Kaymer collapses, finishes third to Stal in Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2015, 2:10 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - Gary Stal of France came from 10 shots back to capitalize on an improbable meltdown by Martin Kaymer and win the Abu Dhabi Championship after a frantic final round on Sunday.

Kaymer looked like cruising to a fourth title in Abu Dhabi after making three birdies in his opening four holes to extend his six-stroke lead from overnight, only to drop six shots in seven holes around the turn.

The No. 357-ranked Stal pounced with six birdies from Nos. 4-11 and held himself together down the stretch, picking up another shot at the 16th to capture his first European Tour title. He shot a 7-under 65 and was 19-under 269 overall.

Kaymer shot 75 for a 17-under total and third place. When he teed off on No. 6, he was 10 shots clear on 23 under - and only a shot off his record score around the National Course.

''A little shocked, surprised,'' Kaymer said. ''I don't know how to put it into words.''

Top-ranked Rory McIlroy had a 66 to finish a shot behind Stal in second, where he has now placed four times in Abu Dhabi.

Kaymer, a two-time major winner, is renowned as one of the best front-runners in golf and had been in supreme form in his first tournament of the year with rounds of 64, 67 and 65. He hadn't made a bogey since the 12th hole on Thursday and McIlroy even said Kaymer was ''playing his own tournament.''

After birdies at Nos. 1, 2 and 4, Kaymer's final round started to unravel when he made a bogey at No. 6 and then a double bogey at No. 10 after being forced to take a drop when his drive landed under a bush.

Kaymer lost the lead he had held since the first round when another drive wound up at the base of a bush on No. 13. A drop gave him a poor lie in the sandy wasteland and after chipping out into the fairway, he scuffed his approach shot 10 yards short of the green. He two-putted for a triple bogey and Stal was in front for the first time.

''When I saw the leaderboard on the fifth hole, I saw Martin Kaymer on 23-under par,'' said a stunned Stal. ''I couldn't believe it when I saw he was (17 under) after 15 holes.''

Stal, playing in the group in front of Kaymer, sank a 25-foot birdie putt on the 16th to move two shots ahead of Kaymer and McIlroy. Stal's approach to the 18th was tentative and landed in the rough to the right of the green, but he got up and down in two.

Kaymer, who won in Abu Dhabi in 2008, '10 and '11, needed to eagle the last for a playoff but he only managed a par.

''I can't believe this,'' said Stal, whose best previous finish was fifth.

Belgium's Thomas Pieters (70) and Victor Dubuisson (67) tied for fourth on 16 under.

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.