One-in-Four for Europe

By Tom AbbottMarch 3, 2010, 12:20 am
It’s been a while since I’ve been behind the mic on the European Tour, Jan 24th to be exact, for the final day of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. Whilst the tour continued in the Middle East and then headed to India, I ventured to a mystery location to host the new season of the Big Break. I’d love to tell you more but my lips are glued on that topic. All I can say is: We had a lot of fun and I think you’ll enjoy the new installment when it airs later this year.

The European Tour, meanwhile, is in the midst of a tough stretch in terms of attracting top name players and eye balls on the television screen. I was asked recently whether the “one-in-four rule,” which is employed on the LPGA, would work on other tours. The rule states that players must play each event on tour, once every four years. It might work on the PGA Tour but not on the European Tour and one of the reasons is because of this stretch.

Sandwiched between two WGC events, the Maybank Malaysian Open struggles to attract the top players. You can’t blame the players; trekking back and forth across the Pacific Ocean isn’t fun, even in the luxury of first class. Following the WGC-CA Championship next week, the European Tour heads to Morocco, Spain and Portugal whilst the PGA Tour warms up for the Masters with two tournaments in Florida and a trip to Houston. You can’t expect the tour’s big names to play outside of the U.S. when they are prepping for one of the most important weeks of the year in Augusta.

Despite the weaker fields, we still have some good tournaments coming-up in diverse places. Kuala Lumpur is slated for a PGA Tour event this season, but this week it’s the European Tour’s turn to visit Malaysia with the field highlighted by K.J. Choi, Daniel Chopra, Darren Clarke and Thongchai Jaidee, American Anthony Kang is the defending champion in this co-sanctioned tournament. Our coverage begins 9:30 a.m. ET Thursday on Golf Channel.

Last week the LPGA ventured to Singapore for the HSBC Women’s Champions. I’ve watched Ai Miyazato for a while now and wondered why she doesn’t win every week with that silky smooth swing. The reason must have been her short-game and her mental approach, because for the past two weeks her short-game has been on-song and recent work with Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott has obviously put her in the right frame of mind. Miyazato is great for the LPGA; she’s personable, attractive and dignified, and I very much look forward to our broadcast of the Kia Classic in a few weeks time from Carlsbad, Calif., as she bids for a hat-trick.

In Singapore, players were peppered with questions about the tournament having the feel of a major, much like they are at the Evian Masters. And like Evian, the local campaign to install that event to major status begins to pipe-up; it’s the same for the CN Canadian Women’s Open. The women have four majors; they don’t need to go down the Champions Tour route of adding any more. I can see why officials, fans and media in Asia, Continental Europe and Canada feel left out, so I propose this: Keep the Kraft Nabisco in Palm Springs, the U.S. Women’s Open in the States, and the Women’s British in Britain, but take the LPGA Championship and rotate it around the world each year.

New LPGA commissioner Mike Whan has said he is keen to grow the brand internationally. This would show the world he means business. Take the LPGA brand around the world to diverse countries and courses. Yes, the LPGA is an American-based tour, but why does its championship have to be played on home soil. Bring in a global sponsor on a long-term agreement and build an identity for an event, which this year is piggy backing another tournament – that’s no place for a major. The game in Asia is growing so rapidly there is no point trying to ignore it. If Whan wants to make the LPGA the main player in women’s golf – which it should be – then having a flexible major is a great way to showcase his product to the world market and encourage investment in American-based events.

The Ladies European Tour kicked-off their season last week. Laura Davies captured her 73rd career world-wide win at the Pegasus New Zealand Women’s Open. At the Solheim Cup last year, Davies, 46, limped away from the singles having only won half a point from the five matches [she played just twice]. At the time, I thought her Solheim career was almost certainly over, but with this win there is renewed hope that she may appear in Ireland next autumn to take a bow on a higher-note, which is what she deserves.

And finally, the European Senior Tour is back to business this week with the Aberdeen Brunei Senior Masters. Sandy Lyle, T.C. Chen and Ian Woosnam are among the notables making the trip to the Far East.
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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry