Sergio looking to overtake Lefty in rankings

By Associated PressNovember 5, 2008, 5:00 pm
2006 HSBC ChampionsSHANGHAI, China ' Sergio Garcia isnt quite ready to replace golfs top-ranked player.
Thats Tiger Woods.
The No. 3-ranked Garcia is, however, aiming at overtaking No. 2 Phil Mickelson beginning Thursday at the HSBC Champions.
With six of the worlds top 10 players in the field ' and 10 of the top 20 ' the Shanghai event offers lots of ranking points which is, perhaps, a bigger draw for golfers than even the $5 million purse.
Need proof? Check out the other top-10 players in the field at the Sheshan Golf Club on the outskirts of Chinas financial capital: Mickelson, Padraig Harrington, Robert Karlsson, Camilo Villegas and Anthony Kim. Those in the second 10 arent too bad, either: Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, K.J. Choi and Henrik Stenson.
Woods played this tournament twice in its first two years, finishing second to David Howell in 2005 and second to Yang Yong-eun in 2006.
With victories in The Players Championship and his home-course Castellon Masters, Garcias consistency has moved him up the rankings. Hes also finished second or tied for second in three events this season in the U.S. and Europe.
If I play well I can really move fairly close to that second spot in the world (rankings), Garcia said Wednesday. So its something exciting, something that Im driving toward and this is a good week to have a chance at it.
The Spaniard must win on Sunday and hope Mickelson'the defending champion ' finishes far off the pace.
Mickelson is far less confident about catching Woods, who had surgery on his left knee after winning the U.S. Open. Its unclear when hell return, but some speculate it will be March at the earliest.
In golfs rankings system, which primarily weighs strength of field, Garcia trails Mickelson by less than one point ' 0.53 to be exact. Mickelson, on the other hand, trails Woods by 6.10 points. Woods leads with 14.41.
Its going to be difficult to get to the No. 1 spot, Mickelson said. Id have to win a lot of tournaments. Its not impossible.
Mickelson has failed to win in Woods absence, but could make up ground with a few quick victories.
Ive improved this year, said Mickelson, who won twice in the U.S. before Woods was sidelined. I had a level of consistency I havent had. But I didnt win the way I expected to. I didnt compete in the majors the way I had hoped to.
The strength of the field in Shanghai ' promoters are calling it Asias major ' reflects the global pull of golf and the rivalry between the dominant American tour and the surging European Tour.
This event is the first of the 2009 European Tour season, which will end next November in the Dubai World Championship. The European Tour has also rebranded the Order of Merit ' the season money title ' and now calls it the Race to Dubai. That tournament will have a $10 million purse with $10 million more available in bonus money.
The money has caught the attention of U.S. tour players. Kim and Villegas have already joined the European Tour, and Mickelson said Tuesday hes considering it.
It might be something I might do next year, Mickelson said. I wouldnt rule it out.
To be eligible, players must compete in 12 European Tour events. The four major championships and three World Golf Championships count toward the 12, meaning only five more are needed.
It just happens my first year joining the European Tour is the first year of the Race to Dubai, said No. 7-ranked Villegas. Obviously, its going to catch a lot of guys attention. It would be nice to see more guys from the U.S. come and play since golf is a worldwide sport.
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.