McIlroy stumbles, five back in Dubai

By Associated PressDecember 9, 2011, 3:17 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Rory McIlroy’s bid for the Race to Dubai title was in doubt after he hit into the water on 18 and finished five shots off the lead halfway at the Dubai World Championship on Friday.

No. 2-ranked McIlroy needs to win at Jumeirah Golf Estates and hope No. 1 Luke Donald finishes no better than ninth to claim the European money title. Donald hopes to become the first ever to win the European and PGA Tour cash crowns.

McIlroy admitted the failed last-hole gamble makes it unlikely he can overtake Donald for the European money title, though he insisted he wasn’t conceding it just yet.

“I’ve got a bit of an uphill battle on my hands now to try and win the tournament,” he said. “But it’s still very possible. I’m only five shots back with 36 holes to go which you can make up in nine holes … I’ve got to stay very patient and bide my time.”

Donald helped his cause, finishing with three birdies in a row to post a 4-under 68, tied for 12th.

“It was a struggle today. I’ve been making a few uncharacteristic mistakes, not sure what that is down to, maybe just the situation and what is at stake,” said Donald, who has finished outside the top 10 on the European Tour only three times this year.


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“But yeah, to make three birdies in a row will make lunch taste great and hopefully make the next two days a little easier.”

McIlroy, with his second consecutive bogey on 18, carded 71 to finish five shots behind Spanish leader Alvaro Quiros, who eagled the 18th for a 64.

Quiros’ bogey-free low round of the day included six birdies. He’s at 12-under 132 for the tournament, four shots clear of Sweden’s Peter Hanson (72). England’s Robert Rock (69) was a further shot behind at 7 under, tied with McIlroy.

McIlroy started out strong, much as he did on Thursday, with two birdies on the front nine. But on the back nine they were offset by three bogeys. On the 18th, he gambled on his approach shot and ended up in water.

“It obviously wasn’t the way I wanted to finish,” McIlroy said.

“You know, 3 under after 16 holes. If I had picked one up at the last two which I was trying to do and get to 10 under par for the tournament, it would have been a really good day. But unfortunately it wasn’t the case.”

McIlroy said the effects of a lingering illness didn’t have an impact, adding he “didn’t feel too bad.”

He said he came down with a mild case of dengue fever while he was in South Korea and China in October and early November. Blood results came back on Friday that showed his “platelet count was low and my white blood cell count was low as well.”

McIlroy said he will see a doctor again on Saturday before deciding whether to pull out of the Thailand Golf Championship next week.

“To be honest, I’m ready for the season to be done,” said McIlroy, who never considered pulling out of the Dubai finale. “But you know, it’s up to her (the doctor) at the end of the day. If she feels like I can go, then I’ll make the decision whether I can go or not.”

For Donald, it looked like he was headed for another disappointing day.

An errant drive on the first hole led to a bogey, but he bounced back with two birdies in a row. He then managed one birdie to go with a bogey over the next 11 holes as he struggled to keep his drives on the fairway.

But on the final three holes, the Englishman ran off three consecutive birdies. On the 18th, Donald’s drive landed in a pile of wood chips in the rough, but his 200-yard approach shot landed on the green and he sank a 12-footer for birdie.

“Well, it was certainly a lot of pressure out there,” Donald said. “It’s just that I’ve got to handle it. I’m making a little bit too many unforced errors and I need to play the weekend like Luke Donald knows how to play.”

No. 3-ranked Lee Westwood (70) was at 2 under, and No. 4 Martin Kaymer (71) on par for the tournament.

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.


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With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."