All eyes were on Spain this week as the Volvo World Matchplay Championship took to the fairways at the Finca Cortesin Golf Resort on the Costa del Sol. World number two Luke Donald had the chance to wrestle the number one spot from Lee Westwood with a victory. Donald looked certain to take the title when he booked his place in the final after dispatching Martin Kaymer 5 & 3 in the semi. Ian Poulter made the final an all English affair after continually coming back from the brink of defeat on his way to the final. Poulter was far from his best in almost every match he played in but when it came to the crunch he was always able to find the right shots at the right time. Nobody except Poulter could have seen anything but a Donald victory considering his form and almost unrivalled matchplay skills. Donald had been up three times in the match but Poulter refused to go away and after holing an impressive 40 foot putt at the 12th the match was all square. Two holes later Poulter went ahead and Donald couldn’t turn it around. The match finally came to an end on the 17th green; this was the first time in the tournament Poulter had finished a match before the 18th hole. His win prevented Donald from securing an impressive World Matchplay double following his success at the WGC World Matchplay in Arizona earlier in the year. This week was testament to the quality of English golf at present. Poulter won the WGC World Matchplay last year and now both the 2011 matchplay championships have gone to Englishmen. With such success in high profile tournaments and an English world number one and two, things are looking good for Old Blighty!
Following his agonising playoff defeat in last week’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, David Toms continued in fine form and won the Crowne Plaza Invitational by a solitary shot while setting a new PGA Tour record along the way. Toms hot two stunning rounds of 62 to lead by 7 after 36 holes. His total of 124 on Friday evening matched the low 36 hole record held by Pat Perez. Saturday is known as ‘moving day’ on the PGA Tour and it lived up to its reputation as Toms shot a four over 74 and eventually found himself trailing Charlie Wi by one shot. However Toms found his groove again on the Sunday and went ahead after holing out from the fairway for an eagle at the par 5 11th. From here Toms was able to hold Charlie Wi at bay for the remaining holes and eventually finished on 15 under par and one shot ahead.
Michael Hoey claimed the title at the Madeira Islands Open after a closing round of 71 was enough to win by two. Hoey, a former British Amateur Champion had held a two shot lead going into the final round. None of his competitors were able to make a sufficient charge and a composed final round saw Hoey win his second European Tour event, both of which have come in Portugal. England’s Simon Wakefield was in position to become the first man on the European Tour to shoot a 59. After an early eagle followed by two separate birdie streaks, Wakefield needed an eagle up the par 5 18th to secure his place in the history books. However he endured a nightmare last hole and a double bogey 7 saw him card a 63.
Off the course we saw Tiger Woods slip out of the top ten in the world for the first time since bursting onto the scene in 1997. Tiger’s form following his nightmare 18 months looked to be on the up at the Masters in April but a recurrence of an injury to his left knee has seen him pull out of two tournaments in a row and following the events this weekend he has now dropped to world number 11. After the last of his 14 major wins at the 2008 US Open Woods was so far ahead in the rankings that the gap between him and second-placed Phil Mickelson was more than the difference between Mickelson and the player ranked 1,000th in the world. This gives you an idea of the magnitude of Tiger’s fall from grace. The question is: will the slump continue if he can get his knee in shape?