A Vintage Year on the European Tour

By Sports NetworkNovember 27, 2004, 5:00 pm
European TourIt certainly was a fine year for the European Tour, with several veterans showing they can still win. But was that really a surprise? After all, it was a Ryder Cup year.
Ernie Els won the Order of Merit, again, and came close to taking home his second British Open title. The South African has received player of the year honors before, but this year's choice is a Spaniard with eccentric hair.
Miguel Angel Jimenez was a stalwart on the European Tour in the last decade, raking in all but one of his career victories from 1992 to 1999. He returned to the winner's circle in 2003 at the Mallorca Classic, ending a lengthy drought.
With the Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills on the horizon, Jimenez was determined in 2004 and picked up his first win of the season at the Johnnie Walker Classic. He then won the Open de Portugal and the BMW Asian Open.
Jimenez earned his tour-leading fourth victory at the BMW International Open and his spot in the Ryder Cup was secured. Although Jimenez went 1-3 at Oakland Hills, his lone win came Friday morning alongside Darren Clarke with a 5 & 4 drubbing of Davis Love III and Chad Campbell when the Europeans grabbed a 3 1/2 - 1/2 lead en route to the dominating victory.
The 40-year-old had the best season of his career and put himself in the mix with European Tour heavyweights like Els, Retief Goosen and Padraig Harrington.
With several big names heading overseas to compete on the PGA Tour in 2005, the European circuit is wide open for Jimenez to have another big year.
Scott Drummond caught lightning in a bottle in May by winning the Volvo PGA Championship en route to earning Rookie of the Year honors on the European Tour.
Drummond was playing his first full season on the European Tour, badly. He made a pair of cuts at the start of the season, but by the time the tour returned to Europe, Drummond was riding a string of missed weekends.
He tied for 42nd at the Open de Sevilla then missed the cut at his next two events.
Drummond had a spot in the Volvo PGA Championship, the European Tour's flagship event. The entry list for the tournament at the Wentworth Club featured such names as Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Adam Scott.
The Scot became the first player since Arnold Palmer in 1975 to win the Volvo PGA Championship in his first attempt. At least Palmer was considered a favorite when he made his debut, but Drummond came out of absolutely nowhere to win one of the biggest events on the European Tour.
Drummond will be around for a while because a pretty good exemption comes with winning the Volvo PGA Championship.
The European Tour is set up in a way where lesser known players can make a splash. Take the last three winners of the Volvo PGA - Anders Hansen, Ignacio Garrido and now Drummond.
Barry Lane had not won on the European Tour since 1994. He ended that streak at this year's British Masters and celebrated his 500th tournament on the European Tour the following week at the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open TPC of Europe.
Lane was settling into his role as a veteran of over 20 years of service on the European Tour. He had already made his debut in the UBS Cup in 2002 and had played the event every year since.
His victory at the British Masters was well deserved and helped him to the 24th spot on the Order of Merit.
The Europeans came into the 35th Ryder Cup Matches on a roll. Several of the members were already in a winning mood before arriving at Oakland Hills, with Miguel Angel Jimenez, Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington capturing the three events leading up to the Ryder Cup.
Donald was one of the hottest players on the planet at the end of the summer, Jimenez was on fire and even Colin Montgomerie was playing very well. Of course, the Europeans were the underdogs to the Americans, despite having won the Cup two years ago at The Belfry.
It is hard to bet against Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, but put them together against Montgomerie and Harrington and you might have some problems. This was the first match on Friday morning and the Europeans won, 2 & 1.
Jimenez and Darren Clarke trashed Davis Love III and Chad Campbell, while Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood had their way with Jim Furyk and David Toms. Chris Riley and Stewart Cink pulled out a half point against Donald and Paul McGinley to avoid the sweep.
Friday morning was ugly for the U.S. and the afternoon didn't get any better. The Europeans won three more matches in foursomes and at that point the Ryder Cup was all but over.
U.S. captain Hal Sutton couldn't get anything out of his team and European leader Bernhard Langer was blessed with a group of 12 players who gelled perfectly. The Europeans won in dominating fashion and will continue to have success in the Ryder Cup for years to come with players like Donald and Paul Casey emerging and the likely debuts of Fredrik Jacobson and Graeme McDowell in Ireland in 2006.
The Americans meanwhile were left with several questions. New U.S. captain Tom Lehman will certainly have his hands full.
Troon sure looked great compared to Royal St. George's.
For the second year in a row a no-name American captured the British Open in surprising fashion. Last year it was Ben Curtis, ranked 396th in the world before he picked up his first career win. This year it was a 39-year-old rookie.
Todd Hamilton was a journeyman from the Asian tours, winning quite a few times overseas, with three previous appearances at the British Open (where he managed a cumulative score of 24-over par). He made his PGA Tour debut this year and broke through with a win at the Honda Classic before heading to Troon, where the talk was about Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.
Hamilton was meticulous at the British Open and earned a spot in a playoff with Ernie Els. Els, who won in overtime at Muirfield two years ago, could not overcome Hamilton's 'ugly golf' and the American shocked a golf world still trying to make sense of Curtis' 2003 win.
Paul Casey will be heading to the U.S. to give the PGA Tour a shot in 2005, so will Ian Poulter and several other European stars. They will surely be missed, but the European Tour promises to be as competitive as ever in the years to come.
Related Links:
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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.