KJ Choi Wins Players Championship at Sawgrass as Graeme McDowell implodes

KJ Choi became the first Asian golfer to win the Players Championship at Sawgrass beating American David Toms in a play-off.  Choi & Toms, the 2001 USPGA champion, both finished on 13 under but Toms three-putted the short 17th in the first sudden-death play-off hole, while KJ  Choi made par.

Graeme McDowell had an abysmal final round at the Players Championship at Sawgrass in the United States, yesterday. The way he capitulated after leading by one shot going into the final round, was reminiscent of how fellow countryman, Rory McIlroy fell apart in last month’s US Masters.

McDowell never recovered from spraying his tee shot off the first tee and went on to score 79, five over.McDowell was honest in defeat when he told reporters:

“To be honest I felt I ran out of steam a little bit,” said US Open champion McDowell. “After bogeys on six and seven I felt the energy sucked right out of me. I went flat and everything I tried to do went a little wrong.”

McDowell went on to say: “This is going to hurt for a few hours, but we will move on”.

This is KJ Choi’s eighth victory in the United States, more than any other Asian golfer.

“For some reason I felt so comfortable out there,” said Choi. “The swing I have right now just doesn’t break down under pressure situations.

“I was able to be precise and aggressive and keep my rhythm together and that is what brought this performance.”

The Players Championship 2011 at Sawgrass

1st KJ Choi (South Korea) -13
2nd D Toms (United States) -13
3rd P Goydos (United States) -11
4th: L Donald (England), N Watney (United States) -10
6th: J Day (Australia), H Mahan (United States), JB Holmes (United States), A Quiros (Spain), J Dufner (United States), A Baddeley (Australia) -9



US Masters Golf Championship

Watching the US Masters Golf Championship last weekend was absolutely riveting. The final round had so many twists from the off with some spectacular golf shots.  Charl Scwartzel and Tiger Woods both made an early surge on Rory McIlroy’s overnight lead and they were followed by a group of others playing some exceptional golf.

Charl Schwartzel eventually won the Masters by two shots (14 under par) by playing some truly amazing shots but most of all by playing a steady, confident round.  He appeared to be unfazed by the pressure and said it was helpful playing with another steady player KJ Choi.  But from the off Schwartzel’s chance of slipping on the famous green jacket was given a kick start with a chip and run for a birdie on the first and an amazing eagle at the third.

By contrast, it was sad and rather distressing watching Rory McIlroy fall apart and eventually breakdown in front the cameras and capacity crowd at the famous Augusta Golf Course.

McIlroy had lead from day 1 and had previously played three great days of golf as he went into the final day with a four shot lead that had everyone convinced he was finally going to win his first major. The boy from Hollywood, Northern Ireland will turn 22 next month but for the past four years, since turning pro when anyone was asked they said it was only a matter of time until Rory McIlroy starting winning majors.  Over the past few years he has won plenty of championships, but like Britain’s young tennis star Andy Murray, has fallen shot when given the chance to win a major.

On Sunday McIlroy looked nervous, quickening his pace and from the off the lead began to shrink.  But as he went into the back nine he was still leading by one shot from the likes of Charl Schwartzel, K J Choi, Jason Day, Adam Scott and Tiger Woods who was playing some sublime shots and looked to have returned to his best.

As McIlroy fell apart at the 10th with a triple bogey that included hitting two trees and shot to pieces through Amen Corner, the chasing pack was joined by Luke Donald and Geoff Ogilvy.  Rory literally broke down on the 12th hole with a four putt, it was the reason I don’t watch reality TV.  I was watching a young person’s world shatter and it was uncomfortable viewing.  Rory McIlroy finished the day with a round of 80!

With three holes to go the young Australian, Adam Scott had edged into the lead from his playing partner and fellow Australian Jason Day, and Charl Schwartzel.  But it was Scwartzel who remained calm while playing some sensational shots who eventually won the US Masters by two shots.  A very worthy winner that seemed appropriate exactly 50 years after fellow South African, Gary Player became the first overseas golfer to win the Masters.

Charl Schwartzel won with 14 under from Adam Scott and Jason Day on 12 under.  While Luke Donald was the best placed Britain tied in fourth on 10 under par along with Tiger Woods and Geoff Ogilvy.

It was good to see Rory McIlroy get a great reception as he walked towards the 18th hole.  He had started the final day on 12 under but finished on 4 under, and everyone felt his pain.  And though he was magnanimous in defeat and faced the media soon after, showing a maturity beyond his years, I wondered if this was just another experience that Rory McIlroy will place under his belt to win a major or would he follow in the golf shoes of Sergio Garcia, who also received global accolades and showed all the promise as a teenage golfer but choked on several occasions when it looked like he was about to win a major.  Sergio Garcia is now 31.



The British weather affects the British Open

The British Open Championship has started today at The Royal Birkdale Golf Club Links Course in Lancashire, and the winter-like weather is causing havoc!

Wind and driving rain has already claimed its first victim. Former Open winner, Sandy Lyle decided to stop playing on the 9th hole, already a whopping 11 over, blaming the conditions stopping him being able to gain any momentum and suggesting it was impossible to play as he wears glasses.

Padraig Harrington, who has had eye surgery so as to stop wearing glasses, is playing okay and with no concerns with his wrist injury that had threatened to stop Harrington defending the title he won last year at Carnoustie in a playoff against this years’ favourite, Sergio Garcia.

The weather really is affecting the Open and golf betting is being altered as a result.

The conditions are atrocious on what is already a difficult course to play. There’s no sign of the latest colourful fashions and styles which I enjoy as much as the golf itself. Nothing but waterproofs and umbrellas.

As I type, K J Choi is the only competitor to be under par.