Olazabal Takes Step Closer to Ryder Cup With Win

By Golf Channel NewsroomMay 6, 2001, 4:00 pm
Jose Maria Olazabal came from behind on Sunday to capture the 19th victory of his career on the European Tour at the Novotel Perrier Open de France.
 
Playing both the third and fourth rounds on Sunday due to heavy rains earlier in the week, the Spaniard ' who turned 35-years-old on Wednesday ' posted rounds of 66-67 to finish at 12-under-par 268, two shots clear of Italys Costantino Rocca (64-69), Paul Eales (67-68) and Greg Turner (67-67). Frenchman Gregory Havret was a shot further back at 9-under.
 
Free Video - Registration Required Olazabal comments on his Open de France win
 
For Olazabal, not only is this his first win of the year in Europe, but it is his first since last years Bensen and Hedges International, which he will defend next week at The De Vere Belfry.
 
Of course, the two-time Masters champion has been spending the majority of his time in the U.S., and has only competed in one other event this year in Europe, the Open de Espana, where he missed the cut.
 
In contrast, he has already played in nine events in America. His best finish in any of those has been a T12 at The Players Championship.
 
Due to his lack of appearaces in Europe, Olazabal ' as well as several others ' have been the mark of conversation and some criticism from several media sources who feel that the players are not taking a priority in making the 2001 European Ryder Cup team.
 
With his win, Olazabal moves into the eighth spot on the Volvo Order of Merit List, and has increased his chances for making the team dramatically.
 
If I want to make the Ryder Cup team, it is very important for me to do well in those tournaments I am going to play in Europe, Olazabal commented. This is a very important step towards that.
 
It feels great, he went on to say. It has been a long time since I have been a winner on this Tour. I am very, very pleased. It was a good fight within myself just to stay calm ' as calm as possible and focused as possible to get the most out of every shot. Im very happy with what I have done even though I know I should have struck the ball better.
 
There are ways to score and ways to play golf. Im very happy with the way I scored this week, but think I need to improve the quality of the shots I hit, especially off the tee. Thats what my target and job is for the next few weeks.
 
Rocca may have been thinking along the same sentiments, as after his morning round in which he made six birdies against no bogies, he could do no better than an afternoon score of 69 which consisted of four birdies, but also three of the black numbers.
 
He may have also been thinking back to 1993, when it was at this same venue that he won his first tournament on the European Tour.
 
I made two or three mistakes but Ive enjoyed my game, the Italian veteran commented. I missed a chance at the 15th from about six feet to go to 11-under and then made a mistake on the 16th.
 
When you play a course or near a course where you won it brings back good memories and I thought about my first win. This has been a good week for me.
 
Full-field scores from the Novotel Perrier Open de France
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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.