An Eye on Europe
So what should we expect in 2002? Here are few names to keep an eye on:
At the top of the viewing list is Retief Goosen. The 33-year-old South African won twice on the continent, as well as the U.S. Open. He also became the second man in as many years to top the money list ' this after Colin Montgomerie held the earnings title for seven straight seasons.
He's already won this year's Johnnie Walker Classic, and is second in earnings entering the Dubai Desert Classic. Splitting his time between the European and PGA Tours, it will be difficult for him to repeat as Order of Merit champion - though its hard to fathom that he could slip as far as the 2000 winner did in 2001.
Lee Westwood went from King of the Hill to run of the mill this past season. One year removed from ending Montgomeries monetary reign, Westwood fell to 52nd on the money list ' the first time in five seasons that he had finished outside the top three.
From 1998 to 2000, Westwood won 12 times in Europe. This past year he posted a big bagel in the victory department.
Part of Westwoods professional descent can be traced to the birth of his first child the week of the Masters Tournament. The other part? Whatever it is, its something the 28-year-old Englishman must correct in order to redirect his 2002.
With Westwoods unexpected demise, Sergio Garcia is battling Goosen for the title of Europes best ' even if he plays primarily in the States.
Still, there are a number of quality players who will compete primarily on their home tour.
Expect great things from Padraig Harrington. The 30-year-old Irishman has 12 second-place finishes compared to three victories over the past three seasons. But he won the season-ending Volvo Masters and is in the best shape of his life.
Hes fared well in the States, and theres no reason ' after a runner-up finish (of course) on the Order of Merit in 2001 ' that he shouldnt vie for the top honor in 02.
And perhaps, so too, will Monty make a run for an eighth career money title. The 38-year-old Scot recorded his ninth consecutive multiple-win season in 2001, and finished fifth in earnings.
After hastily saying he may never return to the U.S. following the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Montgomerie may have added opportunities to regain his European dominance.
Montgomeries hopes to collect that elusive first major may be drawing nigh, however, as for the second straight year he failed to record a top 10 in a major championship.
In 1999, Paul Lawrie hoisted the Claret Jug with a helping hand from Jean Van de Velde. Neither man has since found much success, though the end of 2001 did bring with it some hope.
Lawrie won the Dunhill Links Championship, while the Frenchman earned just enough money to retain his card for the upcoming season.
Both men are worth watching in 2002.
As is Justin Rose. For the first time in his brief but very public career, Rose did not have to go through Q-School in order to gain his European Tour playing privilege. He nearly won twice and finished a surprising 33rd on the money list.
He's already built upon that success in 2002, winning the Alfred Dunhill South African PGA Championship.
Another early victor is Jose Maria Olazabal. The 36-year-old Spaniard won the 2001 Omega Hong Kong Open, which was an official '02 event.
He has also posted a pair of top-5 finishes to currently top the money list. Add those to a victory in the PGA Tour's Buick Invitational, and talk should persist as to whether or not the veteran should be considered for the European Ryder Cup team.
One final player to keep an eye on is Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance. The 48-year-old had his worst season ever on tour in 2001 (finishing 180th on the money list), while trying to balance his playing schedule and his captaincy duties.
Due to the Ryder Cup postponement, Torrance will once again have dual roles in 2002. Yes, hes nearing that Senior stage, but the 21-time tour winner made 16 of 19 cuts in 2000, when he focused primarily on playing.
Watson back in top 40 after OWGR free fall
Bubba Watson ended his free fall in the Official World Golf Ranking with a two-shot victory Sunday at the Genesis Open.
Watson, a fixture in the top 10 in the world as recently as 13 months ago, had dropped all the way to 117th after a 2017 season in which he struggled with poor form, illness and desire.
After his third career win at Riviera, he is up to 40th.
Kevin Na rose from 95th to 65th after tying for second in Los Angeles, while Tony Finau jumped from 41st to 33rd.
Tiger Woods actually improved in the world ranking, from No. 550 to No. 544, despite a missed cut at the Genesis Open.
On the European Tour, Joost Luiten surged from 90th to 68th after his victory in Oman.
The top 10 in the world remained unchanged as the PGA Tour heads into the Florida swing: Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy.
Bubba catapults, Phil creeps up in Ryder Cup standings
Bubba Watson was an assistant on the 2016 Ryder Cup team. He doesn’t want to be driving a cart in Paris.
Watson, thanks to his victory in the Genesis Open, jumped from 60th to 10th in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings. The top eight after the PGA Championship qualify automatically for this year’s edition at Le Golf National in France.
Phil Mickelson moved up one spot to 11th after tying for sixth at Riviera Country Club.
Players will receive one point per dollar earned in regular events this year, with 1.5 points per dollar in majors and two points per dollar for winning a major. Here's a look at the current U.S. standings:
1. Dustin Johnson
2. Brooks Koepka
3. Justin Thomas
4. Jordan Spieth
5. Matt Kuchar
6. Brian Harman
7. Gary Woodland
8. Rickie Fowler
9. Chez Reavie
10. Bubba Watson
11. Phil Mickelson
12. Patrick Reed
On the European side, the top four players from the Ryder Cup points list will be joined by the top four qualifiers from the world points list, with captain Thomas Bjorn making four additional selections. Here's a look at the current top names:
Ryder Cup Points
1. Justin Rose
2. Tyrrell Hatton
3. Ross Fisher
4. Matthew Fitzpatrick
1. Jon Rahm
2. Tommy Fleetwood
3. Sergio Garcia
4. Rory McIlroy
Genesis Open purse payout: Bubba makes bank
Bubba Watson won the Genesis Open for a third time on Sunday, moving his career PGA Tour win total to 10. Here's a look at how the purse paid out at Riviera Country Club.
|T26||Rafael Cabrera Bello||-2||$46,996|
|T37||Charles Howell III||-1||$33,120|
|T60||Harold Varner, III||3||$15,696|
|T68||Tyrone van Aswegen||7||$14,400|
After Further Review: Haas crash strikes a chord
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On the horrifying car crash involving Bill Haas ...
I spent a lot of time this week thinking about Bill Haas. He was the passenger in a car crash that killed a member of his host family. That man, 71-year-old Mark Gibello, was a successful businessman in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a new friend.
Haas escaped without any major injuries, but he withdrew from the Genesis Open to return home to Greenville, S.C. When he’ll return to the Tour is anyone’s guess. It could be a while, as he grapples with the many emotions after surviving that horrifying crash – seriously, check out the photos – while the man next to him did not.
The entire Haas clan is some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Wish them the best in their recovery. – Ryan Lavner
On TIger Woods' missed cut at the Genesis Open ...
After missing the cut at the Genesis Open by more than a few car lengths, Tiger Woods appeared to take his early exit in stride. Perhaps that in and of itself is a form of progress.
Years ago, a second-round 76 with a tattered back-nine scorecard would have elicited a wide range of emotions. But none of them would have been particularly tempered, or optimistic, looking ahead to his next start. At age 42, though, Woods has finally ceded that a win-or-bust mentality is no longer helpful or productive.
The road back from his latest surgery will be a winding one, mixed with both ups and downs. His return at Torrey Pines qualified as the former, while his trunk slam at Riviera certainly served as the latter. There will surely be more of both in the coming weeks and months, and Woods’ ability to stomach the rough patches could prove pivotal for his long-term prognosis. - Will Gray
On the debate over increased driving distance on the PGA Tour ...
The drumbeat is only going to get louder as the game’s best get longer. On Sunday, Bubba Watson pounded his way to his 10th PGA Tour title at the Genesis Open and the average driving distance continues to climb.
Lost in the debate over driving distances and potential fixes, none of which seem to be simple, is a beacon of sanity, Riviera Country Club’s par-4 10th hole. The 10th played just over 300 yards for the week and yet yielded almost as many bogeys (86) as birdies (87) with a 4.053 stroke average.
That ranks the 10th as the 94th toughest par 4 on Tour this season, ahead of behemoths like the 480-yard first at Waialae and 549-yard 17th at Kapalua. Maybe the game doesn’t need new rules that limit how far the golf ball goes, maybe it just needs better-designed golf holes. - Rex Hoggard
On the depth of LPGA talent coming out of South Korea ...
The South Korean pipeline to the LPGA shows no signs of drying up any time soon. Jin Young Ko, 22, won her LPGA debut as a tour member Sunday at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, and Hyejin Choi, 18, nearly won the right to claim LPGA membership there.
The former world No. 1 amateur who just turned pro finished second playing on a sponsor exemption. Sung Hyun Park, who shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last year, is set to make her 2018 debut this week at the Honda LPGA Thailand.
And Inbee Park is set to make her return to the LPGA in two weeks at the HSBC Women’s World Championship after missing most of last year due to injury. The LPGA continues to go through South Korea no matter where this tour goes. - Randall Mell