Sjöholm claims victory at the Italian Challenge

After 9 years of hard work, patience and persistence, Joel Sjoholm has claimed his maiden professional victory at the Italian Challenge in Sardinia on the Challenge Tour.

Having carded a final round 65, Sjoholm came from two strokes behind overnight, to win by 4.

Four birdies on the opening nine helped him to take the lead at Is Molas, and he never looked back.

“It feels amazing,” he said. “I never thought when I was ten years old that I would have to wait until I was 32 before I earned my first victory as a professional.

“It is close to being the best thing that has ever happened to me. Obviously having children and getting married will always be the most special thing, but this is pretty incredible.

“I shouldn’t really be standing here. I was playing on an invite this week, and I have to thank Alain, the Challenge Tour Director, and my management for getting me into the tournament.

“I only got here on Wednesday, I missed my flight on Monday, and I was a little bit worried about not being able to play the golf course – but this week I just putted really well and that was the difference.”

This victory has catapulted Joel up the Road to Oman rankings from 98th to 5th.

Congratulations to Joel on his maiden professional victory. It shows that your hardwork and determination over the last 9 years has paid off.

Canter and Laird secure spots at The 146th Open Championship

Well done to both Laurie Canter and Martin Laird on securing spots into the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale later this month.

Canter secured his tee-time after a thrilling play-off on Tuesday at Final Qualifying against two other players at Notts Hollinwell Golf Course.

“Obviously it will be a great week, I’m just excited to get going,” said Canter, who is in his second full year on the European Tour.

“Tuesday was a fairly long day and I’m having a bit of a come down, but the prospect of playing at the Open will be brilliant. I’m definitely playing the most consistent golf I have ever played in my life, I’ve got some really good people around me now,”

Laurie shot a bogey free 67 in the morning and followed it up with a 2 under 70, to see him finish the day on -7 – good enough for a tie for third with two others.

In the first sudden death hole against Italian Stefano Mazzoli and Englishman Rhys Nevin-Wharton, Canter holed a nervy 10ft to avoid elimination.

Mazzoli was knocked out of contention at the second and a third par on the trot was enough for Canter to see off Nevin-Wharton after they teed it up for a third time.

Scotland’s Martin Laird earned his place at The Open by finishing tied for third at the Quicken Loans National in Maryland.

He shot a final round 67 (three under par), to end the event on five under.

“Anytime you can play in an Open, that’s my favourite tournament of the year,” said Laird.

“To have the chance to play it anytime is special. I’ve heard great things about Birkdale.”

Not only has Martin qualified for The Open, but he is also back in the world’s top 100 (87th) for the first time in more than three years, which shows the great golf that he is playing at the moment.

Martin and Laurie will join Dustin, Brooks and Thorbjorn who have already qualified for The Open Championship. What a great week at Royal Birkdale it is going to be!

Danielle Kang wins KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

Danielle Kang birdied her 72nd hole to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship on Sunday, for her first LPGA Tour title. The 24-year-old closed with a four-under 68 to finish at 13-under 271 at Illinois’ Olympia Fields.

Kang bogeyed the tricky par-three 17th, which brought her back into a tie for the lead with defending champion, Brooke Henderson. But she responded with two fantastic shots to get to the green in two at 18, which set her up with a putt for eagle.

With two putts for victory, Danielle rolled her eagle putt up to 2 feet and held the birdie putt to claim victory by one shot.

“I just told myself it was my week. It was my day,” Kang said.

“The three-putt on No. 10 was the turning point for me,” Kang said about a missed 3 footer. “I said I’m going to learn from that and then I made four birdies in a row. Having a major championship in my resume, I don’t know what it will do,” Kang said.

Holing putts from 9, 20, 30 and 8 feet on holes 11 – 14 had Danielle go from trailing by one shot, to leading by three. On the 16th hole, she made a 21 foot putt for a crucial par.

Danielle’s first victory came at her 144th LPGA start and was a very popular one amongst athletes all around the world.

Michelle Wie, one of Kang’s closest friends on tour, followed her around right after the victory. Dustin Johnson texted “That’s how you’re supposed to play, congrats,” and Wayne Gretzky and Caitlyn Jenner — two buddies from her days at Sherwood Country Club in California also reached out.

Danielle’s late father, K.S, caddied for her when she won the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 2010 and 2011. She keeps a journal where she writes messages to her father. Her mother, Grace Lee, was one of the first people to congratulate her and she also Facetimed with her brother Alex, who plays on the Web.com Tour.

“If I could wish anything, I would wish that my Dad saw me win,” said Kang, wiping tears from her eyes. “I think that it’s been a really difficult road for me the past four or five years. It’s life though, you pick yourself up and you have to keep working hard at it, and then believe in what you’re doing, and not letting yourself down.”

Congratulations on your maiden victory Danielle. We all knew that it was coming and could not be any prouder of you!

Brooks Koepka captures his maiden major title at the US Open

It was a Sunday evening to remember at the 117th US Open Championship as Brooks Koepka broke away from a chasing pack with three straight birdies on the back nine, to close with a 5-under par 67, to win his first major championship.

No one was more solid from start to finish than Brooks. He opened with a pair of tap-in birdies and putted for birdie on every hole but the par 3 13th. Of all his birdies, an 8 foot par putt on the 13th hole might have been as big as any. This gave him the confidence and momentum to slot in birdies on the next three holes.

“I think that was kind of the changing point of the round for me. I needed something to go in and see that to build momentum off it, and I just carried that over,” Koepka said.

A par on the final hole tied the US Open record score to par at 16 under for a four-shot victory. He became the seventh straight first-time winner of a major championship, and it was the first time since 1998-2000 that Americans have won their national championship three straight years.

“What I’ve done this week is amazing,” said Koepka.

Brooks’ reaction was low-key, just like that of his close friend and last year’s U.S. Open champion, Dustin Johnson. They spend quite a lot of time together both on and off the course, so Koepka has seen that U.S. Open trophy plenty.

When asked about what had been going on inside his head for the closing round at Erin Hills, Brooks said that he was “just staying in the present and thinking about one shot at a time’’.

“Dustin actually called me last night and told me the same thing, just stay patient. Just keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to win the thing, and just don’t get ahead of yourself. A bunch of people told me that”, Koepka said.

Sunday capped off quite a journey for the 27-year-old Floridian. Without a card on any tour when Koepka got out of Florida State, he travelled far and wide to places such as Kazakhstan, Kenya, India and the rest of Europe, competing on the European Challenge Tour.

It was on the Challenge Tour that Brooks claimed his maiden professional victory, at the Challenge de Catalunya in 2012. This was followed up by 3 more wins the next season at the Montecchia Golf Open, Fred Olsen Challenge de España and the Scottish Hydro Challenge. These 3 wins granted Brooks a European Tour card for the 2013/2014 season.

In 2014, Brooks claimed victory at the Turkish Airlines Open on the European Tour by 1 stroke over Ian Poulter. This victory along with third places finishes at the Dubai Desert Classic and the Omega European Masters saw him finish 8th in the Race to Dubai rankings and be named the European Tour’s Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year.

He then went on to win on the PGA Tour, this time at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in 2015. This hoisted Koepka up to 19th in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Another win came for Brooks at the 2016 Dunlop Phoenix Tournament in Japan, which showed how much of a world class player he is.

Brooks’ worldwide golfing odyssey over the last few years has culminated in this US Open Victory and we could not be any prouder of him!

Stalter and Laird qualify for US Open at Erin Hills

Frenchman Joël Stalter has secured a place at this week’s US Open after coming through an international sectional qualifier in Walton Heath, on Monday 29th May.

The 24-year-old finished the 36 holes of qualifying on 11 under par, to secure a T5 finish. He had a first round of 68, followed up by a flawless 65 to secure a spot at his maiden major.

Martin Laird became the third Scot to qualify after coming through a 120 man field in Ohio Colombus. He shot a pair of 67’s at Brookside and Lakes courses to finish his on 10 under par. This was enough to give him a T4 finish, just two behind leading qualifier, JT Poston.

“It was pretty windy but shooting five-under on my front nine meant I was taking less risks on the back nine as I knew 10-under was probably pretty good,” said Laird.

Joël and Martin will join Brooks Koepka and defending champion and World Number 1, Dustin Johnson at Erin Hills to compete on this tough track.

 

Olesen & Bjerregaard claim victory at the inaugural GolfSixes

It was another successful team event for Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen, this time teaming up with Lucas Bjerregaard and claiming victory at the first ever GolfSixes event on the European Tour.

Denmark had finished second in Group A on Saturday, with them then coming out victors against France and Italy in the quarter and semi-final matches.

It was a tight final match with a birdie on the third hole, giving Australia a 1-0 lead. But it was no surprise when Denmark came back and won the final three holes to be crowned the inaugural GolfSixes champions, with a 3-1 win over Australia.

“It’s gone pretty well for me in team events recently,” added Olesen. “I don’t know if I’m a lucky charm. I feel like I’ve had good partners, as well.”

“I was hoping for a win but Lucas played great, especially these last six holes. I was struggling a little bit.

“It’s been fantastic. Team Denmark has got a lot of support, so we’re really happy with that.”

“It’s been a very intense couple of days. Feels like you’ve played 72 holes or even more. Six holes, it’s very intense match play, playing only six holes and every shot really counts.”

Congratulations to Thorbjørn and Lucas on their fantastic win!

Team Portugal

Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia and José-Filipe Lima cruised into the knockout stages of the GolfSixes with another dominant win in the second round of matches at the Centurion Club.

They had made five birdies in a 4-0 win over Wales in the first round of matches and made three more in another 4-0 victory over Australia to guarantee progression from Group C.

Unfortunately, they were beaten by Scotland at the quarter-final stages, 3-0, after the Scotsmen made two birdies and an eagle to claim victory and progress to the semi-finals.

It was a fantastic weekend for Ricardo and José and they both go on to play in their home open this week, at the Open de Portugal.

Meronk targeting Pole position in Turkey

Adrian Meronk is hoping to follow up an eye-catching performance at the season-opening Barclays Kenya Open with another strong showing at the Turkish Airlines Challenge.

The 23 year old, who hails from Wroclaw in Poland, secured a top five finish in Nairobi last month in his first Challenge Tour event since turning professional at the end of last year, a result which secured his spot in the field at Gloria Golf Resort this week.

As he walked off the 18th green at Muthaiga Golf Club, Meronk actually thought he had narrowly missed an opportunity to have won the tournament after his chip for eagle lipped out, but ultimately Aaron Rai’s extraordinary final round put him well clear of the field – not that Meronk was disappointed with his week.

“I’m very pleased with the start I had in Kenya and the way I played,” he said. “Being here in Turkey is a massive bonus for me, because of finishing well in Kenya, so I’m really happy with that and I want to take advantage of it.

“I knew I was close to winning because I could see my name on the leaderboard. I thought if I made it maybe there would be a chance for a play-off, because at that time I was playing with the leader.

“But then obviously Aaron played phenomenally on the back nine so I wouldn’t have had any chance anyway, so it didn’t really matter, but I was very emotional, a little bit disappointed because I thought it was in, but like I said I’m very pleased with my performance.

“In the past I’ve always struggled on the fourth day of the tournament just because I’m not really used to it – in the past I’ve not played many tournaments that go four days, it was all three rounds.

“It’s something I’m having to get used to and I’m very happy with the way I played last month in Kenya but especially on that last day.”

Meronk started 2017 knowing he would need to rely on invites to be sure of playing opportunities but, after such a strong start to the season, he now has high hopes for the rest of the year.

“It changed my goals a little bit,” he said. “First of all I want to secure full status on the Challenge Tour, so I want to take advantage of the very first tournaments, play well and get some points, put my name up there in the Rankings.

“After that, we’ll see – I already feel very comfortable on the Challenge Tour, I’m feeling confident after Kenya. That was my first Challenge Tour event as a pro but I’m getting used to it and I think there won’t be too big an adjustment for me.”

This is the fourth staging of the Turkish Airlines Challenge, with Gloria’s New Course once again playing host, and with all three previous winners of the event – Oliver Farr from 2014, 2015 champion Rhys Davies and last year’s winner Clément Sordet – present as a strong field assembles in Belek.

This is Meronk’s first time at Gloria but from his previous visits to Turkey, he is hopeful that this can be another week to remember.

“I’ve played in Turkey before but not at this course,” he said. “I think they’re all pretty similar and I like how they are set up so I think it will be a good week for me, I’m excited to be here.”

Article from The European Tour – http://www.europeantour.com/challengetour/season=2017/tournamentid=2017718/news/newsid=325400.html

Findagolfbreak.com announce partnership with Hurley & Meronk

Findagolfbreak.com, the ultimate one stop shop for golf holidays in Ireland, the UK and Europe, have today announced the sponsorship of talented Challenge Tour players, Gary Hurley and Adrian Meronk. Whilst playing golf around the globe this season, Gary will be sporting the Findagolfbreak.com logo on his chest of all of his apparel, while Adrian will be wearing the logo on the sleeve. Findagolfbreak.com remove the hassle from your next golf break and utilise their exclusive range of contacts in order to make your trip a truly memorable occasion. With a wide range of over 250 golf break venues all over Ireland, the UK and Europe, they can tailor a package to suit every golfers needs and wants.

Hurley, from Waterford in Ireland, turned professional in September 2015. He has been competing on the Challenge Tour since then and claimed his first professional victory at the 2016 Palmares Classic V on the Algarve Pro Tour. This was followed up by his best finish on the Challenge Tour, which came at the Montecchia Open where he finished T4. Gary finished in T45 at the Barclays Kenya Open last month and will be looking to build on that performance this week at the Turkish Airlines Challenge at Gloria Golf Club.

Commenting on the announcement, Hurley said, “I am delighted to have Findagolfbreak.com on board this year as a sponsor of both mine and Adrian’s. It means a lot to have such a successful company backing me at this early stage in my golfing career.”

Adrian Meronk is Poland’s golfing star and in October 2016 decided that it was time to join the professional ranks of the game. He made his professional debut at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last year and finished in runner up spot in the Pro-Am competition, shooting an impressive -37, which left them only 1 behind the eventual winners. In March, at the Barclays Kenya Open, which was his debut on the Challenge Tour, Meronk took a share of 5th place.

“To have Findagolfbreak.com supporting me as I embark on my professional career is an honour. They are known as the best company to go to for golf breaks in Ireland and the United Kingdom and I am delighted to be associated with such a great service provider like them”, said Meronk.

“Both Gary and Adrian are fantastic talents who represent the future of European Golf. Findagolfbreak.com is delighted to be able to support both players on their journey to the top of the game. Not only are they both fantastic golfers, but they are also admirable young gentlemen on and off the golf course which is important to us”, said Simon Jackson, partner of Findagolfbreak.com. We look forward to following their progress as they compete on both the European and Challenge Tours this season”.

Dustin claims career WGC Grand Slam at Dell Match Play

Dustin Johnson, a golfing machine with no discernible weakness and hardly any pulse, won the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play on Sunday for his third straight victory and made him the first player to complete the WGC career slam.

The final day lasted longer than he may have wanted, but the outcome was what everyone expected.

Johnson stretched ahead by winning four holes in succession from the 3rd tee. Yet Rahm displayed the tenacity which served him so well all week by holing from off the green at the 7th before winning both the 9th and 10th to keep Johnson just about within view.

A key moment looked to have arrived at the 11th, Johnson saving par and a half from 6ft as Rahm looked to impose himself further on the match. Johnson claimed the 12th to move to what appeared the unassailable position of four up with only six to play. Appeared proved the operative term.

Rahm roared again with victory on the 13th after he found the green from the tee of the par-four hole. Rahm also took the 15th, leaving Johnson two up with three to play. At the 16th Rahm brilliantly holed from 31ft, meaning Johnson was suddenly only one hole ahead with two to play.

An engrossing duel rumbled on to the 18th, Rahm overshooting the green from 368 yards away with his tee shot before leaving a chip 25ft short – he was not helped by a loud noise when mid-swing. Johnson duly made par as Rahm could do no better, leaving the world No1 as the champion by the most slender of margins.

Not once did Johnson trail in his 112 holes over seven matches. And while you might not have heard much about his semifinal combatant Hideto Tanihara (a 14-time winner in Japan and no slouch) he also destroyed major winners Webb Simpson (5 and 3), Martin Kaymer (3 and 2), Jimmy Walker (5 and 3) and Zach Johnson (5 and 4) and took out world No.10 Alex Noren (3 and 2). Johnson secured his final spot with a last-four victory over Hideto Tanihara. In that match he continued a stunning run of winning the opening hole at Austin Country Club in six matches out of six.

“Pretty awesome,” said Johnson after his dominant week. “Definitely kind of cool to be the first one to win all four. These are the biggest events besides the majors, with the best golfers in the world. I feel like there will be some more to do it, but I’m very, very pleased with it”, he said.

“I felt like I was still attacking the golf course,” he said. “You’ve got to make putts. And I felt like, especially this afternoon, it was really difficult, the wind was blowing, the greens got fast. So it was really tough to make putts.”

“It’s impossible to win every week. I know that. I still feel like I’m not playing my best golf,” Johnson said while basking in the presence of the Walter Hagen Cup. I’m playing really well, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t feel like I’m playing my best.

“Obviously I’ve won my last three. But I’m just going to have to keep working hard. Keep working on the things that I’m working on right now, and just keep trying to get better. Like I was saying before, being No. 1, it kind of drives me to work harder and to get better. There’s still a lot of room for improvement in my game. So I’m just going to keep working on it.”

When John Rahm was asked about Johnson’s abilities after the final, he said, “It’s amazing how he’s able to keep cool the entire round. It amazes me. And he’s just a perfect, complete player. Honestly, he doesn’t really make mistakes. I think he’s learned from what he’s done in the past and he’s embracing it now and that’s why he’s winning tournaments.”

Johnson says 95 percent of the time golf doesn’t feel easy. But right now the other five percent is in play.

“I believe in my ability. And I know what it takes to win out here,” he said ominously.

“Some days it’s easier. I feel like when you’re rolling in putts, that’s when the game gets pretty easy.”

In the last two starts at Augusta National Johnson finished T6 and T4… so he’s trending up.

Most have instilled him as a prohibitive favorite to add a second major as he seems impervious to nerves. But Johnson admits he still gets them.

“I want to win, it means something to me, so yeah I get nervous,” he says.

“But I’ve got a lot of confidence now. Confidence in my game and confidence in myself.”

“It’s not going to be any different for me (going forward). I’m still going to prepare like I always do and go out and try to play the best I can.”

“The Masters is always a tournament that I look forward to every year. I’ve actually played good there the last two years. I’m excited to go back when the game is in good form. I feel like everything is working pretty well.”

Johnson is now slated to play at the Shell Houston Open next week before taking his talents to the Masters. But keeping on a roll like this is very hard. The last player to win at least four in a row was Woods in 2007-2008 (he won five).

Congratulations DJ on yet another victory, and on writing your name in the history books. All at Hambric Sports are so proud of you.

Article courtesy of the PGA Tour

The World Number 1 chooses Hublot

2016, the start of a bright future for Dustin Johnson. Gaining his first Major title with victory in the US Open 2016, DJ confirmed his star status in the discipline, rising to the world number 1 spot in 2017. At 32, the American champion joined the ranks of Major winners and became a friend of Hublot. An explosive athlete whose steely determination and resolve have been rewarded.

He is considered the most gifted and athletic player on the circuit, thanks to his ultra-powerful, precise drives and his superb skills on the putting green. His peers have long known him as “the best player in the world never to have won a Major title”, and voted him “Player of the Year” on the PGA Tour in 2016. A much-deserved accolade in recognition of 10 years during which Dustin Johnson has played with an extraordinary determination, confirming the notion that champions are simply those who never give up.

“I am honored to join the distinguished list of Hublot Ambassadors, especially since I have always been such an admirer of their timepieces. Each one is so unique, unlike many of the other luxury brands, which I appreciate and enjoy. I am very excited about the partnership and hope to hoist a few trophies with a Hublot on my wrist.” Dustin Johnson

At 32, Dustin Johnson, otherwise known as “DJ”, has entered the annals of golf to join the select group of Major title winners. His talent has finally been rewarded with victory. Gaining his first Major tournament title with a win at the US Open in August 2016, DJ enjoyed an exceptional season.

He also won the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and the BMW Championship. As part of the American team, he brought the Ryder Cup back to his country eight years after they last triumphed over the Europeans. Having amassed an impressive Top 10 record, 2016 saw Johnson confirm his status in the discipline, rising to the top of the rankings and winning the PGA Tour Money List. At the peak of his prowess, he confirms his number 1 position in winning the World Golf Championships- Mexico.

The Hublot family brings together men and women who have altered history. Exceptional athletes who have left their mark on the history of sport. The fastest man alive, Usain Bolt; footballing legends Pelé and Maradona; charismatic football manager José Mourinho, and many others. And now, Dustin Johnson has chosen Hublot, “a perfect match” between the watchmaker symbolising “the art of fusion” and the man blazing a trail through professional golf.