Lipsky wins European Masters in playoff

By Associated PressSeptember 7, 2014, 3:34 pm

CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland - An American golfer won the European Masters on Sunday to put himself atop the Asian Tour money list.

David Lipsky's unorthodox par-4 on the first extra hole to beat Englishman Graeme Storm was an appropriate way for the 26-year-old Korean speaker from Los Angeles to earn a career-best ?383,330 ($497,000) payday in the sunbathed Swiss Alps.

With the event co-sanctioned by the European and Asian tours since 2008, the winner's prize lifted Lipsky clear in the money list.

''It feels great,'' said Lipsky, the first winner here from Asia's tour and the first American winner since Craig Stadler in 1985. ''I've played well the last couple of weeks and to put it all together is really something special.''

His difficult route to the 18th green went via a fairway bunker and thick rough well short of the putting surface. An exceptional chip shot left a 2-foot putt for victory.

That strategy came after Storm, the overnight leader, sliced his tee shot wide right and could only chip out sideways before making a bogey-5.

''I was just playing percentages,'' said Lipsky of his cautious second shot. ''I didn't mean to hit it in the rough. I overshot my mark by a little bit.''

Still, Lipsky had already played the 18th perfectly in regulation to earn the playoff chance.



His wedge approach shot left a tap-in to complete a final-round 65, playing in the second-last group.

Storm missed a 30-foot putt for victory on the final hole and carded 68. Both had 18-under totals of 262 on the 6,848-yard (6,262-meter) Severiano Ballesteros course

Ballesteros would surely have approved of Lipsky's adventurous 65 that included an eagle-2, six birdies and three bogeys, with a couple of 3-putts thrown in the mix.

Lipsky has taken a path less traveled in his own career, via Northwestern University, Illinois, to the Asian tour where he first won in 2012 in the Cambodian Classic.

''I have a little bit of east meets west,'' said Lipsky, whose father is American and mother is from Seoul, South Korea. ''I speak a little bit of Korean. It definitely helped the transition to Asia and made me feel comfortable.''

His $645,770 winnings this season are more than double those of the next player on the Asian Tour money list - Anirban Lahiri of India, who tied for 13th, seven shots back.

Victory also took Lipsky into the top 150 of the world rankings, from No. 369, and earned a European Tour exemption through 2016.

''It has really developed me as a player,'' Lipsky said of the Asian circuit. ''Now, with European Tour status, I'll have to think about different scheduling.''

Another young American, Brooks Koepka, and Tyrrell Hatton of England tied for third trailing by one shot after shooting 67 and 65, respectively.

The 24-year-old Koepka, who plays on the European Tour, shared the lead until making bogey-5 at the 17th, after his tee shot found a bunker.

On another low-scoring day in the thin mountain air, a 67 from European Ryder Cup player Jamie Donaldson of Wales was only enough to place seventh, three shots back.

Two other members of Europe's team to face the United States at Gleneagles, Scotland, were never in contention Sunday. Victor Dubuisson of France shot 72 to finish 10 shots back, and defending champion Thomas Bjorn of Denmark had a 68 to be 12 shots out.

Frenchman Romain Wattel had a hole-in-one at the 11th, one day after Storm claimed the $186,000 hybrid sports car on offer there.

Storm, seeking his first victory since 2007, stayed in front alone until the seventh hole when briefly caught in a three-way tie at 17 under with Lipsky and Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, playing in the final group with Storm and Koepka.

Koepka made his move around the turn, easily making birdie at the 633-yard (579-meter) ninth, then picking up another shot on the 10th.

A shootout between Koepka and Storm loomed when both made birdie-4s at the 16th, but the American faltered at the next hole and Lipsky's exceptional birdie on the last forced the playoff.

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DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

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Hot Seat: Rory jumps into the fire early

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 2:11 pm

The world’s top tours head to desert regions this week, perfect locales for The Hot Seat, the gauge upon which we measure the level of heat the game’s top personalities are facing ...

Sahara sizzle: Rory McIlroy

McIlroy won’t have to look far to see how his form measures up to world No. 1 Dustin Johnson at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

McIlroy will make his 2018 debut with Johnson in his face, literally.

McIlroy will be grouped with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood in the first two rounds.

Players like to downplay pairings early in a tournament, but it’s hard to believe McIlroy and Johnson won’t be trying to send each other messages in this European Tour event in the United Arab Emirates. That’s the alpha-dog nature of world-class players looking to protect their turf, or in the case of McIlroy, take back his turf.

“When you are at the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Trevor Immelman said about pairings during Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge last month.

And that was an offseason event.

“They want to show this guy, ‘This is what I got,’” Immelman said.

As early season matchups go, Abu Dhabi is a heavyweight pairing that ought to be fun.

So there will be no easing into the new year for McIlroy after taking off the last three months to regroup from the stubborn rib injury that plagued him last season. He is coming off a winless year, and he will be doing so alongside a guy who just won the first PGA Tour event of 2018 in an eight-shot rout. Johnson’s victory in Hawaii two weeks ago was his fifth since McIlroy last won.

“Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place, and that was because of where I was physically,” McIlroy said of 2017. “I feel prepared now. I feel ready, and I feel ready to challenge. I feel really good about where I’m at with my health. I’ve put all that behind me, which has been great.”



Sonoran Smolder: Phil Mickelson

Mickelson will turn 48 this summer.

His world ranking is sliding, down to No. 43 now, which is the lowest he has ranked in 24 years.

It’s been more than four years since he last won, making him 0 for his last 92 starts.

There’s motivation in all of that for Mickelson. He makes his 2018 debut at the CareerBuilder Challenge in the Palm Springs area this week talking like a man on a renewed mission.

There’s a Ryder Cup team to make this season, which would be his 12th straight, and there’s a career Grand Slam to claim, with the U.S. Open returning to Shinnecock Hills, where Mickelson finished second in ’04.

While Mickelson may not feel old, there are so many young stars standing in his way that it’s hard not to be constantly reminded that time isn’t on his side in these events anymore.

There has only been one player in the history of the game to win a major championship who was older than Mickelson is right now. Julius Boros won the PGA Championship when he was 48 back in 1968.



Campaign fever: Jordan Spieth

Spieth’s respect in the game’s ranks extends outside the ropes.

He was just selected to run for the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council’s chairman position. He is facing Billy Hurley III in an election to see who will succeed Davis Love III on the Tour’s Policy Board next year.

Spieth, just 24, has already made Time Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People.” He made that back in 2016, with the magazine writing that “he exemplifies everything that’s great about sports.” Sounds like a campaign slogan.

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CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream


Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.


Notables in the field

Phil Mickelson

* This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

* For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

* He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

* This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.


Jon Rahm

* Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

* In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

* Last year he finished T-34 in this event.


Adam Hadwin

* Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

* In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.


Brian Harman

* Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

* Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

* Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.


Brandt Snedeker

* Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

* This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

* Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.


Patrick Reed

* Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

* This is his first start of 2018.

* Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)