By the Numbers

By Tom AbbottOctober 22, 2008, 4:00 pm
The European Tour season comes down to these next two weeks so, to get our heads around who can do what and who needs to do what, I thought I might crunch a few numbers.
 
Firstly, whos still able to capture the final ever European Order of Merit title? Robert Karlsson is No. 1, but there are four players who have a chance of catching him: Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Henrik Stenson.
 
Stenson needs to win both the Castello Masters and the Volvo Masters, and hope for a Karlsson collapse at Valderrama, which is hardly likely. Like Karlsson, Jimenez isnt playing this week, so The Mechanic would need a win on the home soil of Andaluca and have Karlsson finish middle of the field to have any chance.
 
Westwood has chosen not to play in Valencia this week also, meaning he would have to win the Volvo Masters and see Karlsson finish outside of the top 5. Harrington, meanwhile, poses the biggest threat to the big Swede. Surprisingly, though, the Irishman is absent from this weeks field, leaving a Volvo Masters face-off to decide the title.
 
In all likelihood, Harrington will need to finish first or second at the Volvo, and trust Karlsson doesnt do the same, for Paddy to capture the second Order of Merit crown of his career. All eyes will be on the pair for what is sure to be a thrilling final installment of an event which has been played on the European schedule since Nick Faldos win in 1988.
 
Harrington has won the event before, back in 2001, but that was the last of the five years it was played at nearby Montecastillo. His best finish at Valderrama is a runner-up spot in 2006 behind Jeev Milkha Singh. Karlsson, on the other hand, has managed to twice finish fourth, but not since 2001. Both Harrington and Karlsson are having the best seasons of their careers and despite what might have been said in the media, deep down great sportsman want to win titles. I expect a great week on the Costa Del Sol.
 
Next year well be talking about the Race to Dubai, bonus pools, and desert specialists. Its not the same really, but youve got to go where the money is I suppose; lets just hope the Gulf isnt hit by a lack of capital in the next 12 months.
 
What about those players chasing a European Tour card for next season? This weeks event marks the final chance to secure a place in the first Race to Dubai. The European Tours cut-off number is 115. However, that doesnt count affiliate members, of which there is currently three inside the top 115, so the line slides down to 118. The lucky bubble boy is Patrik Sjoland. Notable names outside the line include: Peter Baker (131), Jean Van de Velde (133), Anton Haig (139), Eduardo Molinari (146) and Philip Price (163).
 
Van de Velde loses his exemption at the end of the season, and hes already decided not to return to Q-School. The French stars agent, Jamie Cunningham, told me this week he will not head to San Roque next month regardless of whether he earns enough this week. Jean will need a sixth-place finish or better to creep up inside the mark. If that doesnt happen hell play roughly 10 events next season through invitations and partial status and then concentrate on other business activities.
 
Price, a Ryder Cup winner in 2002, loses his European Open exemption at seasons end. Thankfully for Welshman, he falls inside the top 40 on the career money list, a year-long reprieve for a man whos really struggling with his game. Price, who once dabbled on the PGA Tour, hasnt had a top-10 since January 2007.
 
Finally, I must find some page space for a lady who has had a remarkable year and received very little credit. Gwladys Nocera has notched five victories on the Ladies European Tour this season. At the Goteberg Masters she shot 29 under par, beating Nina Reis by 11 strokes, and most recently Nocera carded a final-round 67 to win the Madrid Ladies Masters and a 100,000 ($130,000) first prize. The 33-year-old from Moulins, France leads the New Star money list with four events remaining on the schedule.
 
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Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."