Golf Capital – Davis dazzles in the Harbour City, Ormsby prevails in HK

@hamishneal

A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week which saw wins for two Australians plus the golfing world is set for another return to Tiger Woods who turns 42 next month.

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Opening drive

It was a contrasting weekend of Australia victories in Sydney and Hong Kong with two players at different ends of their careers claiming wins in the form of 22-year-old Cameron David and Wade Ormsby, 37.

 

2016 Eisenhower Cup winner Cameron Davis shook off a missed cut the week prior at the NSW Open to fire a final round seven under 64 to win the Australian Open at the Australian Golf Club. Davis started Sunday six shots adrift of leader Jason Day but the Queenslander’s capitulation coupled with an impressive back nine from Davis (highlighted by an eagle hole-out on 12) meant the New South Welshman saw off the other varying challenged as the final pairing of Day and Lucas Herbert slipped from the top of the leaderboard.

 

Davis had just punched out a few drives on the practice range in anticipation of a playoff when his Stonehaven Cup win was confirmed.

 

For the second year running an Australian outside won at the Fanling Golf Club to claim the Hong Kong Open as the now first European Tour event of the new season. Ormsby’s triumph came as Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello missed a chance to force a playoff when he bogeyed 18. The 72nd hole cursing RCB as it did when Lismore’s Sam Brazel won thre tournament last year.

 

The week a tri-sanctioned event takes place with the Asian Tour, European Tour and South Africa’s Sunshine Tour support the Mauritius Open at the Heritage Golf Club whilst big names across the men’s tour are in the Bahamas – more on that shortly. The LPGA will also play next in the Bahamas but that event isn’t until the end of January.

 

Player performance notes

Players I’m interested to see how they go with notes related to capital investment if that’s your thing. The Australian PGA, which is co-sanctioned with the European Tour, takes place at Royal Pines in Queensland.

 

Under 20: Cameron Smith. The Brisbane golfer is looking to win the ‘Queensland major; after a T15 finish last year here plus his T4 in Sydney. It would be his first solo win at this level.

 

20 to 50: Wade Ormsby. After his heroics in Hong Kong it would be easy to think the South Australian-born golfer would drop off given he only has two wins to his credit at this level but following his last tournament win in 2013 he produced four consecutive top 20 finishes.

 

20 to 50: Brett Rumford. The inaugural Perth super 6 winner earlier this year was T12 here last weekend in Sydney and was fifth here last year.

 

50 to 100: Brett Coletta. Coletta missed the cut last weekend but that’s understandable given he was back from an extended break and given he was T6 in this event last year it’s sensible to expect him to improve on last weekend.

 

50 to 100: Tom Lewis. The Englishman has improved each round (73-72-69-68) when T10 here last year and that result came after a T28 in 2015. He tees of early with Coletta on Thursday

 

50 to 100: Travis Smyth. Like Coletta, Shellharbour local Smyth is one of the rising stars and like the weekend winner Davis he’s won recently, albeit the lower class NT PGA Championship in September. Smyth closed with a 67 to finish T10 in Sydney and he speaks with the confidence of a player well beyond his 22 years of age.

 

Greens in regulation

Nowadays one can get great media insight via social media in regards to athletes and one of the best in golf is the blog of England’s Eddie Pepperell. His 2017 wrap was again insightful as he touched on disappointments and the let fans behind the curtain about writing to event organisers seeking tournament invitations. Pepperell also learned in 2017 “What I have (re-) discovered thought, is that our best golf is usually played under the orchestration of a quiet mind. A state that is focused, but not searching” Well done Eddie and good luck in 2018.

 

Tap in

The Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas this week sees the return to golf of a player who was given entry to the event via an invitation from the tournament organisers, but enough about Daniel Berger. Tiger Woods the other ‘invitee’ will return to this event and the limited field of 18 means the world number 1199 (yes he’s dropped that far) will play the entire event barring a withdrawal. His second round 65 was the highlight last year and Woods finished ahead if Russell Knox and Emiliano Grillo (Justin Rose withdrew) so that was some form of progress. The best case scenario according to Brad Faxon recently could see Woods out-drive Dustin Johnson and he will put together consistent rounds now that he wakes up pain-free according to Jason Day. But realistically a player who entered only two subsequent tournaments (one missed cut followed by a withdrawal in Dubai) is likely to scatter good round with bad again and a repeat of his 73-65-70-76 is on the cards. Woods finished 14 shots from Hideki Matsuyama last year so anything closer than that is progress.

 

I’ve stated before the ‘death of career by press release’ annoys me so it’s great Woods is playing again but an inconsistent stumble like last year is fun, at least for one round, but it isn’t much fun to watch if that’s going to be the output at following tournaments.

 

Image via smh.com.au

Race for the Paul Barriere – Week 5, Australia set to defend titles, England edge Tonga in classic

@hamishneal

The Rugby League World Cup is underway in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea with the former, represented by the Kangaroos, searching for an 11th title as they defend the Paul Barriere Trophy they won in 2013 at Old Trafford in Manchester. Australia will feature in both the men’s and women’s finals after wins in Brisbane and Sydney respectively on semi-final weekend. The Kiwi Ferns play the Jillaroos in the first game of the Saturday double-header in Brisbane before the Kangaroos face England in game two.

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Saturday in Auckland gave us not just an instant World Cup classic but an instant classic game of rugby league as Tonga rallied from 20-0 down to score three times in the final eight minutes before a fourth try came close to materialising only for Andrew Fifita’s grasp on the ball to be dislodged by Elliott Whitehead – one of two Canberra Raiders players in the English team. England clung on 20-18. This result came after a comprehensive 54-6 win for the Kangaroos on Friday night against Fiji in the opening semi-final. The tournament for the men will finish as it started with Australia playing England, but this time in Brisbane.

 

Whilst plenty of plaudits rightly went to Kangaroos flyer Valentine Holmes, who now has 11 tries in the knockout phase of the tournament, Australian forward Reagan Campbell-Gillard entered proceedings at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane earlier than anticipated and was one of the standouts. Coming on due to Aaron Woods’ injury the Penrith forward didn’t disappoint in a near man of the match effort. Campbell-Gillard’s 15 runs for 171 metres was the most of any forward for the Kangaroos and for a 46-minute stint was hugely impressive. Eligible to play for Fiji ‘RCG’ will play a key role in Saturday’s final.

 

Speaking about injuries, with Raiders rake Josh Hodgson set to be missing for England in the final (plus a substantial part of next year for Canberra) coach Wayne Bennett will be forced into a reshuffle in the key number nine role. Probable replacement James Roby missed only one tackle of the 39 he attempted when he came off the bench so England won’t lose much their but Australia will look to go around England with Holmes in form and they will try to kick to the corners as they did against Fiji.

 

In what was the first occasion the two nations had meet in a senior international another record was set as on Saturday when England played Tonga as England’s Jermaine McGillvary notched a try for the tenth test match in a row. In the first game of the tournament which finished 18-4 the Huddersfield back opened the scoring and it was only a late Josh Dugan four-pointer which sealed the win for Mal Meninga’s side.If England can keep Australia to scoring only two/three tries they have the ability to cause and upset but a high scoring game favours Australia.

 

The gulf in class was evident on Sunday in Sydney as the defending champion Jillaroos plus three-time winners New Zealand each hung 50 plus points on their semi-final opponents at Southern Cross Group Stadium in the women’s tournament. The Kiwi Ferns stuttered to a 14-4 lead at the interval before running in seven second-half tries to beat England 52-4. The Lionesses failed to capitalize on New Zealand’s errors (13) with only one player, interchange forward Emma Slowe, coming close to running for over 100 metres, she ran 94 metres from 12 runs. Brad Donald’s Australian side restored their preferred starting halves combination of Caitlin Moran and Ali Brigginshaw for their semi-final (but also ran playmaker Maddie Studdon off the bench) and they played with freedom as they ran in 11 tries to the Ravens one and win 58-6. In the 2013 World Cup final Australia prevailed 22-12 beating New Zealand in Leeds and another close contest seems likely.

Image via theweek.co.uk

Golf Capital – Thompson wins (sort of) Spieth returns to Sydney

@hamishneal

A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week which saw Jon Rahm and Aria Jutanugarn win at season-ending events on the European Tour and the LPGA, respectively. PGA rookie Austin Cook triumphed in Georgia plus this week sees the Australian Open take place. The European Tour gets straight into a new season playing in Hong Kong.

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Opening drive

Whilst Lexi Thompson won the Race to the Globe LPGA crown Ariya Jutanugarn won the tournament in Naples Florida. Despite Thompson’s season-ending tournament near-miss (and missed par putt on Sunday) she claimed the season-long crown and million-dollar bonus but the victories could have been so much more for the American. She led at one stage on Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club before the afore-mentioned blunder on 18 which, when added to her three playoff defeats this year, means the two wins on tour could have been six.

 

England’s Justin Rose entered the final day with a chance to prevail in the Race to Dubai but in the end it was Tommy Fleetwood, who entered the weekend leading the money list, who finished on top of the ET Order of Merit after Spain’s Jon Rahm won in Dubai at the DP World Tour Championship. Rose buckled on the back nine with three bogeys before a late birdie on 18. The Englishman finished in T4 and Jon Rahm’s final round five under saw him home by one.

 

Arkansas native Austin Cook won convincingly by four strokes at Sea Island Golf Club in Georgia seeing off JJ Spaun to win the RSM Classic on the PGA Tour. Cook, who had never won in college or on the second-tier Web.com, has secured his first professional win at only his 14th PGA Tour start.

 

In Japan America Brooks Koepka blitzed his nearest rivals by nine strokes at the Dunlop Phoenix Open in Miyazaki. Kopeka is the first American to win back-to-back titles at the tournament since Tiger Woods (2004/05)

 

 

Player performance notes

Players I’m interested to see how they go with notes related to capital investment if that’s your thing. The Australian Open takes place at The Australian Golf Club in Roseberry Sydney. Jordan Spieth is a two-time winner of this event (2014,2016) and he returns to defend his crown here. As much as I would have loved to look at the Hong Kong Open given our selection of Sam Brazel last year the Oz Open must take precedence.

 

Under 20: Jordan Spieth. Hard to go past the class factor in the field. Spieth, this time two years ago was pinging around the globe and slumped (comparatively) but this time he’s taken a few weeks off since the Tour Championship and this will help here.

 

Under 20: Cameron Smith. Having matched up before ultimately falling to Spieth in last year’s playoff with Ashley Hall Smith enters in good form having finished third in the PGA Tour’s new Korea event last month.

 

20 to 50: Rod Pampling. The veteran was a winner this time last year in the states before arriving and finishing fourth in this event and knows the venue well.

 

50 to 100: Kramer Hicock. The halfway leader at the NSW Open dropped away on Saturday  before Jason Scrivener won the tournament in Luddenham. With another week we can expect more consistent play from the Texan who is probably over his jet-lag now and has gotten used to the courses. Coming to prominence due to the fact his shares a house with Jordan Spieth Hicock, 25, won the Canadian McKenzie Tour player of the year title this year winning twice. The most recent of those victories was in September.

 

50 to 100: Brett Coletta. Bookended his tournament in the NSW Open with a 64 and 66 but his middle rounds of 72 and 76 meant he was chasing from well behind on Sunday. The Melbourne-born golfer, who won the Queensland Open last year, took a break in June when on the PGA Tour but seems to have returned well.

 

50 to 100: Min Woo Lee. Lee was T6 at the NSW Open last weekend and this comes after a recent T3 at the Asia Pacific Amateur Title in Wellington. The top amateur continues to impress.

 

 

200 to 500: Jason Geary. Very hard not to add the Kiwi and go above our normal six picks. Geary gained European Tour qualification recently so will be playing with freedom and security for his coming season. In his last three Australasian PGA Tour events he has finished inside the top 20.

 

Greens in regulation

Away from the professional tours it was interesting to read over the course of the last few weeks about golf’s place in the Invictus Games. For those unfamiliar with the event the Invictus Games is for wounded, ill or injured servicemen and women who are both serving or are veterans of their nation’s defence forces. I’ve spoken recently about the failure of golf to be included in the Paralympics in Rio last year so it was heartening to see golf at the Invictus Games in Toronto in September. However the inclusion of adaptive golf at such events seems to be inconsistent with the 2018 Invictus Games to be held in Sydney from October 18-29, not including golf among it’s 11 sports.

 

Tap in

With 2017 US Open winner Brooks Koepka winning in Japan in a tournament featuring world number four Hideki Matusyma and PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele, world number five Jon Ramh prevailing in Dubai and world number two Jordan Spieth about to defend his title in Australia it is another strange time of year when the world’s best seemed to be spread far afield for the last few weeks, but not concentrated in one area. I’ve spoken before about a further (fifth) golf major in the men’s game ala in the women’s and it would seem somewhere in the triangle (okay I know it’s not really a triangle) between the UAE, Japan and Australia would do the trick. Tennis authorities have labelled the Australian Open ‘the Grand Slam of Asia Pacific’ and it has been in the same city of 45 years. Golf could get a jump on tennis (and other sports) by stamping a mark on having an Asian slam event – perhaps on rotation, three years in Australia, the UAE, and then Japan/China or South Korea.

Race for the Paul Barriere – Week 4, Kiwis out, Women’s event kicks-off

@hamishneal

The Rugby League World Cup is underway in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea with the former, represented by the Kangaroos, searching for an 11th title as they defend the Paul Barriere Trophy they won in 2013 at Old Trafford in Manchester. Australia, Tonga, Fiji and England made it through to the last four with New Zealand’s exit the major upset of the weekend. The last week has also seen the women’s event commence with pool games in Sydney.

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After their 4-2 defeat (yes 4-2) the Kiwis leading players and coach David Kidwell seemed intent on downplaying their exit and/or shifting blame to a perceived lack of support from fans and the media. However their decision-making at key times left a lot to be desired as Mick Potter’s team won the first match played between the two sides. This was typified by a play in the final ten minutes when a Kiwis attacking phase saw a ball played to almost no-one before Storm forward Nelson Asofa-Solomona was forced into a kick downfield (he actually did a reasonable job with the kick) but play-maker Shaun Johnson didn’t have the team set up correctly for that period of the set.

 

The Bati will face Australia on Friday night in Brisbane after the Kangaroos brushed aside Samoa 46-0 in Darwin on Friday evening. Mal Meninga’s team produced their most polished performance of the tournament and get the extra day between games compared to Fiji. Interestingly Reagan Campbell-Gillard (who is tied to Fiji as a tier-two nation option) was one of Australia’s better players with 118 metres from his 10 runs off the bench. Campbell-Gillard would have been playing for Fiji at the tournament had Andrew Fifita not turned down his chance to play for Australia.

 

Despite a touch of controversy in Christchurch Tonga qualified for their first semi-final at this level after defeating Lebanon 24-22. A 28-minute stint off the bench from Brisbane forward Tevita Pangai Junior (12 runs 125 metres) highlighted he depth which Kristian Woolf has been able to develop in his squad as they won their fourth consecutive game in this tournament, a feat their semi-final opponents England can’t match having lost their opening game to Australia.

 

Melbourne hosted the fourth quarter final in which England confirmed their spot in the last four with a 36-6 victory over Papua New Guinea. The Kumuls lost a key attacking aspect to their game when David Mead went off injured with the first few minutes but England’s poor completion rate 57% (26/46) and ability to only score two tries in the first half hour meant PNG had a chance until England’s three tries in the last 12 minutes sealed the victory. Wayne Bennett’s side made 19 errors and if they produce a similar effort for the semi-final against Tonga, who only made eight errors on Saturday, it could be another upset in the knockout stages.

 

Defending champions Australia have gone 2-0 to open their campaign in the Women’s World Cup. The Jillaroos registered another win on Sunday (38-0 over England) following their 58-4 triumph over the Cook Islands on Thursday in Cronulla. England’s defeat came after they won 36-8 over Papua New Guinea on Thursday. The PNG Orchids were handed a second defeat when the Canada Ravens, highlighted by a Natasha Smith hatrick, beat PNG 22-8. New Zealand are the other unbeaten side following a 76-0 triumph over the Cook Islands. The Moana offered a cultural challenge to help open the tournament on Thursday before the Jillaroos won by 54 points. Wednesday will see the third and final round of pool games before the semi-finals on Sunday with Canada, a team who include six Canadian rugby union internationals (of which Smith is one), looking liking the lesser-known side who could claim a final four spot.

 

Image via latrobevalleyexpress.com.au

Golf Capital – Feng makes history for China, Grace wins ‘South Africa’s major’

@hamishneal

A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week which saw China’s Shanshan Feng make history in ascending to the number one ranking, Patton Kizzire break through at the top level and Branden Grace won ‘South Africa’s major.’ This week the LPGA and European Tour stage their season-ending events.

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Opening drive

After securing back-to-back wins on the LPGA tour Shanshan Feng has become the first Chinese golfer (male or female) to rise to number one in the rankings. Feng, 28, appropriately achieved this mark after winning on Saturday at the Blue Bay LPGA event on Hainan Island, the southernmost province in China. Four weeks ago Feng was sixth then went T3, T2, 1, 1 with the victories coming in Japan and China.

 

The last few months has seen multiple notable moments for Chinese golf with Lin Yuxin claiming the Asia Pacific Amateur title in Wellington after two players, Dou Zecheng and Xinjun Zhang, secured PGA Tour cards for 2018/19 in August but Feng’s result tops them all. Feng edged home after a late stumble with a bogey on 17 and a birdie putt from Moriya Jutanugarn on 18 could have sent the event to a playoff but the Thai golfer’s attempt lipped out and Feng’s nine under was enough for victory.

 

South African Branden Grace won his eighth European Tour event but his first Rolex Series triumph when he won the Nedbank Challenge by a stroke over Scott Jamieson with Victor Dubuisson one shot behind the Scot. Frenchman Dubuisson, who led heading into the weekend, regained the advantage at ten but a birdie from Grace at 16 (when Jamieson just missed recording a birdie himself) proved pivotal.

 

Twice a winner in 2015 on the second-tier Web.com Tour Patton Kizzire faced down a challenge from Rickie Fowler to win the OHL Classic in Mexico on Sunday. Kizzire prevailed by one stroke on a day which saw the leaders play 36 holes on Sunday due to bad weather during the tournament. Fowler, 28, nearly nabbed three consecutive birdies after he picked up shots at 16 and 17 but he didn’t get it done on 18. The PGA Tour heads to Georgia for the RSM Classic this week.

 

Player performance notes

Players I’m interested to see how they go with notes related to capital investment if that’s your thing. The European Tour reaches it’s climax in the Middle East with the DP World Tour Championship taking place at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick won in 2016.

 

Under 20: Matthew Fitzpatrick. Already a winner at the venue plus the Sheffield native triumphed in the European Masters in Switzerland this year and hasn’t been outside of a top 19 finish since then.

 

Under 20: Tyrell Hatton. The Englishman is a recent back-to-back winner and was second to Fitzpatrick last year here which came after a T13 at the event the year prior so he clearly likes the venue.

 

Under 20: Justin Rose. The world number six comes in off back-to-back wins at the WGC event in China before his win in Turkey. Tommy Fleetwood leads the ET standings but Rose is next most likely to win with Sergio Garcia the only other contender for that crown and Rose not pushing himself to play in South Africa could pay dividends here.

 

20 to 50: Martin Kaymer. The German got off to a slow start in 2016 here but finished 67-67 for a T19 and he’s coming off a fifth place in South Africa. However the 32-year-old hasn’t won since 2014.

 

20 to 50: Charl Schwartzel. The South African was third here last year coming off a T39 in South Africa and the major winner had an improved effort in his home nation last weekend finish T12. Only once (2014) since 2010 has the 2011 Masters champion failed to win an event each year.

 

100 to 200: Jeunghun Wang. The South Korean was T55 last weekend but not bother as he was T17 in this event last year closing 65-66 this was followed by a win two months later in the Qatar Masters. Wang, 22, has three career ET wins already pus multiple runner-up finishes.

 

Greens in regulation

With the ET finishing up in Dubai the women head to Naples Florida for their season-ending event as well. Interestingly, as with the European Tour finale in 2016, the LPGA denouement was won by an English golfer with Charley Hull claiming her first title at the top level in winning the CME Group Tour Championship. This time it’s hard to look past Feng, who was seven shots behind Hull last year. Other key challengers will be Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park both of whom sit above Feng in the CME Race to the Globe rankings. Thompson could have five wins for the season having won twice plus lost three playoffs (one of those playoffs was the controversial ANA Inspiration in April.) Feng was the first winner of this event when it was staged at the Tiburon Golf Course’s Gold Course in 2013 so it would be appropriate if she won again the week after she rose to number one.

 

Tap in
This week’s Australasian PGA Tour Event is the NSW Open to be held at the Twin Peaks Golf and Country Club near Penrith in western Sydney. Victorian James Marchesani heads into the event in winning form after he claimed a victory in Hong Kong at the Clearwater Bay Open as part of the PGA Tour of China. The event had been met with some criticism about the quality of field with some who were 18 shots adrift making the weekend play but Marchesani and his fellow competitors on the CPGA are now able to have a pathway to the second-tier Web.com Tour in 2018. Given Feng’s ranking peak at one plus some of the other recent positives will we look back on 2017 as pivotal to the rise of golf in China from a player pathway and performance point of view?

 

Correction: Last week, for a period and on some platforms, this column stated the Australia Open is to be held next week (November 23-26) at Royal Sydney- this is not the case. The tournament with take place at The Australian Golf Club at Rosebery in Sydney.

 

Image via lpga.com

Race for the Paul Barriere – Week 3, Tongan history in Hamilton, PNG win again

@hamishneal

The Rugby League World Cup is underway in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea with the former, represented by the Kangaroos, searching for an 11th title as they defend the Paul Barriere Trophy they won in 2013 at Old Trafford in Manchester. The quarter final draw was confirmed on Sunday night after England saw off France in Perth and the Women’s edition of this tournament starts in Sydney on Thursday.

 

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Australia struggled to half-time leading only 10-0 on Saturday night in Sydney before seeing off Lebanon 34-0 and will face Samoa, who didn’t win a pool game but advance due to the super-pool format after finishing third in pool B, in the first quarter final in Darwin. Australian pivot James Maloney typified the Kangaroos game, and possibly their tournament to date, with a disjointed performance including three errors in the first half. Mal Meninga’s side got some luck on Monday when two incidents from Saturday night involving forwards Aaron Woods and David Klemmer which could have seen either, or both, players sanctioned were deemed unnecessary of further action. Samoan coach Matt Parish will have a struggle to get his side up after an underwhelming tournament. The Pacific Islanders only nabbed a draw in Cairns against Scotland after they were down 14-6 at the break – and Scotland was drastically short-handed having sent three players home earlier in the tournament which came on top of missing three NRL players (Lachlan Coote, Kane Linnett, and Peter Wallace) before the tournament started.

 

Saturday’s first game sees Tonga play Lebanon in Christchurch. The Mate Ma’a are coming off their history-making win in Hamilton when they stormed home to beat New Zealand 28-22 after they were 16-2 down at the break. Kristian Woolf’s side will face a Lebanon side verging on an injury crisis with several key players, including NRL veteran Robbie Farah carrying injuries with varying levels of severity. Despite the defeat to Australia Brad Fittler’s outfit had a good first-up win over France and played well against England. The winner of this contest faces England or Papua New Guinea in the semi-finals.

 

The Darwin quarter final winner (Australia/Samoa) will meet the winner of Saturday’s second semi-final which sees tournament co-hosts New Zealand play Mick Potter’s Fiji. The Bati rounded out their pool play with a 38-10 win over Italy in Canberra with the Kiwis falling the next day to Tonga, the first occasion a tier-two side has beaten a tier-one team since the ‘minnows’ were admitted to the tournament in 1995. (Ironically in that tournament New Zealand only beat Tonga 25-24 when they meet in pool play.) Kiwi coach David Kidwell will hope the game in Wellington will see an improved effort from skipper Adam Blair who had limited impact with only four runs for a paltry 39 metres.

 

Michael Marum’s Papua New Guinea leave Port Moresby for the first time this tournament when the face England in Melbourne on Sunday. Despite their expansive attack they enter the game with having conceded only six points in each game whilst Wayne Bennett’s England have let in 34 points and lost first-up to Australia. The Kumuls have the ability to score from range as evidenced by the fact they were only tackled in the USA’s 20 metre zone nine times but still led 34-0 at the interval – including two brilliant tries to debutant Lachlan Lam, the son of former Kumuls coach Adrian Lam. The Kumuls went on to triumph 64-0 and will meet and England side who comprehensively beat France 34-6 in Perth on Sunday night to conclude the pool phase of the tournament.

 

New Zealand and Canada will kick-off the six-team Women’s Rugby League World Cup on Thursday at the home ground of NRL side Cronulla Sharks with the tournament’s early stages taking place at Southern Cross Group Stadium before the final is played as a double-header with the men’s decider in Brisbane. Hosts Australia won the title for the first time in 2013 and feature a squad made up on New South Wales and Queensland-based players but also featuring one from the Northern Territory with Brisbane-raised Meg Ward, currently based in Katherine with her role in the RAAF, having come to the attention of coach Brad Donald when she was named MVP in the Combined Affiliated States Championships playing for team for the NT Titans. Three-time winners New Zealand, who won the inaugural event in 2000, are in pool B with Canada (who feature two-time Rugby Union World Cup player Andrea Burk) and Papua New Guinea. Pool A features the Australian Jillaroos plus England and first-timers Cook Islands.

 

Image via radionz.co.nz

Golf Capital – Rose doubles up, younger guns win in New Zealand

@hamishneal

A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week which saw Justin Rose go back-to-back with a victory in Turkey, rising star Patrick Cantlay broke through at the top level on the PGA Tour whilst China’s Shanshan Feng triumphed in impressive fashion in Japan.

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Opening drive

A wild finish on the European Tour at the Turkish Airlines Open saw Olympic champion Justin Rose prevail by one stroke in Antayla when any one of several players at the turn could have triumphed before Rose birdied three of his last four holes at Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort. Rose is now a chance to claim the ET’s Order of Merit crown for the second time (he first won it in 2007) if Tommy Fleetwood doesn’t retain his lead.

 

The Las Vegas stop for the PGA Tour ended in a three-man playoff at TPC Summerlin after German Alex Cejka fired a best of the day eight under to finish at nine under. Cejka joined America Patrick Cantlay and South Korean Whee Kim in the playoff at the latter two bogeyed 18. All three stuttered at the first playoff hole bogeying the par four 18th before they went back to the tee before Cantlay found trouble behind a tree, hit out, nailed and up-and-down as Kim and Cejka bogeyed again. Cantlay, 25, has been a column favourite and looms set for more success after winning the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Aside from the trio that made the playoff JJ Spaun was well in contention until he double-bogeyed the last two holes. This week the OHL Classic at Mayakoba takes place in Mexico at El Camaleon Golf Club with Pat Perez the defending champion.

 

China’s Shanshan Feng won for the second time in 2017 when she saluted by two strokes in the Toto Japan Classic in Ibaraki. This week the LPGA heads to Feng’s home nation for the fourt edition of the Blue Bay LPGA China. Australian Minjee Lee won by one stroke in 2016.

 

Player performance notes

Players I’m interested to see how they go with notes related to capital investment if that’s your thing. The penultimate leg of the European Tour’s Rolex Series will be held in South Africa for the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City in the north of South Africa

 

Under 20: Branden Grace. The South African loves this event with two top four finishes in his last two goes here plus he has finished in the top 15 twice in the last few weeks.

 

20 to 50: Tommy Fleetwood. The winner of the last two ET events Justin Rose is skipping this event to give himself a rest for the final leg in Dubai and current money list leader Fleetwood who was 16th here last year has a good chance to capitalize on his countryman’s absence.

 

20 to 50: Victor Dubuisson. Three starts back Frenchman Dubuisson grabbed a third place finish in Scotland and, like Grace, he’s finished in the top four both of his last two attempts here.

 

50 to 100: Dylan Frittelli. The South African finished just behind Rose in Turkey and returns to this venue for the first time in ten years in a tournament but is used to the conditions. He will seek to become the first South African since Trevor Immelman in 2007 to win this *event (often referred to as ‘South Africa’s major’) and is a winner this year in Austria.

 

50 to 100: Andy Sullivan. The Englishman finished T18 in Spain two weeks ago and when he came T3 in this event last season he was coming off a T25 in Turkey and second-placed finished in Portugal.

 

50 to 100: Julian Suri. After consecutive T8 finishes I see no reason to think the adaptable American won’t perform well here. Suri, 26, is now inside the top 100 (currently 93) for the first time in his career. An impressive effort for a player ranked outside the top 1,100 places this time last year.

 

Greens in regulation

The chance for golf’s elite to get attention in Australia in the coming weeks got a boost on Wednesday when it was confirmed Jason Day was returning to play in the Australian Open for the first time in four years. American Jordan Spieth is the defending champion with the event returning to The Australian Golf Club this year and Spieth will return for the tournament from November 23-26. Day is yet to win in 2017 and 2012 was the last year the Queenslander failed to get a victory. Fellow Sunshine Stater Cameron Smith is also playing after Spieth beat him and Ashley Hall in a playoff.

 

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A few weeks after 37-year-old Jacinda Ardern ascended to become New Zealand’s Prime Minister and a few days before 24-yearold Joseph O’Brien trained Melbourne Cup winner Rekindling another amateur golfing event in New Zealand produced a young win. 14-year-old Aucklander Silvia Brunotti (yes 14) won the NZ Amateur title (joining current star Lydia Ko in winning the crown at the same age.) Interestingly Italian-born Brunotti, should she continue her current trajectory, could become the best Italian-born female golfer rather rapidly with Italy currently having only one player ranked in inside the top 300 – Guilia Molinari at 287. By way of comparison nearby Spain, which has approximately 14 million less residents compared to Italy’s 60 million, has four in the top 300. With 14 years-old been the new 20 in amateur golf according to one of Australia’s leading instructors it would just been hoped the potential for burn-out is managed appropriately and long-term athlete development aspects are considered.

 

*Known now as the Nedbank Challenge this event has been limited field of 12 for a long time and was only increased to 30 in 2013 and now has 72 competitors.

 

Image via reviewjournal.com