US Open golf champion Lucas Glover tightened his grip on the SBS Championship in Hawaii yesterday when three birdies in the last six holes put him three strokes clear after round two.
On another surprisingly benign day on the spectacular Maui coastline, Glover fired a sizzling eight-under-par 65 to set the pace in the PGA Tour's season-opening event, contested by 28 golfers who won PGA Tour events in 2009, albeit without the signal presence of one Eldrick "Tiger" Woods.
After eagling the par-five ninth to reach the turn in four-under 32, the long-hitting American picked up further shots at the 10th, 13th, 14th and 16th for a 15-under total of 131.
Glover ended up just two shy of matching the tournament record for the first 36 holes, South African Ernie Els having set an aggregate of 17-under 129 on his way to victory in 2003.
"It was slow starting out but I got it turned around in the middle of the front nine," Glover said after recording seven birdies, one bogey and one eagle. "I was lucky enough to eagle nine again and I made some putts I shouldn't have."
John Rollins hit a 66 to lie second, one ahead of fellow countrymen Sean O'Hair (67) and Matt Kuchar (68), Australian Geoff Ogilvy (66) and Scotland's Martin Laird (68).
Colin Montgomerie's Europe held off a strong fightback to beat Asia 8½-7½ and regain the Royal Trophy in Thailand.Asia began Sunday's concluding singles one point adrift but took 3½ points from the first five matches to surge ahead at the Amata Spring Country Club.Pablo Martin and Soren Kjeldsen won for Europe to take it to the final match.
Asia's Thongchai Jaidee had a 15-footer on the last to win his game and force a play-off but missed and Henrik Stenson holed to capture the winning halve.It was a fine start to 2010 for Montgomerie, whose European team face the USA in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, Wales from 1-3 October.
It was Europe's third victory out of four events in the Royal Trophy, which was first staged in 2006 when Seve Ballesteros was their captain.
t finally all came together for Charl Schwartzel as the combination of great golf and a bit of luck merged on the last day of the Africa Open at East London Golf Club on Sunday.
The young South African claimed the fifth victory of his career with a final round of 67 for a total of 20 under par, and finished one stroke clear of joint ovrnight leader Thomas Aiken.
Schwartzel has for months been saying how all he needs is a little bit of luck to go his way, and he got it in this final round.
He made some vital putts for par on the sixth and 13th holes, and on each occasion followed these with birdies. But Schwartzel certainly tested his good fortune on the par-four 18th.
After running through the field with seven birdies for a two-stroke lead over Aiken playing the last, Schwartzel hit his drive far right.
It left him a difficult 215-yard shot with the wind coming off the right and into a green which had yielded only five birdies on the final day.
He went on to make bogey, and watched anxiously as Aiken, playing behind him, missed a makeable birdie putt that would've forced a playoff.
Jack Nicklaus believes Tiger Woods will find it tougher to break his record of 18 major wins if he sits out this year.
Woods, who is taking an indefinite break from golf, has been in hiding since admitting last month that he had been unfaithful to his wife.
There has been all kinds of speculation as to his whereabouts, but nobody seems to be sure about where he is holed up.
"I don't know what he is going to do or play, only he can answer that," said 'The Golden Bear' in a teleconference yesterday.
"Certainly this year, where (three of the four) majors are being played at venues he loves -Augusta, Pebble Beach and St Andrews, gives him a great chance to improve his major count. He owns all three of those places.
"If Tiger is going to pass my record I think this is a big year in that regard. If he doesn't play this year obviously the chore will get tougher."
Woods, who has won 14 majors to Nicklaus' record 18, has triumphed four times at the US Masters, twice at the US Open at Pebble Beach twice in the British Open at St Andrews.
The 2010 US PGA Championship will be held at Whistling Straits for only the second time, the first winner being the big Fijian Vijay Singh, who won there in 2004.
Nicklaus, who will be 70 on January 21, does not expect the golfing world to collapse without Woods, who turned 34 on New Year's eve.
He said: "There was golf after Bobby Jones, and after Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, the game has always survived us and the game will continue to go forward.