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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  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

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


    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: Who's got next?

    By Rex HoggardNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    The sprawling legacy of the Class of 2011 can be traced to any number of origins, but for some among what is arguably the most prolific class ever, it all began in June 2009.

    The 99-player field that descended on Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., for the AJGA’s FootJoy Invitational included Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and so many others, like Michael Kim, who up to that moment had experienced the weight of the ’11 class only from afar.

    “It was that year that Justin won the FootJoy Invitational and that got him into [the Wyndham Championship]," Kim recalled. "That was my first invitational and I was like 'these guys are so good’ and I was blown away by what they were shooting. I remember being shocked by how good they were at that time.”

    Tom Lovelady, who like former Cal-Berkeley Bear Kim is now on the PGA Tour, remembers that tournament as the moment when he started to realize how special this particular group could be, as well as the genesis of what has become lifetime friendships.

    In the third round, Lovelady was paired with Spieth.

    “We kind of hit it off and became friends after that," Lovelady recalled. "The final round I got paired with Justin Thomas and we became friends. On the 10th hole I asked [Thomas], ‘Where do you want to go to school?’ He said, ‘Here. Here or Alabama.’ My first reaction was, ‘Don’t go to Alabama.’ He’s like, ‘Why?’ I wanted to go there. I knew the class was strong and they only had so many spots, but that’s where I really wanted to go.”

    Both ended up in Tuscaloosa, and both won an NCAA title during their time in college. They also solidified a friendship that endures to this day in South Florida where they live and train together.

    While the exploits of Thomas, Spieth and Daniel Berger are well documented, perhaps the most impressive part of the ’11 class is the depth that continues to develop at the highest level.

    To many, it’s not a question as to whether the class will have another breakout star, it’s when and who?

    There’s a good chance that answer could have been found on the tee sheet for last week’s RSM Classic, a lineup that included Class of ’11 alums Lovelady; Kim; Ollie Schniederjans, a two-time All-American at Georgia Tech; Patrick Rodgers, Stanford's all-time wins leader alongside Tiger Woods; and C.T. Pan, a four-time All-American at the University of Washington.

    Lovelady earned his Tour card this year via the Web.com Tour, while Schniederjans and Rodgers are already well on their way to the competitive tipping point of Next Level.

    Rodgers, who joined the Tour in 2015, dropped a close decision at the John Deere Classic in July, where he finished a stroke behind winner Bryson DeChambeau; and Schniederjans had a similar near-miss at the Wyndham Championship.

    To those who have been conditioned by nearly a decade of play, it’s no surprise that the class has embraced a next-man-up mentality. Nor is it any surprise, at least for those who were forged by such an exceedingly high level of play, that success has seemed to be effortless.

    “First guy I remember competing against at a high level was Justin. We were playing tournaments at 10, 11 years old together,” Rodgers said. “He was really, really good at that age and I wasn’t really good and so he was always my benchmark and motivated me to get better.”

    That symbiotic relationship hasn’t changed. At every level the group has been challenged, and to a larger degree motivated, by the collective success.

    By all accounts, it was Spieth who assumed the role of standard-bearer when he joined the Tour in 2013 and immediately won. For Rodgers, however, the epiphany arrived a year later as he was preparing to play a college event in California and glanced up at a television to see his former rival grinding down the stretch at Augusta National.

    “Jordan’s leading the Masters. A couple years before we’d been paired together battling it out at this exact same college event,” he laughed. “I think I even won the tournament. It was just crazy for me to see someone who is such a peer, someone I was so familiar with up there on the biggest stage.”

    It was a common theme for many among the Class of ’11 as Spieth, Thomas and others emerged, and succeeded, on a world stage. If familiarity can breed contempt, in this case it created a collective confidence.

    Success on Tour has traditionally come slowly for new pros, the commonly held belief being that it took younger players time to evolve into Tour professionals. That’s no longer the case, the byproduct of better coaching, training and tournaments for juniors and top-level amateurs.

    But for the Class of ’11, that learning curve was accelerated by the economies of scale. The quality and quantity of competition for the class has turned out to be a fundamental tenet to the group’s success.

    “Since the mindset of the class has been win, win, win, you don’t know anything other than that, it’s never been just be good enough,” Lovelady said. “You don’t think about being top 125 [on the FedExCup points list], you think about being as high as you can instead of just trying to make the cut, or just keep your card. It’s all you’ve known since you were 14, 15 years old.”

    It’s a unique kind of competitive Darwinism that has allowed the class to separate itself from others, an ever-present reality that continues to drive the group.

    “It was constantly in my head motivating me,” Rodgers said. “Then you see Jordan turn pro and have immediate success and Justin turn pro and have immediate success. It’s kind of the fuel that drives me. What makes it special is these guys have always motivated me, maybe even more so than someone like Tiger [Woods].”

    The domino effect seems obvious, inevitable even, with the only unknown who will be next?

    “That’s a good question; I’d like for it to be myself,” Lovelady said. “But it’s hard to say it’s going to be him, it’s going to be him when it could be him. There are just so many guys.”