Alfred Dunhill Preview

Alfred Dunhill Preview
The European Tour starts up again this week and Charl Schwartzel defends at the season-opening Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa.
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Tournament host and 5-time champion Tiger Woods bobbed and weaved to a 4-over-par 36-40=76 in the final round of the 18th Hero World Challenge to post 4-under 284, down five places to solo 15th (of 17 players), 14 in arrears to champion Hideki Matsuyama.

The 40-year-old, who celebrates his birthday Dec. 30th, began the final frame in solo 10th on 8-under after opening his 15th appearance in 73, bogey-free 65, and 70. He circled five birdies, including three straight on Nos. 7-9 and back-to-backs on 14 and 15, but outbalanced them with three bogeys and three doubles, eventually carding the worst round of the day. For the week, the 79-time TOUR winner carded a field-best 24 birdies, but gave 20 of those back with eight bogeys and a field-worst six doubles. This was Woods' first competitive action in 466 days and while an unofficial TOUR event, the World No. 898 does collect 4.38 world-ranking points and jumps 248 places to No. 650.
Dec 4 - 5:08 PM

Overnight leader Hideki Matsuyama labored to a 1-over-par 34-39=73 in the final round of the 18th Hero World Challenge but at 18-under 270, hung on for a two-shot victory over playing competitor Henrik Stenson, who carded a 68 with three birdies and one eagle-3 against a lone bogey and finished solo second here for a second straight time (2015) and is his second straight runner-up to Matsuyama (2017 WGC-HSBC Champions).

The World No. 6, a pre-tourney 15/2 outright, was a 36-hole co-leader and the 54-hole leader by seven over Stenson and Dustin Johnson. This is his third straight worldwide win, fourth in his last five starts, and while an unofficial TOUR event, does collect 46.00 world-ranking points. The 24-year-old circled a pair of birdie-4s on a bogey-free first half to lead by six at the turn, but came home in birdie-less 3-over to make things interesting until the end, securing the win with an up-and-down par at the 18th. For the week, he totaled two eagles and 22 birdies versus four bogeys and two doubles and was 15-under on the par 5s. Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler and 36-hole co-leader and odds-fave Dustin Johnson finished in a three-way T3 on 13-under 275, five adrift.
Dec 4 - 4:20 PM

Richard Sterne completed a flawless final lap of Leopard Creek CC, carding 5-under-par 33-34=67, good for solo second on 15-under 273, but fully seven shots behind Brandon Stone, winner of the 2016 Alfred Dunhill Championship.

The 2008 winner of this event proved once again that it's the perfect start to any season for him, as he notched a 9th top 30 finish in 15 visits. It also marks a peculiar sponsor double in that the 35-year-old was also second in October's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. His Sunday circuit got off to the perfect start with birdies at the 1st and 3rd. Six pars followed before he began the journey through the back nine in the same style, with red at 10 and 12. A final par breaker came at the par-three 16th. It was a fine performance, but in truth he was never in contention for the title.
Dec 4 - 7:43 AM

Charl Schwartzel's defense of the Alfred Dunhill Championship ended as a damp squib after he carded a final round 2-over-par 33-41=74 to finish the week T4 on 12-under 276 at Leopard Creek Country Club in Malelane, fully ten shots back of the winner Brandon Stone.

Faced with a three-shot deficit heading into the final day, the four-time course champion made birdies at 1, 2 and 6 which were unanswered by the pre-round leader Brandon Stone, so the pair found themselves tied at the top of the scoreboard. Alas for Schwartzel, that situation would be all too brief. He immediately made bogey at 7, whilst Stone responded with two birdies. Schwartzel did tick 11, but with the gap growing (Stone circled 10 and 11), the defending champion chased a score, and it all went wrong. A bogey-6 at 13 started the rot, triple bogey-8 at 15 continued it, double bogey-5 at 16 confirmed he would end the week someway distant of the winner. A birdie at the final hole retrieved some pride, by clawing him back into the top five.
Dec 4 - 7:36 AM

Brandon Stone cruised to a stunning seven-shot victory in the Alfred Dunhill Championship, carding a final round 5-under-par 34-33=67 which overpowered the Leopard Creek Country Club specialist Charl Schwartzel, as he totalled 22-under 266 in Malelane.

This was a potentially career-altering performance, as the 23-year-old responded in spectacular style to a final round challenge from the four-time course winner, and 2011 Masters champion, Charl Schwartzel. Stone had started the round with a three shot advantage, however Schwartzel's made three early birdies which Stone couldn't initially respond to. But he was unfazed, circling 6 and 7, although squaring 8. On the back nine he raced away from the field, notching back-to-back birdies at 10-11 and 13-14, before ending bogey-birdie when the deal was done. In some ways it's a case of history repeating itself. Last year he won the Sunshine Tour's Cape Town Open, then soon after earned a first European Tour victory on home soil. Last week he was second on the Cape, and now he starts 2017 as he began 2016, with a ET win. He is the fifth straight winner of this event to claim the title by at least four shots. Ultimately the distant runner-up was Richard Sterne.
Dec 4 - 7:30 AM

Carlos Pigem concluded an emotional week with a superb final round of 3-under-par 34-35=69 to end the week T4 on 12-under 276 in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club.

The 26-year-old Spaniard is an Asian Tour operator, with four years on that circuit to his name, including a maiden win earlier this year in the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship. Through his membership he gains European Tour starts and this marks his very first top five finish - it also came in trying circumstances after his caddie, the 60-year-old Argentinian Pedro Ramseyer, a one time bagman for Severiano Ballesteros, passed away in his sleep on Thursday night. Pigem continued to play in his caddie's honour and did so in some style. His final round included three birdies on each nine, with two bogeys going out and one at the 18th on his return to the clubhouse. He finished in a tie with six players, ten shots adrift of the runaway winner Brandon Stone.
Dec 4 - 7:18 AM

Thomas Detry styled a final round 4-under-par 33-35=68 to claim solo third on 13-under 275 in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club, nine shots back of the winner Brandon Stone.

The 23-year-old Belgian joins his compatriots Nicolas Colsaerts and Thomas Pieters on the European Tour after a succesful graduation from the Challenge Tour in the 2016 season - and what a bow he has made. His logbook for the week of 69-71-67-68 sets him up nicely for his rookie campaign, and it was all the more impressive given that he opened both nines with bogey-4s (at the 1st and 10th). But heading out he responded with a birdie at the 2nd, then added an eagle-2 at the 319-yard par-four 6th. Heading back to the clubhouse he ticked 12, 13 and 15. He won the Bridgestone Challenge by a Challenge Tour record margin of 12 shots in August, and this is only his fourth start on the main tour. It bests his previous high of T25 in the 2016 Open de France.
Dec 4 - 7:08 AM

With a final-round 5-under-par 35-32=67 at his home Australian PGA Championship, Brett Rumford jumped five spots on the leaderboard to finish solo fifth at 10-under 278.

That was a distant nine shots behind winner Harold Varner III but is a reminder to gamers that Rumford is always a man to respect on his own turf. This is now his fourth top 10 in the last five events and he's been outside the top 20 in just two of his last 14 starts in Australia. Today, he looked as if he might slip back into the pack after opening with eight straight pars but the birdies did eventually come. Rumford was rewarded with his patience and delivered a trio of par breakers at 8, 9 and 10 before splashing further red at 15 and 17 to secure his top five slot. The 67 was his best round of the week by two shots.
Dec 4 - 3:32 AM
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