Els Out to Early Lead at Dubai

By Sports NetworkMarch 3, 2005, 5:00 pm
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Ernie Els birdied his final two holes Thursday en route to a 6-under-par 66, which gave him the lead after one round of the Dubai Desert Classic.
Englishman David Howell and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez each carded rounds of 5-under-par 67 to share second place. Sam Osborne and Jarrod Lyle were one stroke further back at minus-4.
Els began his day on the front nine of the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club. After a pair of pars, the South African birdied the par-5 third to get into red figures.
The world's No. 3 player poured in a birdie putt at the eighth and made it two straight as he birdied No. 9 to make the turn at minus-3.
Els' back nine was very similar. He birdied the par-5 13th to get within one stroke of the lead. Els, who won this event in 1994 and 2002, rolled in a birdie try at the 17th to grab a share of the lead. He grabbed the outright lead with a birdie at the last.
'I had a nice time out there,' said Els, the only two-time winner of this event. 'I found my feet on the back nine and was very aggressive. I was hitting driver on just about every hole and although I didn't hit many fairways, it felt solid. All in all it was a good day's work and I'm pleased with 66. That was a good score today.'
Howell, who won the title in 1999, got off to a quick start with birdies at the second and fifth. However, he faltered to a bogey at the par-4 eighth. The Englishman bounced back with an eagle at the par-5 10th.
The 29-year-old stumbled to another bogey at the 11th to drop back to minus-2. Howell converted consecutive birdie putts from the 13th and moved to 5 under with a birdie at 16. He closed with two pars to share second place.
'I've been playing dreadfully,' said Howell, who has played in the United States the last few weeks. 'My game deteriorated like the weather over the three weeks out there, but the greens are great here and everything is nice, familiar territory. I went back to a few old drills and all in all played quite nicely.'
Jimenez, who is coming off a second-round loss to Chad Campbell at the WGC- Accenture Match Play championship, got off to a slow start with just one birdie over his opening nine holes.
The Spaniard caught fire around the turn though. Jimenez drained a birdie try at the 10th and made it two in a row as his birdie putt at 11 found the bottom of the cup.
Jimenez moved to minus-4 with a birdie at the 13th. He got to 5 under with a birdie at the par-4 16th before closing with a pair of pars.
Thomas Bjorn, the 2001 winner here, posted a 3-under-par 69. He was joined in a tie for sixth place by Robert Karlsson, James Kingston, Andrew Marshall, Charl Schwartzel, Henrik Stenson, Nick Dougherty, Peter Fowler, Pierre Fulke and Peter Hedblom.
Mark O'Meara, the defending champion, got off to a rough start as he carded a 1-over-par 73. He posted two birdies and three bogeys and stands in a tie for 76th.
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry