Which Euros Will Fare the Best
The Euros at Oakmont:
With the U.S. Open almost off and running it's time for me to stick my neck out and make a few predictions. Which European will have the best finish? Im going to go with three names, giving me a slightly better chance of not looking foolish.
Justin Rose. The Englishman hasnt been seen much in competition this year. In fact, since the WGC Accenture Match Play, hes only made two appearances, but theyve been good ones. A fifth place at the Masters, which he had a chance to win; and a runner-up spot at the BMW PGA Championship. The back problems have been of great concern to Team Rose, but he has good people around him making smart decisions. There has been no need for him to play unnecessary tournaments and he hasnt. Rose practiced last week at Lake Nona under the watchful eye of coach Nick Bradley. The pair flew on the private jet to Oakmont on Monday morning and I believe Justin will have a great week, possibly even a win.
Lee Westwood. The recently crowned Valle Romano Open de Andaluca champion, Westwood is on his way back to greatness. Hes a straight driver of the golf ball which is going to be a must this week, and hes a steady putter. Many forget how experienced this player is. A former European No. 1, Lee has been around the upper echelon of the game for over 10 years. He finished tied fifth at the U.S. Open in 2000 and having missed last years tournament I expect him to return with confidence and high hopes of a very good week.
Colin Montgomerie. You may laugh, but watch for Monty. Time is running out for this great player. How can Colin end his career without a major title, it doesnt sound possible? He is without a doubt the greatest of them all never to have won a major. His recent form wouldnt suggest a good week is on the cards, but that was the case last year and he came so close. He knows how to play U.S. Opens and he knows how to play Oakmont; this was the site of his playoff loss in 1994. Alistair Mclean, his long-time caddie will not be on the bag. The pair has parted ways for the time being, but Monty will have an experienced local bag-man to guide him through the terrors of Oakmont. Montgomerie has said himself that he knows what works for him in terms of preparation. Hell go through his routine and unlike some other competitors, wholl be caught by the distractions, Monty will be focused on one thing, a victory.
Away from Oakmont:
Obviously all the attention in golf will be focused on Pittsburgh this week, but elsewhere around the world we do have golfing action. The European Tour has a co-sanctioned event with the Challenge Tour in St. Omer, France. The big names are taking the week off, but this gives a bundle of lesser ranked players and Challenge Tour regulars the chance to scoot-up the rankings. Last week, Hollands Joost Luiten won his second event on the Challenge Tour calendar with a stunning 61 on the final day for a come-from-behind win. He now joins Eduardo Molinari on the battle-field promotion watch list; if either one takes one further victory theyll be off to the European Tour. Both are in the field at St. Omer.
The Ladies European Tour heads to Spain for the Catalonia Ladies Masters, a limited field three-day tournament which begins on Friday.
Denis Watson makes a trip to Wales to compete on the European Seniors Tour. Joining the recently crowned U.S. Senior PGA Champion at the Ryder Cup Wales Senior Open are Bob Charles, Sam Torrance and Costantino Rocca.
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Watch: Tiger's Saturday birdies at Honda
Tiger Woods was in almost total control of his game for the majority of his third round Saturday at PGA National. And although he was once again bit by the Bear Trap, the 14-time major winner tapped in for birdie at the par-5 18th to post a round of 1-under 69 and fight his way back to even par for the week.
Four back to start the day, Woods parred his first seven holes before pouring in his first birdie via this flagged iron from 139 at the par-4 eighth:
Woods hit three more quality approaches at 9, 10 and 11 but couldn't get a putt to drop.
The lid finally came off the hole at No. 12 when he holed a key 17-footer for par to keep his scorecard clean.
One hole later, Woods added a second circle to that card, converting this 14-footer for a birdie-3 that moved him back into red figures at 1 under par for the week.
Traj talk— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) February 24, 2018
And now, the putter raise pic.twitter.com/gW5HDorWSr
Unfortunately, the Bear Trap would ensnare Tiger for the second day in a row. Woods, whose iron play had looked as crisp as it had in years, sailed approaches long and left at both the par-3 15th and par-3 17th, leading to bogeys which erased the two birdies he worked so hard to secure.
But just like on Friday, Woods rallied back with a late birdie, this one at the home hole, to steal back a shot.
O. Fisher, Pepperell share lead at Qatar Masters
DOHA, Qatar - Oliver Fisher birdied his last four holes in the Qatar Masters third round to share the lead at Doha Golf Club on Saturday.
The 29-year-old Englishman shot a 7-under 65 for an overall 16-under 200. Eddie Pepperell (66) picked up shots on the 16th and 18th to catch his compatriot and the pair enjoy a two-shot lead over American Sean Crocker (67) in third.
David Horsey (65) was the biggest mover of the day with the Englishman improving 31 places for a share of fourth place at 12 under with, among others, Frenchman Gregory Havret and Italian Andrea Pavan.
Fisher, winner of the 2011 Czech Open, made some stunning putts on his way in. After an eight-footer on the par-4 15th, he then drove the green on the short par-4 16th for an easy birdie, before making a 12-footer on the 17th and a 15-footer on the 18th.
Like Pepperell, Fisher also had just one bogey to show on his card, also on the 12th hole.
''I gave myself some chances coming in and thankfully I made them,'' said Fisher, who has dropped to 369th in the world rankings.
''You can quite easily make a few bogeys without doing that much wrong here, so it's important to be patient and keep giving yourself chances.''
Pepperell, ranked 154th in the world after a strong finish to his 2017 season, has been a picture of consistency in the tournament. He was once again rock-solid throughout the day, except one bad hole - the par-4 12th. His approach shot came up short and landed in the rocks, the third ricocheted back off the rocks, and he duffed his fourth shot to stay in the waste area.
But just when a double bogey or worse looked imminent, Pepperell holed his fifth shot for what was a remarkable bogey. And he celebrated that escape with a 40-feet birdie putt on the 13th.
''I maybe lost a little feeling through the turn, but I bounced back nicely and I didn't let it bother me,'' said the 27-year-old Pepperell, who hit his third shot to within four feet on the par-5 18th to join Fisher on top.
The long-hitting Crocker is playing on invites on the European Tour. He made a third eagle in three days - on the par-4 16th for the second successive round.
Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic
Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
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Uihlein fires back at Jack in ongoing distance debate
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Wally Uihlein challenged Jack Nicklaus’ assault this week on the golf ball.
Uihlein, an industry force as president and CEO of Titleist and FootJoy parent company Acushnet for almost 20 years, retired at year’s start but remains an adviser.
In an interview with ScoreGolf on Friday, Uihlein reacted to Nicklaus’ assertions that the ball is responsible for contributing to a lot of the troubles the game faces today, from slow play and sagging participation to the soaring cost to play.
Uihlein also took the USGA and The R&A to task.
The ball became a topic when Nicklaus met with reporters Tuesday at the Honda Classic and was asked about slow play. Nicklaus said the ball was “the biggest culprit” of that.
“It appears from the press conference that Mr. Nicklaus was blaming slow play on technology and the golf ball in particular,” Uihlein said. “I don’t think anyone in the world believes that the golf ball has contributed to the game’s pace of play issues.”
Nicklaus told reporters that USGA executive director Mike Davis pledged over dinner with him to address the distance the golf ball is flying and the problems Nicklaus believes the distance explosion is creating in the game.
“Mike Davis has not told us that he is close, and he has not asked us for help if and when he gets there,” Uihlein said.
ScoreGolf pointed out that the Vancouver Protocol of 2011 was created after a closed-door meeting among the USGA, The R&A and equipment manufacturers, with the intent to make any proposed changes to equipment rules or testing procedures more transparent and to allow participation in the process.
“There are no golf courses being closed due to the advent of evolving technology,” Uihlein said. “There is no talk from the PGA Tour and its players about technology making their commercial product less attractive. Quite the opposite, the PGA Tour revenues are at record levels. The PGA of America is not asking for a roll back of technology. The game’s everyday player is not advocating a roll back of technology.”
ScoreGolf said Uihlein questioned why the USGA and The R&A choose courses that “supposedly” can no longer challenge the game’s best players as preferred venues for the U.S. Open, The Open and other high-profile events.
“It seems to me at some point in time that the media should be asking about the conflict of interest between the ruling bodies while at the same time conducting major championships on venues that maybe both the athletes and the technology have outgrown,” he said. “Because it is the potential obsolescence of some of these championship venues which is really at the core of this discussion.”