Archive for the ‘Pro Golf’ Category

Tommy Fleetwood targets BMW title

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SOUTHPORT’S Tommy Fleetwood will make his first appearance on home soil since being crowned the European Tour’s Race to Dubai Champion when he tees it up in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club from May 24-27.

The World No 13 has confirmed he will be part of the star-studded line up for the first Rolex Series event of 2018, with tickets to see him in action over the famous West Course, in Surrey, England, now on sale here.

Fleetwood already has one Rolex Series title to his name after his victory in the HNA Open de France at 2018 Ryder Cup venue Le Golf National last July – a win which helped him finish the 2017 season as Europe’s Number One player after being crowned Race to Dubai Champion in Dubai last November.

The 27-year-old, who subsequently received the Seve Ballesteros Award as the European Tour Players’ Player of the Year, has carried his impressive form into the new season, playing a starring role in Team Europe’s EurAsia Cup victory before successfully defending his title in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA last month.

Now he is targeting victory in front of his home fans at the BMW PGA Championship to add another prestigious entry on to his increasingly impressive CV.

“The BMW PGA Championship is one of those events you watch as a kid and always dream about winning,” said Fleetwood. “It has always been one of the best events on our Tour – the next one down from a Major for us – so to win it would mean a lot.

“I’ve been in contention at Wentworth once before so far in my career (finished tied sixth in 2015) and if you are in contention, and you are English or British, it is an amazing atmosphere there.  It is definitely a title you want to win in your career.

“You look at all the names on the trophy – Seve, Faldo, Woosnam, Montgomerie, McIlroy – and it would be incredible to join them. To win another Rolex Series event too, after my win in France, would also be a big thing for me.”

Fleetwood is also looking forward to returning to the famous West Course which has had a further year to develop since undergoing a multi-million pound revamp before last year’s tournament, won by Sweden’s Alex Noren.

“I’ve always liked the golf course at Wentworth and last year I thought the changes were great,” said Fleetwood. “The changes were definitely positive and everybody seemed to like them. It’s a great course and I really like the layout. Hopefully I can do well in May and continue the form I’ve shown so far this year.”

Fans can now book tickets to Fleetwood and some of the world’s best golfers at Wentworth.

Early bird tickets for all four days of the tournament, plus the Wednesday Celebrity Pro-Am and weekend headline bands Rudimental and Simple Minds.

 

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Shacklady plays his cards right – at last!

MOSSOCK Hall maestro David Shacklady is celebrating winning his card to compete on the Staysure Tour after a year after losing in a three-man play-off.

And this time he secured his playing rights with a par on the 18th hole for a one over par total at Portugal’s Pestana Golf Resort.

Meanwhile, Rafael Gomez became the first Argentinian since Horacio Carbonetti to clear the hurdle after signing for a five under par final round, minus seven all told.

Paul Streeter, John Kemp and David MacLaren all qualified. Kemp, a member of Woburn Golf Club, host venue of the Travis Perkins Masters, was bidding to become the first amateur golfer since Denis O’Sullivan in 1997 to win Qualifying School, but would settle for second place on three under par.

“It’s a bit of a shock,” said Kemp “I probably played my worst golf of the week out there today, but it was all about the result. I was watching the boards as I went around the course, so I knew what I needed to do out there.

“I was a little bit anxious but I managed to grind it out on the back nine. The guys I play with back home will say that I can get a score even if I’m not playing at my best.”

Donaldson stays ahead in Dubai

MACCLESFIELD’S Jamie Donaldson signed for a three under 69 to maintain his one-shot lead and set the clubhouse target at 13 under par on a fog-delayed day at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

The Welshman fired a blistering 62 on day one and while he could not quite hit those heights again at Emirates Golf Club, he continues to lead a field that has just 11 players over par.

China’s Li Haotong heads up the chasing pack at 12 under par after consecutive rounds of 66. South African Branden Grace is one shot further back alongside Alexander Björk of Sweden, who is one of 66 players who will return at 7.30 am on Saturday to complete the second round following a two hour and 50 minute delay due to morning fog.

Miguel Ángel Jiménez rolled back the years with a round of 68 that included six birdies and one bogey, to take the 54 year old 21-time European Tour winner to ten under par, alongside South African Thomas Aiken and four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy, who will complete his remaining seven holes on Saturday morning.

Six players are currently tied for eighth place at nine under, while England’s Matthew Southgate is part of a group of 15 players one shot further back, after he made the second hole-in-one of the season with a nine iron from 154 yards on the seventh, en route to a round of 68.

Donaldson said: “I played nicely. Drove the ball well. Iron play was good. Took my chances when I was close enough to do so. Hit a lot of really good putts that didn’t go in, whereas yesterday they all went in, but 69 following a 62 is a solid score.

“It can always be better, can’t it, but only one bogey. I wanted to try to go flag hunting a little bit which maybe I shouldn’t have done, but happy with how I played.

 

“I don’t know where it will be at the end of the day, but I’m just concentrating on me and concentrating on putting that ball in those small fairways. You know, taking chances from there. It’s a tricky golf course that you’ve got to manage your way around well. I did that well today again, as I did yesterday.”

Abu Dhabi double for fearless Fleetwood

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DOUBLE TOPS:  Tommy Fleetwood with the trophy. Photo Getty Images

LANCASHIRE hot-shot Tommy Fleetwood fired a brilliant closing round of 65 in windy conditions to become only the second player to successfully defend the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA.

The Race to Dubai champion won the title by one shot from Dustin Johnson and former champion Pablo Larrazábal 12 months ago – a victory which sparked a sensational 2017 European Tour campaign – and he doubled his victory margin this time, finishing two strokes clear of fellow Englishman Ross Fisher.

Fisher had led for much of the final round after an eagle on the second hole followed by two birdies on the front nine, but after a long putt for bogey on the 10th, he was reeled in by Fleetwood, who produced a quite stunning back nine to surge to victory.

Fleetwood made a mockery of the incredibly difficult conditions coming down the stretch, carding six birdies over the closing nine holes, including a superb up and down from the greenside rough on the last. Upon witnessing Fleetwood hole out for victory, Rory McIlroy offered a simple judgement of Fleetwood’s back nine: “That was obscene.”

Fleetwood’s winning total of 22 under par 266 was just two shots shy of the tournament’s record low score of 24 under par 264 set by Martin Kaymer in 2011, and Fleetwood follows the German as the only other player to retain the title at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

It was his fourth European Tour title – and first as a father – capping a fine week for the Southport player who celebrated his 27th birthday on Friday and earlier in the week received the Seve Ballesteros Award after being voted Players’ Player of the Year for 2017 by his fellow European Tour players.

Fisher had to settle for his third runner-up finish in six European Tour appearances after a final round of 69, while McIlroy also missed out again in Abu Dhabi on his return to action after a four month injury absence. The four-time Major Champion recorded his eighth top five finish in ten appearances in Abu Dhabi after closing with a round of 70 to finish four shots back on 18 under par in a share of third place with Ryder Cup teammate Matthew Fitzpatrick, who finished with three consecutive birdies for a 69.

Player quotes

Tommy Fleetwood: “I was saying from the start of the week, I’ve never defended. I’ve never come to a tournament as defending champion before. It’s a really strange feeling because you feel quite possessive over your trophy and you don’t really want to give it back. So that’s always been in the back of my mind this week. Luckily enough, I was playing well and I had a chance to win, and the back nine was a very special nine holes. It’s a very, very nice feeling.

“Last year, I had had the year of my life by a long, long way on the course. And everything we’ve done, everything we’ve talked about, was to make sure that we kept progressing, kept improving.

“I wanted to look at the year like, if Justin Rose had shot level par on that back nine on Sunday in The Race to Dubai, then I wouldn’t have had The Race to Dubai title. So, it was sort of important to look at it that way; to try and prove as if you were hurt and you had not had that whole euphoria of achieving something amazing in your career. So all the practice has been very good. I prepared well last week. I had a great week in Malaysia, and then to sort of validate your position of Race to Dubai Champion, and Player of the Year, so early on is really nice and satisfying in a way.”

 

Fleetwood receives Seve Award

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PRIZE GUY: Tommy Fleetwood with David Howell and Keith Pelley. Photo: Getty Images

LANCASHIRE’S own Tommy Fleetwood has been awarded The Seve Ballesteros Award – formerly the Players’ Player Award – winning the 2017 vote by his fellow professionals at the end of a superb European Tour season in which he claimed the Race to Dubai for the first time in his career.

The award is voted for by European Tour members and carries the name of the legendary Spaniard, who remains one of golf’s most inspirational icons and will always be considered one of the European Tour’s greatest ever ambassadors.

Fleetwood started the season by clinching his second European Tour title at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship ahead of a star-studded field, and continued his good form in the weeks to follow with runner-up finishes at the WGC-Mexico Championship and Shenzhen International.

It was an impressive one shot victory at the HNA Open de France in July – the second Rolex Series event of the year – which had the 26 year old marching towards his best season yet on the European Tour.

Fleetwood was in contention for his first Major win at the U.S Open at Erin Hills, eventually securing a fourth place finish, and then went on to add his name to the history books, carding a course record 63 on the formidable Carnoustie during the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

It would be a year to remember for Fleetwood as he broke inside the top 20 in the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time in his career and produced ten top-ten finishes overall to see him sit 256,737 points ahead of his fellow Englishman Justin Rose going into the season-end DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

Fleetwood finished tied 21st at Jumeriah Golf Estates in November, and in doing so, became the first Englishman since Luke Donald in 2011 to win the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex and sign off the year as European Number One.

His accomplishments were recognised by his peers, and he was presented with the Seve Ballesteros award by European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley and Tournament Committee Chairman David Howell during his media conference at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA, as he prepared to defend the title which sparked his magnificent 2017 campaign.

“Winning the Seve Ballesteros award has actually made me the most emotional out of all the things I’ve won,” said Fleetwood. “It is voted for by the players and for me there’s still so many guys that when I come out, I was looking up to and you watch people on the range and you try to learn from them.

“I’ve made a lot of friends, and I think for people to vote for me as Players’ Player of the Year is just something else. It’s different to anything I’ve achieved before. It’s a very flattering and very humbling.”

Pelley said: “Tommy had a remarkable season on the European Tour and is a truly deserving winner of The Seve Ballesteros Award. He has always been a popular figure among his peers and we have all enjoyed watching his rise through the golfing ranks over the past 18 months.”

Howell added: “Watching the diligent way you’ve gone about being a professional golfer over the years, being so disciplined, dedicated and driven, it’s very fitting that you went on to have the amazing year that you had last year.

“The European Tour’s proud to be a tour that allows people to play and rise to the top of the game. You’ve done that mainly on The European Tour and you’ve become a star of world golf. You’re a great character for the game and it’s with pride that we have you as a European Tour Member. Congratulations, it’s very well deserved.”

The Seve Ballesteros Award – an impressive silver and gold circular plate 46cm in diameter – has the names of all the European Tour members who have won Major Championships, starting with Seve’s own Open triumph at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 1979, inscribed around the central image which is of his famous fist-pumping celebrations on the 18th green of the Old Course at St Andrews after his Open win there in 1984.

Javier Ballesteros, Seve’s eldest son, said: “It is great to see Tommy Fleetwood receiving the Players’ Player of the Year Award, now the Seve Ballesteros Award, in honour to our father.

“He’s had a sensational year, not just because he has won twice but mainly for his consistency and the way he has played all season. My brothers, Miguel and Carmen, and I are delighted, we think he is a great competitor who has also achieved the recognition of his fellow professionals”.

It also has the names of all the previous winners of the European Tour Players’ Player of the Year award inscribed around the outer circle, those being: Padraig Harrington (2008), Lee Westwood (2009), Martin Kaymer (2010), Rory McIlroy (2011, 2014 and 2015), Luke Donald (2012), and Henrik Stenson (2013, 2016).

Finally, around Seve’s central image is a quote from the European Tour’s founding father, the late John Jacobs OBE, whose words sum up how most people in the game felt about the Spaniard: It simply says: “Seve’s supreme talent, flair and passion for golf inspired millions around the world.”

 

PGA launches packed schedule

 

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TOP VENUE: The PGA Professional Championship, which carries a £78,000 prize fund, will be at Little Aston on July 24-27. Image courtesy of Getty Images

THE revival of the English PGA Championship is part of a packed national tournament schedule for 2018 that promises more playing opportunities for PGA Professionals.

The English PGA Championship, contested for the only time at Goodwood in 2010, has been restored to the calendar and will be staged on Saunton’s challenging West Course in Devon (pictured above) from June 27-29.

Home club of PGA Cup-winning captain Albert MacKenzie, Saunton will provide a testing examination of the 144 players vying for a portion of the £30,000 prize fund.

Once again the season begins with the Silversea Senior PGA Professional Championship in May at Foxhills Club & Resort, the stage of the 2017 PGA Cup.

It will be the fifth year in succession the Surrey venue has hosted the £42,000 event and defending champion, Scotland’s Fraser Mann (pictured above), will be seeking a hat-trick of wins from May 16-18.

A couple of weeks later on June 1, Trentham near Stoke-on-Trent will host the most prestigious women’s event on the calendar when the Titleist & FootJoy WPGA Professional Championship is played there for the first time.

Farleigh in Surrey  will also host a PGA national final for the first time when the PGA Assistants’ Championship is staged there from July 3-5.

The 2017 champion Matthew Fieldsend has qualified as a PGA Professional and will not be defending his title. However, the contestants will be looking to emulate him and earn a place in the PGA Play-Offs and Australian Futures Championship.

Later in July the Association’s premier event, the Titleist & FootJoy PGA Professional Championship, which carries a £78,000 prize fund, will be contested from July 24-27 at Little Aston.

Defending champion Paul O’Hara will be looking to become only the third player to win back-to-back titles.

Meanwhile, O’Hara’s more senior colleagues will gather for the Super 60s at Wollaton Park, which proved to be a hugely popular venue in 2017. John Hay and amateur partner Rob Dennett dominated the event in July and the Waterlooville duo will be hoping for a repeat in Nottingham from August 8-9.

A busy summer continues with the Welsh PGA National Championship from August 22-23, which again will be sponsored by Asbri. Ashburnham will host the event for a fourth time and it was Jason Powell who was crowned winner the last time it was played at the south Wales venue in 2009.

The following week the Golfbreaks.com PGA Fourball Championship will be staged on the Championship course at Belton Woods from August 29-31.

September sees the return of the Lombard Trophy and WPGA Lombard Trophy finals, which remains the largest pro-am competition in Europe and will be staged at Portugal’s Pestana Vila Sol (pictured above) for third successive year.

Before that PGA Assistant Lydia Hall will be hoping to claim back-to-back victories in the WPGA International Challenge when she returns to Stoke by Nayland from September 13-15.

The Belfry will once again stage the PGA in England & Wales Inter-County Championship next autumn from October 10-11.

After short spell back in the UK, the PGA Play-Offs return to Turkey’s Antalya Golf Club where 24 of the top players will do battle from November 21-23 in a bid to win a chunk of the £15,000 prize fund.

“The 2018 schedule continues to offer a wide variety of playing opportunities for our Members which is further bolstered this year by the return of the English PGA Championship in June,” said Ben Groutage, PGA head of tournaments.

“We are excited to visit some new venues for our finals with the likes of Farleigh Golf Club and Trentham Golf Club joining a list of first class courses, not to mention more than 50 golf clubs who continue to support our regional qualifiers throughout Great Britain and Ireland.”

A date and venue for the SkyCaddie PGA Pro-Captain Challenge in association with Golfplan is yet to be confirmed.

NB: Tournament entries was posted on BlueGolf  today ( January 3).

North West clubs in running for England awards

THE shortlist of outstanding finalists for the England Golf Awards 2018 has been revealed – and there’s a healthy number of North West clubs and players in the reckoning.

They’ve been selected by the judging panel from a record-breaking entry which shines the spotlight on fantastic achievements in golf in England by volunteers, coaches, clubs and counties.

England Golf Chief Executive Nick Pink said: “We were thrilled by the number and quality of nominations we received and delighted that so many people are helping us to tell golf’s great stories to the wider community.

“Our finalists are all outstanding and we are looking forward to highlighting their successes at our gala dinner and to applauding our winners.”

The winners will be announced on February 22 at the awards dinner at the Royal Lancaster London. Tickets for the glittering, black tie event are just £85 each and include drinks on arrival and a three-course dinner with half a bottle of wine per person. Visit http://www.englandgolfawards.org to book.

The finalists are:

Club of the Year sponsored by HowDidiDo

Burghill Valley Golf Club, Herefordshire

Garforth Golf Club, Yorkshire

Leeds Golf Centre, Yorkshire

Styal Golf Club, Cheshire

Coach of the Year sponsored by The PGA

Phil Akers, The Belfry, Warwickshire

Aaron Lansberry, Hatchford Brook Golf Centre, Warwickshire

Anders Mankert, Cosby Golf Club, Leicestershire

Matthew Turnock, Mottram Hall Golf Club, Cheshire

County of the Year sponsored by SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC.

Cheshire

Middlesex

 

Most Welcoming Golf Club sponsored by American Golf

Burghill Valley Golf Club, Herefordshire

Garforth Golf Club, Yorkshire

Golf at Goodwood, Sussex

Norwood Park Golf Centre, Nottinghamshire

 

Volunteer of the Year sponsored by Players 1st

Jean Hooper of Bramley Golf Club, Surrey

Sue Robertson of the Disabled Golf Association

Richard Ward of Wrag Barn Golf Club, Wiltshire

Jenny Winch of Test Valley Golf Club, Hampshire

Young Ambassador of the Year in association with the Golf Foundation

Megan Field of Hatchford Brook Golf Centre, Warwickshire

Jess Pinnell of Hatchford Brook Golf Centre, Warwickshire

Liam Ridgill of Drax Golf Club, Yorkshire

Georgina Wrixon of Ashley Wood Golf Club, Dorset

Championship Venue of the Year

Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club, Suffolk; hosts of the English women’s county finals.

Goswick Golf Club, Northumberland; hosts of the English senior men’s county finals.

Manchester Golf Club, Lancashire; hosts of the Reid Trophy, the English U14 boys’ open championship.

Performance of the Year

England women’s team; winners of the European team championship for the second year in a row.

Tommy Fleetwood, winner of the 2017 Race to Dubai, helped by two European Tour victories.

Lily May Humphreys of Stoke by Nayland Golf Club, Essex; the British girls’, English women’s and European Young Masters champion.

Alfie Plant of Sundridge Park Golf Club, Kent; European amateur champion, silver medallist at The Open and a Walker Cup player.

The Lifetime Service Award sponsored by Bridgestone: the outright winner of this ninth category will also be recognised at the Awards dinner.

Watch out for our series of New Year articles featuring the finalists.