Power Rankings: Omega Dubai Desert Classic

By Will GrayJanuary 28, 2014, 10:22 pm

While the PGA Tour contests the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Arizona (our Power Rankings for that event can be viewed here), some of the top talent in Europe heads east to Dubai for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Emirates Golf Club serves as the final venue of the three-week Desert Swing and will welcome a field that includes current world No. 1 Tiger Woods.

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Stephen Gallacher returns to defend the title he won last year by three shots over Richard Sterne. Here are 10 players to watch this week in the Middle East:

1. Rory McIlroy: Of the three-highest ranked players in this week's field, the Ulsterman (somehow) enters with the fewest questions tied to his game. After a "foot fault" cost him a shot at winning two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi, McIlroy enters this week as the favorite to win an event where he recorded his first professional win at age 19.

2. Tiger Woods: Last year, Woods missed the cut in Abu Dhabi and then won at Torrey Pines the next week. After a rare MDF result last week in San Diego, he hopes to bounce back quickly once again, this time in Dubai.

3. Henrik Stenson: The Swede missed the cut two weeks ago in the desert and is still showing signs of a man who played more than his fair share of golf down the stretch in 2013. His run of five straight top-10 finishes here from 2006-2010 included a win in 2007, but Stenson's best finish since that streak ended is T-20.

4. Rafael Cabrera-Bello: The Spaniard led through 54 holes in Abu Dhabi before finishing T-4, then backed that up with a tie for third last week in Qatar. Cabrera-Bello has experienced some past success at Emirates, winning in 2012 and cracking the top 20 each of the past three years.

5. Joost Luiten: Luiten's fourth-place showing at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship was just the start of a solid run, which has now included two more worldwide top-10 finishes. His record in Dubai includes just one made cut in four appearances, but his current form indicates that tide may reverse itself this week.

6. Branden Grace: Grace began 2014 with a runner-up finish at the Volvo Golf Champions and was in contention all week in Qatar. After earning a spot on the Presidents Cup last fall, he appears eager to continue the lineage of great golfers from South Africa.

7. Thomas Bjorn: The Dane continues his resurgence and is now back inside the top 25 in the latest world rankings. He's been feast or famine in Dubai lately, alternating a T-15 (2010) and T-9 (2012) with a pair of missed cuts. After winning the Nedbank, Bjorn notched back-to-back top-10 finishes before stumbling to a missed cut last week in Qatar.

8. Ernie Els: The Big Easy hasn't played this event since 2009, but his results in the middle of the decade were superb: two wins, three runner-up finishes and a pair of T-3 results from 2002-2008. Few players in this week's field can match the pedigree of the four-time major champion when it comes to Emirates GC.

9. Peter Hanson: The Swede faded a bit during the latter half of 2013 but is returning to form, having recorded five straight top-25 finishes worldwide dating back to October. Hanson has four top-30 finishes in Dubai since 2007, including a ninth-place showing in 2011.

10. Peter Uihlein: After missing the cut in Abu Dhabi, Uihlein fired four rounds of 70 or better en route to a T-16 showing last week in Qatar. Tabbed as one of the game's rising stars, the American has struggled to get his ground off the game in 2014 but has a high ceiling on potential once things start to click.

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Watch: Tiger's Saturday birdies at Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 8:07 pm

Tiger Woods looks in complete control of his iron play at PGA National.

Four back to start the day, Woods parred his first seven holes before pouring in his first Saturday birdie with via this flagged iron from 139 at the par-4 eighth:

Woods' hit three more quality approaches at 9, 10 and 11 but couldn't get a putt to drop.

The lid finally came off the hole at No. 12 when he holed a key 17-footer for par to keep his scorecard clean.

One hole later, Woods would added a second circle to that card, converting this 14-footer for a birdie-3 that moved him back into red figures at 1 under par for the week.

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O. Fisher, Pepperell share lead at Qatar Masters

By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2018, 5:13 pm

DOHA, Qatar - Oliver Fisher birdied his last four holes in the Qatar Masters third round to share the lead at Doha Golf Club on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Englishman shot a 7-under 65 for an overall 16-under 200. Eddie Pepperell (66) picked up shots on the 16th and 18th to catch his compatriot and the pair enjoy a two-shot lead over American Sean Crocker (67) in third.

David Horsey (65) was the biggest mover of the day with the Englishman improving 31 places for a share of fourth place at 12 under with, among others, Frenchman Gregory Havret and Italian Andrea Pavan.

Fisher, winner of the 2011 Czech Open, made some stunning putts on his way in. After an eight-footer on the par-4 15th, he then drove the green on the short par-4 16th for an easy birdie, before making a 12-footer on the 17th and a 15-footer on the 18th.

Like Pepperell, Fisher also had just one bogey to show on his card, also on the 12th hole.

Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

''I gave myself some chances coming in and thankfully I made them,'' said Fisher, who has dropped to 369th in the world rankings.

''You can quite easily make a few bogeys without doing that much wrong here, so it's important to be patient and keep giving yourself chances.''

Pepperell, ranked 154th in the world after a strong finish to his 2017 season, has been a picture of consistency in the tournament. He was once again rock-solid throughout the day, except one bad hole - the par-4 12th. His approach shot came up short and landed in the rocks, the third ricocheted back off the rocks, and he duffed his fourth shot to stay in the waste area.

But just when a double bogey or worse looked imminent, Pepperell holed his fifth shot for what was a remarkable bogey. And he celebrated that escape with a 40-feet birdie putt on the 13th.

''I maybe lost a little feeling through the turn, but I bounced back nicely and I didn't let it bother me,'' said the 27-year-old Pepperell, who hit his third shot to within four feet on the par-5 18th to join Fisher on top.

The long-hitting Crocker is playing on invites on the European Tour. He made a third eagle in three days - on the par-4 16th for the second successive round.

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 24, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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Uihlein fires back at Jack in ongoing distance debate

By Randall MellFebruary 24, 2018, 4:32 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Wally Uihlein challenged Jack Nicklaus’ assault this week on the golf ball.

Uihlein, an industry force as president and CEO of Titleist and FootJoy parent company Acushnet for almost 20 years, retired at year’s start but remains an adviser.

In an interview with ScoreGolf on Friday, Uihlein reacted to Nicklaus’ assertions that the ball is responsible for contributing to a lot of the troubles the game faces today, from slow play and sagging participation to the soaring cost to play.

Uihlein also took the USGA and The R&A to task.

The ball became a topic when Nicklaus met with reporters Tuesday at the Honda Classic and was asked about slow play. Nicklaus said the ball was “the biggest culprit” of that.

“It appears from the press conference that Mr. Nicklaus was blaming slow play on technology and the golf ball in particular,” Uihlein said. “I don’t think anyone in the world believes that the golf ball has contributed to the game’s pace of play issues.”

Nicklaus told reporters that USGA executive director Mike Davis pledged over dinner with him to address the distance the golf ball is flying and the problems Nicklaus believes the distance explosion is creating in the game.

“Mike Davis has not told us that he is close, and he has not asked us for help if and when he gets there,” Uihlein said.

ScoreGolf pointed out that the Vancouver Protocol of 2011 was created after a closed-door meeting among the USGA, The R&A and equipment manufacturers, with the intent to make any proposed changes to equipment rules or testing procedures more transparent and to allow participation in the process.

“There are no golf courses being closed due to the advent of evolving technology,” Uihlein said. “There is no talk from the PGA Tour and its players about technology making their commercial product less attractive. Quite the opposite, the PGA Tour revenues are at record levels. The PGA of America is not asking for a roll back of technology. The game’s everyday player is not advocating a roll back of technology.”

ScoreGolf said Uihlein questioned why the USGA and The R&A choose courses that “supposedly” can no longer challenge the game’s best players as preferred venues for the U.S. Open, The Open and other high-profile events.

“It seems to me at some point in time that the media should be asking about the conflict of interest between the ruling bodies while at the same time conducting major championships on venues that maybe both the athletes and the technology have outgrown,” he said. “Because it is the potential obsolescence of some of these championship venues which is really at the core of this discussion.”