Big Challenge for Stenson Molinari


Editors Note: Tom Abbott is the host of Golf Central UK. He will be filing a bi-weekly column on with news, opinions and his inside knowledge of the European Tour.
Stenson King of the Desert Swing
Henrik Stenson
Henrik Stenson has moved inside the top 10 on the Official World Golf Ranking. (WireImage)
Henrik Stenson became the first Swedish player to win the Dubai Desert Classic last week, beating Ernie Els by a shot at the Emirates Golf Club. Im not sure what it is about the Middle East, but it seems to bring out the best in Stensons golf. Last year, he went second, first, seventh through the stretch; this season: eighth, seventh, first. Cast your minds back to this time last year and youll remember that Stenson was all the rage in world golf; some were even predicting him to be the first rookie to win the Masters since Fuzzy Zoeller. However, he struggled to maintain his form and didnt churn out the results midway through the year, only managing to win one more event at the BMW International Open. The big question for Stenson is whether he will change that trend and built on this period instead of letting it become the highlight of his season. One quick side note: Stenson acts as a golf ambassador for the Emirate of Dubai, so they really couldnt ask for a better winner.
Peoples Favorite of the Week: Ross Fisher
I played a bit of golf with Ross Fisher when we were juniors back home in Surrey, England. At the time I was playing county golf for Surrey, which is probably not much bigger than the city limits of most major American cities, the team boasted a roster which included, Paul Casey, James Heath, Kieran Staunton, Ross Fisher, Sam Osborne and Zane Scotland - all of whom went on to play on the European Tour. Although Casey stands head and shoulders above the rest at present, Fisher is fast becoming a star. Even back in his junior days The Fish was a huge hitter. Obviously, long driving is just a small part of becoming a top class professional, but Fisher has no doubt raised all parts of his game to be able to compete with the big boys. Last season, Fishers main goal in the early season was to make the BMW Championship at Wentworth, his home course. He did indeed play the event and afterwards his results began to dwindle; it was almost as if the steam had gone out of his year. This season, Fisher and his agent Mark Booker have been able to sit down and plan a much better schedule seeing him play fewer events in an effort to keep the momentum going throughout the year.
Hidden Gems
The PGA Merchandise Show took place in Orlando recently, attracting a number of friends from abroad, among whom was Michael ODonnell, the Director of Golf at the Terre Blanche Golf Club just outside Cannes in France. I had the pleasure of visiting the course, which includes a five-star Four Seasons Hotel, last autumn and I must tell you its absolutely magic, with two lay-outs, the Chateaux and the Riou. The former is the tougher, longer lay-out, which although not insight of the coast, affords spectacular views of the Provincial countryside - and when I visited, it was in fabulous shape.
I fully expect the course to attract some sort of professional tournament in the not too distant future, and my advice for those of you in Europe would be to take a weekend gateway and live the lap of luxury. For those readers further a field, make a trip to play golf in France; the country offers many hidden gems. I remember playing the French Amateur at Chantilly some years ago, and wondering how a venue that exquisite had disappeared from the French Open rota. Chantilly first hosted its National Open in 1913 and has since played host a further nine times, with Robert De Vicenzo and Nick Faldo on the list of winners. The week I played the Amateur, I was lucky enough to stay at the home of one of the members and my bedroom looked out over the Chateaux, which was illuminated at night. Id leave the shutters open and fall asleep looking at this majestic castle; it was spectacular.
Big Challenge for Former U.S. Amateur Champ
Congratulations to Eduardo Molinari, who overcame Gustavo Mendoza at the Columbia Masters on Sunday in a two-hole play-off. Molinari, who youll remember as the 2005 U.S. Amateur champion, has struggled to find his footing in professional golf following his invites to the Open Championship, U.S. Open and the Masters Tournament. He played the Columbia Masters on a sponsor's invite having failed to obtain any status from last years European Tour Qualifying School. Now hell be able to set his schedule on the Challenge Tour this season and no doubt will obtain a handful of starts on the main tour as a sponsor's invite. Molinari collected just over 21,000 euros for his victory last week. As long as he keeps decent form this season and finishes in the top 10 a handful of more times before year's end, he should obtain one of the valuable 20 spots on the main tour that are on offer this year to Challenge Tour graduates.
Another Jacklin
Tony Jacklin was spotted at the Columbia Masters last week, but the 1969 Open Champion wasnt playing. Instead, he was carrying the bag of 15-year-old son Sean who was given a sponsor's invite into the tournament. Jacklin senior was a champion of the Bogota Open during his career and still holds the 72-hole scoring record at the club. Despite having dad on the bag, Sean Jacklin struggled in his Challenge Tour debut carding rounds of 86 and 87 to miss the cut.
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