Tiger Woods in his comfort zone against worlds best - COPIED

By Doug FergusonNovember 5, 2009, 12:17 am

HSBC Championship

SHANGHAI – Tiger Woods is playing for the third time in China with a strategy he’s used in winning 81 times around the world.

“Finish lower than anybody else,” Woods said Wednesday at the HSBC Champions.

That has proved elusive at Sheshan International Golf Club, and it doesn’t figure to be any easier this time around.

Woods headlines the strongest field ever in Asia, which includes world No. 2 Phil Mickelson, three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, defending champion Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood, who leads the Race to Dubai.

The world’s No. 1 player was runner-up in 2005 and 2006 at the HSBC Championship, the latter when he finished two shots behind a South Korean that hardly anyone knew – Y.E. Yang, who is far more famous now.

Yang became the first player to win a major championship where Woods had the 54-hole lead, winning by three shots in the PGA Championship at Hazeltine. It was the first major for an Asian-born player.

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“It was a relaxed atmosphere for me,” Yang said. “Now, there’s a little bit more pressure, I guess. I’m not as relaxed as I was back in ’06. Maybe it’s because Tiger is here. Maybe it’s because I’ve been through a lot of tournaments. Maybe it’s because the stress finally is trickling down.”

There is a lot more punch behind the fifth edition of this tournament. On each of the bright red signs at tee boxes and grandstands is that familiar logo of a spinning globe to signify this has become a World Golf Championship, the first individual WGC held in Asia.

That might help Woods get over the hump.

Woods has won a WGC event every year since the series began in 1999, including the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in August. He now has won 16 times in his 30 starts in the WGCs, and has never finished out of the top 10 in a stroke play WGC event.

“I’ve always enjoyed playing against such great fields,” Woods said. “That’s the whole idea of having the World Golf Championships. It’s not just the major championships that we all get together, and The Players (Championship). It’s now these World Golf Championships events. It’s a lot of fun for players to compete against these guys. For some reason, I’ve also had a lot of success.”

Garcia and Mickelson are past champions at Sheshan International, and the memories are particularly fond for Garcia.

A year ago, his victory moved him to a career-high No. 2 in the world, and he had opportunities earlier this year to move past Woods to No. 1 in the world ranking. Instead, the 29-year-old Spaniard has gone an entire season without winning.

He’s hopeful that will change this week.

“It’s a deeper field,” Garcia said. “A World Golf Championship always has a little bit more special feeling.”

Even so, the biggest threat might be Mickelson.

With a putting tip from former PGA champion Dave Stockton, Mickelson feels as though he has put all the pieces together. It showed at the Tour Championship, which he won by three shots over Woods, and at the Presidents Cup, where he was 4-0-1.

Mickelson struggled last week at the Singapore Open, although he chalked that up to a grass he had never seen on the putting surfaces. He says he is just as excited now as he was when the FedEx Cup ended on the PGA Tour.

And it’s a big week for Lefty outside the ropes, too.

Mickelson disclosed Wednesday that he has two golf projects in China – a massive complex in Kumming that will feature two golf courses, a par 3 course and a teaching academy with former swing coach Rick Smith; and a course in Tian Jim in which the design is to be inspired by golf holes from around the world.

At a downtown press conference Tuesday, Mickelson spoke of the importance of helping stoke interest in China, and that it helps when he and Woods are among those appearing overseas.

This will be the first time they have competed against each other in Asia.

“I think this is a very important event for the players,” Mickelson said. “We want to help grow the game here in China. We want to compete against the best players in the world. And to be able to win a world-class event in China would mean a lot to me and all of the other players in the field.”

As for his courses, and his efforts to translate his short-game DVD and book into Chinese?

“To win here would help my cause in promoting the game of golf here,” Mickelson said.

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.