Stricker to make his Middle East debut in Qatar

By Associated PressFebruary 2, 2011, 6:55 pm

2009 European Tour

DOHA, Qatar – The growing strength of the European Tour convinced reluctant globe-trotter Steve Stricker to make his Middle East debut at the Qatar Masters this week.

Stricker, who comes in ranked No. 7 in the world, follows on the heels of fellow American Phil Mickelson, who made his debut in the Middle East last month at the Abu Dhabi Championship. Tiger Woods will be returning to play in the Dubai Desert Classic next week.

Stricker acknowledged some of the best golf was being played on the European Tour, adding that he’s looking forward to competing against No. 1 Lee Westwood and No. 2 Martin Kaymer in Doha.

“You’ve got a strong field here, along with other players, Robert Karlsson, past winner from last year,” Stricker said. “Now you’ve got Westwood and Kaymer who have been playing some great golf, and I think it kind of goes in cycles. But right now, obviously the top players are over here in Europe and part of the reason why I came here to try to play well in this event.”

The 43-year-old Stricker acknowledged long-distance journeys were something he passed on in the past and probably were not for everyone on the U.S. PGA Tour – partly due to the fact that the prize money was bigger in the United States and the travel time much shorter.

“I think this week in Phoenix is (richer; $6.1 million to Doha’s $2.5 million), and that’s right in the backyard for most players who live in Phoenix and it’s not far to go no matter where you are in the States,” Stricker said. “The ease of travel is part of the reason I think a lot of guys just stay home and the type of money that we play for is another reason. I think that’s what lures the European players to go over there, too.”

However, Westwood and other top players took Stricker’s presence as a sign of the European Tour’s growing prestige, which he said should help attract more big-name sponsors and, in turn, more prize money.

“The better quality field you can get, the more sponsors set up and are attracted to events,” Westwood said. “I think that’s the same worldwide. We all need to group together, especially at times like this, where people are struggling for cash and don’t have the disposable incomes to put into tournaments.”

Westwood, who lost a singles to Stricker at last year’s Ryder Cup, said the American, a nine-time winner on the U.S. tour, will likely be among those contending for the title.

“He’s been a great player for a long time now,” Westwood said. “His career has followed a similar path to mine where we were both high up in the world rankings and then dropped off and both came back.”

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 6, Dustin Johnson

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:00 pm

Only Dustin Johnson could win four times in 2017 and it still feels as though he underachieved.

That’s unfair, perhaps, but it’s a testament to Johnson’s awesome ability – and his incredible run of form last spring – that observers can’t help but shake the feeling that his year could have been even better.

In February, he rose to the top of the world rankings for the first time, the culmination of a long, bizarre journey in which he often battled himself (through major blunders and, reportedly, drug-related suspensions) as much as his peers. Johnson’s blowout victory at Riviera was his first of three consecutive titles (including two WGCs), as he achieved Tiger-like levels of dominance and rolled into the Masters as the prohibitive favorite.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Expectations for this star-crossed talent are always different, and so the surprise wasn’t that he blew that major but that he didn’t even give himself a chance. In one of the biggest stunners of the year, Johnson’s manager announced on the eve of the first round that his client had suffered a back injury while slipping on a set of stairs in his rental house. Just like that, the year’s first major was thrown into chaos, with Johnson unable to play – the line of demarcation in his good-but-not-great year.

Though he added a playoff victory at the end of the season, Johnson failed to factor in any of the remaining three majors and was surprisingly inconsistent, perhaps because of swing compensations after the injury.

Would DJ have denied Sergio Garcia a green jacket? Would he have created even more separation at the top of the world rankings? Would he have defended his Player of the Year title? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

In typical DJ fashion, he left us to ponder what could have been.

Johnson becomes world No. 1, starts season with three straight wins

Article: Johnson officially ascends to No. 1 for first time with Riviera win

DJ on reaching No. 1: 'It's been a long journey'

View from the top: How long will DJ stay at No. 1?

Article: DJ's star once again shines brightest at WGC-Mexico

DJ on win: 'Means a lot' with the pressure of No. 1

DJ breaks it down: How No. 1 won WGC-Mexico

Video: DJ withstands Rahm's rally to win WGC-Match Play final

DJ on beating Rahm: 'I didn't give him anything'

Johnson: 'I definitely didn't play my best today'


Johnson enters Masters as odds-on favorite, withdraws after falling down stairs

Article: After uneasy warmup, DJ withdraws from Masters

Article: Johnson installed as Masters betting favorite

Article: DJ injures back in fall, hopes to play Masters

DJ on Masters WD: 'Want to play ... it sucks'

DJ: 'I was playing the best golf of my career'


DJ welcomes second child with fiancée Paulina Gretzky

DJ, Paulina welcome baby boy before U.S. Open

It's a(nother) boy! DJ-Paulina's gender reveal


This and that: DJ and Paulina in 2017

DJ, Paulina make new music video on ski vacation

DJ, Paulina unwind with Bahamas vacay

DJ: 'Absolutely' no input on Paulina's social media

Watch: Paulina shows off pretty swing at TopGolf


Johnson adds fourth win of season, blows chance at fifth

As good as it gets: DJ-Outduels Spieth at Northern Trust

Johnson's HSBC collapse surprising, but not major

DJ beats Spieth in playoff to earn fourth win of year

Burr: 'For a great win there is an epic collapse'