Gainey rallies to claim Puerto Rico Open lead

By Sports Desk February 25, 2021

Tommy Gainey edged into a one-stroke lead with a strong finish to the first round of the Puerto Rico Open in Rio Grande.

The 45-year-old American shot a seven-under 65, sinking five birdies on his last seven holes to make a late surge to the top of the leaderboard.

Gainey got off to a dream start with three birdies on his first four holes before being slowed by a pair of bogeys, but the world number 458 rallied to close out in style.

Robert Garrigus had set the early pace at the Grand Reserve Country Club, climbing to seven under, but a bogey on the ninth – his final hole – spoiled a clean round as he slipped to equal second place.

Garrigus was one of seven players left holding a share of second at the close of play, with Canada's Taylor Pendrith and American Lee Hodges also carding six-under 66s.

They were joined by home favourite Rafael Campos, Argentina's Fabian Gomez, Brandon Wu of the United States and Greg Chalmers of Australia, who hit a hole in one at the eighth.

Belgium's Thomas Pieters is joint 25th, carding a three-under 69, while another European Tour star in search of a first PGA Tour win, Matt Wallace, slumped to a four-over 76 after a double bogey at the 15th.

His fellow Englishman and three-time PGA Tour winner Ian Poulter fared better, going around for a one-under 71, one stroke behind Europe's Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington, with the Irishman carding 70.

Related items

  • Rory McIlroy much prefers Europe’s Ryder Cup build-up to ‘well rested’ USA team Rory McIlroy much prefers Europe’s Ryder Cup build-up to ‘well rested’ USA team

    Rory McIlroy believes Europe’s preparations for the Ryder Cup could give them an edge over a “well rested” American side.

    All 12 members of Luke Donald’s team made the cut in the BMW PGA Championship last week and seven finished in the top 10, with Tyrrell Hatton second, Jon Rahm fourth, Viktor Hovland fifth and Tommy Fleetwood sixth.

    McIlroy, who only made the weekend thanks to a birdie on the 18th in round two, carded closing scores of 67 and 65 to climb into a tie for seventh, with 54-hole leader Ludvig Aberg and Sepp Straka part of a tie for 10th.

    In stark contrast, only three Americans will have played competitively since the end of August when they tee it up in Rome a month later, with Justin Thomas and Max Homa playing the Fortinet Championship and LIV Golf’s Brooks Koepka in action in Chicago.

    “The Americans will certainly be well rested,” McIlroy said.

    “I don’t think there’s any substitute for being sharp and playing tournaments. The only thing is it’s match play and not stroke play so it’s a little bit different, but I don’t think us playing a little bit more over these last few weeks is going to hurt us at all.

    “If anything I would say it’s certainly better for me. I wouldn’t have liked to go into the Ryder Cup with my last start being the Tour Championship but that’s personal preference. I like to play my way into the big events.”

    McIlroy felt Donald would have viewed the Wentworth leaderboard as “awesome” and was full of praise for the former world number one’s captaincy since succeeding Henrik Stenson after he was sacked for joining LIV Golf.

    “I think he’s been fantastic,” the four-time major winner added. “He took the job in very weird circumstances I guess but he’s taken it in his stride and he’s been fantastic with me.

    “I’m sure he’s had a lot more interaction with some of the rookies and the new guys that are on the team. I feel at this point I can take care of myself a little bit.

    “If you speak to everyone we’ve all been really pleased with the job him and all of his team have done so far; the vice-captains are a big part of it and Ryder Cup Europe with all the backroom staff and everyone involved. It’s been great so far.”

    McIlroy is the most experienced player on the European team and will be making his seventh Ryder Cup appearance in Rome, but Donald has made it clear where the Northern Irishman’s priorities will lie.

    “Yeah, he doesn’t expect me to stand up there and make big speeches or say a lot of things,” said McIlroy, who was reduced to tears by winning just one point from four matches in the record defeat at Whistling Straits.

    “But if I can lead by example and be the first one to the team room if there is a meeting, first one on the bus on the way to the course; anything like that where I’m still doing all the things that you should do and not getting complacent, that’s the way I would like to lead.

    “And, as Luke said, lead with my clubs and making birdies and getting blue on the board.”

  • United States lead 7-5 against Europe in Solheim Cup United States lead 7-5 against Europe in Solheim Cup

    Swedish rookies Linn Grant and Maja Stark secured a vital win as Europe remained two points behind the United States at 7-5 after the third session of the Solheim Cup.

    Home favourite Carlota Ciganda had led from the front as she partnered Emily Pedersen to victory over Lilia Vu and Jennifer Kupcho in the opening foursomes at Finca Cortesin.

    However, defeats for Anna Nordqvist and Leona Maguire, and Georgia Hall and Celine Boutier gave the visitors a 7-4 lead until Grant and Stark closed out their match with Danielle Kang and Andrea Lee in brilliant fashion.

    Stark holed from 25 feet for birdie on the 17th to move one up and, with their opponents in close on the par-five 18th, Grant holed from 10 feet for birdie to seal the win.

    Grant told Sky Sports: “It’s amazing. The last two holes gives us so much momentum. We’re on such a high right now, it feels great.”

    The close friends had lost the opening foursomes on Friday and were split up for the afternoon fourballs, but repaid the faith of Europe captain Suzann Pettersen on Saturday.

    “It’s so much fun, especially getting that confidence from Suzann putting us together,” Stark said. “Two rookies has got to be a little hard for her to put out in the first group yesterday.

    “I think there were a lot of nerves involved on the first few holes yesterday and getting to play with her (Grant) again is just amazing and I knew that we could do it. It was just about letting loose and just doing it.”

    Nordqvist and Maguire had been two up after eight holes against Lexi Thompson and Megan Khang, but bogeyed the ninth, 10th and 11th to fall behind.

    A birdie on the 15th got the European pair back on level terms, only for them to bogey the 17th as Nordqvist appeared to choose the wrong club and fired her tee shot into a bunker at the back of the green.

    Hall and Boutier, who had surrendered their unbeaten record on day one, never recovered from losing the first two holes to Nelly Korda and Allisen Corpuz and were unsurprisingly left out of the afternoon fourballs, with Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall making her first appearance alongside Nordqvist.

  • Europe stage superb fourballs fightback to cut USA’s lead to 5-3 in Solheim Cup Europe stage superb fourballs fightback to cut USA’s lead to 5-3 in Solheim Cup

    Emily Kristine Pedersen and Leona Maguire produced much-needed moments of magic as Europe dramatically kept their hopes of an unprecedented third straight Solheim Cup victory alive at Finca Cortesin in Spain.

    After the United States won a foursomes session 4-0 for the first time ever, Suzann Pettersen’s side rallied superbly to win three points from the afternoon fourballs to trail just 5-3 heading into the second day.

    Pedersen made the second hole-in-one in the history of the biennial contest on the 12th hole as she and team-mate Maja Stark halved a high-quality contest with Jennifer Kupcho and Allisen Corpuz.

    And Maguire then chipped in for a birdie on the 18th to give her and Georgia Hall what looked like a good chance of halving their match with Lexi Thompson and Lilia Vu, only for Thompson to crack under the pressure and shank a simple chip shot from the edge of the green.

    To her credit, Thompson hit a superb fourth shot from a far more difficult position, but Vu was unable to hole her long birdie attempt and Europe could celebrate a most unlikely victory.

    Spain’s Carlota Ciganda and Sweden’s Linn Grant enjoyed a comfortable 4&2 win over Angel Yin and Ally Ewing, while Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh and Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom halved their match with Megan Khang and Rose Zhang.

    Maguire told Sky Sports: “I feel like we played great all day and it would have been really annoying not to come away with a point.

    “Georgia kept it together on the front nine and I holed a couple on the back and it’s nice to finish off in style.

    “I think the Americans played incredible this morning. I think we played well as well, there was no bad golf out there and you have to play some really good golf to win a point, even a half point in these matches.

    “We’ll never give up and I think we showed that today.”

    Hall, who admitted she was feeling the effects of playing 36 holes on a very hilly course, added: “Leona’s shot on the last was phenomenal and just what we needed.

    “That’s why she’s such a great player at the Solheim.”

    Europe’s campaign for a third straight win had earlier got off to a nightmare start, with Pedersen and Charley Hull thrashed 5&4 by Ewing and Cheyenne Knight and the rookie pair of Grant and Stark losing 2&1 to Thompson and Khang.

    Hall and Celine Boutier then surrendered their unbeaten record to Danielle Kang and Andrea Lee, while Maguire and Nordqvist lost on the 18th to Corpuz and Nelly Korda.

    United States captain Stacy Lewis had seen her selections questioned after picking an out-of-form Thompson and leaving two-time major winner Vu and rising star Zhang out, but was totally vindicated by the scoreline.

    Lewis told Sky Sports: “You could not ask for much more. We knew those middle two matches were going to be tough and just saw a tonne of fight in our girls and fortunately we were on the right side of it.”

    Asked about picking Thompson, Lewis added: “I had a feeling yesterday.

    “She wasn’t in my line-up that I’ve had for a couple of weeks. The way the last four days have gone, just the way she seemed mentally I had a good feeling about it and Meghan’s been playing amazing the last month or so.

    “I literally went to them with about three holes left in their practice round and said, ‘hey can you figure out some golf balls’ and fortunately they managed it and got the win.”

    Former Europe captain Catriona Matthew, who led the side to victories in 2019 and 2021, admitted she was surprised by the outcome of the session.

    “I don’t think anyone saw this coming,” Matthew said on Sky Sports. “I think it’s deflating for everyone. The Americans have done what they wanted to do, they’ve quietened the crowd.

    “The Europeans just looked edgy this morning, we got off to a very poor start, were down in all the games, barely ever actually saw any blue on the board so I think this afternoon they’re going to have to go out there strong, try and get some blue on the board and get the crowd into this.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.