Bickerton Holds Off Harrington for French Title

By Sports NetworkJuly 2, 2006, 4:00 pm
European TourPARIS -- John Bickerton fired a 2-under 69 on Sunday and edged Padraig Harrington by one shot to win the French Open.
Bickerton completed four rounds at 11-under-par 273 and earned $805,200 -- his largest career check and one of the top prizes on the European Tour. It was the 36-year-old Englishman's second tour victory.
'I've been out here a long time and it's nice to put some icing on the cake,' said Bickerton, who climbed to fifth on the tour money list and 10th on the European Tour Ryder Cup points list.
Harrington closed with a 5-under 66 to reach 10-under-par 274, claiming second place two weeks after finishing fifth at the U.S. Open.
Third-round leader Michael Campbell, the 2005 U.S. Open champion, sputtered in his final round, carding two bogeys and a double bogey at the 18th hole to finish with a 2-over 73 at Le Golf National's Albatross Course.
Campbell tied for third place with Marcus Fraser and Ian Poulter -- who both shot 69s -- at 8-under-par 276.
Bickerton has played 13 seasons on the European Tour, but it took him 12 seasons -- and 287 starts -- to claim his first title at the Abama Open de Canarias in October.
Career victory No. 2 came just 20 starts later and left Bickerton in a joking mood when asked what the title meant for the rest of the season.
'It means I'm a lot richer,' Bickerton said, laughing. 'This should make the year a lot more pleasing.'
Entering the round, Bickerton was one shot behind Campbell -- but with a birdie at the third and a Campbell bogey at No. 7, he held the lead around the turn at 10 under.
After both players birdied the 11th, Bickerton stuck his approach at the par-4 12th within a foot to set up another birdie and take a two-stroke advantage.
A 10-foot birdie putt at the 14th gave Bickerton a solid three-shot lead, but he ceded a shot at the 15th, where Campbell's bogey was still one stroke better than the leader's double bogey.
Bickerton's six at No. 15 was the result of him knocking his approach into the water guarding the green.
'It spun in the air and ballooned on me, so I had a lot of work to do after that,' Bickerton said.
Campbell gained a stroke with a birdie at the 16th, but found water and double bogeyed the 18th to hand Harrington second place alone.
Bickerton finished his round with three consecutive pars, including a scrambling four at the 17th where he saved himself with a chip to 7 feet after finding the rough twice.
The championship was sealed with a two-putt par from 35 feet on the 18th green. Bickerton left himself with a 2-foot knee-knocker to make the par.
'It was a little bit nerve-wracking coming down that last hole, which didn't make that last putt any easier,' said Bickerton. 'But I enjoyed it nonetheless.'
Harrington placed runner-up for the 22nd time in 10 years playing on the European Tour. His 66 on Sunday included seven birdies and two bogeys.
'I forgot how difficult taking second was,' said Harrington, a nine-time European Tour winner. 'But sometimes you have to be in the hunt before you win.'
Anders Hansen shot a 71 and finished in sixth place at 7-under-par 277, one shot ahead of Andrew Coltart, Richard Green and Peter O'Malley.
The oldest of the European continent Opens, this event was celebrating its 100th anniversary. Jean Van de Velde was the best among the French finishers, tying for 17th at minus-3 after a final-round 72.
France's Jean-Francois Remesy entered as the two-time defending champion. He shot a 73 on Sunday and tied for 40th place at plus-1.
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    Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

    Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

    The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

    Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

    “I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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    Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

    Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon. 

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    Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

    Each week on, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


    Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

    Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

    Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

    Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

    New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.


    Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

    Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

    Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

    Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

    Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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    Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

    By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

    “I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

    Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

    “If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”

    Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)

    Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

    Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

    “He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

    As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

    "I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

    Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”