You Oughta Know: Tour Championship

By Rex HoggardSeptember 22, 2012, 11:38 pm

The race for the FedEx Cup has come down to the final day with plenty left to be settled. Here are notes and nuggets to whet your appetite for Sunday’s finish to the Tour Championship:

Rory McIlroy can become the newest member of the $10 million club on Sunday with a victory at the Tour Championship and lock up his status as this year’s PGA Tour Player of the Year. But if the bloated paycheck was going to keep the Ulsterman up at night the stress wasn’t showing. “This is nothing compared to going into the final round of a major with the lead,” he said.

The Ulsterman can also become the first player since David Duval in 1997 to win three consecutive starts ending with the Tour Championship.

Tiger Woods can collect his third FedEx Cup trophy with a victory. He could also cash in with a sixth-place finish or better depending on what McIlroy and the other top-5 players on the points list do on Sunday.

Brandt Snedeker, fifth in points entering the week, can also collect the check with a victory. Perhaps more important than the $10 million, however, a victory would silence critics who questioned U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III’s decision to make him a pick for next week’s matches.

• Nick Watney, currently 29th out of a 30-man field, is projected to finish fifth in the FedEx Cup standings and collect $1 million. Not a bad haul for a playoff run that featured a victory (Barclays), T-20 (Deutsche Bank Championship), T-45 (BMW Championship) and TBD (Tour Championship).

• Justin Rose can win but only if he gets some help from those ahead of him on the points list – including McIlroy finishing 17th or worse and Woods no better than a three-way tie for fifth.

• Love can get a sneak peek at a few potential Sunday pairings for next week’s Ryder Cup via the final-round pairings at East Lake – including Snedeker and Rose in the day’s anchor group, Luke Donald and Zach Johnson , and Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia.

Ryan Moore, who is alone in third place two strokes back, can collect his first Tour title since 2009.

• John Huh, the only rookie to advance to the Tour Championship, will likely wrap up the Rookie of the Year race. Four rookies have made it to the finale in the FedEx Cup era – Keegan Bradley (2011), Marc Leishman (2009), Andres Romero (2008) and Snedeker (2007) – and all were voted the year’s top newcomer.

• Steve Stricker, who has struggled with back-to-back 73s and is tied for 22nd, can become the all-time playoffs leader for top-10 finishes (currently he has 10) if he rallies on Sunday.

Getty Images

Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

Getty Images

Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

Getty Images

McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

Getty Images

Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.