Saturday's group stage.
The Irish pair - who played together in the victorious 2015 Walker Cup team - started quickly in the final, winning the first and third holes to forge an early 2-0 lead which the French were unable to pull back.
Dunne claims his second victory on English soil in the last seven months, after winning the British Masters supported by Sky Sports in October, while it's Moynihan's first victory since joining the European Tour in 2016.
In the third/fourth place play-off game, Korea defeated last year's runners-up Australia 3-0.
Dunne was thrilled and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. "Apart from the group match against France, I think we were three?under or better in every match through six holes. We just played really solid all week. Gavin was hitting some amazing iron shots, and obviously the pivotal moment for us was him chipping in on the playoff against the South Koreans. But I'm not surprised, anybody who Gavin through amateur golf knows he chips in at least once a round. He was due one. It's a fun event but as I said before, when we have the tricolour besides your name, it becomes a little bit more serious. So we're happy to represent Ireland well, have a nice trophy under the belt, and kind of sets well to kick on for the rest of the season."
Moynihan said: "We know each other's games so well and we're comfortable with each other. So, coming in, we had kind of had a game plan coming in and the course set up well for us, I think. We had fun. Honestly it was the best fun I've had on the golf course since I've turned pro. It was honestly a great few days."
Beaten finalist Wattel said: "Well, that was very tough. We feel that we played really badly but that they played better, that's the only thing. Congratulation to Ireland. We beat them earlier yesterday, but today, that was the damage. Well, that was really fun to play with Mike. Thank you, Mike. We really enjoy.
"I feel that I played two tournaments to be honest. Yesterday there was one and today there was another one. No, it was really fun to play a different format. Obviously more fan friendly. That was very cool.”
Meanwhile on the PGA Tour, Jason Day confirmed his return to the top of the game with his second victory of the season at the Wells Fargo Championship at the magnificent Quail Hollow.
He had found himself leading by three shots until successive dropped shots at the 13th and 14th holes saw him fall back into a tie with Aaron Wise, a 21-year-old rookie. But the Australian responded in magnificent fashion. The closing stretch at Quail Hollow is known as the Green Mile and it has ended the challenge of many fine golfers over the years. But not Day. He playing the closing holes in two under par to finish two ahead of Nick Watney, the American enjoying his best finish on the PGA Tour for three years. Day’s round of 69 clinched his second victory of 2018 and saw him climb to second in the FedEx Cup standings. He now heads to TPC Sawgrass for the Players Championship, a title he won two years ago.
“I felt like I went 10 rounds out there, just fighting against myself,” Day said. “Aaron played tremendous golf coming in. … I didn’t have the best day off the tee and even into the greens, but I had a really good day on the greens and around the greens.”
Day, who began the day with a two-stroke lead, made his first birdie at the second hole. He made back-to-back bogeys at the fifth and sixth, but then birdied three of the next four holes. After failing to get up-and-down on the par-three 13th, he pulled his tee shot into the lake left of the short 14th. He then missed a birdie putt on the par-five 15th, which was the easiest hole all week.
“I was battling demons there inside my head,” he said. “Your subconscious takes over. You’re saying, ‘You can’t do it. You can’t do it. You’re going to fail. You’re going to fail.’ You somehow have to just get rid of those thoughts and just push forward.”
But then he turned it on again. After a 380-yard tee shot on the downhill 16th hole, he hit his 114-yard approach to 11 feet and made the birdie putt for one of only nine birdies on the hole all day.
The 17th is a 223-yard par three and had played as the most difficult hole on the course throughout the tournament. Day struck a glorious seven iron that landed in the heart of the green, hit the pin and finished two feet away for a shoo-in birdie. “It was on a cracking line, it was beautiful,” Day said. “Things like that are what you need to win golf tournaments.”
A par at the final hole secured Day’s 12th PGA Tour title.
Day’s recovery play at Quail Hollow was astonishing and the key to his victory. He found 16 greenside bunkers this week but got up-and-down 15 times and he was second in strokes gained putting. “It gives you all the confidence in the world sometimes,” Day said about his short game. “It doesn't matter how bad you hit it, you know that in the back of your mind you're going to walk off with par. That's the biggest equaliser of all time is the putting and chipping.”
Bryson DeChambeau was fourth, while Phil Mickelson finished fifth alongside Paul Casey. Rory McIlroy finished in a tie for 16th, his challenge undone by a miserable second round of 76, and Tiger Woods closed with a 74 to finish in a tie for 55th.
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