Garcia Howell Gun for No 1

By Mercer BaggsJanuary 8, 2003, 5:00 pm
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Tiger Woods isnt in Maui for this weeks season-opening Mercedes Championships, but hes still on the minds of many.
Tiger is unquestionably the King of the Jungle on the PGA Tour. Every year the topic is debated, 'Who will challenge Woods for supremacy?' And each season it becomes more apparent that there isnt a single player, but a group who will have to surround and help attack the Tiger King in order to take him down.
Theres Phil Mickelson. Theres Ernie Els. There are Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen. All are worthy opponents, and each has tripped up Tiger a time or two in his career. However, all are a few steps behind the worlds No. 1, and their time to make up ground is ticking away.
Of the top 35 players in the Official World Golf Ranking, only three are in their 20s: Woods, Sergio Garcia and Charles Howell III.
Howell is 23, three and a half years younger than Woods. Garcia will turn 23 on Thursday. And because of the age factor, both figure to be Woods chief rivals in the long run.
I look at myself because of my youth, responded Garcia when asked who is Tigers most natural opponent. I have more years to come.
Howell isnt as outwardly confident as Garcia, but he too inwardly believes that he can one day topple Tiger in the world rankings.
Oh, definitely, he said. Im working as hard as I can work. Im doing everything I can do. If it doesnt happen from that, at least I can live with myself.
Howell and Garcia both played all over the world following the official close to the 2002 season, and both have been practicing over the past month in preparation for the new year.
Overall, both would consider last season to be a moderate success. Howell garnered his first tour title at the now-defunct Michelob Championship, and played in his first Tour Championship. Garcia won the Mercedes and also captured another crown in Europe.
But there was one thing lacking for both.
Be a little more consistent, Garcia said.
Garcia boasted at the beginning of 2002 that he wanted to win both the PGA Tour and European Tour money titles. He started out nicely with a first-place payday at Kapalua, and won a couple of months later in Spain.
But in terms of official titles, that was it. He finished 12th in earnings Stateside and sixth overseas.
I feel like last year was a pity, I really do, he said. I really felt like I started the year, probably the first six months, playing really well. Unfortunately, I was putting badly.
I didnt win as many times as I should have, or at least as I feel I that I should have.
Howell didnt get his first win of the season ' and of his career ' until October. He started out well with three top-10s in his first five starts, but didnt make another top 10 until late August.
I was really pressing to stay in the top 50 in the world ranking to get into the U.S. Open and British Open, explained Howell, who fell outside of that number and missed both majors. It seems to me the harder I tried, the worse I did.
After taking his first ever vacation, in the Bahamas the week before Bethpage, Howell returned a little more relaxed. It showed in his victory in Virginia, his tie for third in Reno and his runner-up in the season finale.
Now, hes safely inside the top 50 in the world ranking (23rd), and finally feels comfortable with his status on tour.
This is the first year where Ive kind of been on a level playing field with a lot of the top players in the world, being in all four majors and World (Golf Championship) events, he said. That makes a huge difference. So maybe its more peace of mind, but it helps.
As for his goals this season, Howell hopes to improve upon last years performance.
The No. 1 goal is to be top 5 on the money list. I think thats a fair goal, he said. Id love to win two tournaments this year.
Garcias goals, however, are a bit loftier. He wants to win a major -- he was the only player to finish inside the top 10 in all four majors last year -- and once again wants to double dip on both tours money lists, despite playing in a couple of fewer tournaments in the U.S.
You got to play well all year long; thats always hard to do, said Garcia, who is ranked fourth in the world. But its a good goal to aim at.
You just got to be more consistent. You have to make a lot of top 10s, win as many as you can. I mean, Tiger is playing 18 tournaments a year. Hes winning (the PGA Tour money title). Why not (me)?
Garcia and Howell will each get a nice jump on Woods, as the 27-year-old is rehabilitating following arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in December. He is likely out of commission until the middle of February.
I hope he takes his time in getting better, said Howell with a smile. Ill go out and see him when I get home, tell him to just take his time.
Full Coverage of the Mercedes Championships
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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

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Rory faces criticism

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President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

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Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

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Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


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Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

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Pros comment on the president

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm