Sergio looking to overtake Lefty in rankings

By Associated PressNovember 5, 2008, 5:00 pm
2006 HSBC ChampionsSHANGHAI, China ' Sergio Garcia isnt quite ready to replace golfs top-ranked player.
 
Thats Tiger Woods.
 
The No. 3-ranked Garcia is, however, aiming at overtaking No. 2 Phil Mickelson beginning Thursday at the HSBC Champions.
 
With six of the worlds top 10 players in the field ' and 10 of the top 20 ' the Shanghai event offers lots of ranking points which is, perhaps, a bigger draw for golfers than even the $5 million purse.
 
Need proof? Check out the other top-10 players in the field at the Sheshan Golf Club on the outskirts of Chinas financial capital: Mickelson, Padraig Harrington, Robert Karlsson, Camilo Villegas and Anthony Kim. Those in the second 10 arent too bad, either: Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, K.J. Choi and Henrik Stenson.
 
Woods played this tournament twice in its first two years, finishing second to David Howell in 2005 and second to Yang Yong-eun in 2006.
 
With victories in The Players Championship and his home-course Castellon Masters, Garcias consistency has moved him up the rankings. Hes also finished second or tied for second in three events this season in the U.S. and Europe.
 
If I play well I can really move fairly close to that second spot in the world (rankings), Garcia said Wednesday. So its something exciting, something that Im driving toward and this is a good week to have a chance at it.
 
The Spaniard must win on Sunday and hope Mickelson'the defending champion ' finishes far off the pace.
 
Mickelson is far less confident about catching Woods, who had surgery on his left knee after winning the U.S. Open. Its unclear when hell return, but some speculate it will be March at the earliest.
 
In golfs rankings system, which primarily weighs strength of field, Garcia trails Mickelson by less than one point ' 0.53 to be exact. Mickelson, on the other hand, trails Woods by 6.10 points. Woods leads with 14.41.
 
Its going to be difficult to get to the No. 1 spot, Mickelson said. Id have to win a lot of tournaments. Its not impossible.
 
Mickelson has failed to win in Woods absence, but could make up ground with a few quick victories.
 
Ive improved this year, said Mickelson, who won twice in the U.S. before Woods was sidelined. I had a level of consistency I havent had. But I didnt win the way I expected to. I didnt compete in the majors the way I had hoped to.
 
The strength of the field in Shanghai ' promoters are calling it Asias major ' reflects the global pull of golf and the rivalry between the dominant American tour and the surging European Tour.
 
This event is the first of the 2009 European Tour season, which will end next November in the Dubai World Championship. The European Tour has also rebranded the Order of Merit ' the season money title ' and now calls it the Race to Dubai. That tournament will have a $10 million purse with $10 million more available in bonus money.
 
The money has caught the attention of U.S. tour players. Kim and Villegas have already joined the European Tour, and Mickelson said Tuesday hes considering it.
 
It might be something I might do next year, Mickelson said. I wouldnt rule it out.
 
To be eligible, players must compete in 12 European Tour events. The four major championships and three World Golf Championships count toward the 12, meaning only five more are needed.
 
It just happens my first year joining the European Tour is the first year of the Race to Dubai, said No. 7-ranked Villegas. Obviously, its going to catch a lot of guys attention. It would be nice to see more guys from the U.S. come and play since golf is a worldwide sport.
 
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    Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

    Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

    Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

    Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.


    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


    "I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

    Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

    Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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    Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

    A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

    The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

    There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.


    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


    But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

    As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

    This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.

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    Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

    There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.

    Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.

    Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.


    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


    Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.

    The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.

    Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.

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    Daly (knee) replaced by Bradley in Open field

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 12:13 pm

    Former champion John Daly has withdrawn from The Open because of a right knee injury and will be replaced in the field at Carnoustie by another major winner, Keegan Bradley.

    Daly, 52, defeated Costantino Rocca in a memorable playoff to win the claret jug at St. Andrews in 1995. His lingering knee pain led him to request a cart during last month's U.S. Senior Open, and when that request was denied he subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

    Daly then received treatment on the knee and played in a PGA Tour event last week at The Greenbrier without the use of a cart, missing the cut with rounds of 77-67. But on the eve of the season's third major, he posted to Twitter that his pain remains "unbearable" and that a second request for a cart was turned down:

    This will be just the second time since 2000 that Daly has missed The Open, having also sat out the 2013 event at Muirfield. He last made the cut in 2012, when he tied for 81st at Royal Lytham. He could still have a few more chances to improve upon that record, given that past Open champions remain fully exempt until age 60.

    Taking his place will be Bradley, who was first alternate based on his world ranking. Bradley missed the event last year but recorded three top-20 finishes in five appearances from 2012-16, including a T-18 finish two years ago at Royal Troon.

    The next three alternates, in order, are Spain's Adrian Otaegui and Americans Aaron Wise and J.B. Holmes.