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Monday, Feb 19th

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US Open Round 2 Wrap: Mickelson tames the beachside beast, McDowell has 2-stroke lead

phil_mickelson_4.jpgOn a cool, cloudy day at the Pebble Beach resort in California while most men were engrossed in a battle to save par on the challenging greens of the legendary course - the world number two Phil Mickelson set about on an impressive journey to go up and down the 18 hole course in 5 under 66 to bring himself into sharp focus for the weekend. Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell emerged from nowhere to grab the sole lead on an eventful second day of the US Open Championship with a surprisingly good round of 3 under 68.

The big lefty came out swinging as he summoned his finest short game to erase the misery of the first round to join a small group of five players with a better than par score. Mickelson put together a sequence of five birdies in his first eight holes on Friday on his way to a most remarkable round of golf that helped him into a four way tie for second, just two behind the leader McDowell. The lefty blamed his poor first round on some "horrific" putting, but after his blazing second round his assessment turned on its head, "I just got hot with the putter. I was able to make some birdies on the birdie holes early on and then get through the tough holes with some pars."

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US Open Round 1: Woods and Mickelson struggle at Pebble Beach; Micheel, Casey, De Jonge share lead

paul_casey.jpgThe 110th US Open Championship got off to a sedate start, thanks to some generous watering of the greens by the keeper at Pebble beach. Mike Davis decided to turn the course reasonably benign to the golfers by slowing the greens down a tad to help the players retain their sanity and dignity. That was invitation enough to most of the players who did just enough at the end of the first round to save face, with as many as six players bunched up at 1 under par 70, a stroke behind the leaders Shaun Micheel, Paul Casey and the unlikely Brendon de Jonge.

The 2003 PGA Champion, Micheel scored five birdies and three bogeys to shoot a two under par 69 for a share of the lead at the end of the first round at Pebble Beach. He capped a memorable day of golf by pulling off a birdie from 24 feet, putting from left to right at the par-5 18th to enter the clubhouse with a big grin. The American was proud of his round and rightfully so, "Around the greens I've been chipping the ball extremely well. And today I could see the line. Other than that one miss step on 17, every putt that I looked at, when I put the ball down I at least felt great with my read. And my speed was good. That was important, too." It was indeed a heartening performance from a man who learned just last week that his mother was going to lose her battle with cancer this summer.

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Sayed Ahmad, Viraj Madappa, Harshjeet Sethi win on Toyota Etios Junior Golf Tour

The final day of the Toyota Etios Junior Golf Tour at the Ootacumund Golf Club, Ooty saw big winning margins in most category except in Category B of the boys event where Kelly Rao of Bangalore tied Delhi's Honey Baisoya after 72 holes. Rao sneaked home in a sudden death playoff to take first place. Amongst the girls, Vani Kapoor, Gurbani Singh and Sehar Atwal, all from Delhi, outclassed their competitors in each age category to easily take home the top prizes.

In Category A (16-18 yrs), Overnight leader Sayed Ahmad of KGA, Bangalore, returned with a card of one over par 73 to finish with a four day total of 3 over par 291 to win the title by a huge margin of ten strokes. "This week has been great for me. I hope to take this form to Coimbatore next week as well" said a smiling Sayed.

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Gaganjeet Bhullar sneaks away with PGTI Players Championship

gaganjeet_bhullar.jpgGaganjeet Bhullar bagged his eighth career title with the help of a spectacular four under 66 in the final round of the PGTI Players Championship presented by Bombay Presidency Golf Club on Friday. Bhullar totaled seven under 273 to finish one stroke ahead of his nearest rivals Shamim Khan and Mohd. Siddikur Rahman.

Bhullar, who had almost slipped out of contention after dropping two triple bogeys on the front nine in round three, fashioned a remarkable recovery with a courageous performance over the last 27 holes. The Kapurthala lad first salvaged his third round with a six under score on the back nine on Thursday and then returned a spirited 66 in the final round on Friday to take home the trophy.

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Tarundeep lifts Under 18 Toyota Etios Junior Golf Panchkula title, Sangwan continues to impress

The final day of the Toyota Etios Junior Golf Tour - Northern India at Panchkula Golf Club saw outstanding performances by Tarundeep Chadha, Abhishek Kuhar, Piyush Sangwan, Kshijit Naveed Kal & Astha Madan - These juniors, who won in their respective categories, battled it out in the sweltering Chandigarh heat and emerged winners after four days and 72 holes. The Panchkula golf course featured tree lined fairways and fast undulating greens that tested the competitors over this past week.

In Category A (16-18 yrs) local lad Tarundeep Chadha who started the day in third, returned a card of 5-over par 76 to finish on top with a four round total of 307. With Birdies on the 3rd & 15th and 9 pars on the final day, he ended the tournament with a 3 stroke lead over his nearest competitor. Following his victory, Tarundeep spoke about his performance, "The week had been tough with intense heat in Chandigarh. However my round has been decent today. My mindset this week was to just have fun and not think about winning. But Its great to win in my hometown - guess I had an advantage."

Rahul Ravi from KGA, Bangalore scored an 81 to slip to 2nd place.

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Choi falters after bright start on Final Day at Augusta, finishes 4th

kj_choi.jpgKorea and the Asian Tour were celebrating on Sunday after another memorable Major campaign with K.J. Choi and Y.E. Yang finishing in the top-eight in the Masters Tournament.Yang created history last August in becoming the first Asian player to win a Major when he captured the US PGA Championship. Now in the very next Major Championship, Choi and Yang added another chapter to the growing emergence of the Asian Tour by finishing joint fourth and eighth respectively in the 74th staging of the Masters at Augusta National.

Choi went within a whisker of emulating Yang as a Major champion in carding an eventual final round three-under-par 69 to end the week in tied fourth with world number one Tiger Woods, five shots adrift of winner Phil Mickelson. Mickelson held off the challenges of playing companion Lee Westwood and also Choi, who trailed the American by one stroke on the 11th hole.

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Phil Mickelson wins his 3rd Augusta Masters Title

phil_mickelson_4.jpgFor nearly the entire last year, Phil Mickelson has barely resembled the same golfer that we always knew him as. His world had been shattered when his wife, Amy, was diagnosed with breast cancer. And hardly had Amy's treatment gotten underway that the next big blow came along: his mother was also diagnosed with the same ailment.

The moments he shared with Amy as he had wrapped up his 3rd Masters crown said it all. Those who follow the game would know that he's always had his family by green-side whenever he's won something important, and just like before, Amy was there waiting for him, and so was his mother, Mary. Phil said later on he wasn't sure whether she'd be there, and it was quite apparent to see that it meant more to him to be with her at that moment than anything else.

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Augusta Masters Review: Westwood takes one stroke lead over Mickelson into Final Round

lee_westwood.jpgTo win your first Major tournament is never easy, especially when you go into the final round holding the lead. The amount of media and spectator attention itself can be overwhelming. But even worse is knowing that the rest of the field is eyeing you up, plotting on taking you down. Golf is, after all, a game where the ability to hold your nerves is way more important than the strength of your arms.

The task awaiting Lee Westwood on Sunday at the Masters is simple: hold off the likes of Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, and whoever else takes his chance to go past him. There will be cries for blood from the gallery, looking for further excitement in what has already proved to be a Masters like few others. A lot of pressure lies on Westwood's shoulders, with the tag of being one of the best in the World not to have won a Major yet, and also the hopes of a nation that puts so much pride in sporting glory, yet always frustrated by the lack of it. No Englishman has won a Major since Nick Faldo won here in 1996, and Westwood would know that well.

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KJ Choi tied for 3rd, Yang 8th after 2nd Round at Augusta Masters

kj_choi.jpgAsian Tour honorary member K. J. Choi boosted hopes of joining Y. E. Yang as a back-to-back Korean born winner of a Major Championship in moving into a five-way share of third place after two rounds of the U.S. Masters at Augusta National. Choi recorded a one-under-par 71 to move to six-under-par and just two shots behind the leading England duo of Ian Poulter (68) and Lee Westwood (69). The European Ryder Cup team mates were also the only players in the field to shoot rounds in the 60s on day two. And the British duo will play together during the all-important third round.

The 39-year old Wando-born Choi heads into day three tied with four-time Augusta winner Tiger Woods (70) along with dual U.S. Masters winner Phil Mickelson (71) plus a further two Americans in Anthony Kim (70) and Ricky Barnes (70) who is competing at Augusta for the first time as a professional.

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