Categories
European Tour

Casey claims Omega Dubai Desert Classic title

Final round report 

Paul Casey stormed to a four-stroke victory at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, winning his 15th European Tour title at the iconic Emirates Golf Club.

The Englishman started the day one stroke ahead of Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre but increased his advantage to two strokes after birdies on the third and fourth holes.

The 43-year-old finished the front nine in level par after bogeys on the sixth and eighth holes but three consecutive bogeys from the seventh hole ended MacIntyre’s title tilt.

Casey steadied the ship with gains at the 11th and 13th holes and a closing birdie saw him sign for a final round of 70 and a total of 17 under par, finishing four strokes ahead of South African Brandon Stone.

MacIntyre signed for a 12 under par total, two strokes ahead of England’s Laurie Canter and Kalle Samooja of Finland.

The win propels Casey inside the Top 15 of the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time since December 2019 as he joins former and current European Ryder Cup Captains Thomas Bjorn and Padraig Harrington – who finished in a tie for sixth at nine under par alongside Sergio Garcia and Bernd Wiesberger – on 15 European Tour titles.

Casey had this to say about his performance:

Casey: “I’m so over the moon. Not just 15 [victories]. The fact it’s Dubai. It’s an iconic event on The European Tour. You guys all know that. One of the coolest trophies around.

“You know, and kind of the fact that last year, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, last year was just, you know, like a lot of people, rubbish. I didn’t enjoy last year. This year is still, obviously we’re still difficult times, isn’t it. But yeah, something very cool because it’s not been great. I’ve not enjoyed my golf — I didn’t enjoy my golf in 2020. I mean, I played well one week but that was about it. So this is, yeah, this is really cool.

“It was tough. Didn’t look at scoreboards all day. Got off to a great start. Really only hit one poor shot on the front nine and that was the 7-iron into the 8th I pulled into the bunker. But I walked to the 10th tee and said to Johnny, look, when you can say you’ve only hit one bad golf shot in nine holes, that’s pretty good. And then really only hit one more poor shot on the back nine and that was another 7-iron into the bank on 15.

“I didn’t look at the scoreboards until I got on to the 18th green and then I saw I had a three-shot margin there. It doesn’t really tell the full picture. It was a lot tougher out there.

“And, for the record, playing with Rob today, great player. He’s got a very strong possibility of being on Paddy’s Ryder Cup team come later this year. He was brilliant. So it doesn’t really paint the whole kind of picture.”

(Text: European Tour Press Release)

Categories
Fun

How it Started vs. How it’s Going: 5 players then and now

It’s Friday and January 2021 is almost over. Woohoo! Between the pandemic and the lockdowns, it’s been a long and hard winter so far.

So, despite all that, we wanted to give you something that might make you smile for a second. At Golf Post, we’re dipping our toes in to the wonderful (and at times, terrifying) world of meme culture.

We’re a little late to the game with this one, but here we go with our favourite European Tour players’ throwbacks. These hilarious pictures are perfect if you need a little cheering up.

Let us know on Twitter @golf_post which one was your favourite!

Categories
European Tour

European Tour: Sterne takes early lead in Dubai

Round one report 

Richard Sterne produced an impressive eight under par round of 64 to open up a one-shot lead after day one of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

The South African, a six-time winner on the European Tour, birdied his final hole of the day at Emirates Golf Club to jump ahead of American Kurt Kitayama on seven under par, with Major Champion Sergio Garcia and fellow countryman Justin Harding a further shot back.

Sterne: “It’s always good to get off to a good start. It helps you for the rest of the week, I think. I’ve come close here before so it would be nice to have a chance going into the weekend. I haven’t had many chances going into weekends for a long time, so it would be nice to get through tomorrow and place myself well and see how the weekend goes.

“Last week gave me a lot of confidence. I struggled the first few days, and played really nicely on Saturday. But finishing 25th there has given me confidence. I’m just trying to watch my back, so I haven’t put much preparation into this week. Just got nine holes in Tuesday yesterday and I didn’t even come to the course yesterday. So today, I was pretty happy with the performance.”

Garcia won this event in 2017 before going on to claim his maiden Major Championship at the Masters Tournament later that year and the Spaniard enjoyed his return to the United Arab Emirates, recording a flawless round of 66.

Englishman Paul Casey made a fast start before settling for a five under 67 despite leading for most of Thursday morning, and was later joined at that mark by Spaniard Adrian Otaegui, Belgian Thomas Detry and Scot Robert MacIntyre.

(Text: European Tour Press Release)

Categories
European Tour

Hatton chasing desert double in Dubai

Tournament Preview

Tyrrell Hatton arrives at this week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic with a spring in his step as the Englishman targets back-to-back victories in the Middle East, following his triumph last week in Abu Dhabi.

The 29-year-old climbed to a career-high fifth in the Official World Golf Ranking courtesy of his four-stroke win, for his third title in just under a year on both the European Tour and PGA Tour.

Tyrrell Hatton had this to say following his Abu Dhabi win: “The win last week still feels a little bit surreal, alongside with where we’ve moved up to in the World Rankings. It doesn’t feel like it was me who won the tournament. Looking forward to this week. It’s nice to be back here in Dubai, I missed the event last year because I was still recovering from wrist surgery. I’ve had some good finishes in the past and I’m hoping I can have another good week this week. I played the Pro-Am, the game still felt pretty good.  

“I wouldn’t say I’m uncomfortable with the position I’m in, I just don’t see myself as anything different. It’s not something that I really worry about. I’m just trying to play good golf and the World Rankings take care of themselves if you’re able to do that. Fortunately for me, the last 14 months, I’ve been on a really good run and I’m hoping that continues.”

Hatton has a strong record at Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, including a pair of top three finishes and another top ten, so he is feeling confident of a title challenge in the second event of the 2021 Race to Dubai.

The man just ahead of Hatton in the world rankings, World Number Four Collin Morikawa, makes his debut at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic but enjoyed his last visit to the Emirate – clinching a top ten at last year’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

Ryder Cup stars Paul Casey and Sergio Garcia, meanwhile, make their first appearances of the European Tour campaign as they target crucial qualification points with a view to making it onto Padraig Harrington’s European side for the September showpiece at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin.

(Text: European Tour Communications)

Categories
Brands

TRAVISMATHEW Signs Max Kieffer

On the eve of this week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic, TravisMathew has unveiled Max Kieffer as a new ambassador on the PGA European Tour.

The young German, who tees it up tomorrow on Emirates Golf Club’s Majlis Course, joins last season’s Scottish Championship winner, Adrian Otaegui, representing TravisMathew throughout the 2021 season.

Commenting on the new signing, Stewart Clare, TravisMathew Regional Sales Manager EMEA“As our brand continues its rapid rise in popularity in the USA, we are also hugely excited about expanding the European business. Having Max as part of our team will undoubtedly support us as we further develop distribution through a select number of retail partners.”

As the official apparel brand of the European Tour, TravisMathew takes its inspiration from Southern California culture and style, blending perfect performance and functionality, on and off the golf course, with innovative design.

For the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Max will be wearing the ‘THE ZINNA, a design TravisMathew calls ‘The Perfect Polo’, due to its lightweight, ultra-soft fabric that offers enhanced stretch and wrinkle-resistance, while benefitting from quick-drying and moisture-dispersing qualities.

On joining the team, Max said: “It’s great to be part of the TravisMathew family. I’m a huge fan of the apparel, both in terms of comfort and performance, and I look forward to working with the European team throughout the season.”

In addition to Adrian Otaegui, Max sits alongside a host of golf ambassadors representing the brand on The PGA Tour – Jon Rahm, Keegan Bradley, Will Gordon, Joel Dahmen, Joseph Bramlett, Tyler McCumber and Seamus Power.

(Text: Callaway Press Release)

Categories
Equipment

KBS LAUNCHES THE 1 ONE STEP TOUR PUTTER SHAFT

Pioneering golf shaft brand KBS – the only complete brand to offer a high-performance shaft for every club in the bag – has introduced the revolutionary 1 One Step putter shaft for the coming season to help accomplished golfers hole more putts on the greens. Designed by Kim Braly, Master Shaft Engineer and Director of R&D for KBS Golf Shafts, the ground-breaking new shaft provides golfers with more flexibility in creating a pure amplified feel and reduced vibration at impact for more accurate and consistent putts. Weighing six grams more than conventional putters at 130g, the visually stunning 1 One Step Putter Shaft is a single bend, straight tip model .370 in diameter.

“On average, around 45% of strokes per round involve your putter, so we wanted to create a shaft with varying putter head weights per stroke that puts more confidence in the hands of those who currently aren’t that confident on the greens,” said Kim.
“A lot of time and investment has gone into producing another putter shaft that can be played by a Tour pro or a higher handicapper. On the green it’s all about feel and the 1 One Step creates that pure feel, enabling a smooth stable stroke each and every time. The research we did saw many more putts holed, so I’m excited to see how golfers react to it,” he added.
As the second putter shaft to be created by KBS, the 1 One Step shaft follows the popular CT Tour version launched in 2019 and comes in Chrome, Black Matte and Black Gloss finishes.

KBS now offers 30 different shafts through the golf bag, including 18 iron options featuring different weights and flexes. There are also four wedge shafts, a hybrid shaft and the new TG Graphite Wood shaft. All KBS shafts are designed to benefit the game of the broadest range of golfers – from global Tour stars to accomplished amateurs and juniors.
The KBS 1 One Step putter shaft will be available from next month. Check with your local pro or clubmaker as fitting prices may vary.
More details of KBS golf shafts can be found at www.kbsgolfshafts.com.

(Text: Adam Smith/KBS)

Categories
European Challenge Tour

Challenge Tour Unveils 2021 International Schedule

• Challenge Tour returns with 25 tournaments in 15 countries

• Road to Mallorca returns to the Netherlands for the first time since 2009

• New events to take place in the UK and Germany

• Top 20 on the Road to Mallorca Rankings will graduate to the European Tour

The European Challenge Tour today announces the 2021 Road to Mallorca International Schedule, which will comprise 25 tournaments in 15 different countries around the world.

The schedule features a mixture of long-standing and new events in a season which will run from April to November as the next crop of golfing stars compete for one of the 20 cards on offer for the 2022 European Tour season – an increase of five from the 15 spots available at the end of the last full Challenge Tour season in 2019.

New additions to the schedule include a trip to The Dutch, the three-time host venue of the KLM Open on the European Tour, for the B-NL Challenge Trophy as the Challenge Tour returns to the Netherlands for the first time since 2009. New events in the United Kingdom and Germany also make their debuts on the schedule, with all three events taking place consecutively in August and September.

Several long-standing events such as the Hauts de France – Pas de Calais Golf Open, the Swiss Challenge and the Rolex Trophy will all return to the Schedule in 2021, with the latter celebrating its 30th anniversary at Golf Club de Genève as the top 40 players on the Road to Mallorca Rankings tee it up alongside amateur guests in the Pro-Am format.

The 2021 season will begin with the Limpopo Championship in April, the first of three co-sanctioned events with the Sunshine Tour in South Africa, and end almost seven months later at the Challenge Tour Grand Final in Mallorca in November.

All events on the Challenge Tour schedule will be played under the auspices of the European Tour’s health strategy which will continue to evolve in line with Government guidance in the countries where tournaments are played.

Jamie Hodges, Head of Challenge Tour, said: “I am thrilled to be able to unveil our global schedule for 2021 which sees us return to the number of events we had prior to last season.

“There were 20 wins by former Challenge Tour players on the European Tour in 2020, which shows how important our Tour is in preparing the next generation of stars for the biggest stage and we’re excited to give our current Membership more opportunities to follow in their footsteps.

“We are now at the beginning of the third year of our partnership with the Federación Balear de Golf and we are looking forward to working closely again with them in 2021, culminating in our second trip to T-Golf & Country Club for the Challenge Tour Grand Final.

“I would also like to extend our thanks to those events that have been a part of the Challenge Tour Schedule for many years – we are grateful to them for their continued partnership. Finally, I would like to thank all our promoters and the various national Federations who are so integral to the success of the Challenge Tour; as well as the many tournament sponsors and partners who make our Road to Mallorca International Schedule possible.”

(Text: European Challenge Tour Press Release)

Categories
LPGA Tour

Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions: Round 4 notes

JESSICA KORDA WINS IN A PLAYOFF WITH DANIELLE KANG

American Jessica Korda drained a 25-foot birdie on the first sudden-death playoff hole to defeat Danielle Kang and win the 2021 Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. Korda shattered the tournament scoring record with a four-day total of 24-under 260, besting the previous mark of 14-under 270 set by Eun Hee Ji in 2019. The win also came the day after Korda shot the fifth 60 in LPGA Tour history.

“I didn’t have great numbers all day. I was in between shots all day. It was just frustrating because I wanted to be aggressive, but then I wasn’t,” said Korda, who shot 66 on Sunday. “And then kind of just said, You know what? Forget about it. Just stick to your process and be aggressive when you can and take those opportunities.

But having those putts roll in definitely helped.”

After starting the day two strokes behind Kang, Korda’s birdie at the par-3 16th pulled the pair into a tie at the top. The duo swapped birdies at No. 17 and both players left their birdie putts short on the par-3 18th.

Going back to the 18th tee for the playoff, Korda and Kang both hit the center of the green. Korda hit first and punctuated the long birdie putt with an emphatic fist pump reminiscent of a classic Tiger Woods moment. Kang’s birdie attempt tracked left from the moment she hit the putt, giving Korda her sixth LPGA Tour victory and fourth in her season-opening event.

“Everyone says low expectations, but I always expect, I don’t show up to a tournament just to show up,” said Korda, who earned her first victory with her parents, retired tennis stars Petr Korda and Regina Rajchrtová, in the gallery. “I’m too old for that. This is my 11th year. I know I’ve won a lot first week out.”

Korda again displayed her absolute mastery of the second nine at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando, carding Sunday birdies at 13, 14, 16 and 17 for a four-day total of -22 over the closing nine holes. But when asked what it was about those nine holes that suits her, Korda could not come up with an answer.

“Honestly, I have no idea. I wouldn’t be able to tell you other than I hit it close and dropped some putts,” she said.

Korda’s younger sister Nelly Korda shot Sunday’s low round of 7-under 64 and finished third at -22. Defending DRTOC champion Gaby Lopez tied for 11th at -11.

In the celebrity competition, former tennis player Mardy Fish ran away with the tournament, earning an 11-stroke victory at +158. Wounded Warrior Chad Pfeifer was second at +147, while two-time MLB All-Star pitcher Mark Mulder was third at +145.

“Super happy with the way I played. I don’t know what I won by, but it was tough to sort of follow along. It was nice,” said Fish, who could have the Kordas younger brother Sebastian Korda, an up-and-coming tennis pro, on his Davis Cup team. “Just sort of kept going along today and playing our balls instead of theirs and worrying about where they are and stuff. Just trying to get it in as quick as possible and see where we were on the back nine.”

Two-time defending celebrity champion John Smoltz finished seventh at +138 and 72-time LPGA Tour winner Annika Sorenstam was ninth at +134. The celebrity competition is played under a Modified Stableford scoring system.

DANIELLE KANG LEARNS FROM A TOUGH TOURNAMENT END

After battling two brushes with the COVID-19 virus over the holidays, Danielle Kang came to Central Forida knowing that her game was not exactly where she wanted it. Early tournament success seemed to have her heading toward an unexpected win, after setting the tournament’s 36-hole and 54-hole scoring records. However, on Sunday, she just never seemed to find the same groove that she’d enjoyed all week. Kang carded her first bogey of the tournament on Sunday’s 15th hole and her 3-under 68, while certainly a good round in most regards, was just not quite enough to stay ahead of a surging Jessica Korda.

But for the player who focuses on the mental just as much as the physical, there are always moments of learning to take from even the hardest moments.

“I’m not disappointed in that I didn’t win. It’s not about winning and losing for me. It’s about being able to execute when I want to and having a feeling when I feel like I can’t do something is something I don’t like,” said Kang, who quickly called her family and her coach Butch Harmon for a pep talk before the playoff. “But I already knew coming in that I wasn’t really prepared, and so I played great. I had a lot of fun. I got quite a bit of friends playing in it and they came out and watched and I love that, so I take a lot of positives from this week as well. But it’s something to build on and work on and get back at it.”

NELLY KORDA WON EITHER WAY WITH BIG SISTER’S WIN

After a roller coaster of a final round at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando, the Korda sisters each found themselves with something to smile about. For older sister Jessica, it was a sixth LPGA Tour victory to share with the family. For 22-year-old Nelly, it was returning Sunday’s lowest round with a 7-under 64 and getting a confirmation that her game is still strong.

“I hit it solid, putted well, tried to get as close as I could to them, but I started really far back,” said Korda of how she thought she played. “But I gave it a good chance and I’m happy that Jess played well and she’s in a playoff. So hopefully keep my fingers crossed for her.”

Growing up in Florida, the Korda sisters did not necessarily get to play a lot of amateur golf together given their five-year age difference. But now, years later, they’re keeping the competition going with both sisters dominating on the LPGA Tour. Though five years apart in age, they are best friends and even bigger supporters, which was evident during Sunday’s final round.

“It’s pretty cool. She’s been playing well. She made some really good putts today coming in, so she deserves it,” said Nelly, moments before Jessica clinched the win. “Hopefully comes out in her favor.”

A FAMILY AFFAIR AT DIAMOND RESORTS TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS

In her sixth career win, Jessica Korda finally cried. But the emotions had nothing to do with how she won the season-opening Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions – a final-round 66 to reach 24-under and a 25-footer for birdie on the first playoff hole to beat third-round leader Danielle Kang. Nor did the tears have anything to do with the grit she showed all week, bouncing back from a lackluster Friday round with a 16-under par weekend.

Jessica’s eyes only welled when asked what kept her motivated through the downtimes, which, in the last few years, have included a crippling hand and wrist injury and major jaw surgery to relieve migraines.

“My family,” Korda said without hesitation, her lower lip beginning to tremble. “They’re always there to pick me up when I’m down. Let me tell you, I’ve been down. My family is everything. They’re my biggest support system. They believe in me more than I believe in myself.”

(Text: LPGA Press Release)

Categories
European Tour

Hatton storms into five shot lead in Abu Dhabi

Round Two Report

Tyrrell Hatton has a fourth Rolex Series victory in his sights after opening up a commanding five shot lead on day two of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The World Number Nine recorded an eagle – his third of the week – four birdies and a single bogey in the first 13 holes of his second round before play was suspended due to fading light just before 6pm local time.

Tyrrell Hatton: “I’m obviously in a great position at the moment. It was certainly tough out there, so I’m really happy to be five under. Holed some nice putts and there was a couple par putts toward the end of my round, nice to hole them and keep a bit of momentum going.”

The Englishman, who triumphed on home soil at the BMW PGA Championship in September for his fifth European Tour title and his third Rolex Series victory, will re-start his round at 7.30 am on Saturday as he aims to hold off a chasing pack that includes four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy.

The overnight leader slipped back to seven under par with four holes left to play of a rollercoaster second round, to sit in a tie for second alongside Jason Scrivener, Jazz Janewattananond, and Romain Langasque, who will also return to complete the round on Saturday morning.

Jason Scrivener: “It was hard work this afternoon. Had to hole a few nice par putts to keep the round going but happy with it. Put in a lot of work over the off-season and it’s nice to see it pay off this early, and yeah we look forward to the weekend.”

Two time Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship winner Tommy Fleetwood is amongst a group of ten players at six under par after a bogey-free five under par round of 67.

Tommy Fleetwood: “I think yesterday, I struggled, like I walked off and sat there last night and talked to Finno and Tommo, and I think I just forced it a little bit.

“It was really windy going out there in tough conditions and I think I tried to force a few golf shots playing in the wind, trying too hard to hit good golf shot and didn’t do the things that we work on, really. So that was just something that we spoke about.”

(Text: European Tour Press Release)

Categories
European Tour

McIlroy off to a perfect start in Abu Dhabi

Round One Report:

Rory McIlroy got his season off to the perfect start as the Northern Irishman carded a stunning eight under 64 in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, the first Rolex Series event of the 2021 Race to Dubai.

The four-time Major winner is still chasing his maiden victory at the prestigious tournament, despite a remarkable record which includes four runner-up finishes, three third place finishes, a top five and a top 15. But his opening 64 was his lowest ever round in 11 appearances at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

McIlroy carded two birdies in the opening three holes, having teed off at the par five tenth which he duly birdied, and coasted to six more in a flawless round which left him one stroke clear at the top.

McIlroy: ” I knew 65 is the best I’ve shot here and I’ve shot it a few times, so I thought let’s try to go one better on the next nine and I was able to do that. Maybe played slightly better on our front nine, but I holed some really nice putts coming in for birdie s. It was obviously a lovely way to start the year.

Leading the chasing pack was three-time Rolex Series winner Tyrrell Hatton, who signed for a seven under 65 which included a pair of eagles in his first nine holes – opening his account for the season with a three at the tenth before picking up another eagle at the ninth.

Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti was a shot further back on six under, while Frenchman Romain Langasque and Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain shared fifth place on five under. Defending champion and reigning Race to Dubai champion Lee Westwood opened with a three under 69.

Play was suspended due to darkness with round one set to restart at 7:40am local time.

(Text: European Tour Press Release)