Hoffman leads at Bay Hill


 

American Morgan Hoffman has a 3-shot lead heading into the weekend at the Arnold Palmer invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge.

Hoffman followed up his first round 66 with an impressive second round 65 which included nine birdies and two bogeys. The player ranked at number 137 in the official world rankings will tee off tomorrow afternoon alongside last years winner Matt Every. Every shot a 6-under round of 66 which included a string of five straight birdies from the 4th hole. He is 10-under-par and three strokes behind Hoffman.

Also on 10-under-par is Henrik Stenson, that’s after the Swede shot yet another round in the 60’s. After a hit and miss front nine of level-par 36, Stenson made six birdies on the back nine, including a run of four from the 15th to the clubhouse.

Elsewhere on the course World Number One Rory McIlroy carded a round of 66 to move to 8-under-par and just five strokes behind the leader. It was a much more promising round for the Northern Irishman after a pretty uneventful first round 70 on Thursday. McIlroy made five straight birdies from the 2nd hole and just made one boogey all round. He tees off tomorrow with the Swede David Lingmerthe, also on 8-under-par.

Further down the field is Ian Poulter on 7-under-par, as is the talented Brooks Koepka. Graeme McDowell, Paul Casey and J.B Holmes all missed the ut and will be heading home after a disappointing week.

On the European Tour at the rain drenched Madeira Island Open, half of the field are still to complete their first rounds after sever rain delays. As it stands the clubhouse leader is the the Dane Joachim Hansen on 4-under-par. The tournament has been reduced to 54 holes with weather still likely to play a big part in the next couple of days. British hopefuls Chris Hanson (2-under through 6) and Simon Wakefield (2-under through 14) have made good starts to their first rounds and will be out early in the morning to finish them off. Another Brit, Andrew Marshall is in the clubhouse tied for 2nd on 3-under-par after an opening round 69.

The 2015 Major Championship course guide


The 2015 season has already been full of drama with early wins for Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed and two-time Open winner Padraig Harrington. We have seen some stunning courses played so far this year,  so let’s take a look at the courses hosting Major Championships this season, the best holes, the toughest challenges and of course some memories from past events.

 Augusta National, The Masters tournament, April 9th- 12th

What can we say about Augusta National? Driving through the gates and down Magnolia lane to the famous clubhouse must be one of the most spine-tingling moments in a professional golfer’s career. Walking out onto the first tee knowing you’ll be playing at least 36 holes at a course steeped in history, with beautiful landscape and scenery and facing some of the most famous holes in the game is the dream for any young golfer.

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Amen corner, holes 11, 12 and 13, is probably the most difficult part of the course. A treacherous par-4 downhill, with trees to the right off the tee and water to the left of the fast-paced green. A short par-3 over water to a narrow green, with a run-off area at the front and two bunkers, one in front, and one behind. Finally a dog-leg to the left par-5 with a second shot over water. If you can play Amen Corner in level par or better you’ll be on course for a good round of golf.

In 2010, Phil Mickelson played one of the most courageous and gutsy shots you are ever likely to see. After finding the trees from the 13th tee, Mickelson hits his second shot through a small gap in the trees to 8-feet. A shot worthy of the green jacket he went on to win for the 3rd time.

 

Chambers Bay Golf Club, The U.S Open, June 18th -21st

The 2015 U.S Open is being held in Washington State, at the newly developed Chambers Bay Golf Club, a links course with some very interesting holes.

The first hole is a welcoming par-5 that players will be able to reach in two. A very good birdie opportunity. The 9th hole is very tough looking par-3 that plays at 227-yards downhill. With an additional lower tee box added for the U.S Open this hole will certainly not be an easy one to escape with a par. The driveable par-4 12th hole offers players a good birdie chance, and a chance that may have to be taken with another tough par-4 on the next hole.

This is the first time the course will have held a U.S Open in its history, and it’s sure to be a very interesting week on the links.

 

St Andrew’s Old Course, The Open Championship, July 16th – 19th

The ‘home of golf’ will be host to this year’s Open Championship. A place that Jack Nicklaus had his final Open Championship as a professional golfer and seen famous wins from Nick Faldo in 1990 and Seve Ballesteros in 1984.

When the wind gets going along the coastline, St Andrew’s can really be a difficult test for anyone in the world of golf. But on a good day, it can be a very rewarding golf course. The course record is a round of 62, shared by Victor Dubuisson, Goerge Coetzee, Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood and Louis Oosthuizen. The famous road hole bunker on the 17th hole is something all players will look to avoid, otherwise it will be an extremely tough up and down with no guarantee of making par.

St Andrew’s has seen many great Championships, but how can we forget the 1995 Open Championship at the 72nd hole when Costantino Rocca fluffed his chip into the valley of sin, then make a 65-foot birdie out to force a play-off with eventual winner John Daly. An absolutely astonishing moment at one of the most famous golf courses in the game.

 

Whistling Straits, The PGA Championship, August 13th- 16th

Whistling Straits, the home of the 2004 and 2010 PGA Championship, is arguably one of the greatest championship courses in the United States.

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The course, which is sculpted alongside the Lake Michigan shoreline, offers another tough links test, especially the 4th hole, the longest of the par-4’s. Undulating greens and pot bunkers mean birdies will be tough to find, the main thing for players here is too remain below par. Eight of the holes on the course hug the lake, which makes for good drama when a tee shot is hooked or sliced.

In 2010 Martin Kaymer won his first major championship after beating two-time Masters Champion Bubba Watson in a play-off. Kaymer won on the 3rd play-off hole with a bogey putt after Watson found the hazard with his second shot from the rough.

 

Each course has its own challenges, but with three of the four Majors this year being played on links courses, whoever is going to prosper this season will have to be someone who has good ball control and is used to playing in tricky conditions. We can’t wait for the first Major of the year.