Solheim Cup A Terrible Loss
The PGA Returns with Pride:
The European Tour returned the PGA title to its flagship event this season and the tournament re-emerged as one of the premier spectacles in world golf. For years it was known as the Volvo PGA Championship, but when BMW took over as sponsor in 2005 they dropped the PGA from the name; a re-think this season brought it back and with it came a quality field producing a magical week. We had a bit of everything: the old campaigner, Paul Broadhurst; the local boy, Ross Fisher, who grew-up playing his golf at the club; Vijay Singh, the superstar, whom Surrey galleries rarely get to see these days. He surged through the field on the final day. Then there was the outsider, Anders Hansen, a man who had already claimed the prize in 2002, his first and only win on tour; Angel Cabrera, the big-hitting Argentine who has a soft spot for the West Course; and finally Rose, the peoples favorite, battling injuries but always winning over the British public.
Sadly, the fairytale comeback for Rose wouldnt materialize with that birdie putt on the first play-off hole slipping by on the left side, handing the title to a worthy winner in Hansen. Roses performance will boost the confidence and he will go to Oakmont as my European favorite. As for Hansen, well, I ended Mondays UK Golf Central by calling him the new Great Dane, and with wins like the PGA he will quickly take the title away from its current holder, Thomas Bjorn.
The only thing missing from the tournament this season was Renton Laidlaw, whom many of you know as our main commentator for GOLF CHANNEL coverage of the European Tour. Renton has been ill recently, hence his absence from the booth, but Im informed he was due to make his first trip out of the house since leaving the hospital to visit Wentworth on Sunday. Obviously, we wish Renton all the very best for a full recovery. When he will return to duties with the GOLF CHANNEL remains to be seen.
Trish on Top:
BMW had the European golfing domain covered last week; not only did they put the money up for the PGA, but also were involved in the BMW Italian Ladies Open. That event started on Wednesday, giving them (BMW) a Saturday and Sunday finish. Trish Johnson was the first champion to be crowned, taking her first title in three years and 18th career worldwide win. Its been a while since Johnsons name has been in the headlines. Her last win was the Wales Ladies Open in 2004, but with last weeks victory in Italy she climbs to third in the Solheim Cup standings. An appearance in Sweden this autumn would her eighth. Speaking of Solheim Cup, there has been some confusion in the United States about the European selection, which has changed from previous years. The European team will be decided as follows: the top 5 from the European Solheim Cup points list, then the next four players from the Rolex World Rankings not otherwise exempt, followed by three captains picks. The team, minus captain's selections, as of Monday May 28th looks like this:
Sad news from the R&A:
On Wednesday of last week I went through my usual morning routine of waking-up and wandering over to the computer to check e-mail. I was shocked to read one that had come from the current Captain of my home club, Walton Heath, informing the members that Michael Lunt, a former captain at Walton and current Captain of the R&A, had suddenly passed away on Tuesday evening at the age of 72. Michael was two-thirds of the way through his year of Captaincy, and he and wife, Vicky, had traveled across the globe promoting the game, attending dinners, giving speeches and fulfilling the role of the R&As ambassador for our wonderful game. Michael was in his element and was a deserved captain having joined the Royal and Ancient following his British Amateur win in 1963. Hed served on the Championship Committee and the Rules of Golf Committee. He had referred Open Championships, World Match-Plays and many R&A amateur tournaments.
He spent 11 years as Secretary of Royal Mid Surrey Golf Club, and most recently was Captain of Walton Heath, his home course and the one closest to the family home in Surrey. I spent many afternoons strolling the Heath with Michael, marveling at his awesome power -- late into his 60s he could still belt out a 300-yard drive, and the fluid putting stroke would often produce when needed, prompting Michael to give you that look that many must have faced over the years at the highest level, knowing they were in deep trouble. I would listen to his tales of the four Walker Cups hed played and the characters hed met. Michael had seen them all, played with them all, given them rulings. Hed played in Open Championships, Eisenhour Trophys, French Amateurs and spring meetings. He was a golfing gentleman of the highest pedigree. Opening the door to his wonderful memory was like opening up the page of your favorite golf history book, and with his beautiful deep English accent, having it narrated in front of you. Golf lost one of its finest characters last week and he will be missed.
Tom Abbott will host GOLF CHANNELs (Sky Digital 423) live coverage of the Ginn Tribute hosted by Annika this week, beginning on Thursday at 8 p.m.
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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas
Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.
Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.
Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.
McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.
Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?
Memo to the golf gods:
If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?
Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?
It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.
With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.
It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.
We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.
We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.
Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.
Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line. Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.
We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors.
In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.
While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.
Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.
Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.
Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.
While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.
Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.
So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?
McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever
With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.
The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.
Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.
"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."
McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.
But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.
"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."
What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire
Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.
Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft
Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft
Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft
Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x