Dustin Johnson wins WGC-HSBC Champions

American golfer Dustin Johnson managed to hold back the challenge of Englishman Ian Poulter and Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell on what turned out to be a griping final day at the World Golf Championship HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China to take the trophy.

The American had a three shot lead overnight but quickly found his lead cut back when he required three attempts at a putt while his rivals managed to sink in birdie putts to take over the lead from him. However, Johnson managed two straight birdies in the eighth and ninth holes and went back in to share the lead before Poulter took the sole lead after hitting another birdie on the twelfth hole.

Johnson went on to snap up another birdie on the thirteenth to draw level before both the leaders sank their respective birdies to set up a thrilling finale to what was becoming one of the events of the season, thinks to tumultuous way it proceeded in.

But it was meant for Dustin Johnson as he found an eagle and followed it up with a birdie par and ended up just the way he had begun the day, with a three shot lead and the title as well. It was his eighth victory on the PGA Tour and the first that he has managed on a European Tour event.

And he admitted that he didn’t get off to the best of starts during the day and gave credit to Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell for pushing him all the way to the finish. He mentioned that he was happy with the way he played during the latter half of the day and added that he immensely enjoyed how things turned out.

Dustin Johnson also mentioned that this could be the biggest win of his career so far.

Kuchar back in BMW contention

A day after golfer Jim Furyk hit the game’s magic figure of 59 to get a portion of the lead at BMW Championship; it took very little for another golfer to go low at the Conway Farms Golf Club. After scrambling with windy circumstances through the 1st thirty six holes, Matt Kuchar finished his round with 3 back to back to card a bogey free, ten-under sixty one and rush up the leader board outside Chicago.

Matt Kuchar told that it was a completely different day compared to the first two days. Now Matt stays at five under 208 through 3 rounds after carding 5 birdies on each side on Saturday.

Following rounds seventy four and seventy three, Mat found himself tied for sixty-first through thirty six holes. He was in jeopardy of dropping sharply from his spot in the standings of FedEx Cup that was 4th entering this week. With several golfers in the field trying to go in the top 5 to assure their own luck at Tour Championship next week, Matt stated that he has absolutely no plans to begin number mashing FedEx Cup points.

Mat told that he had never figured out how thinking about any of those things serves someone to play better on the field. He really does not understand how people get concerned regarding these things. He thinks that one can play the best they can and allow the numbers to figure things out. The former players champ also added that he got off to a good start and then had a thought on the last hole; he thought if he hole this out from the fairway, it’s a 59.

Phil Mickelson cautiously optimistic about Open

The veteran American golfer Phil Mickelson hasn’t had much success over the years at The Open Championship, having had just two finishes in the top 10 in his 17 appearances at the event.

However, as he embarks on his preparatory mission ahead of the Scottish Open, the first European Tour event to be telecast live in the United States of America, Lefty stated that he is feeling rather cautiously optimistic about his chances this year at Muirfield.

Speaking to Sky Sports as he was preparing to take to the course for a practice session, the legendary American golfer stated that he hasn’t played the gold he is capable of, his best game at the event. However, he also added that it is time to play that golf now; adding that it is the time to shoot the scores as well as hit the shots that he has spent the last twenty years working on. Phil Mickelson added that he believes that over the last eight or nine years, he has started to play the game a lot better, but admitted that the Scottish Open provides still a chance for him.

The last time he found himself close to winning the title at the event was back in 2011 when he finished at the event at T – 2, just three shots behind the eventual winner Darren Clarke. In spite of hovering around the top of the leader board for much of the final round, Lefty blew his chance when he hit four bogeys in his last eight shots.

Phil Mickelson mentioned that he is always cautiously optimistic; adding that the British Open is one of his favorite events because it has challenged him to the limit but also admitted that one needs a bit of luck to succeed on the course.

Focus on Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell was born in Portrush, North Ireland, on the 30 of July 1979 to catholic/protestant parents. Since the early age of 8 he played with Rathmore Golf club. He was coached by his own uncle, Uel Loughery. When he was just 14 years old he played the senior cup for Rathmore.

Graeme McDowell attended college at Queen’s University in Belfast; he then transferred to the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Through the spring of 2002 he played golf for his college. In 2002, McDowell won six out of twelve college events and the Haskins award. The Walker Cup team which won in 2001 at the Sea Island, Georgia included him as a member. This is an evidence of a successful golfing career as an amateur in both Ireland and America.

Graeme McDowell started playing professional golf on 2002 and his professional golf career got a brilliant kick start, his first victory came in that season’s Volvo Scandinavian Masters on the European tour. Due to this victory he was rewarded the honorary life membership at the Royal Portrush Golf Club. In his third season he won the Telecom Italia Open and bagged the sixth position on the European Tour’s order of merit. Though not a full member of the PGA Tour his continuous good performances ensure that he is invited to play in many American events. He finished a tied-second in the Bay Hill Invitational.

Then in 2008 he won both the Ballantine’s Championship in South Korea and the Barclays Scottish Open. He was also a member of the Ryder Cup team that represented England. At the end of the season he was ranked 5th on the order of merit. In 2010 he achieved his fifth European win when he claimed the Celtic Manor Wales Open by three shots. This victory was followed by another in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and the Ryder Cup at Celtic 2010 Ryder Cup win.

Focus on Steve Sticker

Steve Sticker is an American golfer who plays professionally on the US PGA Tour, and although over the last couple of seasons, he plays more on a part time basis than as a full professional, he is still considered one of the flag bearers of the American golfing scene on the Tour.

The American has won 12 titles on the US PGA Tour and although he is yet to win a major title in his long career on the Tour, he came very close to securing a major championship when in 1998; he finished a close second in the PGA Championship.

His major wins include the 2001 World Golf Championship – Accenture Match Play Championship as well as two playoff events of the FedEx Cup. But the most successful season for Steve Sticker on the US PGA Tour came when in 2009; he won three tournaments in the season and finished the season ranked second on the money list. His highest career ranking in the Official Golf World Rankings came when he climbed up to number two in the rankings. Stricker spent a whopping 57 consecutive weeks in the top 10 of the rankings between 2007 and 2008 and spent a further 157 weeks in the top 10 again between 2009 and 2012.

Stricker began his professional career in 1990 as part of the Canadian Professional Golf Tour where he managed to win two events. He played on the Tour for four years and he finally got his chance to play on the US PGA Tour in 1994.

Steve Sticker is an extremely family man and his recent decision to play golf only on a part time basis has been attributed to him wanting to spend time with his family. His wife Nicki frequently helps him out as a caddie as well.

Dufner and Khan top of Doha leaderboard

Jason Dufner, the US Ryder Cup player, and English golfer Simon Khan made brilliant bursts to the leaderboard’s top position early on 3rd day of Doha’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. Jason, on a 2 – week trip to the Middle East, was just forty second at halfway, but he went to turn in thirty two and after that he started the back 9 with 2 more birdies.

This brought him alongside the 4 overnight pacesetters Ricardo Santos, Marcus Fraser, Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia before they have even teed off again. Ex PGA event winner Simon Khan made it a 6 – way tie after he birdied 5 of the first 6 holes to go 9 – under par as well.

That was a huge turnaround from previous week for the forty year old golfer from Essex, who escaped the cut by 5 strokes in the 1st leg of European Tour’s 3 week ‘Desert Swing’.

Jason bogeyed the short thirteenth, but Simon’s 6th birdie came at 391-yard 7th as well as with 2 pars to follow as he was out in a 6-under-30.
Branden Grace , the South African golfer, also birdied 3 of his first 4 holes to be a part of the group 1 behind on 9 under. Simon grabbed his 8th birdie at 203-yard thirteenth, but he was joined on twelve under when his fellow countryman Chris Wood had 5 birdies in the 1st eight.

Casey and Howell return

Paul Casey and David Howell played in 2 back to back Ryder Cups in 2004 and 2006 which resulted in grand victories for them – not only they were team mates, but they were also fourball partners, becoming victorious in 2 matches out of 2.

Both of them were in the world’s top ten and those five years which is generally looked at as a golf player’s peak years – from thirty to thirty five – was beckoning. This is the 5 year spell when experience and talent reflects on the golf course.

Yet, for some these five years can also be a desperately tough time, when injuries happens with aggravating frequency; or a life changing experiences like divorce or the loss of a parent can take years off a career.

And we have seen Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose and Luke Donald all progress from UK’s golden generation to turn into truly world-class golfers during this time, and on the other hand they have also seen Paul Casey and David Howell fall by the wayside.

Whilst the others top the leaderboards, and are tipped by the likes of Unibet and other online betting companies, these two have struggled.

Six years back, David Howell won 2 of Europe’s top golf events, including the flagship tournament at Wentworth as well as defeating Tiger in Shanghai; Paul Casey made it to the world’s top 3. After that life poked in a destructive way. David lost confidence after some bad injuries and more importantly the lost his mother. Meanwhile, Paul had a difficult time during his divorce.

Phil Mickelson back on form

Though Phil Mickelson was unable to register a victory in his name at the Deutsche Bank Championship but still he thinks that he has played quite well. Now he thinks he is ready to get started with the FedEx Cup playoff event.

Mickelson recorded a 5-under par 66 after opening his account with three 68s. He tied for the fourth place with 14 shots behind. This was Mickelson’s best finish since the Masters where he tied for the third place. In fact he was unable to finish higher than the 36th spot since May when he tied for the seventh spot at Byron Nelson.

Mickelson reported he was happy with his game as his putting was good and he drove the ball according to his wish. Crooked Stick, the BMW Championship site, will be a whole new experience for him as he hasn’t ever played there. But he has been successful at the TPC Boston. While talking about TPC course he said that the course is full of birdie holes. There are also several par holes which are really tough.

Phil Mickelson is under some doubts about the new TPC course as it has been reconfigured by Gil Hanse, the architect. The size of the course has been reduced to 4100 square feet from 6500 square feet. But he is quite sure that it won’t create much trouble as he is getting back to his form. He scored birdie of 18 recently and also recorded two pars.

Hanse has been termed as one of the best ground architecture by Mickelson. But then he is not sure about the 18th hole as most of the measured shots are failing to reach the hole. Phil Mickelson can be the best in his day and he proved it by making only a single bogey which counts to six for the week. According to his opinion he prepared himself for four rounds and didn’t want to make any silly mistakes.

Luke Donald Manages Best Finish at The Open

The world’s top ranked golfer Luke Donald was able to match his best finish at The Open Championship, which recently concluded at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, and became the top ranked Englishman in the a Major tournament yet again. However, there was some consolation for the other English golfers as Ryder Cup teammate Ian Poulter managed to find some of his lost form at the final day of the event at Turnberry.

Donald managed to end the tournament, closing with a 69, which helped him achieve a T-5 finish along with Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, matching his best finish at Turnberry from 2009. Donald managed to score a stunning three back nine birdies in just five holes, sandwiched between two bogeys at the 10th and 12th and picked up a check of £ 195,000 for his efforts. And although he didn’t win the title at a Major championship yet again, Luke Donald improved drastically after failing to even make the cut at the US Open, which took place last month.

And in spite of the negative publicity surrounding yet another failure in a Major tournament, Donald himself is confident that there is still time for him to win a Major championship sometime in the future. He also admitted that his performance at the British Open gave him enough confidence and also the self belief that he is good enough to become a Major winner sometime in the future.

Speaking about his performance, Donald was as candid as ever when he accepted that he didn’t put away enough holes to merit a victory, adding that there are still many positives that he will take away from the tournament. Luke Donald stated that he is leaving Turnberry with a lot of confidence and the belief that there is a Major awaiting him in the future.

Stricker Struggles into the US Open

Steve Stricker has admitted that he is struggling with his confidence, as he prepares to tee off at this week’s US Open, following what he describes as a ‘mini slump’.

The experienced 45-year old has four top-10 finishes in nine appearances, in 2012. However, Stricker’s putting has been way below the level that he wanted it to be at this point in the year.

Stricker’s short game has always been the strongest part of the American’s game, finishing inside the top-20 for putting in the past three years. So far, this season, however, the 45-year old has seen his putting ranking drop down to 72nd, making just 84% of his putts between three and five feet.

His loss of putting form has taken its toll on Stricker’s confidence, ahead of the second Major of the year. The former world number two has insisted he is still preparing to give this tournament his best shot, with glimpses of form recently giving Stricker something to take into the tournament in San Francisco.

“I am not excited (about) how I am playing lately, to tell the truth,” said Stricker. “I haven’t been getting the ball in the hole very well. I am hitting the ball fine, which is a good part, but my putting has been letting me down recently.

“I feel like the way I played the last few tournaments, I’m not carrying a ton of confidence in here, but I’ve been playing well in spurts. I feel like I can hold my own, and I’ve played well in prior U.S. Opens. So, I feel like, if I play my game, and I’m capable at what I’m doing, I can get myself in there.”

Stricker be hoping to rediscover his best form during this weekend at the Olympic Club. The American will be a 56/1 outsider in San Francisco, according to the US Open 2012 betting pages on Betfair.com.