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Wednesday, Aug 15th

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Nick Watney fires 64 to take the lead at Players Championship, Atwal struggles on opening day

The opening day of the Players Championship at Ponte Verde Beach, Florida had all the excitement professional golf offers and a bit of disappointment too. 30-year old American Nick Watney fired an 8-under round of 64, just 1 stroke shy of the record at TPC Sawgrass, to take sole possession of the early lead. A double-bogey at the 14th ruined what otherwise would have been a flawless round which included 9 birdies and an eagle. The Sacramento native, who won the Cadillac Championship earlier this year, hit an amazing 15 of 18 greens and averaged just over 20 feet from the pin on his approach shots.

Watney finds himself in close company with the bearded Lucas Glover, winner at Quail Hollow last week. Glover carried his awesome form into the Players as he fired his 5th consecutive round under 69. The highlight of his day was undoubtedly sinking an 18 foot putt for eagle on the par-5 9th. Glover's putting was exemplary on the opening day and should his driver hold strong over the weekend he is guaranteed to be there or there about come Sunday.

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Team India comes 2nd at the Finals of World Corporate Golf Challenge 2011

Team India comprising of Rudratej Singh and Subhash Naidu from Hindustan Unilever, emerged runners-up at the World Finals of the 25th World Corporate Golf Challenge 2011 losing by a solitary stroke to the team from Northern Ireland. The HUL pair kept up India's terrific tradition at the event, where an Indian teams has finished inside the top 2 in three of the last four editions. India's solitary win was in 2008 in Spain and last year the Indian team was tied for 1st place but cruelly lost out on the title in a play-off.

The two member Indian team was selected from among 400 corporate teams in India who played four regional rounds of the TAKE Solutions World Corporate Golf Challenge (India) in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kodaikanal and then met at the National Finals in Bangkok.

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Charl Schwartzel corners Masters glory; McIlroy implodes on final stretch

charl_schwartzelIn a fitting finale to the platinum edition of the Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, South African Charl Schwartzel emerged from the crowd to snatch victory by two strokes with an audacious streak of birdies on the final four holes. Schwartzel became just the third South African to win the coveted Green Jacket riding on two solid rounds of 68 and 66 to clinch his maiden major title with a 14 under par 274. Sadly, 21-year old Rory McIlroy imploded in spectacular fashion, when the final round ought to have been nothing more than a parade to victory adding texture to a dramatic final day that was characterised by a logjam at the head of the leader board. Woods threatened to dominate the narrative, but failed to capitalise on the momentum he gained on the front nine to finish in a three way tie for fourth along with Geoff Ogilvy and Luke Donald. The evaporation of McIlroy meant that Schwartzel's main challenge came from rookie Jason Day and the popular Adam Scott – both the Aussies had good rounds but fell short by two strokes as they settled for second place.

The 26 year old world No.29 from Johannesburg surprised all and sundry with his calm and collected approach before embracing glory with an audacity that is rarely seen on the biggest stages of sport. Even though he was among the four men lying in second on Saturday, the relative anonymity of the obscure to-be-champion meant that he was least mentioned till late Sunday evening.

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McIlroy takes command of the Masters; Tiger lost in the woods

rory_mcilroyAn unfazed Rory McIlroy (-12) will take a four stroke lead into the final round of the 75th Masters Championships, as he refused to be perturbed by the red herrings that surrounded his calm march to what could prove to be a very popular triumph on Sunday. Tiger Woods threatened to usurp the lights with a spectacular 66 on Friday but his third round was riddled with questions. The great man's putter deserted its master and he stumbled to a 74 that cast him back into the shadows. Jason Day could not repeat his heroics from the second round, as he settled for an even par score that left him among four men at eight under. Angel Cabrera posted an impressive 67 to join the ever present K J Choi and the South African Charl Schwartzel who made a four stroke leap into the chasing group.

The scores though only tell us half the story. When the final pairing of Day and McIlroy teed off in the early afternoon, the rookie from Australia had the course eating from his hands. He birdied three of the first five holes to take the lead away from his partner, but bogeys on the 6th, 7th, 13th and 16th holes put paid to any hopes of repeating the 64 that brought him into focus on Friday.

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23-year old Anirban Lahiri wins thrilling Panasonic Open after three-way playoff

anirban_lahiri_wins_panasonic_openIndian golf star Anirban Lahiri defeated Singapore's Mardan Mamat and fellow countryman Manav Jaini in a thrilling three-way play-off to secure his maiden title at the inaugural Panasonic Open (India), at the newest·US$300,000 event on the Asian Tour. The threesome had ended regulation play on a 13-under-par total of 275 on Saturday. Lahiri, secured his win with a birdie on the 18th play-off while Mardan and Jaini only managed to make pars.

The 23-year-old Indian was clearly delighted with his career breakthrough on the Asian Tour as he never had a good record at the Delhi Golf Club and was always receiving jokes about his inability to win at the venerable golf club.

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McIlroy clings to the lead; Tiger Roars back to life at the Masters

rory_mcilroyA threesome that comprised Rory McIlroy (aged 21), Rickie Fowler (22) and Masters Rookie Jason Day (23) charmed their way into the galleries around the Augusta National Golf Club as they showcased the emergence of a youthful new generation. Day ended with the best round ever for a rookie when he birdied the 18th to finish with an impressive 64 that left him two shots off the leader McIlroy (-10), who became the youngest since Tiger in 1997 to hold the 36 hole lead at the Masters.

The master himself roared back to life with a series of birdies to lay in wait for a promising weekend, his prey clearly in sight after scoring 66 to get within three strokes off the Irishman. As the weekend turns into sharp focus Woods will pair with K J Choi as they try to arrest the exuberance of McIlroy and Day, who own the honour of being the final pairing to tee off on Saturday.

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McIlroy and Quiros Steal the Show on the first day of the Masters; Atwal disappoints

rory_mcilroyAn inspired Spaniard and a youthful Irishman stole the show on the first day of the 75th Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club. Rory McIlroy made the most of a benign day at one of the most revered courses on the tour, playing out a blemish less bogey free gem that contained seven birdies to leave him holding the clubhouse lead for much of the first day with a 65. Not until the fag end of a long day's golf was the number challenged, as the hard hitting Alvaro Quiros birdied the 18th hole to grab a share of the lead with the final putt of the day. The defending champion Phil Mickelson had a miserable time with the driver, but his short game saved his day as he stayed in the hunt with a 2 under 70. Tiger Woods is a further stroke behind, while Indian Arjun Atwal slipped near the bottom of the board with an unimpressive 8 over 80 on his Masters debut.

McIlroy will not need a reminder of what happened at the Open last year when he followed up a 63 with an 80 in the second round that set him back. But after finishing thrice in the top three of majors, the 21-year old is a far more experienced golfer than his age would suggest. When his tee shot landed in the bunker on the par 4 first hole, McIlroy showed no haste as he got it out just short of the green before chipping to within a couple of feet of the pin to ensure that he saved par. It was a sedate beginning to what would turn out to be a glorious day for the rising star.

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Arjun Atwal all set to make Masters Debut, turns to Tiger Woods for advice

Arjun Atwal of India makes his Masters Tournament debut at Augusta National Golf Club this month and is looking to make his first visit to the hallowed greens a memorable one. Atwal is the former Asian tour number one and only the second Indian after Jeev Milkha Singh, to compete here. To help him in his mission Atwal is counting on tips from Tiger Woods and the experience of winning on four international Tours.

“I have been fortunate to win on the Asian, European, Nationwide and PGA Tours.  Winning at all of those levels have allowed me to know that I can compete with the best players in the world at any tournament,” said Atwal.

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Anirban Lahiri coasts to two-stroke win at Panchkula, Mukesh Kumar finishes runner-up

anirban_lahiri3Anirban Lahiri won the Aircel PGTI Players Championship presented by Panchkula Golf Club by two strokes after he came up with a five under 67 on Saturday. Lahiri ended the week with a total of 14 under 274. Mukesh Kumar, who fired a 68 in round four, finished runner-up at 12 under 276.

Anirban Lahiri (72-65-70-67) claimed his seventh victory on the Aircel PGTI thanks to a solid 67 in the fourth round. Anirban had a few hiccups at the start of the round as he bogeyed the third and fourth. He then came back strongly with eight birdies on the next 11 holes to close the door on his nearest challengers Mukesh Kumar and Rashid Khan.

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