Jimenez Wins Fourth Title of 04

By Sports NetworkAugust 29, 2004, 4:00 pm
European TourMUNICH, Germany -- European Ryder Cup member Miguel Angel Jimenez posted a 6-under 66 on Sunday to win the BMW International Open. Jimenez finished at 21-under-par 267 for his fourth victory of the season.
'The only pressure I've got is the pressure of the tournament,' said Jimenez. 'Playing with three or four guys out there fighting for spots on the Ryder Cup, but apart from them, there are also lots of players that this is a very big field this week here. It's always very nice for me to win this tournament with this field here.'
Thomas Levet could not keep up in the final round at Golfclub Munchen Nord- Eichenried and carded a 68 to take second place alone at 19-under-par 269. Paul Casey made his first Ryder Cup appearance official with a final-round 65 that lifted him to 16-under-par 272 along with Colin Montgomerie and Alex Cejka.
Montgomerie, who won the Caltex Masters this year, played valiantly this week and will be heading back to the Ryder Cup as one of Bernhard Langer's captain's picks.
England's Luke Donald, a winner on both sides of the Atlantic, was the second captain's pick and will be making his Ryder Cup debut. Donald shot a 69 on Sunday to finish at 12-under-par 276 alongside Peter Fowler.
'I've played in a couple of Walker Cups, obviously it's not the same, but I've felt that pressure before and done okay under it,' said Donald.
Jimenez began the day tied for first with Levet, but birdied the first to break away from his playing partner. Jimenez found trouble with a bogey at the par-four third but recovered in style starting at the very next hole.
The Spaniard birdied the fourth and added birdies at the fifth and the sixth to reach 18-under. At the par-4 seventh, Jimenez dropped his approach within inches of the hole and tapped in for birdie to make it four in a row.
Jimenez struggled to a bogey at the eighth, but came back with a birdie at the following hole. He faltered with another bogey at the 10th, but was able to respond with a birdie at the 11th.
The 40-year-old hit his second shot to 18 feet and drained the putt for a birdie at the 13th. Jimenez then birdied the 14th to leave little in doubt and parred his way in for his 11th career victory on the European Tour.
'I have been very relaxed all year,' said Jimenez. 'I've been playing very well and I feel very good on the golf course. When you are playing well, you know, you turn the right side of the coin and you win the tournament.'
Levet got off to a solid start with a pair of birdies over his first six holes and reached the green in two at the par-5 ninth. He two-putted for birdie to keep pace with Jimenez, but stumbled to a bogey at the 10th to drop back to minus-17.
The Frenchman countered with a birdie at the 11th and only managed a single birdie the rest of the way to finish two shots off the pace.
Montgomerie looked to be in position to take home the title after five straight birdies starting at the fifth lifted him to 17 under and a birdie at the 11th tied for the lead briefly with Jimenez.
The Scot bogeyed the 13th but got that shot back with a birdie at the 15th. He struggled on the way in, however, with back-to-back bogeys from the 16th but all in all put together a strong showing worthy of one of Langer's captain's picks.
Fredrik Jacobson was also bidding for a captain's pick and seemed to be on his way to making the team outright with four birdies over his first seven holes. The Swede ran out of gas from that point on, however, with a pair of bogeys and a birdie en route to a round of 69.
Jacobson finished alongside Paul McGinley, who qualified for the European team, at 15-under-par 273. The duo was joined by U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, Darren Clarke and David Lynn in a tie for sixth.
'It's been a roller coaster ride the last six weeks,' said McGinley, one of the heroes of the winning European team at the 2002 Ryder Cup. 'I had the leash between my teeth like a dog, I didn't want to let it go and fortunately I just held on to it long enough.'
John Daly fired a 65 on Sunday to move into a tie for 11th with Joakim Haeggman, Soren Kjeldsen, Tino Schuster and Andrew Raitt at 14-under-par 274.
Graeme McDowell matched the course record with a 62 in the final round. He finished in a group at 13-under-par 275 that included last year's champion Lee Westwood.
David Howell qualified for the team outright after a round of 69 left him in a bunch at 11-under-par 277. Fellow Englishman Ian Poulter also made the squad after a strong finish erased some early disasters and left him at 10-under-par 278.
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    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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    McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

    Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

    The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

    McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.