Sergio Sets Sights on No 1

By Associated PressNovember 11, 2008, 5:00 pm
2006 HSBC ChampionsSHANGHAI, China ' Sergio Garcias playoff victory over Oliver Wilson in the HSBC Champions gave the Spaniard a career-high No. 2 world ranking.
 
He also has some unfinished business after passing Phil Mickelson in the rankings ' winning his first major and, even more difficult, challenging Tiger Woods for No. 1.
 
I think my next goal is trying to win a major, Garcia said Monday after making a 7-foot birdie on the second playoff hole ' the par-5 18th ' after Wilson missed a 10-footer. Well, weve been trying for quite a while.
 
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia has won three times around the world in 2008. (Getty Images)
Attacking No. 1 probably depends a little bit on how much he takes off and if I keep playing well, Garcia added. Its possible, mainly because hes been injured. Ive never been this close to No. 1, so its exciting to be there.
 
This has probably been Garcias best season, due partly to improved putting.
 
He won The Players Championship and his home-course Castellon Masters, and finished second or tied for second in three events. One was the PGA Championship ' one of the four majors.
 
Garcias putting held up Monday at the Sheshan Golf Club on the outskirts of Chinas financial capital.
 
He forced the playoff by holing a 5-foot birdie on 18 to finish with a 4-under 68 and match Wilson at 14-under 274. The Englishman, a surprise star for Europe in the Ryder Cup, reached the playoff by saving his par on 18 with a 7-footer for a 70.
 
Its been a very solid year, Garcia said. I had some hard losses this year, but we came back strong and were finishing the year very nicely.
 
When you get into a sudden-death playoff, you have to hit the right shot at the right time, but you have to get lucky at the same time. Its happened to me a couple of times this year where I thought I won the playoff and I wound up losing.
 
Wilson is winless on the European tour, but has eight second-place finishes. He gained attention at the Ryder Cup, teaming with Henrik Stenson to beat Mickelson and Anthony Kim in foursomes. But hes fed up finishing No. 2.
 
Its just getting to a stage where second is not enough anymore, he said. There was a time when I was pleased to be finishing there, and its gone.
 
Mickelson, the 2007 champion, shot a 73 to tie for eighth in the $5 million tournament, five strokes behind the leaders. He is now third in the world rankings.
 
Peter Hanson (66) and Geoff Ogilvy (70) finished a stroke off the lead, while Stenson (71) was three behind.
 
Garcia and Wilson were the survivors on the back nine, where four players ' Garcia, Wilson, Hanson and Ogilvy ' were tied at 13 under during the closing holes.
 
Rain washed out play on Friday, slowed the start on Saturday and forced the Monday finish. Wilson played two holes of the final round on Sunday, and Garcia got in three before darkness stopped play.
 
The event was the first of the 2009 European Tour season, which will end next November in the Dubai World Championship. The European Tour also rebranded the Order of Merit ' the season money title ' as the Race to Dubai. That tournament will have a $10 million purse with another $10 million available in bonus money.
 
The HSBC is being suggested as a possible World Golf Championships event. Ten of the worlds top-20 were in this years field.
 
Though the rain delays made for a clumsy finish, Garcia wasnt complaining.
 
You have to deal with it, he said. You cant do anything about it so you just stay patient.
 
That patience was rewarded. He earned $833,000 and a career-high ranking with the victory.
 
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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”