Jimenez Tops Bjorn in Thailand

By Sports NetworkFebruary 1, 2004, 5:00 pm
04 Johnnie Walker ClassicBANGKOK, Thailand -- Miguel Angel Jimenez carded a 4-under 68 Sunday to fend off Thomas Bjorn and win the Johnnie Walker Classic by two strokes. Jimenez completed the event at 17-under-par 271.
'This is a great golf course and I played very well all through the week, especially through the final three rounds,' said Jimenez, whose last crown came at the 2003 Turespana Mallorca Classic. 'I had good rhythm this week. I did not try to force anything.'
Bjorn closed with a 1-under 71 to finish in a tie for second place at 15-under-par 273. He was joined there by Jyoti Randhawa, who fired an 8-under 64 in the final round.
Jimenez trailed Bjorn throughout most of the first three rounds, but briefly held the lead during the third round. The Spaniard birdied the opening hole Sunday from within five feet to join Bjorn atop the leaderboard at 14 under.
Bjorn nearly chipped in for birdie at the next, but settled for a par. He regained the lead with a short birdie putt at the fourth after Jimenez' birdie try slid by the right edge. Jimenez came back with a birdie at the sixth to create another tie for first at minus-15.
The duo both birdied the par-5 seventh. Jimenez then made it three straight as he chipped in for birdie at No. 8 to grab the lead for the first time since the 14th hole of the third round. His lead grew to two shots when Bjorn bogeyed the ninth at Alpine Golf and Country Club.
Jimenez remained two shots ahead as the pair both dropped shots at the 10th. Bjorn ran home an eight-footer for birdie at the next to get within one shot. Jimenez stumbled to a three-putt bogey on the 12th to create a tie for the lead at 16 under.
Bjorn then grabbed his final lead of the tournament at minus-17. He dropped his second shot within four feet of the cup at the 13th for birdie. It was all downhill from there though.
The Dane made a mess of the par-5 14th. His drive went well right and into water. Then his third shot missed the green long and well right. He managed to pitch on and two-putt for bogey to drop to 16 under.
Meanwhile, Jimenez knocked his second shot at No. 14 to the back edge and got down in two for birdie and a one-stroke lead. He left a birdie try on the lip at the next.
The par-4 16th was another turning point. Jimenez flew his second shot over the green and was unable to get up-and-down for birdie.
He dropped back to 16 under and a share of the lead. Bjorn could not take advantage however. He two-putted for par at the same hole, then again lost his drive well right and into water on No. 17. Meanwhile, Jimenez pitched his third shot some 25 feet from the cup at the 17th.
He ran home that birdie try to get back to 17 under. Bjorn's poor tee ball led to another bogey and he dropped two shots back. Both men closed with pars at the last as Jimenez earned his eighth European Tour crown.
'I three putted the par-3 12th,' Jimenez said. 'Then on 16, I didn't hit a bad shot just a little long. I didn't hole a good putt all day until the 17th and that was important because Bjorn opened the door twice when he went into the water.'
Jimenez, who went 1-2-2 in his lone Ryder Cup appearance in 1999, hopes to play his way onto the 2004 team.
'The more important thing right now is to be happy with winning the Johnnie Walker Classic,' said Jimenez. 'Next week, I'll be happy with my family at home. The Ryder Cup will be important in September. It's one of my goals to get on the team and help Europe defend the cup against the United States.'
Bjorn can only blame himself for this loss. He hit less than half the fairways during the event (27-of-56) and averaged 28 putts-per-round.
'Over the last 16 months I've let a few tournaments slip through my hands,' said Bjorn. 'I am disappointed, and I am getting good at disappointment at the moment. The tournament was there to be won today.'
Randhawa roared into contention with three birdies and an eagle on the front nine to get to 12 under. He bogeyed the 11th, but came back to birdie No. 14. He then holed out from the fairway for eagle on 16 and birdied the 17th to share second place.
Hometown favorite Boonchu Ruangkit posted a 7-under 65 Sunday to move into a tie for fourth place at 14-under-par 274. He was joined there by 2003 PGA Championship winner Shaun Micheel (67), Raphael Jacquelin (68), Simon Yates (70), David Smail (69) and another Thai golfer, Thongchai Jaidee (68).
Ernie Els, the 2003 champion, struggled early on Sunday, but closed with five straight birdies to end the event at 13-under-par 275 after a closing 69. He was joined at minus-13 by Scott Gardiner and Ian Poulter.
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    Garcia 2 back in weather-delayed Singapore Open

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 3:06 pm

    SINGAPORE - Danthai Boonma and Chapchai Nirat built a two-stroke lead over a chasing pack that includes Sergio Garcia and Ryo Ishikawa midway through the third round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open on Saturday.

    The Thai golfers were locked together at 9 under when play was suspended at the Sentosa Golf Club for the third day in a row because of lightning strikes in the area.

    Masters champion Garcia and former teen prodigy Ishikawa were among seven players leading the chase at 7 under on a heavily congested leaderboard.

    Garcia, one of 78 players who returned to the course just after dawn to complete their second rounds, was on the 10th hole of his third round when the warning siren was sounded to abruptly end play for the day.

    ''Let's see if we can finish the round, that will be nice,'' he said. ''But I think if I can play 4-under I should have a chance.''

    The Spanish golfer credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his first major championship title at Augusta National because of the stifling humidity of southeast Asia and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament.

    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore in 2017, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the subsequent week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later. He is feeling confident of his chances of success this weekend.

    ''I felt like I hit the ball OK,'' Garcia said. ''My putting and all went great but my speed hasn't been great on this green so let's see if I can be a little more aggressive on the rounds this weekend.''

    Ishikawa moved into a share of the lead at the halfway stage after firing a second round of 5-under 66 that featured eight birdies. He birdied the first two holes of his third round to grab the outright lead but slipped back with a double-bogey at the tricky third hole for the third day in a row. He dropped another shot at the par-5 sixth when he drove into a fairway bunker.

    ''It was a short night but I had a good sleep and just putted well,'' Ishikawa said. The ''greens are a little quicker than yesterday but I still figured (out) that speed.

    Ishikawa was thrust into the spotlight more than a decade ago. In 2007, he became the youngest player to win on any of the major tours in the world. He was a 15-year-old amateur when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.

    He turned pro at 16, first played in the Masters when he was 17 and the Presidents Cup when he was 18. He shot 58 in the final round to win The Crowns in Japan when he was 19.

    Now 26, Ishikawa has struggled with injuries and form in recent years. He lost his PGA Tour card and hasn't played in any of the majors since 2015. He has won 15 times as a professional, but has never won outside his homeland of Japan.

    Chapchai was able to sleep in and put his feet up on Saturday morning after he completed his second round on Friday.

    He bogeyed the third but reeled off three birdies in his next four holes to reach 9-under with the back nine still to play.

    Danthai was tied for 12th at the halfway stage but charged into a share of the lead with seven birdies in the first 15 holes of his penultimate round.

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    McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

    Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

    McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

    Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

    McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, five shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

    Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

    “That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.