Player Makes Politically Correct Choice

By Ian HutchinsonAugust 13, 2007, 4:00 pm
In golf terms, PC is an abbreviation used for the Presidents Cup and, in making one of his captain's picks for his International team, Gary Player definitely went PC, as in politically correct, but does that doesn't necessarily make it the correct choice.
 
Player answered the question that had been on Canadians lips since it was first announced that the Presidents Cup will be played late next month at Royal Montreal. Mike Weir seemed to be a lock back then, but he wobbled into the PGA Championship and missed the cut just before Player made his picks.
 
Player, who spoke often about picking players with hot hands, still went with the 2003 Masters champion, who also withdrew from the Bridgestone Invitational with a neck injury after tying for 34th at his national Open three weeks ago.
 
Those less than impressive results contradict Player's hot hand theory, but there was more at stake with the selection of Weir than just natural talent and strong play of late.
 
'Mike, as we know, won the Masters and has been a very good player through the years -- a very, very good match player even though he didn't finish in the top 10,' said Player.
 
'Mike is a terrific competitor. He's a real fighter and I've got tremendous confidence in him. You couldn't ask to have a better team player than Mike. If you don't put him in, he doesn't sulk. If you put him in, he says he's always willing to play anybody,' added the Black Knight.
 
It's impossible to argue with Player on any of those points, but considering the flat tires suffered by Weir lately, it appears his heritage as much as anything had a role in him being picked.
 
'If we didn't have a Canadian on my team, I can assure you, in my opinion, the series would be quite flat amongst the Canadian people,' said Player.
 
While Canadians wouldn't have like any decision to not include Weir, it's unlikely Presidents Cup attendance would have suffered because of it. What Player needed to consider was how his Internationals might have lost home field advantage without a Canadian on the team.
 
'Mike is a hero in his country, deservedly so, and I'm sure the Canadian people are going to be relieved because I continuously had questions every week, 'Are you putting Mike in?' and I said we have to wait to the end.'
 
It now appears that the decision to include Weir was made well before his unveiling as an International team member. Weir is the golden golfer of Canada despite his recent struggles, but how will the world react should he falter in Montreal?
 
A legitimate case could be made that Weir wasn't even the best Canadian when Player made his picks as Calgary's Stephen Ames was ahead of Weir in Presidents Cup standings, world rankings and on the PGA Tour money list, but couldn't win the popularity contest.
 
While much has been made about Ames wilting in the presence of Tiger Woods in the final round of the PGA Championship, he did put himself in that position in the first place, but it appears his only chance to make the International team was by getting an automatic selection.
 
'He played so well at the PGA,' said Player. 'The way we worked it out, he had to finish in the top four, which I actually thought he would do the way he was playing. If he finished fourth solo, he would have got into the top 10. Unfortunately, he didn't have a very good last round.
 
'Everybody was on my mind,' added Player. 'It's a very difficult thing to select a team. You've got a lot of people when they hear the selections will say, 'Well, I thought I deserved to play.''
 
Player could hear more of that should Weir stumble in his home and native land, but that is far from predetermined despite his recent play. His recent swing changes could click in and he does have an impressive 8-6 overall record and the experience of three Presidents Cups behind him.
 
'It was tough the last couple of weeks,' said Weir. 'I ran into a little bit of bad luck with pulling a neck muscle at Firestone -- bad timing. I didn't want to be hampered by that the last couple of weeks, but that was the way it was. I knew I had been playing well the last couple of weeks leading into that.
 
'I've always thought highly of the Presidents Cup and I've enjoyed playing the last three and I thought it was such a great competition. Being in Canada, I wanted to play. I felt like, sometimes, I was maybe trying too hard.
 
'Now that Gary's made me a selection, maybe I can relax a bit more and play some real good golf leading into the Presidents Cup.'
 
That would make Player's choice very PC, as in popular in Canada.
 
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    Toronto Sun Editor's Note: Ian Hutchinson is golf columnist for the Toronto Sun and senior writer for Pro Shop Magazine, a Canadian golf trade publication, and Canadian Golfer Magazine. He is also a frequent contributor to Golf Scene and Golf Canada Magazine, the official magazine of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.
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    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.

    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.

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    Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

    SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

    Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

    Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

    With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

    ''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

    Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.


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    ''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

    Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

    Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

    He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

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    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    "I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


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    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


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    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.