The European Tour's last full-field event is set to tee it up for the Telefonica Open de Madrid at the Club de Campo course in Spain.
The last event prior to the season-ending Volvo Masters Anadalucia holds quite a few subplots` including the race to finish in the top 115 on the Order of Merit (European Tour money list) which secures playing privileges for the 2004 season.
It's also the last chance for players to qualify for the lucrative Volvo Masters, where only the top 60 get invited to play.
Peter O'Malley is currently on the outside looking in, sitting in the 61st position. Arjun Atwal is in the 60th spot but won'l be playing this week, thus giving O'Malley a golden opportunity.
Another emotional subplot will be that of long time European Tour player Steen Tinning.
Tinning, ironically, returns as the defending champion of this event, but has announced that due to injuries, it will also be the last tournament of his career. It will be a nice way to go out for the 41-year-old Dane, who has two career tour titles to his name.
The Harry Vardon Trophy, which is presented to the player finishing first on the Order of Merit, has already been wrapped up as Ernie Els cruised to his fifth World Match Play Championship Sunday.
It is Els' first time to win the award following Retief Goosen's two-year run at the top. Darren Clarke currently is in second.
Els, Clarke and Goosen will not be in this week's lineup, but the field still is loaded with marquee players and offers a good look of the past, present and future of the European Tour.
Veterans Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazabal and Constantino Rocca will tee it up alongside current stars Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia, while youth will be served with the likes of Adam Scott, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey.
The Open de Madrid will be played for the 30th time on The European Tour International Schedule in 2004 with Club de Campo hosting the event for a fourth successive season from October 21-24.
The announcement means that Spain will host the last three Volvo Order of Merit tournaments on The 2004 European Tour International Schedule with the Turespaa Mallorca Classic at Pula GC, Majorca, the previous week from October 14-17 and the season-ending Volvo Masters Andalucia at Club de Golf Valderrama, Sotogrande, from October 28-31.
Following last months Open de Sevilla and the Canarias Open de Espaa, won by Ricardo Gonzalez of Argentina and Christian Cvar of France respectively, and the return to the country from November 18-21 for the World Golf Championships ' World Cup, Spain will be hosting no fewer than six events on The 2004 European Tour International Schedule. The Open de Madrid will be promoted by Amen Corner.
Ken Schofield, Executive Director of The European Tour, said: We are delighted to announce a sixth tournament in Spain with the Open de Madrid. We congratulate Amen Corner for promoting this tournament and express out gratitude to Club de Campo for hosting this event for a fourth successive season.
This event has consistently produced high drama and great theatre and I know all our Members will relish a return to Club de Campo in October.
The past three editions of the event at Club de Campo have proved a huge success. In 2001, Retief Goosen of South Africa won the title, beating Englands Steve Webster at the third hole of a sudden-death play-off after the pair tied on 20 under par 264, and in the process sealed the Volvo Order of Merit title for the first time.
The following year Denmarks Steen Tinning recorded his second victory on The European Tour International Schedule, a closing 67 giving him a 19 under par total of 265 and a one shot victory over Scotlands Andrew Coltart, Brian Davis of England and Australian Adam Scott.
In 2003, it was the turn of Gonzalez when he produced the biggest final round comeback on The 2003 European Tour International Schedule, coming from six strokes behind on the final day. A 72 hole total of 270, 14 under par, left him one stroke clear of Englands Paul Casey, Irelands Padraig Harrington, Australias Nick OHern and Maarten Olander of Sweden.
Designed by Javier Arana in 1932 and redesigned by Seve Ballesteros in 1994, Club de Campo has earned a reputation as one of the finest courses in Spain. In addition to hosting the Open de Madrid, Club de Campo has also hosted the Open de Espaa on eight occasions, the first of which was one by the 1951 Open Champion Max Faulkner of England in 1957. Since then Spains Sebastian Miguel (1960), Sam Torrance of Scotland (1982), Australian Rodger Davis (1990), Argentinas Eduardo Romero (1991), Scotlands Colin Montgomerie (1994), Ballesteros (1995) and Harrington (1996) have all won at Club de Campo.
Ricardo Gonzalez fired a final-round 65 to overcome a six-shot deficit and win the Telefonica Open de Madrid on Sunday. Gonzalez finished at 14-under-par 270 for his second career victory on the European Tour. Paul Casey, who held the lead on his own throughout the tournament, struggled with a 1-over 72 to finish one shot short. Casey was joined by Padraig Harrington, Nick O'Hern and Marten Olander
Two-time champ Bubba fires 63 at Travelers
CROMWELL, Conn. – Amid a resurgent season that has already included a pair of wins, it only makes sense that Bubba Watson is back in contention at the Travelers Championship.
TPC River Highlands has been one of Watson’s favorite haunts over the years; it’s a layout where the southpaw’s creative approach is often rewarded. This is where he burst into tears after earning his first PGA Tour victory in 2010, and this is where he beat Paul Casey in a playoff to again lift the trophy in 2015.
He’ll once again have a late weekend tee time after firing a 7-under 63 during the second round, tying the low score of the week and moving to within three shots of Brian Harman’s 10-under total.
“Little bit less wind, little more confidence on the ball-striking, and I made putts,” Watson said. “The key is making putts. When you start making putts, that’s where you’re going to score a decent number.”
Watson was well down the standings after opening with an even-par 70, a round that included three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on the back nine to negate progress he had made earlier in the day. But he ran into no such struggles the second time around, adding six birdies to an eagle on the par-5 13th hole when he hit his approach shot from 229 yards to within 18 inches of the hole.
The difference, according to Watson, was between the ears.
“Yesterday I was just thinking about some negative stuff instead of focusing on my target and focusing on the shot at hand,” Watson said. “I was focusing on hitting to the bunker, or focusing on, ‘Water is over here, so hit it over here.’ Just things like that, just things that you can’t do around the golf course.”
Watson was also a runner-up in 2012 here in addition to his two wins, and he has racked up nearly $3.5 million in earnings in 11 prior appearances. Once again thinking the right thoughts on one of his favorite tracks, he’s potentially 36 holes away from his third win since February.
“Obviously around here I feel pretty comfortable,” Watson said. “I can hit some shots around here, and I’ve made it work throughout some of the years.”
Only putting is holding McIlroy back
CROMWELL, Conn. – Through two rounds of the Travelers Championship, the tee shots are towering and the approaches are accurate for Rory McIlroy. Now he just needs the putter to heat up.
McIlroy started to show signs of life during the second round last week at Shinnecock Hills before missing the cut, and after putting in some extra work honing his swing over the weekend, his tee-to-green game is worth boasting about at the halfway point at TPC River Highlands.
McIlroy has missed only five greens in regulation through two rounds, barely breaking a sweat en route to rounds of 64 and 69 that left him at 7 under. He’s within striking distance heading into the weekend, three shots behind Brian Harman, but might be topping the standings with a more cooperative putter.
“I felt like I left a few out there,” McIlroy said. “I felt like I had a lot of good putts that just didn’t go in. I started them on line, did everything I needed to do, and it’s just one of those days where they were sliding by the edges.”
McIlroy took 32 putts to complete his second round, including a three-putt on No. 7 for his only bogey of the day and another three-putt on No. 13 that turned an eagle opportunity into a par. Already with a win under his belt this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he knocked in putts from all directions during a final-round 64, McIlroy feels confident that he might be only a few rolls away from having another shot to contend in his second career trip to the Hartford-area stop.
“I think if I can put the ball in the fairway and hit my irons as good as I have been over the first couple of days, I’ll give myself a lot of chances for birdies,” McIlroy said. “It’s just about converting them and taking the opportunities when they present themselves.”
Rosaforte Report: Toski lively, singing and ready to go home
Bob Toski sounded pretty good for a man near death last week. When we spoke on Friday, the 91-year-old teaching legend and former PGA Tour leading money winner was alive and feeling well. Especially when he was talking about giving lessons, swinging a golf club again, and going down to the piano bar at Arturo’s near his home in Boca Raton, Fla., to sing his favorite song, “Sentimental Journey."
“It’s been quite a journey,” Toski said in total bliss. “But I’m going home tomorrow.”
Going back 10 days, to June 12, Toski suffered a severe heart attack that had him on life support, in critical condition, at a hospital not far from the South Florida golf community where he’s pro emeritus at St. Andrews.
He opened 15 minutes on the phone on Friday by asking how much he owed me for the publicity he got during the U.S. Open. Typical Toski. His heart may have skipped a beat, but he hadn’t.
At no more than 120 pounds, still larger than life.
Bob Toski from his hospital bed in South Florida
“This is the mouse,” he said when asked to confirm it really was him on the phone. “The Mighty Mouse.”
We were laughing now, but there was a moment one night during “Live From the U.S. Open” when I got a message from the Boca hospital which sounded grim (hospital staff used a defibrillator on him six times during his stay). That’s when one of the friends by his side texted me and said it would be just like “Tosk” to sit up straight and ask everybody what was going on.
Essentially, that’s what happened. And now here he was on the phone, cracking off one-liners, talking about Brooks Koepka’s win at Shinnecock, giving his take on the USGA and course setup, asking how much I’d been playing, and giving his love to everybody at “The Channel.”
He invited me down for a lesson at St. Andrews and dinner at Arturos. “In a month’s time,” he said, “I’ll be ready to go.”
He sounded ready right now, singing a line from his favorite song, from his hospital bed in the happiest of voices, “Gotta set my heart at ease.”
Spieth fades with 3-over 73: 'It's just golf'
CROMWELL, Conn. – After finding nothing but positives for his first five trips around the course, Jordan Spieth finally suffered a setback at TPC River Highlands.
Spieth won the Travelers Championship last year in his tournament debut, and he quickly bounced back from a missed cut at Shinnecock Hills by firing a 7-under 63 in the opening round this week to take a share of the lead. Out early during the second round with a chance to move even further into red figures amid calm conditions, he instead went the other way.
Undone by a triple bogey on the par-5 13th hole, Spieth was 5 over for his first 14 holes and needed an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole for the second straight day simply to salvage a 3-over 73. The score knocked him back to 4 under for the week and six shots behind Brian Harman.
Despite finding three fewer fairways, three fewer greens in regulation and taking five more putts than he did in the opening round, Spieth still put a positive spin on a lackluster result.
“I actually felt like I had better control of my golf swing than I did yesterday. I really struggled with my swing yesterday and I kind of got some good breaks,” Spieth said. “It’s just golf. It’s kind of like yesterday I got three or four shots extra out of the round, and today I lost three or four based on how I felt.”
Spieth was happy with his opening-round effort, but even after finishing late in the day he still went straight to the driving range that lines the ninth fairway at TPC River Highlands – not exactly standard behavior after grabbing a share of the lead.
“So it’s not like things are on,” he said. “Sometimes it can get disguised by rounds, but it’s not far off. It really is close.”
Spieth has lamented a lack of quality chances to win this year, which he has previously described as being within six shots of the lead heading into the final round. He’ll have some work to do to meet that mark this weekend in defense of his title, as his round hit a snag on No. 13, his fourth hole of the morning, when he pulled his tee shot out of bounds and then hit his subsequent approach into the water.
“For whatever reason, it’s a large fairway but it’s always just killed me,” Spieth said. “I don’t know what it is about the hole, but that hole I get on the tee and for whatever reason I struggle. … I just hit a bad shot at the wrong time there.”