Golf Round-up

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SPORTS -

Car­ton House

Ire­land im­proved their po­si­tion on the third day of the Espir­ito Santo Tro­phy run over the Mont­gomerie and O’Meara cour­ses at Car­ton House in Co Kil­dare.

The Ir­ish team, play­ing for the sec­ond time on the heav­ily bunkered Mont­gomerie course moved into fourth po­si­tion over­all as the USA held their lead, the world num­ber one, two and three am­a­teur play­ers hold­ing off the Repub­lic of Korea in sec­ond place and Ja­pan in third with Ire­land alone hold­ing fourth place.

The Ir­ish team of Olivia Me­haf­fey, Annabel Wil­son and Paula Grant had fallen back on day two. But on what is per­ceived as the more dif­fi­cult course again showed their strength.

Me­haf­fey came home in an im­pres­sive two-un­der par on a day when plus fig­ures were com­mon­place, while Wil­son, the 17-year-old school­girl from Lur­gan, was level par for her round and Grant one over par.

The Amer­i­cans again showed who were the favourites for this World Am­a­teur Team Cham­pi­onships with the world num­ber one Jen­nifer Kup­cho shoot­ing one un­der par and Kris­ten Gill­man level for the day.

The USA set a 36-hole scor­ing mark on day two of the cham­pi­onships, fu­elled by match­ing bo­gey-free scores of eight-un­der 65 from the top am­a­teur Kup­cho and Gill­man on the O’Meara course, which gave them a one-stroke lead over de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Repub­lic of Korea com­ing into day three.

Euro­pean Tour

South Africa’s Chris­ti­aan Bezuiden­hout claimed the half­way lead in the Made in Den­mark event as lo­cal favourite Thor­b­jorn Ole­sen nar­rowly kept his Ry­der Cup des­tiny in his own hands.

Bezuiden­hout added a 65 to his open­ing 66 for a half­way to­tal of 13 un­der par, two shots ahead of first-round leader Jonathan Thom­son and Lee West­wood, with an­other English­man Sam Hors­field an­other stroke adrift.

Ole­sen oc­cu­pies the fi­nal au­to­matic Ry­der Cup qual­i­fy­ing place and can make cer­tain of a de­but with a top-six fin­ish, but had to par the fi­nal three holes of his sec­ond round of 69 sim­ply to make the cut .

Eng­land’s Ed­die Pep­perell (69) and Matt Fitz­patrick (68) need to win the event to have a chance of dis­lodg­ing Ole­sen .

Dell Cham­pi­onship

Rory McIl­roy fin­ished with a flour­ish to stay four shots be­hind the early lead­ers at the Dell Tech­nolo­gies Cham­pi­onship in Bos­ton with a birdie at the 18th – thanks to an ex­cel­lent bunker shot – com­plet­ing a level par round of 71 on a dif­fi­cult scor­ing day.

For Tiger Woods it was more of a grind on the open­ing Fri­day (the tour­na­ment fin­ishes on Mon­day as it is Labour Day in the US) but he lim­ited the dam­age to keep him­self well in the tour­na­ment at one over par, five be­hind early lead­ers Chris Kirk, Beau Hossler and Kee­gan Bradley. McIl­roy – play­ing in his first FedEx Cup play­off event of the sea­son af­ter he skipped last week’s North­ern Trust – was coast­ing along nicely on the tough lay­out with a birdie at the fourth mov­ing him to one un­der.

How­ever, a bad patch on the back nine saw him drop shots at the 13th and 15th to slip to one over par.

But McIl­roy, who said on Thurs­day that he has been work­ing on a new swing change af­ter a week of in­tense work with his coach Michael Ban­non, flipped a lovely sand shot out from a green­side bunker at the last be­fore rolling in a putt for the birdie four to sign for a 71.

McIl­roy came into this week at 28th in the FedEx Cup rankings but still well in con­tention to claim the ti­tle for the sec­ond time with two more play­off events to go af­ter this week­end.

Four birdies on the back nine helped world num­ber one Dustin John­son to a round of 68 to sit one off the lead while FedEx Cup leader – and last week’s win­ner – Bryson DeCham­beau signed for a round of 70 and one un­der.

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