Tale of the tape: Race for Euro Tour POY

By Ryan LavnerOctober 8, 2012, 12:21 pm

With four titles this season, Rory McIlroy has already wrapped up the PGA Tour money title and eliminated much of the suspense surrounding the Player of the Year award.

Not so fast across the pond.

McIlroy, who has sat atop the European Tour’s Order of Merit for much of the season, may have to fend off an unlikely challenge from rookie Branden Grace if he’s to capture both money titles – and player of the year awards – in 2012.

Grace, a 24-year-old South African, won his fourth European Tour title of the season Sunday (and fifth overall) at the Dunhill Links Championship.

At one point last year, remember, Grace was No. 362 in the world, toiling on the Sunshine Tour, needing to go through Q-School just to earn his European Tour card. Now, he’s one of the game’s brightest stars.

With his victory Sunday, Grace moved to 37th in the world. He’s the first European Tour player to win four times in his first season on the circuit, and only the 11th player to accomplish the feat overall. He’s earned €2,028,215, which puts him only €730,000 ($953,000) behind McIlroy in the yearlong Race to Dubai, the top honor in European golf.

Even Grace conceded that his goals have changed. Speaking to reporters after the final round at St. Andrews, he said, “I am all for catching Rory. … Now I am in third place, (and) first place is definitely in my sights. With a lot of big-money events coming up, €800,000 is not a lot to make up.”

Eight events remain on the European Tour schedule, including the Nov. 22-25 DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, one of the richest prizes in golf. In Grace’s case, that closing stretch is even more critical because four of those events feature a purse of at least €6,000,000.

Grace was scheduled to compete in this week’s Portugal Masters but withdrew on Monday, saying he was “pretty knackered.” McIlroy, meanwhile, is playing in the inaugural Turkey Airlines World Golf Final, an eight-man match-play event that is not sanctioned by the European Tour. According to the schedule posted on his website, McIlroy is scheduled to play in three more European Tour events: the Oct. 25-28 BMW Masters, Nov. 8-11 Barclays Singapore Open and Nov. 22-25 season finale in Dubai.

It seemed unfathomable a few months ago – heck, even a week ago – but the question now must be asked: Could Branden Grace steal the money title and European Tour Player of the Year? Might Justin Rose?

Here is a tale of the tape at the favorite and two leading contenders:

The favorite: Rory McIlroy

Order of Merit: 1st

Victories: 1 (PGA Championship)

Scoring average: 70.33

The skinny: The 23-year-old Ulsterman has done much of his damage in the events co-sanctioned by both the PGA and European tours. His emphatic victory at Kiawah Island netted him a first-place prize of €1,190,937, which accounts for 42 percent of his yearly earnings on the Euro tour. He was second in Abu Dhabi and also had three top-5 finishes in the World Golf Championships events, including a runner-up at the WGC-Match Play in February.

The contender: Branden Grace

Order of Merit: 3rd

Victories: 4 (Joburg Open, Volvo Golf Champions, China Open, Dunhill Links)

Scoring average: 70.80

The skinny: Only one of his victories came against an elite field(Volvo), but there’s no discounting what this rookie has accomplished.The knocks against Grace will be his four missed cuts, and his poorperformances in three majors, in which his best finish was a T-51 at theU.S. Open (T-77 at British, MC at PGA).

The contender: Justin Rose

Order of Merit: 2nd

Victories: 1 (WGC-Cadillac Championship)

Scoring average: 70.03

The skinny: Like McIlroy, Rose’s lone title this season came in a co-sanctioned event, the WGC tournament at Doral. The Englishman last played a Euro Tour event in July, at the French Open (T-9), but he is scheduled to play at least the BMW Masters and WGC-HSBC Champions to meet the 13-event minimum.

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Watch: Hahn slam-dunks ace on 11th hole

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 23, 2018, 7:20 pm

There are aces, and there are slam-dunk aces. No question which one this one by James Hahn on the 154-yard 11th hole was.

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Els' nephew Rebula wins Amateur Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 23, 2018, 7:05 pm

Ernie Els is one proud uncle.

His nephew, Jovan Rebula, won the Amateur Championship on Saturday at Royal Aberdeen to become the first South African to capture the title since Bobby Cole in 1966.

Rebula, a junior at Auburn, will join his famous uncle in Carnoustie next month for The Open. He also will get invites to the 2019 Masters and the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Rebula defeated Ireland's Robin Dawson, 3 and 2, in the 36-hole final.

"It’s unreal," Rebula said. "It’s really something that is hard to describe. I feel like many have been in this position before but it’s an unreal feeling. It hasn’t sunk in quite yet but hopefully tomorrow morning I can wake up and I will feel a little different."

Rebula received plenty of texts from Els throughout the week, and the encouragement paid off. Rebula opened a 1-up lead after 18 holes, and he extended his advantage by winning the 26th and 27th holes. He was 5 up with six to play before finally closing out Dawson on the 16th hole with an up-and-down from the bunker.

"It’s been a long week and especially today," Rebula said. "I should have finished maybe a couple of holes earlier, but it’s been awesome. A very tiring week. I’m standing here right now and there’s so much adrenaline pumping through me."

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Squirrel gets Rory's round off to a rocky start

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 6:42 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy’s third round at the Travelers Championship got off to a peculiar start before he even hit a shot.

McIlroy had just been introduced on the first tee at TPC River Highlands and was ready to unload on his opening drive of the day when a squirrel ran across the tee box a few feet in front of him.

McIlroy stopped his swing and laughed it off, but the squirrel continued to linger for several seconds, criss-crossing from one side of the packed tee box to the other. And while this was no black cat, the pump-fake to start his round didn’t exactly help the Ulsterman.

McIlroy ultimately blocked his drive into the right rough after enduring his brief rodent delay en route to an opening bogey, and amid soft conditions at TPC River Highlands he played his first five holes in 2 over. McIlroy started the day at 7 under, three shots behind leader Brian Harman.

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Kaymer in six-way tie for BMW International lead

By Associated PressJune 23, 2018, 5:29 pm

PULHEIM, Germany - Danish golfer Lucas Bjerregaard shot a 5-under 67 to equal the week's lowest round for a six-way share of the lead after the third round of the BMW International Open on Saturday.

Bjerregaard had eight birdies, a double bogey and a bogey to finish on 5-under 211 - jumping 23 places and joining local favorites Martin Kaymer and Maximilian Kieffer, England's Chris Paisley and Aaron Rai, and Australia's Scott Hend at the top of the leaderboard.

Bjerregaard was fortunate to play before the wind picked up again later in the afternoon.

Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

Kaymer, the 2008 champion, delighted the home supporters with two birdies in his last three holes for a 71.

Finland's Mikko Korhonen and Chile's Nico Geyger were one shot off the lead after rounds of 69 and 73, respectively.

Defending champion Andres Romero equaled the week's best round (67) to be among a large group two shots off the lead going into Sunday, including three-time European Tour winner Andy Sullivan.

Romero is bidding to be the first player to retain the title.