Internationals Dot US Top 30 But Is That Bad

By George WhiteOctober 7, 2004, 4:00 pm
It was only 10 years ago, actually back in 1994, that the U.S. tour was overwhelmingly U.S.-dominated. One decade ago, 26 of the 30 players who qualified for the Tour Championship at seasons end were Americans.
Then, just like today, the No. 1 player was not American-born ' Nick Price was born in South Africa, raised in Zimbabwe. So was No. 2 ' Australian Greg Norman. But from there down through much of the money lists upper half, it was largely the home-bred.
Lets see, Ernie Els was No. 19, David Frost was No. 20. But there wasnt another international player until down at No. 46 ' Craig Parry. Jose Maria Olazabal was No. 8 on the money list because of his Masters victory, but he only played in four U.S. events besides the majors and wasnt a PGA Tour member. This was Vijay Singhs second year in America, but he had a back injury in 94 and finished 52nd on the money list.
Take a look, now, at the prospectus for the Tour Championship as of this week. The Tour Championship isnt played for another month ' the first week in November. But the picture has totally changed from what it was a decade ago.
In the top spot this year is another international ' Singh. Number 2 is American Phil Mickelson, but No. 3 is yet another international ' Els. In fact, non-Americans are liberally sprinkled throughout the top 30. Fourteen 14 of the top 30 are internationals, as opposed to only four in 94.
What an incredible difference 10 years has made to the PGA Tour. Whereas a decade ago the few internationals among the games elite either came from Australia or South Africa, today they come from every corner of the globe.
Norman and Frost are no longer a factor, but look who has replaced them. This year, a Spaniard is represented, but it isnt Olazabal- its Sergio Garcia. Els is still winning tournaments, but another South African has been roaring through the U.S. tour ' Retief Goosen, followed by South African Rory Sabbatini. Adam Scott, Stuart Appleby and Mark Hensby are the top Australians now, not 49-year-old Norman.
And look at the other countries that are represented ' would you believe Trinidad and Tobago (Stephen Ames - now a Canadian citizen), along with Canadas Mike Weir, two from the Far East (South Korean K.J. Choi and Japans Shigeki Marayuma), and ' gasp ' Paraguay (Carlos Franco)?
Darren Clarke from Northern Ireland got in the top 30 Sunday when he finished in a tie for fourth at the World Golf Championship American Express tournament. The Tour Championship was the first thing out of his mouth after his finish in Ireland.
Im disappointed I didnt win (the American Express) and then the Tour Championship, he said upon completing the tournament, before he knew that his money earned in the AmEx did indeed place him at No. 26 on the U.S. list.
I had a few things on my mind, said Clarke. Number 1, just trying to make the Tour Championship. I'm 33rd I think going into this week, and hopefully today this will jump me up a little bit. Whether I've got to go play another tournament or not (in the States) to see if I can get in, I'll take a look at that at the end of the day.

The Tour Championship obvious is very meaningful to Clarke, even if he has to come play at Disney or at Tampa to get in. He plays the European Tour primarily, but also has played enough PGA Tour events to qualify him for this circuit.
If I'm very close I will try, he said. Because I played it for the first time last year and it's one of the biggest and best tournaments in the world and I'd love to get in.
So, obviously, would a lot of international players. And there are a couple of ways to look at the sudden influx of them on the U.S. tour.
One is to bemoan the lack of top American talent on the American tour.
The other way, though, is to appreciate that golf, at last, has become a truly international game. And the worlds greatest collection of talent plays the PGA Tour. Could there be a greater compliment?
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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).

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.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.