Who most needs to win the HSBC Champions?

By Randall MellNovember 3, 2011, 1:06 pm

Keegan Bradley leads the WGC-HSBC Champions after an opening 7-under 65. A victory would be his third on the PGA Tour this season and could lead to being named 2011 player of the year. But does anyone need a win more than Bradley? GolfChannel.com writers give their players for whom this is the biggest week.


Keegan Bradley could cause some mayhem in PGA Tour Player of the Year voting with his fast start at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

The Tour might receive a lot of messy ballots with one name (Luke Donald) scratched out and another (Bradley) added if Bradley goes on to win this weekend. He may even cause a felony or two with players trying to dig their ballots out of corner mail boxes.

I thought Donald locked up the award with his clutch finish at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic at Disney World two weeks ago, but Bradley’s got me re-evaluating. If he wins, it’s another clutch performance, a really impressive response to a really impressive statement by Donald at Disney.

If Bradley wins, he separates himself from all the other player-of-the-year candidates as not only the lone guy with three PGA Tour victories in 2011, but also as the only realistic candidate with a major championship title this season. If Bradley wins this week, he’s beating some big names. He's beating Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott, Graeme McDowell, Nick Watney, Hunter Mahan and more.

Yeah, I don’t like the fact that Bradley has missed 10 cuts this year, but winning more than anyone else, winning a major, that trumps the failures. Bradley’s still got to finish this weekend off, no easy task, but if he does, he’s my PGA Tour player of the year. Donald? He’s my world player of the year.


Rory McIlroy needs a big week in Shanghai and not just because he’s under the gun to hold up his end of the “Wozzilroy” super tandem. Nor does the Ulsterman need to prove he’s moved on following his split with uber-manager Chubby Chandler or that he’s fully recovered from the wrist injury he sustained during the PGA Championship.

His overtime victory last week at the Shanghai Masters cleaned up concerns on all those fronts. Unfortunately for McIlroy, none of the record $2 million he hauled in last week counts toward his European Tour cash total this season.

Which is why McIlroy needs a solid showing at the WGC-HSBC Champions. He trails Luke Donald by 1.3 million euro in the Race to Dubai. A victory at this week’s $7 million stop would allow him to close that gap by almost a million euro with only five events remaining before the December finale in Dubai.

Keegan Bradley, your front-runner through 18 holes in China, could influence the voting for PGA Tour Player of the Year by putting the “W” in WGC, but given the popular undercurrent in Donald’s favor for POY that doesn’t seem likely.

McIlroy, however, can make up serious ground on Donald with a victory, and make the Race to Dubai worth watching.


There are plenty of players in this week’s HSBC Champions field who would benefit from a victory, but none more than Bobby Gates – even after his disappointing opening-round 75.

Just the fact that Gates is competing in the tournament is a story in itself. As a member of the Nationwide Tour last year, he won the New Zealand Open, which is co-sanctioned by both the developmental circuit and the Australasian Tour. That victory got him into a few of the late-season Aussie triple crown events, including the Australian PGA Championship, where he finished in a share of sixth place, which helped him vault into fourth place on that tour’s money list.

Gates’ presence inside the top 5 gained him entry into the WGC; however, not much else has gone his way lately. Thanks to a final-hole three-putt at the PGA Tour season finale, the rookie dropped from 124th on the money list to 126th.

That’s where things get weird.

Because the HSBC is unofficial money, Gates can’t improve his standing in China and will need to play Q-School in a few weeks – unless he wins. For players who are already PGA Tour members, an HSBC victory comes with a three-year exemption, which means he could skip Q-School and proceed directly to Kapalua for the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the beginning of next year.

So if you’re scoring at home, his schedule will read either Disney-WGC-Q-School or Disney-WGC-Kapalua. If that sounds more than a little awkward, don’t convince yourself otherwise. It is.

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Frittelli fulfilled promise by making Match Play field

By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 8:40 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Dylan Frittelli attended the University of Texas and still maintains a residence in Austin, so in an odd way this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is a home game for the South African who plays the European Tour.

Frittelli actually attended the event last year as a spectator, when he watched the quarterfinal matches on Saturday afternoon, and made a promise to himself.

“I told a lot of people, I was running into them. I said, ‘I'll be here next year, I'll be playing in this tournament,’” said Frittelli, who climbed to 45th in the world ranking after two victories last year in Europe. “People looked at me, you're 190 in the world, that's hard to get to 64. It was a goal I set myself.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Frittelli’s next goal may be a little payback for a loss he suffered in college when he was a teammate of Jordan Spieth’s. Frittelli is making his first start at the Match Play and could face his old Longhorn stable mate this week depending on how the brackets work out and his play.

“We had the UT inter-team championship. Coach switched it to match play my senior year, and Jordan beat me in the final at UT Golf Club. It was 3 and 2,” Frittelli said. “So I'm not too keen to face him again.

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Match Play security tightens after Austin bombings

By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 8:06 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – A fourth bombing this month in Austin injured two men Sunday night and authorities believe the attacks are the work of a serial bomber.

The bombings have led to what appears to be stepped-up security at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.

“I was out here [Sunday]; typically that's the most relaxed day. But they had security officials on every corner of the clubhouse and on the exterior, as well,” said Dylan Frittelli, who lives in Austin and is playing the Match Play for the first time this week. “It was pretty tough to get through all the protocols. I'm sure they'll have stuff in place.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour told The Associated Press on Monday that it doesn't comment on the specifics of its security measures, but that the safety of players and fans is its top priority. The circuit is also coordinating closely with law enforcement to ensure the safety of players and fans.

Despite the bombings, which have killed two people and injured two others, the Tour has not yet reached out to players to warn of any potential threat or advise the field about increased security.

“It’s strange,” Paul Casey said. “Maybe they are going to, but they haven’t.”

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Rosaforte Report: Faxon helps 'free' McIlroy's mind and stroke

By Tim RosaforteMarch 19, 2018, 8:00 pm

With all the talk about rolling back the golf ball, it was the way Rory McIlroy rolled it at the Arnold Palmer Invitational that was the story of the week and the power surge he needed going into the Masters.

Just nine days earlier, a despondent McIlroy missed the cut at the Valspar Championship, averaging 29 putts per round in his 36 holes at Innisbrook Resort. At Bay Hill, McIlroy needed only 100 putts to win for the first time in the United States since the 2016 Tour Championship.

The difference maker was a conversation McIlroy had with putting savant Brad Faxon at The Bears Club in Jupiter, Fl., on Monday of API week. What started with a “chat,” as McIlroy described it, ended with a resurrection of Rory’s putting stroke and set him free again, with a triumphant smile on his face, headed to this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, and Augusta National in two weeks.

The meeting with Faxon made for a semi-awkward moment for McIlroy, considering he had been working with highly-regarded putting coach Phil Kenyon since missing the cut in the 2016 PGA Championship. From “pathetic” at Baltusrol, McIlroy became maker of all, upon the Kenyon union, and winner of the BMW Championship, Tour Championship and FedExCup.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

As a professional courtesy, Faxon laid low, respecting McIlroy’s relationship with Kenyon, who also works with European stars Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer, Tommy Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson. Knowing how McIlroy didn’t like the way Dave Stockton took credit after helping him win multiple majors, Faxon let McIlroy do the talking. Asked about their encounter during his Saturday news conference at Bay Hill, McIlroy called it “more of a psychology lesson than anything else.”

“There was nothing I told him he had never heard before, nothing I told him that was a secret,” Faxon, who once went 327 consecutive holes on Tour without a three-putt, said on Monday. “I think (Rory) said it perfectly when he said it allowed him to be an athlete again. We try to break it down so well, it locks us up. If I was able to unlock what was stuck, he took it to the next level. The thing I learned, there can be no method of belief more important than the athlete’s true instinct.”

Without going into too much detail, McIlroy explained that Faxon made him a little more “instinctive and reactive.” In other words, less “mechanical and technical.” It was the same takeaway that Gary Woodland had after picking Faxon’s brain before his win in this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Sunday night, after leading the field in strokes gained-putting, McIlroy was more elaborative, explaining how Faxon “freed up my head more than my stroke,” confessing that he was complicating things a bit and was getting less athletic.

“You look at so many guys out there, so many different ways to get the ball in the hole,” he said. “The objective is to get the ball in the hole and that’s it. I think I lost sight of that a little bit.”

All of this occurred after a conversation I had Sunday morning with swing instructor Pete Cowen, who praised Kenyon for the work he had done with his player, Henrik Stenson. Cowen attributed Henrik’s third-round lead at Bay Hill to the diligent work he put in with Kenyon over the last two months.

“It’s confidence,” Cowen said. “(Stenson) needs a good result for confidence and then he’s off. If he putts well, he has a chance of winning every time he plays.”

Cowen made the point that on the PGA Tour, a player needs 100-110 putts per week – or an average of 25-27 putts per round – to have a chance of winning. Those include what Cowen calls the “momentum putts,” that are especially vital in breaking hearts at this week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Stenson, who is not playing this week in Austin, Texas, saw a lot of positives but admitted there wasn’t much he could do against McIlroy shooting 64 on Sunday in the final round on a tricky golf course.

“It's starting to come along in the right direction for sure,” Stenson said. “I hit a lot of good shots out there this week, even though maybe the confidence is not as high as some of the shots were, so we'll keep on working on that and it's a good time of the year to start playing well.”

Nobody knows that better than McIlroy, who is hoping to stay hot going for his third WGC and, eventually, the career Grand Slam at Augusta.

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Golf's Olympic format, qualifying process remain the same

By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 6:25 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Potential Olympic golfers for the 2020 Games in Tokyo were informed on Monday that the qualification process for both the men’s and women’s competitions will remain unchanged.

According to a memo sent to PGA Tour players, the qualification process begins on July 1, 2018, and will end on June 22, 2020, for the men, with the top 59 players from the Olympic Golf Rankings, which is drawn from the Official World Golf Ranking, earning a spot in Tokyo (the host country is assured a spot in the 60-player field). The women’s qualification process begins on July 8, 2018, and ends on June 29, 2020.

The format, 72-holes of individual stroke play, for the ’20 Games will also remain unchanged.

The ’20 Olympics will be held July 24 through Aug. 9, and the men’s competition will be played the week before the women’s event at Kasumigaseki Country Club.