November 27, 2016
Denmark fought off a three-pronged attack to win golf's World Cup at Kingston Heath on Sunday.
Soren Kjeldsen and Thorbjorn Olesen held their nerve after a four-shot overnight lead was threatened by China, France and Sweden.
The pair combined superbly in the best-ball format for a closing 6-under 66 to finish on 20-under 268, four shots clear of France (63), China (65) and the United States (66) in a three-way tie for second.
Kjeldsen and Olesen took turns to nail critical birdie putts every time the lead was whittled back.
''Our mental strength is keeping calm and playing our own game. I wasn't too worried, I thought the birdies would come on the back nine and they did,'' Olesen said.
Chinese duo Ashun Wu and Haotong Li crept within one stroke early on the back nine before Kjeldsen holed a birdie putt to restore the buffer. Victor Dubuisson's birdie at the par-three 15th propelled France to just one shot back. And this time Olesen answered with a 7-foot putt, playing three holes behind the French, to ward off the leaderboard danger.
While Kjeldsen and Olesen weren't threatened by US pair Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker, Sweden's Alex Noren and David Lingmerth did move to within a shot - after firing a brilliant 10-under 62 to eventually finish fifth at 15-under. But nobody could catch the Danes.
Olesen's hot putter delivered birdies at Nos. 13, 14 and 15 to restore the leaderboard buffer. He also rolled in a curling 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th.
''The psychology (of a team) is really interesting to me. When you get a guy like this, on the back nine you feel you want to die for this guy,'' Kjeldsen said of Olesen. ''I've never felt that before and that team thing is amazing.''
In golf terms, the Danish pair formed an odd couple. Olesen loves to keep check of leaderboards around the course and Kjeldsen tries to avoid them.
''We play different games, we don't talk much and just play our shots and that's helpful,'' Olesen said.
Sweden, who started the fourball final round nine shots back, could only ponder what might have been with a more polished foursomes effort than the tardy third round 73.
''We really played quite solid (on Saturday) and ended up bogeying a couple of the last four holes. So, 1-over yesterday could have been a couple under and we would have really been in the mix. But finishing on a good note today, we're not going to dwell on the last few days. It has been a fun week,'' Lingmerth said.
Italy's Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero reeled off an 8-under 64, but they were just too far back to get a glimpse of the leaders.
''We gave ourselves a lot of birdie chances and it could have been a really low one. It was a low one with a good finish, so we're happy about that,'' Manassero said.
''Obviously, Francesco gave me the opportunity to play and we had a lot of fun. I think this is a great format and, obviously, you're representing your country.''
Host nation Australia at least gave their home galleries a sub-par salute in a polished round built on several pinpoint approach shots from Marc Leishman before Adam Scott rifled one to almost tap-in range at the par-three 15th. They eventually deliver a 7-under 65 to finish on 11 under and tied ninth with Ireland.
''It was nice to finally see a few putts drop and some red numbers on the leaderboard. It's unfortunate that we couldn't start that on Thursday,'' Leishman said.
Wales pair Bradley Dredge and Stuart Manley, in the first group onto the course, redeemed themselves after Saturday's horror 80 with a flawless 9-under 63.
England's Chris Wood and Andy Sullivan, who tumbled down the leaderboard after a leaky back nine on Saturday, also bounced back with a 7-under 65.
Germany's Alex Cejka and Stephan Jaeger, equal last in the 28-team competition at the halfway mark, hit back with a closing 64 to finish on 9 under and tied 13th.
November 27, 2016
Denmark has vowed to go on the offensive in the final round of the World Cup, believing that to be the best strategy to protect a four-shot lead earned in Saturday's third round.
The title is tantalizingly within reach for Soren Kjeldsen and Thorbjorn Olesen after a two-under 70 in the third round foursomes propelled them to 14-under at Kingston Heath.
''Attack for sure. We try to take shots on and more so in the fourball. A lot of birdies are going to be made tomorrow, so we have to make birdies too,'' Kjeldsen said.
Only American duo Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker made ground on the Danes. The United States was one of only two teams to break 70, shooting a three-under 69 to advance to second place at 10-under and, importantly, into the last pairing for the last round.
On whether the Danes will feel extra pressure playing alongside the Players champion and US PGA champion, Kjeldsen quipped: ''They're not going to play my Srixon or Thorbjorn's Titleist.''
Olesen cautioned everyone not to get ahead of themselves to predict a Danish victory. ''I had a seven-shot lead in Turkey and it got down to one. So, I know how easy it can slip away. A four-shot lead is nice, but it's not going to be easy,'' he said.
The Americans are ready for the fight as Walker agreed the last group was the best vantage point to launch an assault on the lead.
''That's a good place to be going into the last day,'' Walker said. ''I'm excited, I know Rickie's excited and we're looking forward to a good day.''
Fowler said: ''It would be nice to be out front or a little closer, but with where we were coming into today, just putting up a solid round of golf was what we wanted to do. We did that and we gave ourselves a chance going into tomorrow. It's going to take some good golf and some birdies, obviously, but it will be nice being in that final group to know exactly where we stand.''
China couldn't apply any heat playing alongside the Danes as Ashun Wu and Haotong Li stood still on the scoreboard after a 72 left them at nine-under, five back in third place.
No team that's midfield or better was prepared to concede defeat. Very low scores are possible, as evidenced by Denmark's sizzling 12-under 60 in Friday's fourball competition.
New Zealand, nine shots off the pace, reflected the optimism when Ryan Fox revealed the game-plan to be employed by he and partner Danny Lee.
''Danny's the one that hits them straight, so he hits first and then I can just lash at everything pretty much. Hopefully, I can chip in on a few holes like I did on Friday and get some putts to go in. There's a good score out here, especially if the conditions are like today,'' Fox said.
Even host nation Australia is preparing a bullish strategy, despite a seemingly impossible task a whopping 10 shots behind the leaders.
''It's definitely a lot easier to be aggressive in the fourball when you know you've got your partner on the green or in the fairway already. But you don't want to be too aggressive and finish up short-sided in a bunker and then you've only got one putt at it (birdie). That's what we'll be concentrating more on tomorrow is trying to get two birdie putts on every hole and, hopefully, one of us will make it and go to the next and do it again,'' Marc Leishman said.
''The ball striking has been good and neither of us have putted bad, they just haven't gone in. We've hit a lot of good putts that have looked like going in and burning the edges (of the cup). Hopefully, they'll drop tomorrow and we can try and beat Denmark's score (60) yesterday. I think we'll have to.''
England, which started the day five shots behind, blew its chances with a horrendous back nine, leaking six shots in the last eight holes for a 77 to fall back into the pack at two-under.
Chris Wood and Andy Sullivan, playing alongside the Americans, were in joint third place after a birdie at the 10th before shedding shots at 11, 13, 16 and 17 and then a crushing double-bogey finish.
Wales and Thailand certainly didn't get anything going. Amazingly, neither team could find a single birdie playing together in the middle of the field.
Welsh pair Bradley Dredge and Stuart Manley ran up two double bogeys and four more dropped shots in an eight-over 80, while Thai duo Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat had a triple bogey at the par-four 16th to sign for 77 to fall back to even par for the tournament.
November 26, 2016
Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen and Thorbjorn Olesen launched an astonishing sub-par blitz on Friday to power into the lead after the second round of the World Cup of Golf.
Astonishing because the 12-under par 60 was crafted in southwesterly winds that were even stronger than the opening day at Kingston Heath.
The Danes took turns to chip in for eagle in a brilliant front nine of 29, six under par, as they combined superbly in the best-ball format. They reeled off five consecutive birdies on the homeward nine before Kjeldsen holed another birdie putt on the 18th green to put the stamp on the sensational round.
Denmark's taming of the wind-swept 6503-meter (7111-yard) layout handed them a three-stroke lead ahead of China, with Spain one further back at the halfway mark of the tournament.
Olesen said an eagle and a round of 59 was on his mind when he bombed a 369-meter drive down the 418-meter final hole. And yet it was Kjeldsen's touch on the fast green that delivered the last birdie.
''I'm like a train, I arrive on time. He's the flashy one with an amazing game,'' Kjeldsen said.
''This is my favorite type of golf. You've got to control the ball and look at the angles. You don't just get up and whack it, you've got to think your way around.''
United States pair Ricky Fowler and Jimmy Walker shot a five-under 67 to be in a four-nation tie for fourth, five shots behind the Danes heading into Saturday's foursomes.
The American pair underlined the teamwork required in the fourball - the best score counts for each hole - with vastly contrasting efforts at the par-four eighth into the face of the strong wind.
Walker's tee shot found a fairway bunker, he barely advanced the ball buried in long grass and promptly picked it up after the fourth shot scurried across the green. He had the luxury of standing back and applauding when Fowler's 15-meter birdie putt disappeared into the cup to pick up another shot for the team.
A measure of the quality of the players were the clutch of low scores in such cold and blustery conditions - a 60, two 64s, four 65s and seven 66s in the 28-nations field.
New Zealand and the Netherlands, the third group on to the course, went birdie for birdie in a low-scoring shootout, each team posting eight-under 64s to be five-under for the tournament and in contention for the weekend.
The Dutch strategy was typical of most teams; the less experienced Darius Van Driel teeing off first to put the ball safely in play, allowing Joost Luiten to bomb his drives to try to set up shorter approach shots to the quickening greens.
''That worked out really well. Darius hit great off the tee all day, so we didn't really get into any trouble. After that, we just tried to find the green and hole the putt and we did that pretty good today,'' Luiten said.
New Zealand's Ryan Fox and Danny Lee snared 10 birdies against two bogeys as all players in the group fed off each other in the four-pronged attack. ''Joost looked like he was going to hole everything he looked at. It was a fun day all round,'' Fox said.
Host nation Australia's representatives Adam Scott and Marc Leishman must go low in Saturday's foursomes to get close enough to the lead to challenge for the win on Sunday. The pair shared six birdies, but gave two shots back mid-round, for their 68 to be two-under and 10 strokes off the pace.
''Our best stuff needs to be on the weekend now,'' Scott said. ''You never know, it's a tough format. Doesn't mean the leaders are going to play any good over the weekend, so, hopefully, we can close the gap.''
Scots Russell Knox and Duncan Stewart, embarrassed to sit bottom of the leaderboard after an eight-over 78 on the opening day, set about restoring temporarily tarnished reputations. Out in the first group, they grabbed an early birdie before Stewart eagled the par-five eighth hole. And three birdies on the back nine produced a seven-under 65; a 13-shot improvement.
November 25, 2016
Spain's Rafa Cabrera-Bello was the only player to give thanks to the stiff south-westerly wind that buffeted the field in the World Cup's opening round on Thursday.
He threw back his head in a mix of relief and delight when a birdie attempt on the 18th green hovered on the right lip and then dropped into the cup to propel his team into the lead.
Cabrera-Bello and teammate Jon Rahm had a 3-under 69 to edge one stroke ahead of France, China and the U.S. after the foursomes competition at Kingston Heath.
"It looked like I couldn't miss and then all of a sudden it could really miss and I don't know how it came back. It looked like it was going to miss right and something up there .... the wind helped," Cabrera-Bello said.
That was the only positive comment on the cold wind that troubled the 56 players with club selection on approach shots to the quickening greens.
The teams are hoping for calmer conditions for Friday's fourball second round that is more tournament-familiar than the first round's alternate shot format.
While U.S. pair Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker are away from home for Thanksgiving, winning the World Cup was firmly on their minds.
"We didn't come down here to play for second. That (win) would make the trip worthwhile," Fowler said.
Walker dominated the American highlights package, nailing a 15-meter birdie putt on the fifth and then holing a bunker shot at the 13th that started a trio of back nine birdies.
But the PGA champion praised Fowler's scrambling exploits as equally important to compile the 2-under 70.
"He putted really good, made some great clutch (par) putts that really saved us in the middle of the day," Walker said.
"It played tough, anything under par was a good score. It really was a battle."
The Americans upstaged host team Australia as Adam Scott and Marc Leishman salvaged only one birdie, at the par-three 15th, from a tardy round to be back in the pack after a 74.
But Leishman reminded everyone that they're only five shots off the pace, saying "let's go out tomorrow and have a good one, eh, Scotty?"
Only six of the 28 teams managed to break par around the 6,503-meter (7,111-yard) course, with France's Victor Dubuisson and Romain Langasque posting what seemed to be an unreachable 70 in the second group out in more benign morning conditions.
"We both played very well," Dubuisson said. "The strategy from the tee was the key, we always kept the ball in the fairway. I'm very happy with our score today because it was really tough.
"It was really relaxed on the course. We are very good friends and for us to play together here, it's like a dream from back when we were a child."
Langasque said they would use the same strategy in the four-ball competition, playing conservatively off the tee.
"I have a special shot that I can really use on this course. But this course is always tough even without wind, so it was a really good round," Langasque said.
China's Wu Ashun couldn't stop smiling after draining a monster putt for birdie on the final hole to jump into a share of second place.
Swede David Lingmerth reflected the relief of all competitors that the four-ball format permits them all to play like a regular tournament for the second round.
"You learn this course a little bit more every time you go out. Playing alternate shot though, it's a little different than your regular tournaments and I have to say it was probably a good 10 years since I did it last time," Lingmerth said.
|1||DNK||S. Kjeldsen / T. Olesen||-20||-||72||60||70||66||268|
|T2||USA||R. Fowler / J. Walker||-16||-||70||67||69||66||272|
|T2||FRA||V. Dubuisson / R. Langasque||-16||-||70||67||72||63||272|
|T2||ITA||WU Ashun / LI Haotong||-16||-||70||65||72||65||272|
|5||SWE||A. Noren / D. Lingmerth||-15||-||72||66||73||62||273|
|T6||ITA||F. Molinari / M. Manassero||-14||-||71||66||73||64||274|
|T6||JPN||H. Matsuyama / R. Ishikawa||-14||-||73||65||71||65||274|
|8||ESP||R. Cabrera Bello / J. Rahm||-13||-||69||67||73||66||275|
|T9||AUS||A. Scott / M. Leishman||-11||-||74||68||70||65||277|
|T9||NIR||S. Lowry / G. McDowell||-11||-||72||69||70||66||277|
|T11||CAN||D. Hearn / A. Hadwin||-10||-||75||68||69||66||278|
|T11||NZL||D. Lee / R. Fox||-10||-||75||64||72||67||278|
|T13||GER||A. Cejka / S. Jaeger||-9||-||74||71||70||64||279|
|T13||ENG||C. Wood / A. Sullivan||-9||-||71||66||77||65||279|
|T13||RSA||J. Van Zyl / G. Coetzee||-9||-||76||66||71||66||279|
|T13||BEL||T. Pieters / N. Colsaerts||-9||-||73||69||70||67||279|
|T17||AUT||B. Wiesberger / M. Wiegele||-8||-||73||68||71||68||280|
|T17||NED||J. Luiten / D. van Driel||-8||-||75||64||75||66||280|
|T19||CHN||CHENG Tsung Pan / CHAN Shih-chang||-6||-||74||65||74||69||282|
|T19||SCO||R. Knox / D. Stewart||-6||-||78||65||72||67||282|
|T19||THA||T. Jaidee / K. Aphibarnrat||-6||-||73||66||77||66||282|
|T22||KOR||B. An / K. Kim||-5||-||74||69||76||64||283|
|T22||WAL||B. Dredge / S. Manley||-5||-||74||66||80||63||283|
|T22||MAL||D. Chia / N. Fung||-5||-||77||68||72||66||283|
|T22||IND||S. Chawrasia / S. Chikkarangappa||-5||-||74||66||75||68||283|
|26||POR||R. Gouveia / J. Lima||-4||-||74||68||72||70||284|
|27||VEN||J. Vegas / J. Vegas||-3||-||74||68||76||67||285|
|28||PHL||M. Tabuena / A. Que||3||-||77||67||77||70||291|