Sunday, 5 October 2008

Swede dreams are made of this - BFG Karlsson makes it two in a row...

Big trophy for a big boy.

It was too daunting a task to try to do a round up of each round of the Dunhill Links, with players at any of three courses each of the three days, Kingsbarn, St Andrews or Carnoustie, it all seemed too much to take on to go over each round individually. I've still got a bit of a Ryder Cup hangover and to be truthful a little bit of an actual hangover... Plus not only is the action occurring in three different places at once, there's a bunch of celebrity's hacking it about too - Hugh Grant, Luke Wilson, Samuel L Jackson, even frickin' Dan Quayle was there, it was just too much and too disjointed to try and summarise in my usual fashion.

When I look at the final leaderboard however, it becomes clear this tournament was only about one of the three groups of players - the third of the field who played Kingsbarns the first day, St Andrews day two, and Carnoustie day three. The top seven players all played the courses in this order, as well as 10 of the top 13. It's one of the things about this tournament, the playing conditions can highly favour one set of players. But the end was no less high quality, as the top 72 all headed to St Andrews today to settle proceedings.

There were two stand out rounds today, one from Robert Karlsson, the giant Swede, the other from Ross Fisher, the upcoming young Englishman. Seven birdies and no dropped shots for Karlsson; Five front nine birdies and an eagle on the back, saw Fisher equal him, 65's apiece for them got them to ten under overall. It hauled them into a three way play-off with German Martin Kaymer, who had a 68 today.

Once there, the imperious Karlsson did not mess around, he made birdie on the first play-off hole to take the Dunhill title. He said of it

"I had a good feeling about the first extra hole. I fancied my chances when I got the yardage for the wedge to the green."

Playing the 1st hole, which runs right alongside and shares a fairway with 18, Fisher drove into the Swilcan Burn crossing the fairway to take bogey, Kaymer gave himself a 10 foot chance but missed his birdie putt. That left Karlsson with a four footer for the title which he holed without incident.

It would give him a win in successive tournaments (he has only played the Ryder Cup since winning the Mercedes Benz the week before the team match), his 11th top ten in Europe this season. It was also enough to send him to the top of the Order Of Merit standings, leapfrogging Padraig Harrington who finished in a tie for 13th, which he sounded a little bit embarressed about, feeling his season, though remarkably consistent, doesn't quite match the major bagging Irishmans...

"It's a bonus to be top of the Order of Merit but you do not think about it, you are just trying to do your best. My season does not compare to Padraig's with his two majors. There is not much doubt about who is the best player this year."

But the Order of Merit is about racking up the dough, and that's what the Swede's little run of late has done in spades. There's four events left to decide what will be the last Order of Merit, and it ususally goes down to the wire. Harrington and Westwood will be snapping at Karlsson's considerably large heels.

For me, on a local level, it was good to see Rory McIlroy, again in the thick of it at a big event, and the creditable eight place will be a boost to his ranking and his confidence. He had a fine 67 today, his third round in the 60's and were it not for a costly 78 at Kingsbarns yesterday it could have been so much better. Watch out for him...

Pos Player Country Total Hole Today Rounds Total
1 2 3 4
1KARLSSON, Robert -10F SA-767KB70SA76CN65SA278
2FISHER, Ross -10F SA-764KB76SA73CN65SA278
2KAYMER, Martin -10F SA-465KB72SA73CN68SA278
4SANDELIN, Jarmo -8F SA-266KB72SA72CN70SA280
5LIMA, José-Filipe -7F SA-467KB71SA75CN68SA281
5WALL, Anthony -7F SA-466KB76SA71CN68SA281
5CARLSSON, Magnus A -7F SA-270KB68SA73CN70SA281
8DONALDSON, Jamie -6F SA-570SA70CN75KB67SA282
8McILROY, Rory -6F SA-568SA69CN78KB67SA282
8CASEY, Paul -6F SA-472KB70SA72CN68SA282
8HANSEN, Søren -6F SA-464KB73SA77CN68SA282
8WESTWOOD, Lee -6F SA-468KB70SA76CN68SA282

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