Jeongeun Lee6 recording a record equaling round of 61 – photo Ladies European Tour

New Zealand’s Lydia Ko finds herself in 4th place through 36 holes of the 4th of five majors in women’s golf in 2021, the Amundi Evian Championship, but she is six shots from the lead held by  South Korean Jeongeun Lee6.

Lee6 produced the equal lowest score in major championship golf of either gender when she matched the previous best set (61) also in this event in 2014 by Hyo-joo Kim

On a day of extremely low scoring on the layout on the banks of lake Geneva in Evian les Baines  in the east of France, Ko’s round of 65 came after an opening bogey, playing her last 13 holes in 7 under par to be well enough placed heading into the weekend.

Ko’s previous record on a layout with significant elevations changes and quirky design is outstanding having recorded five top tens in seven starts including a win in 2015, one of the two major championship titles she owns.

Australia’s Sarah Kemp is also doing well in a share of 11th while Minjee Lee  is tied for 15th although ten shots from the leader who is three shots clear of the field.

Recent Ladies European Tour winner, Stephanie Kyriacou, added a second round of 69, two late birdies enough to see her make the cut by two.

Katherine Kirk and Su Oh both missed out on the final 36 holes.

SCORES

Wade Ormsby – file photo Bruce Young

South Australian, Wade Ormsby, and Queensland’s, Brad Kennedy, are tied in a share of 9th place and eight shots off the lead at the European Tour’s Cazoo Open at Celtic Manor near Newport in Wales.

Ormsby, currently in 58th place in the Race to Dubai, was unable to match the excellence of Thursday’s 67 but his 1 over 72 leaves him eight shots from the lead and well positioned heading to the weekend.

Kennedy, playing this week on invite after an appearance at last week’s Open Championship, added a second round of 69 and the 2020 New Zealand Open Champion and winner of the most recent PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit, finds himself again performing well after a disappointing week at Royal St Georges.

The leader Nacho Elvira of Spain is at 11 under and two ahead of Vincent Norrman of Sweden in a field where not one player from the world top fifty is competing.

The leading world ranked player in the field, Matt Wallace, is in 4th place and four off the pace.

Gold Coast based Victorian, Deyen Lawson, turned around his recent fortunes after missing his last eleven cuts in events on both the European and Challenge Tours to be in 33rd place.

Lawson’s fellow Victorian, Bryden Macpherson, slumped to a second round of 76 after an impressive opening round of 67 to be tied in 42nd position along with Queenslanders Maverick Antcliff and Scott Hend to complete the Australasians making it to the weekend.

19-year-old Gold Coast golfer, Elvis Smylie, did well to recover from an opening round of 74 with a round of 71 but missed the cut by just one as did New Zealand’s Josh Geary.

Smylie recorded two eagles on his closing nine of 32 but was unable to recover from a slow start to both the event and his second round.

 

 

 

Bryden Macpherson, seen here with his 2021 Moonah Links Trophy, gets a rare opportunity for a European Tour start – photo PGA of Australia

As the excitement from last week’s Open Championship begins to subside, seven Australasians and one New Zealander will tee it up at this week’s European Tour event, the Cazoo Open at Celtic Manor in Wales.

The line-up is an eclectic mix of Australasians, two of whom played last week but, for all, the event and its weaker field offers an opportunity to advance their cause.

Brad Kennedy and Deyen Lawson are the two players who competed at the Open and although both missed the cut at Royal St Georges, they get an opportunity against this weaker field and under a less pressure environment to experience a rare opportunity to play a European Tour event.

Kennedy is in the field via a tournament invitation while Lawson gets a start in this event, where many of Europe’s stars are missing, because of his standing at the most recent European Tour School where, although he missed getting a card, he did enough to gain starts in events such as this.

Other Australians in the field via invitation to the event are former British Amateur Champion Bryden Macpherson and Elvis Smylie.

Macpherson enjoyed the spoils of a rejuvenated game when winning two lesser events and finishing runner-up in another on the PGA Tour of Australasia earlier in 2021 and, although this is his first event on a recognised tour since a win at the NSW Open in March, his follow up to his great start in 2021 will be watched with interest.

Smylie played his first European Tour event in Germany a month ago and the 19-year-old from the Gold Coast is generally considered one of Australia’s exciting young prospects. The former Australian Junior Champion has already finished runner-up and 3rd in two PGA Tour of Australasia events since turning professional earlier this year and, looking for further invites to European Tour events, it is important that he does well this week.

Other more established European Tour Australians in the field are Scott Hend, Wade Ormsby, Maverick Antcliff along with New Zealander Josh Geary.

Antcliff played his way onto the European Tour by heading the money list on the China Tour in 2019 and earlier this year finished runner-up in a European Tour event on the Canary Islands.

Hend finished third in Sweden four starts ago and as a three-time European Tour winner, he does have credentials.

Ormsby made the cut at the US Open which was an achievement in itself and then at his last starts finished 12th at the Scottish Open. At his best he is capable of contending and, like Hend, owns three time European Titles.

New Zealand’s Geary has played well in Challenge Tour events in recent weeks and did finish 6th at a European Tour event in Denmark in May. A winner on the Canadian, China and Australasian Tours, Geary possesses still unrealised potential and this may be an opportunity to improve his standing.

Celtic Manor has played host to this event or its equivalent since 2000 although for six years between 2014 and 2019 it was not played. It returned last year despite Covid restrictions with Frenchman Romain Lagasque winning the title.

This week’s field has not one player from the world top fifty in the line-up so there is an opportunity for an Australasian to do well.

England’s Matt Wallace is the leading world ranked player in the field.

 

 

 

 

 

Collin Morikawa with the Claret Jug – photo Matthew Lewis R&A /R&A via Getty

In just his eighth appearance in a major championship, Californian, Collin Morikawa, added a second title at the elite level of the game, when he outplayed and outlasted the game’s current greats to win The Open Championship at Royal St Georges.

At one stage the world’s leading ranked amateur golfer, Morikawa will now trail only John Rahm and Dustin Johnson as the world’s greatest players at any level following his two-shot victory over Jordan Spieth at Royal St Georges today.

Two years ago, Morikawa was outside the world top 1000 in the game but five wins on the PGA Tour in that time including the two major titles have swept him to his now highest ranking of 3 and given that both major titles have come on debut it is a fair bet to assume the growth curve is a long way from over.

Morikawa began the day one shot behind the long-time leader, Louis Oosthuizen but, by the turn, he was four ahead of the South  African and although he would add only one more birdie when he holed a lengthy birdie putt at the 14th the gap was too great for his chasers.

Eventually it would be Jordan Spieth who threw out the biggest threat to Morikawa. After his two late bogeys on Saturday, Spieth had begun the final day in third place but three shots from Oosthuizen and two behind the then leader.

When Spieth bogeyed the 4th and 6th any realistic chance of him winning appeared gone and so it would prove but he fought his way back with an eagle at the 7th then added another four birdies for a round of 66 to equal that of the winner’s but it was not quite enough.

Spieth would finish runner-up, with Jon Rahm 3rd after making a strong late bid with four consecutive birdies from the 13th to put himself in the picture should Morikawa falter over the closing stages.

It was not to be, however, with Morikawa playing mistake free golf to win by two with Rahm two further back in third place and tied with Oosthuizen who for the 8th time in major championship golf finished either runner-up or third.

Morikawa was clearly delighted to have won on Open Championship debut, but he is obviously keen for more as he outlined when asked how he would reflect on this amazing start to his professional career.

“At 24 years old, it’s so hard to look back at the two short years that I have been a pro and see what I’ve done because I want more.

“I enjoy these moments and I love it, and I want to teach myself to embrace it a little more, maybe spend a few extra days and sit back and drink out of this. But — yeah, I just want more.

“When you’re in these moments and you truly love what you do, which I love playing golf and competing against these guys, these are the best moments ever because the nerves push you to just be a better person.”

When asked about his feeling on now having his name alongside some of the greatest of all time to have won this championship, he openly expressed his growing appreciation of the event and its place in golfing folklore.

“There’s so many names. I’m not going to pinpoint one. But to be cemented on the Claret Jug with countless names, countless Hall of Famers, countless people that I’ve looked up to, not just from golf, but outside of golf, it’s so special.

“To be honest, I cannot tell you my earliest memory of the Open Championship. I didn’t watch a ton of golf growing up. I probably watch more golf now than I do because I know a bunch of guys and I want to see them play well. It’s going to be up there now. We only get four majors a year, and every single one of them is very special.

“To finally get to play an Open Championship for the first time and win it, it’s going to be that much more special. I won the PGA, and then coming back as the defending champ you just have a sense of like you belong, this is going to be part of you for the rest of your life. The Open Championship is going to be part of my life the rest of my life no matter what happens.”

Morikawa earned US$2,070,000 for his win which is just over 8 times the US$250,000 Justin Leonard won when winning in the year Morikawa was born (1997).

Spieth reflected on his bogey, bogey finish on Saturday but was proud and happy with his effort today especially after such a disappointing start to his round.

“It’s hard to be upset when I was a couple over through 6. I couldn’t have really done much more after that point. But the finish yesterday, was about as upset as I’ve taken a finish of a round to the house.

“I walked in and wanted to — I said, Is there something that I can break? I knew that was so important because I would have been in the final group. Anyway, had to regroup 18 hours later and then just had a lot in between clubs, and you have to be so precise here. You need some good numbers.

“Then kind of fatted it off 6 and went to 7 thinking, Okay, now we’re going for everything, and we’re going to see what happens. I’m proud of going 6-under in the last 12 in this golf tournament and putting some pressure on Collin.”

It was Spieth’s 4th runner-up finish in  a major championship but he does own three major titles including this one in 2017.

On the golf course itself, Spieth was full of praise but acknowledged that the conditions during much of the week did not allow it to show its real teeth.

“I did enjoy this golf course from when I first played 12 holes last Sunday, and I thought that it was quirky in a fun way. I think we only late today did we start to see the wind that the course is designed, I think, to play in.

“So I don’t think we got the same test as those guys have had in years past. But even saying that, each hole provided its own kind of unique way to play it because of that, and I thought that the R&A did just a fantastic job of allowing the scores to happen.”

Cameron Smith was faltering at 6 over for his round through 15 holes but birdies at the 17th and 18th holes would see him finish 33rd although he did drop 24 places from his third-round position. He would though finish as the leading player amongst the 13 Australasians who teed it up on Thursday.

He finished two head of Adam Scott who closed with a 68 to be in 46th place with New Zealand’s Ryan Fox slipping to 67th.

Cameron Smith earned US$60,000 for his efforts.

Collin Morikawa – R&A via Getty Images

 

 

Louis Oosthuizen walks from the 18th green after retaining his lead – photo David Cannon Getty via R&A

Louis Oosthuizen has retained his lead at the completion of the third round of the Open Championship at Royal St Georges, recovering from a shaky period early in his back nine when consecutive bogeys at the 11th and 13th holes saw him sharing the lead before a birdie at the 16th and assistance from others re-established his outright lead.

Oosthuizen leads by one over Collin Morikawa with another two back to Jordan Spieth so despite changes throughout the day the same three players in order through 36 holes are in those places again heading into tomorrow’s final round.

Ooosthuizen acknowledged that he might have put the tournament to bed with a really strong back nine but he was also aware that Royal St Georges can give with one hand and take with the other.

“I was 13 at a 0ne stage,” he said. “Probably a good back nine could have gone to 14 or 15. There was a few very tough pins out there that you can’t really go for at all. You always had to make those 20-footers for birdie.

“I made a few bad swings there in the middle of the round and put me in some awkward positions and ended up making two bogeys. 4-iron in on 14 and I made a horrible swing, ended up making a par.

“I did have a lot of opportunities to go two or three better, but that’s what this golf course can do to you.”

The almost cliched question of just what he will do over the next twenty or so hours before the start of tomorrow’s round at 2.35 pm was asked.

“You know, I’m going to try and stay awake as long as I can tonight because I know the tee time is probably going to be around 3:00, 3:30 again tomorrow.

“No, I’ll do the same thing. Not really change anything that I do. I think all of us are just human to think of lifting the trophy, and that’s going to be in your mind. But I think you just need to know it and how to handle it.

“Once we get on the golf course, it’s all golf. You need to believe that you can lift the trophy, as well, and if
you think about it beforehand that you might win this championship, I think that’s great, and you have to believe you can do it.

“I think if you’re someone that really thinks about it all the time, you’ve got to get your mind off it, do something to keep you busy, do something else.I don’t know. I don’t really change my routine whether I’ve got a two-shot lead or I’m trailing by eight.

Morikawa knows that despite his PGA title he is relatively inexperienced in this situation but says he will draw on his PGA title to assist him tomorrow.

I think the biggest thing I can draw from the PGA is just knowing I can get it done. But I think confidence just comes from hitting good shots, quality shots, seeing putts go in. There is a lot to draw from, especially
this week.

“I don’t have much experience on links golf, and pretty much all the highlights in my head are from this week. Thankfully there are quite a few. Hopefully we can just use that momentum from the first three days and just bring it into the last 18. It’s going to be a grueling 18, but I look forward to it.”

Almost inexplicably Spieth bogeyed his final two holes, a hiccup that might prove crucial tomorrow.

Cameron Smith leads the Australasian challenge and at one stage during his round he was making bee lines for the lead. Smith raced to the turn in 32 and was within striking distance of the lead but bogeys at his 10th and 11th holes cost him momentum.

He would eventually finish with a strong round of 68 and is six from the lead having made up one shot on Oosthuizen.

“Yeah, it was really, really solid today,” he said Probably the best ball striking day of the week. Just a couple of
drives there on the back nine. Got unlucky a couple times there.

“You know, that’s just links golf. Just kept at and kept trying to make my birdies and carry on. No, really solid stuff.

“It’s going to take a big one tomorrow. Course is firming up nicely. Still not unplayable, birdies are still there, but it’s going to have to be pretty perfect, I think. Louis and Jordan at the top of the leaderboard, two great competitors that’ll be tough to catch.”

Ryan Fox dropped three shots in his opening two holes but did well to eventually record a round of 71 to be at 3 under and nine shots off the pace.

Adam Scott struggled throughout the day his round of 71 leaving him well back in 58th position.

SCORES

 

 

 

 

The delightful swing of Louis Oosthuizen on display at the 8th today – photo David Cannon R&A via Getty Images

Even a late bogey in today’s second round of the Open Championship could not stop South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen extending his one-shot opening round lead at Royal St Georges and he heads into tomorrow’s third round two ahead over Collin Morikawa with Jordan Spieth another shot back and alone in third place.

All three have won major championships previously, Morikawa the latest, but for both Oosthuizen and Spieth they have the knowledge that they can win an Open Championship as they have done it before, Oosthuizen by a massive seven shots in 2010 and Spieth by three in 2017.

Not that the chances stop there of course as 24 players are within seven shots of Oosthuizen’s lead and it is a fair bet to assume that as they head for bed on Friday night each and every one of them might just be dreaming about holding the Claret Jug on Sunday evening.

Oosthuizen was superb, getting to 6 under for the day and 12 under for the tournament before the bogey at the 16th, but given his stunning stats in major championships it could be said that he is, on paper and on the golf course, the man the rest have to beat and not just because he leads at present.

Not only does the 38 year old own an Open Championship title but he has six other runner-up major championship finishes to his name along with one further third place finish. Whether that works for or against him over the final 36 holes remains to be seen but it is fair to say he has plenty of experience in contending at this level.

“They (the series of close misses) serve more as inspiration I would say, knowing that I can still compete in majors,” he said. “I just need to pull it through and see if I can go one better on this weekend. The game is good, but I know it is a really good leaderboard. I have to play good golf this weekend if I want to come out first.

Setting an Open Championship halfway scoring record added to the brilliance of his play.

“I only heard that when I walked in, so I wasn’t aware of what it even was before. Yeah, to have any record at the Open or part of any record at the Open is always very special. I think I’ve played really good the last two days.

“I probably played a bit better yesterday in the conditions we were playing in, but today we got really — I would say lucky sort of the last nine holes. It was as good a weather as you can get playing this golf course.”

“I mean, I made a horrible mistake on 16. I wasn’t ready to hit that shot. I wanted to sort of know one more thing in my head, and that happens. It was a mental mistake. I nearly made the putt but made bogey there.”

He was keen to downplay the significance of a lead knowing that the job is still only half done.

“You try not to think of it until you’ve done it. I remember looking back at 2010, and I know I had a big lead, but the first time I really thought about I can win this tournament was after my tee shot on 17. There was a lot of things that could go wrong at St Andrews coming in, especially the tee shot on 14 and 16 and 17.”

Cameron Smith and Ryan Fox lead the Australasians both players tied for 17th at 4 under and within that group mentioned earlier.

Smith began with a bogey at the and dropped another at the 3rd and ended his round with a bogey but in between came seven birdies and one other bogey in marked contrast to yesterday’s two birdies and one bogey.

“It was much the same I guess as yesterday, suggested Smith. “Bit of a rusty start. Couple bogeys there at the start. Just hung in there. That wind for me, every time I get that left wind I seem to miss the fairway or put myself out of position. Something I have to work on.

“But no, it was really solid. Lots of good iron shots today. Couple of close ones which was nice to see. Obviously, the putter was pretty decent as well.

“Yeah, absolutely. It was nice to see some putts going in and see some wedges and some of those irons go nice and close. I mean, yesterday it was just so brutal with the gusts of wind. I felt like it was almost like putt like whether you pick the right club or not. So nice to play in some nicer conditions.

“Aussies have had a pretty good run here so that’s nice. I haven’t watched the replays. Every time I spoke so Greg it’s been about golf but not this particular tournament, The Open Championship.

“Just more about how he went about his business on the golf course and pick his brain a little bit that way. But the technology I guess is so different from now to then. I mean, you can definitely see how he won around here being such a great driver of the golf ball.”

Fox added a second consecutive round of 68 and unlike Smith he started and finished his round well. He would birdie but did bogey the 2nd and then at the 5th got caught up in the rough and took double bogey. He finished his round in style however and birdied his final two holes for an inward nine of 32 and his 2 under par round.

“Played really good today,” said Fox.  “Drove it the best I’ve driven it probably all year. Gave myself lots of chances and converted a few putts. I probably left a few out there, and only really hit one bad shot on the 5th hole, which got penalized pretty badly for that in the long stuff. Other than that, really happy with how I hit it and fought back after a pretty tough start.

“Definitely played easier. There was a lot less wind, and I think the wind sorted of died a little bit through the middle of our round. There was bit more breeze earlier — well, maybe it was just because a bit colder earlier it felt like there was more breeze.

“When we got to 9, 10 it became a really nice day. Just enough breeze to make it tricky, but nothing like yesterday. I thought maybe the setup of the golf course was tougher. Definitely a bit firmer out there. Some of the pins were tucked nicely today.”

Fox is receiving a lot of support from New Zealand. “I’ve just checked my phone. Probably take me an hour to replay all the messages I’ve had so far, which is nice. I think it was a pretty nice watching time for back home. I hope I had a couple shots make it on TV for everyone at home. Yeah, hopefully I can keep doing it and give them something else to cheer about over the weekend.”

Adam Scott was the only other Australasian to make the cut, the Queenslander tied for 40th place at 1 under.

Marc Leishman came closest of the remaining 10 Australasians but despite a round of 67 he would miss the weekend by one.

SCORES

 

 

 

 

 

Louis Oosthuizen – his brilliant start has him one ahead – photo Warren Little R&A via Getty Images

South African and 2010 Open Champion, Louis Oosthuizen, birdied six of eleven holes through the middle of his opening round of 64 at the Open Championship at Royal St Georges and leads after day one by one shot over Americans Jordan Spieth (2017 champion) and Brian Harman.

Oosthuizen suggested after his round that his performance was near perfection, not only because of the number of birdies but because it had also been near mistake free.

“It was probably in my mind the perfect round I could have played,” said the 38 year old who served notice of a potentially great week with runner-up finishes at the recent PGA and US Open Championships.

“I didn’t make many mistakes. When I had good opportunities for birdie, I made the putts. So yeah, just a very good solid round.

“I was just very patient. I was trying to just hit my shots and didn’t really hit anything close enough to make birdies those first few holes, and then all of a sudden just made two good putts on 8 and 9 and got the ball rolling. It happened quickly, but you still need to put yourself in those positions, and I felt definitely the last 10, 11 holes I gave myself a lot of opportunities.”

13 Australasians teed it up on Thursday and it would be New Zealander, Ryan Fox, who did best. His round of 2 under 68 including four birdies and two bogeys. Fox has played just nine European Tour events to date in 2021 although he did play well in several lesser events in New Zealand earlier in the year and his most recent form in Europe had been encouraging enough.

Fox is playing Royal St Georges for the first time this week but he does boast some good results on links golf courses in Britain and performed well at the last Open Championship in 2019 at Royal Portrush.

Earlier in the week Fox suggested his lack of knowledge and previous experience at Royal St Georges was not a real concern.

“Me personally, no. I just play it how it comes. Obviously, we get very, very good yardage books, and I might talk to a couple of people that have played the course and ask what they think of it or what stands out in their mind about the golf course, but in terms of actually doing proper research, I’ve tried it a couple of times, I’ve found it never really did anything for me, so I didn’t bother.”

Cameron Smith leads the eleven Australians after day one but was required to build on a relatively slow start to finish the day at 1 under and five from the lead.

For Smith he struggled through his opening few holes but he was doing enough to make the turn in even par before adding birdies at the 12th and 15th and a bogey at the 15th.

Playing with Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed Smith again showed his capacity to fight his way to a good score.

“Yeah, it was a bit scratchy at the start I guess,” said the Queenslander. “Just awkward wind for me, that down and off to the left kind of wind has always been a struggle of mine. I knew going into the first hole that those first four holes are that wind, and to get through those four level par I thought was a pretty good effort.

“From there it was just really solid stuff, not many silly mistakes. Bogey there on 15, bit of a poor drive leaked to the right. But that’s just links golf. Hit a lot of good shots coming in and probably wanted one more, but that’s how it is.

Lucas Herbert is at even par and the second best of the Australians to date. Herbert’s morning round started with a double bogey at the first and by the turn he had dropped one more shot so needed to regroup and that he did with four birdies in his first five holes of the back nine to be in red figures before a bogey at the 15th and eventually a round of even par 70.

“It was good,” said the recently crowned Irish Open Champion. “I felt like I was half asleep the front nine. Just three weeks in a row now playing, and then not that it was a super early tee time, but just setting an alarm, just, yeah, felt like I was half asleep until the back nine and then things started to kick off and got myself back into it.

“The traffic (coming here) was horrific this morning. We had to get a police escort in the end to get here and I was still really late, which is pretty much how I operate anyway. Yeah, being later than normal, sort of a bit of rush around to hit shots and get ready and feel like I was ready to go. Yeah, that might have — might not have helped with that slow start, so tomorrow try and keep that on time.”

Brad Kennedy’s effort to finish at 1 over 71 and as the third best of the Australians after round one was particularly impressive given his indifferent form to date in 2021. In his last eight starts Kennedy has recorded only one finish inside the top 30.

“I played really consistent throughout the day and managed to make a birdie on 14,” said Kennedy. “Yeah, just stayed patient and just really tried to play a bit of British Open golf. Just centre of the green and yeah, just try and make my way from there.

“I’ve just got to really try and work on staying disciplined off the tee, giving myself those chances from the tee and start to — not so much push but just really try and shape it in and let the greens do the work.”

The day was not so good for three of Australia’s leading players. Adam Scott had 73 while Marc Leishman and an out of sorts Jason Day had 75.

Last week’s Scottish open winner, Min Woo Lee, was out early and made a very impressive start just four days after his most significant win of his golfing career to date.

Making the turn at 1 under Lee bogeyed the 12th but was still nicely placed before a disastrous triple bogey at the 15th was followed by a bogey at the 12th and a very good start to the event was gone.

“It wasn’t actually too nerve-racking for my first major,” said Lee after his round. “I think if you’re well prepared, I think you should be fine. But I think for my first major I handled myself pretty good other than that one hole.

“On the last hole I was mentally drained. I think I got a bit caught up in just the golf round. I won last week; I should be happy. But I’m going to enjoy this afternoon off and hopefully play well tomorrow. I’ve got not too much pressure on my back, and it was very nice to get that win.”

SCORES

Rod Pampling – file photo Bruce Young

Rod Pampling has finished a very impressive 4th at senior golf’s most significant event, the US Senior Open, and in doing so pocketed his largest cheque in senior golf.

Pampling finished four shots behind the winner, Jim Furyk, but only one shot behind the joint runners-up Mike Weir and two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen and one shot ahead of senior golf’s most prolific money winner, Bernhard Langer

Pampling’s final round of 67 was the equal best of the day on the Omaha Country Club layout in Omaha in Nebraska and secured the Queenslander US$191,000, moving him to 17th on the combined 2020/2021 PGA Tour Champions money list with earnings of US$1.134 million.

51-year-old Pampling has a liking for the layout, a golf course he has played well previously.

“It’s a strong golf course,” he said. “You got to play good golf. You got to hit fairways. I struggled the first two days. Managed it the day 1, and day 2 sort of was a little bit ugly out there but I didn’t lose it at all.

“But it’s just a hard golf course. It’s great. And the whole town I guess. Last time I was here I finished second at Champions Run behind Heath Slocum, so got some good mojo here.

“The last four events have been good. I’ve sort of been progressing in the right direction. The iron play’s been good, just the first for some reason the first two days of the bigger events I haven’t driven it well and it’s kind of taken me out.

“At THE PLAYERS I drove it great on the weekend as I did here. So if I can get that driver working earlier, it’s definitely trending in the right direction and the putting is slowly coming around as well, which is nice.”

 

 

 

The Open Championship trophy and the iconic starters’ hut at Royal St Georges- photo R&A -Getty David Cannon

This week’s Open Championship at Royal St Georges in Sandwich in Kent will provide significant interest for Australasian golf with thirteen golfers from Australia / New Zealand teeing it up in the 149th edition of golf’s oldest championship.

In 1894, Royal St Georges became the first venue outside of Scotland to host the event, one of only six in England to have staged the Championship over those 148 previous Open Championships

Winners of the Open Championship at Royal St Georges in the modern era include Bill Rogers (1981), Sandy Lyle (1985), Greg Norman (1993) Ben Curtis (2003) and Darren Clarke (2011).

My only exposure to the layout, adjacent to the English Channel, came in 1975 when caddying for the New Zealander, Simon Owen, at the Penfold (British) PGA Championship that year.

My caddying years in Europe never included an Open Championship at Royal St Georges but I experienced just what a demanding test it was in 1975 when Arnold Palmer, at 3 under, won by two shots. Palmer and runner-up Eamonn Darcy were the only two players to finish under par in the event.

It was Palmer’s second to last win in a regular tour event and at the age of 45 I recall the feeling of seeing such a legend defeating a field of European Tour players, nine years after, as a 12 year old, first seeing him in an exhibition match in New Zealand

The Australasian challenge in 2021 is headed by its leading world ranked player, Cameron Smith, but he is joined in order of world ranking by fellow Australasians, Marc Leishman, Adam Scott, Lucas Herbert, Min Woo Lee, Matt Jones, Jason Day, Jason Scrivener, Ryan Fox, Brad Kennedy, Deyen Lawson, Aaron Pike and Daniel Hillier

Cameron Smith will play his 4th Open Championship with a best of 20th at Royal Portrush in 2019. He is in the field courtesy of his world ranking amongst other qualifying criteria. Smith’s most recent form in 2021 has been a little below his best but he has proven himself capable of playing well at the highest level, and on the toughest golf courses, so a good week is not beyond him.

Marc Leishman will tee it up for the 10th time at the Open and has been inside the top 6 on three occasions including when runner-up after a playoff at St Andrews in 2015. His recent 3rd place at the Travelers Championship in Hartford suggests he is not too far from where he needs to be to again do well in a style of golf that clearly suits him.

Adam Scott attempts the Open Championship for the 21st occasion and after a slow start to Open efforts in earlier years, he has improved significantly over the last ten years or so having missed only one cut in that time.

Scott’s agonising near miss at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2012 when leading by four with four to play is the one he and his fans no doubt remember most, perhaps for the wrong reasons, but there was also a 3rd place the following year at Muirfield and a 5th place in 2014 at Royal Liverpool.

Some solid results in recent weeks in the US, suggest Scott is on the verge of another good Open Championship showing.

Lucas Herbert played his way into the event with his win at the Irish Open eight days ago. Herbert’s only other appearance at the Open came when making the cut but finishing 58th at the 2018 edition at Carnoustie.

The 25 year old Victorian has developed into an outstanding world class player in the last eighteen months and it would not surprise if he was to put together another very good week in Europe and significantly better his debut effort.

His form prior to his win at the Irish Open was impressive with two very good finishes in PGA Tour events and his 4th place finish last week in Scotland further enhances his claims.

Min Woo Lee was the last of the group into the field following his victory at the Scottish Open on Sunday. He earned one of the spots available to the leading three finishers at the Renaissance Club and not otherwise exempt so his place in the field has been last minute but well earned.

For Lee it will be his first appearance in a major championship and his current form of late, after a disappointing start to 2021, has been trending in the right direction. His most immediate form is clearly evident, finishing an improved 17th at the Irish Open a week ago and then the playoff victory in Scotland on Sunday.

Matt Jones gets his chance courtesy of his Australian Open win in 2019, the leading three players in that event not otherwise exempt earning a way into the field after Covid ruled out the opportunity in 2020.

Jones will play the Open for the 5th time, a best of 30th at St Andrews in 2015 his claim to fame to date.

Jones won on the PGA Tour earlier this year but his more recent form, while solid, has hardly set the world on fire.

Jason Day will play his 9th Open Championship after a 10th place finish on debut in 2010. His best was when finishing 4th, just one shot from the playoff in 2015. Day has shown signs of improvement in recent starts after being forced to withdraw from the Memorial through injury and then not qualifying a start at the US Open. He finished 30th at this venue in 2011 after contending through 36 holes.

Jason Scrivener is in the field courtesy of his standing in the Race to Dubai rankings at the completion of the recent BMW International.

Scrivener will play his first Open Championship, but he has played two other major championships and he is steadily building on what is an increasingly impressive professional career. He has recorded three top tens in three of his last four European Tour starts so he is in solid form and is an ever-improving player.

New Zealand’s Ryan Fox will play the Open Championship for the 5th time after topping the 2019 Australasian Tour Order of Merit, a carryover qualifying criteria.

Fox missed the cut at the recent event in Ireland and finished well back after making the cut in Scotland but his form prior to that was very good and he does play links golf well. He has made the cut in three of his previous four appearances at the Open with a best of 16th at Royal Portrush.

Brad Kennedy gets another Open Championship start as a result of winning the most recent Australasian Tour Order of Merit, much of that courtesy of his win at the New Zealand Open in 2020. He has missed the cut at both of his two previous attempts in this event and other than a win in a secondary event in Australia early in the season he has struggled to date in 2021.

Victorian Deyen Lawson gets to play his first Open Championship and earned his start via final qualifying where he led the qualifiers at his venue.

Lawson is playing events on the European Challenge Tour in 2021 but having missed his last ten cuts, this opportunity comes from left field in that respect and is a welcome turnaround of fortunes.

Aaron Pike is an interesting inclusion amongst the Australasian group. Currently ranked 643rd in the world, he has played only eight events in 2021 and has not played an event on a sanctioned tour since March.

Pike did, however, earn his way into the field with a 3rd place finish behind Matt Jones at the 2019 Australian Open so he has earned his place, but this is a big stage for the Brisbane based Northern Territorian.

New Zealand’s Daniel Hillier played his way into the field through a fine effort at final qualifying where, like Dawson, he led the qualifiers at his particular venue – quite an effort.

Hillier is generally considered one of New Zealand’s most exciting male prospects in several years, that assessment further confirmed by several very good finishes on the European Challenge Tour in 2021.

This will be the Wellingtonian’s second major having played the US Open in 2020.

Footnote: New Zealand’s Danny Lee and recent USPGA Tour winner Cameron Davis were also eligible but withdrew because of injury (Lee) and Immigration issues (Davis)

Summary: Marc Leishman and Adam Scott stand out as the most likely of the Australasians to do well but there will be much interest in the performances of two of their current hottest players, Lucas Herbert and Min Woo Lee.

 

 

 

 

 

Min Woo Lee – with his Scottish Open trophy – photo Getty Images

22 year old Perth golfer, Min Woo Lee today added a second European Tour title with a playoff victory over Thomas Detry and Matthew Fitzpatrick at the prestigious and historic abrdn Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick in Scotland.

It follows on from Lucas Herbert’s win at the Irish Open last week, both players earning a start at this week’s Open Championship as a result, along with huge cheques and significant jumps in world ranking.

A final round of 64, including six consecutive birdies through the middle of his opening nine, took Lee to the lead and when he added one final birdie at the par 5 16th he had moved ahead although those playing in the two groups behind including his playoff adversaries still had their chance.

Both Fitpatrick and Detry birdied the 16th to draw level with Lee and although unable to edge ahead they would join the Australian in the playoff.

Lucas Herbert, Ian Poulter and Ryan Palmer tied for 4th just one shot from the playoff.

Lee put the result to bed early with a superb approach to 7 feet at the 18th (the first playoff hole) and the title was his.

Lee earns €1.12 million (A$1.77 million equiv) and, given the strength of the field he defeated this week, will jump 180 places in the world ranking to an all time high of around 60th.

Lee also clicks his ticket to the Open Championship at Royal St Georges this week as the leading three finishers in this week’s event and not otherwise exempt for The Open are now in the field.

Lee’s other European Tour win came at the Vic Open at 13th Beach in 2020 and has five other top ten European Tour finishes to his name, until today that is.

“I flushed it all weekend and flushed it all today,” said Lee. “I just needed to kind of stay in the moment. I hit a lot of shots on command today and yesterday, and you know, I just chilled out next to the fireplace while I was waiting. You knew they made par on the 18th hole of regulation, and then went out there and did my thing.

“I was confident in the way I was swinging it and putting it. Changed putter two weeks ago, and then I changed my driver this week. I had a lot of changes but everything was kind of leading up really nicely to this event, so I’m over the moon. Yeah, hopefully I can just keep it going next week.”

Lee played with good friend Wade Ormsby in today’s final round and later said how enjoyable it was in the circumstances to play with someone he knew well.

“I know him really well. We’re pretty good friends out here. He’s put me under his wing a little bit and helped me out. He’s just an awesome bloke.

“It was really nice to play with him. It might have been a different story if I played with Jon Rahm or any of the other guys up there. They are all high-ranked. It was nice to be with someone I’m comfortable with and I’ve played with.

“I think it was nice but it also calmed me down yesterday playing with Xander and Rob. They are awesome guys, too. I was nervous the whole day but I played really good and ended up beating them by a shot and a couple. I had a lot of confidence coming into today.”

“It’s one of the top moments of my life,” he added referring to the significance of the title. “I mean, you always dream about winning tournaments like this and especially this one, it’s a big one on the schedule. So just happy for myself.”

Herbert followed up his win last week with yet another fine showing. After an early bogey at the 2nd (a hole he bogeyed in every round this week) he produced yet another fine round of 66 to give himself a chance of successive victories but he was unable to secure the one final birdie he needed to join the playoff, and finished one behind.

“There’s a lot to be proud about I think,” said Herbert. “I played really nicely obviously in same final group as Jon (Rahm), felt like it would have been easy to be overwhelmed in the situation but felt really cool and calm. Just looks like it’s going to be one or two short. It’s hard to be really happy with it but still a really good week.

“I think there’s a lot of confidence to take. But look, I haven’t really processed it yet. I’m sure tonight I’ll be able to go through it all and have a think and sort of regroup going into next week. But yeah, I think I’ve earned myself a wine or two tonight.”

Wade Ormsby also had a good week, the South Australian finishing 12th after a final round of 69 which included a hole in one while playing with the eventual winner.

SCORES