Westwood, Kaymer try to get back on track in Qatar

By Associated PressFebruary 1, 2012, 2:04 pm

DOHA, Qatar – After forgettable performances in Abu Dhabi, third-ranked Lee Westwood and fourth-ranked Martin Kaymer are looking to get their 2012 seasons back on track with strong showings at the Qatar Masters.

They have chosen one of the most challenging courses on the European Tour’s desert swing to do it, however.

The Doha Golf Club just outside Doha is infamous for its windy conditions and this year will be no different. Forecasts are for winds to reach upward of 20 mph for much of the tournament.

Westwood struggled at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and finished in a tie for 17th. Nursing a sore shoulder and unable to master the greens, the Englishman was even par after two rounds. By the time he started playing better, including a 4-under 68 in the third round, he was effectively out of contention and finished seven shots behind eventual winner Robert Rock.

“I had a few sort of issues to negotiate,” Westwood said. “We’ve been working a lot on my fitness just recently, and I haven’t played a lot coming into Abu Dhabi. Didn’t hole as many putts or find the greens there, a little difficult to read.”

Still, Westwood said his showing was “a decent start” and he was feeling good about his game after closing out the 2011 season strong. He won the Thailand Golf Championship in December and the Nedbank Challenge a few weeks earlier. He had a third-round score of 62 at Nedbank, and opened Thailand with a 60 – the lowest round of his career – and then a 64 to beat Charl Schwartzel by seven strokes.

“The ball is starting on line where I’m aiming, and my pace control was good. I only made one bogey over the weekend. Unfortunately that was a three-putt from long range,” Westwood said of his putting. “I think I was second in greens in regulation, so my game is fairly sharp. Like I said, I’m a notoriously slow starter and it always takes me a bit to get going.”

Westwood said his shoulder is feeling better and he was eager to tackle the Doha course – a place he has had mixed success. His best finish is third in 2010 but he missed the cut last year and finished several times outside the top 30.

“Looking forward to this week and playing a golf course I’ve done well in the past,” Westwood said. “Apparently the rough’s not as long as it was last year, but the weather man says it’s going to be fairly windy. And when it’s like that around here, it’s a really tough test.”

Kaymer had an even worse showing in Abu Dhabi, where he was the defending champion and had won the tournament three times. The 2010 PGA Championship winner opened with a 77 which he blamed on bad putting and missed the cut after shooting a 1-over 73 on Friday. The poor performance comes in the wake of a disappointing 2011 season in which he won twice, but struggled in the bigger events.

Graeme McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion, and defending champion Thomas Bjorn will also be in Doha and eager to build on their strong showings in Abu Dhabi. Both players finished in a tie for third.

Joining them will be Hunter Mahan, who becomes the latest American to make his debut in the Middle East.

Mahan said he was feeling good despite the long trip to the Middle East. Calling it something he wanted to do after hearing fellow players rave about it, the 19th-ranked American said the Qatar tournament offers him a chance to test his game against some of the world’s top golfers and also to immerse himself in a new culture.

“I think it’s somewhat beneficial, I think, to be an American player coming over here because it’s not all about golf,” Mahan said.

“I really enjoy the opportunity to kind of travel and see different parts of the world,” he said. “When it’s time to play golf, it’s time to play golf. But like I said, getting out of your comfort zone is kind of a good thing, kind of makes you forced to focus and bear down a little bit and make sure you’re doing what you need to do to prepare for the week.”


Catch coverage of the Qatar Masters on Golf Channel: Thursday and Friday, 9AM-1PM ET; Saturday and Sunday, 8:30AM-12:30PM ET.

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Casey in line to make Ryder Cup after Travelers T-2

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:30 am

Despite coughing up a four-shot lead at the Travelers Championship, England's Paul Casey moved into a qualifying position to make his return to the Ryder Cup this fall in Paris.

Casey struggled Sunday at TPC River Highlands, shooting a 72 as Bubba Watson raced to victory with a 63. But a four-way share of second place was still good enough to lift Casey into fourth place among those not already qualified on the World Points list, with the top four Europeans from that list in August punching their tickets to Le Golf National.

Casey has played in three Ryder Cups before, but none since 2008. After renouncing his European Tour membership a few years ago, he reinstated it for the 2018 season in order to be eligible to return to the biennial matches.

Here's a look at the updated standings for Europe, with the top four players from each points list ultimately joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Tommy Fleetwood

4. Francesco Molinari

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5. Thorbjorn Olesen

6. Matthew Fitzpatrick

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Rory McIlroy

3. Alex Noren

4. Paul Casey

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5. Matthew Fitzpatrick

6. Ian Poulter


On the American side of the ledger, Watson jumped two spots to fifth with his third win of the year and seemingly locked up his spot on the squad, while Bryson DeChambeau moved inside the top eight with a top-10 finish in Connecticut.

Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship earning automatic bids:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Bubba Watson

6. Jordan Spieth

7. Rickie Fowler

8. Bryson DeChambeau

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9. Webb Simpson

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Matt Kuchar

12. Brian Harman

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Watson cracks top 15 in world with Travelers win

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:15 am

After his third win in the last five months, Bubba Watson is back on the cusp of the upper echelon in the world rankings.

Watson started the year ranked No. 89 in the world, but after a three-shot victory at the Travelers Championship the southpaw moved up seven spots to No. 13 in the latest rankings. It marks his best position since a missed cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February 2017.

Watson stayed one spot behind Paul Casey, who was one of four runners-up in Connecticut and rose one position to 12th as a result. Beau Hossler's T-2 finish helped him jump 24 spots to No. 64, while J.B. Holmes went from 93rd to 75th with the same result. Stewart Cink, who grabbed a share of second with a final-round 62, went from No. 149 to No. 95 and is back inside the top 100 in the world rankings for the first time since September 2011.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


Matt Wallace, who won the BMW International Open on the European Tour, went from 91st to 66th.

There was only one change among the top 10 in the rankings, as an idle Jon Rahm moved past Jordan Spieth at No. 5 despite Spieth's T-42 finish at TPC River Highlands. At No. 6, Spieth is at his lowest point in the rankings since before last summer's victories at Travelers and The Open.

Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Rahm. Spieth slid to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Poised to return to competition this week at the Quicken Loans National, Tiger Woods fell three spots to No. 82 in the latest rankings.

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After Further Review: Spieth needs a break

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 1:11 am

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

On Jordan Spieth's much-needed break ...

Jordan Spieth is heading for a break, and that’s probably a good thing.

Spieth just wrapped a run of six events in seven weeks that featured largely underwhelming results. A third-place finish at the Masters that stemmed from a nearly-historic final round deflects attention away from the fact that Spieth has yet to enter a final round this year less than six shots off the lead.

A return to his home state didn’t work, nor did a fight against par at Shinnecock or a title defense outside Hartford where everything went so well a year ago. His putting woes appear to have bottomed out, as Spieth finished 21st in putting at Travelers, but now the alignment issue that plagued his putting appears to have bled into other parts of his game.

So heading into another title defense next month at Carnoustie, Spieth plans to take some time off and re-evaluate. Given how fast things turned around last summer, that might prove to be just what he needs. - Will Gray


On the difference between this week and last week ...

There wasn’t a single outraged tweet, not a lone voice of descent on social media following Bubba Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, a 17-under par masterpiece that included a closing loop of 30.

Nobody declared that golf was broken, no one proclaimed the royal and ancient game a victim of technology and the age of uber athletes. The only response was appreciation for what Watson, a bomber in the truest form, was able to accomplish.

At 6,840 yards, TPC River Highlands was built for fun, not speed. Without wild weather or ill-advised hole locations and greens baked to extinction, this is what the best players in the game do, and yet no one seemed outraged. Weird. - Rex Hoggard


On the emergence of another LPGA phenom ...

Add another young star to the favorites list heading to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes outside Chicago next week.

Nasa Hataoka, the 19-year-old Japanese standout who needed her rookie season last year to acclimate to the LPGA, broke through for her first LPGA title Sunday at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

This wasn’t a surprise to LPGA followers. Hataoka won the Japan Women’s Open when she was 17, the first amateur to win a major on the Japan LPGA Tour, and she has been trending up this year.

Her tie for 10th at the U.S. Women’s Open three weeks ago was her fourth consecutive top-10 finish. She won going away in Arkansas, beating a deep field that included the top nine in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She outplayed world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 Lexi Thompson on Sunday. - Randall Mell

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Bubba waiting for Furyk's text about Ryder Cup

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 12:39 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – After winning his third PGA Tour title in the span of five months, Bubba Watson is now waiting by his phone.

Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, his third at TPC River Highlands since 2010, accompanies recent victories at both the Genesis Open and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play from earlier this year. It also moved the southpaw from No. 7 to No. 5 in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically.

After serving as an assistant captain at Hazeltine despite ranking No. 7 in the world at the time, Watson made it clear that he hopes to have removed any doubt about returning to the role of player when the biennial matches head to Paris this fall.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“It still says in my phone that (U.S. captain) Jim (Furyk) hasn’t texted me yet. So I’d really like for him to say I’m going to pick you no matter what,” Watson said. “The motivation is I’ve never won a Ryder Cup, so making the Ryder Cup team and trying to win a Ryder Cup as a player would be another tournament victory to me. It would be a major championship to me just because I’ve never done it, been a part of it.”

Watson turns 40 in November, and while he reiterated that his playing career might not extend too far into the future as he looks to spend more time at home with son Caleb and daughter Dakota, he’s also hoping to make an Olympic return in Tokyo in 2020 after representing the U.S. in Rio two years ago.

“Talking about the Olympics coming up, that’s motivating me,” he said. “It was the best experience of my life to watch all the other events, and then the golf tournament got in the way. I’d love to do it again. I’d love to watch all the events and then have to play golf as well.”