European Perspective

By Tom AbbottFebruary 6, 2011, 8:35 pm

European Tour

For the first time since Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer became the world’s No. 1 and 2 golfers, they will tee off in the same field as former No. 1 Tiger Woods this week at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

All three arrive at the Emirates Golf Club with mixed fortunes – Westwood missed the cut in Doha last week, Kaymer finished middle of the pack in Qatar but has a win to his credit on the desert swing and Woods is still trying to find the form which has earned him 38 European Tour victories, two Desert Classics among them.

All eyes will be on Woods, who is pocketing a seven-figure appearance fee for his time in the UAE, and will no doubt have a full schedule for the week, including a pro-am tee time with U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Michael Rowells, who won a worldwide competition to have “the round of a lifetime” alongside Tiger.

Last week, just across the Persian Gulf in Qatar, Lee Westwood talked about how the demands on his time have changed since he took over reigns from Woods at the top of the world rankings.

“I can see why Tiger played such a limited schedule over all of those years. I'm not saying that I'm the profile that he is, but I've had little glimpses into how demanding it can be to be world No. 1. I have great appreciation for it now” said the man from Worksop, England.

Still, Westwood is in no hurry to relinquish the title – he said a few weeks ago he wants to arrive in Augusta as the best player in the world. The bookies would place Martin Kaymer as the man most likely to spoil Westwood’s Augusta dream, and he could do it this week. Kaymer has not finished outside of the top 5 in his three Desert Classic starts.

If the stars align, we will be in for a good week of golf, all four rounds of which you can see on Golf Channel.

The Omega Dubai Desert Classic is the fourth and final leg of the European Tour’s Middle East Swing. This lucrative run through the oil rich nations is a highlight on the European Tour schedule, but not for everyone.

Due mainly to daylight constraints, these events don’t offer full fields, meaning many fully exempt players don’t even sniff a spot in the tournament and those who trudged successfully through the qualifying school last season have been forced to sit on the bench for four weeks. So, unless they’ve been lucky enough to be given a coveted sponsor invite, they’re forced to sit and watch while their colleagues bank valuable euros in the Race to Dubai.

The tour is a survival of the fittest, certainly, but it isn’t a level playing field for everyone. At the moment, Q-School grads are all anxiously watching the entry list for next week’s Avantha Masters in New Delhi. With 23 local players being given entry, their chances are slim. And, if they do get a spot in the field, it will happen last minute and last minute airfares are not cheap.

The ladies are finally off and running in 2011.

Although the LPGA season doesn’t begin until next week in Thailand, the LET kicked things off in Australia this week where Yani Tseng cruised home for a seven-stroke victory over world No. 1, Jiyai Shin, Melissa Reid and Eun Hee Ji.

Tseng repeated her feat from last year, successfully defending her 2010 title and starting the year off with a win, which led to scooping up two majors and becoming Rolex Player of the Year on the LPGA.

The LET is playing three straight weeks in Australasia, giving many LPGA players the perfect warm-up for their openers in Thailand and Singapore.

Tseng will be among those heading to this week’s ANZ RACV Ladies Masters on Australia’s Golf Cost. Christina Kim, Stacy Lewis, Angela Stanford and Lexi Thompson are also in the field.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.