Weekly Tour Wrap Up #27th Aug
The automatic qualification positions for both the European and American Ryder Cup teams have now been finalised, with events of the past week doing nothing to dispel the general consensus that the 39th Ryder Cup will be as closely contested as it ever has been.
On the European Tour, a Scottish veteran played flawless golf to win for the second time in 2012 and instil even more confidence in European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal.
On the PGA Tour, a quality American golfer turned a solid if unspectacular season around by winning, moving to first in the Fed-Ex Cup standings and making himself part of the US Ryder Cup conversation.
Perfect Paul thrills home crown
Paul Lawrie played some superb golf at Gleneagles en route to a four-shot victory over Australian Brett Rumford in the Johnnie Walker Championship, shooting a final round 68 to finish on 16-under-par.
Rumford secured his 2013 playing privileges after a strong performance in Scotland, with Dutchman Maarten Lafeber and Swede Frederick Anderson Hed – who both finished in a tie for third on 11-under-par – also retaining their cards for the upcoming season.
Lawrie started the tournament as he meant to go on, mixing six birdies with two bogeys in the opening round to sit one off the pace set by Rumford and Q-School graduate Knut Borsheim.
Alongside Lawrie on four-under-par after round one were Lafeber, Englishman Mark Foster, talented young Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and Italian Ryder Cup star Francesco Molinari. Nicolas Colsaerts – who needed a top-two finish to knock Martin Kaymer out of the automatic European qualification places – was shot further back on three-under-par.
It was Foster who sprung from the pack in round two, recording five birdies and a bogey for a second consecutive 68 and a share of the half way lead with compatriot Richard Finch, who shot 67.
Lawrie shot a second round 69 to share third with Rumford (70), with Frenchman Gregory Bourdy and Englishman Paul Waring – in need of a strong finish to move up the money list – sharing fifth after 36 holes.
The conditions were easier during the third round and many players took advantage on ‘moving day,’ notably 21-year-old Frenchman Romain Wattel and Englishman Gary Boyd.
Before the leaders had teed off, Boyd was in the clubhouse on eight-under-par after a 64, which included four birdies and two eagles. Wattell began the day on three-under-par, but surged to the top of the leaderboard with a sensational 63.
He would stay atop the leaderboard for several hours before Lawrie reached 11-under-par with a birdie at thirteen, adding another at 16 to snatch the clubhouse lead with one round to go.
The final group of Finch and Foster had a disastrous Saturday, shooting a cumulative nine-over-par to fall out of contention, but things were different for Stephen Gallacher (65) on 11-under-par and Rumford and Lafeber on eight under.
Another story was emerging a touch lower down the leaderboard, with Colin Montgomerie in contention for the first time in several years after some excellent play over the first three rounds.
The tournament was perfectly poised heading into Sunday, but Lawrie extracted most of the drama with a stunning display from tee to green. He went out in 34 after birdies at two and nine, before adding another at 12 to move into a four-shot lead.
After another birdie at 14 his lead was five - the way it would stay until Rumford birdied 18 to grab sole possession of second place - with Anderson, Wattel and Lafeber in a tie for third. Montgomerie finished in a tie for sixth on 10-under-par – his best finish since 2008 - but the day belonged to 2000 Open Champion Lawrie, whose brilliant display will give a huge boost to everyone involved in the Europen Ryder Cup set up.
Watney wins at brutal Bethpage
Nick Watney shot a final round 69 to record a three-stroke victory over Brandt Snedeker at Bethpage’s famed Black Course, giving American Ryder Cup captain Davis Love something else to think about ahead of his wild card selections.
Nine of the world’s top ten were in action for the first event of the Fed-Ex Cup play-offs, and the course was more than a match for the best in the business, especially over the weekend.
Conditions were scoreable on day one, though, and Padraig Harrington – requiring something ‘extraordinary’ to make the European team – came home in 29 to lead on seven-under-par after round one.
He led Nick Watney and rookie Bryan Harman by one shot, with Wyndham Champion Sergio Garcia, Pat Perez and Englishman Gary Christian one further back on four-under-par after 67.
It was Garcia and Watney who led the way after round two on eight-under-par, compiling solid sub-70 scores in the firm, fast and blustery conditions on Friday.
Journeyman Bob Estes sat a shot further back alongside Fijian Vijay Singh – finally free from pain after three years of health problems - with Tiger Woods lurking ominously on five-under-par after recovering from a bogey-bogey start to shoot 69.
Garcia moved into the outright lead after Saturday’s play after a third successive sub-70 round composed in tough conditions.
The greens were incredibly quick thanks to a weather misjudgement, with many players taking to Twitter to express their dismay at the almost unplayable putting surfaces.
Watney returned a 71 to stay on eight-under-par, one clear of Kevin Stadler, who carded a brilliant 65 – the lowest score of the day – to move into a share of second.
Estes clung on to a top-five place with a Saturday 72 to tie consistent American Brandt Snedeker - who finished in a tie for third at the Open – on seven-under-par, but all eyes were on the final pairing of Watney and Garcia on Sunday.
Both made consistent yet conservative starts, each mixing a birdie with a bogey to play the first six holes in level par.
Watney came into his own around the turn, however, making birdies at seven, eight and ten to reach 11-under-par, three clear of Garcia and four clear of Snedeker and Dustin Johnson - a favourite for a wild card pick – who shot 68 to set the clubhouse target on six-under-par.
Despite Watney’s bogeys at 11 and 12, Garcia couldn’t get anything going, and standing on the 18th tee, the American held a two-shot lead. Both players found the fairway, but the 2011 WGC-Cadillac Champion secured victory with an approach shot to eight feet, with Garcia making bogey to fall into a tie for third.
Watney has now put himself on Davis Love’s radar, and will be looking to apply more pressure with a good performance at the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston this week. The European Tour, meanwhile, heads to Switzerland for the Omega Masters, one of the biggest tournaments on the roster.
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