Finally a true World Golf Championship

By Doug FergusonNovember 3, 2010, 3:14 pm

WGC-HSBC ChampionsSHANGHAI  – The players and the props showed just how much the landscape of golf has changed at the HSBC Champions.

A year ago, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson sat across from each other in a mock game of Chinese checkers to kick off the festivities in this final World Golf Championship. They stood out as the top two players in the world. There was little argument about that.

Now it’s a lot more crowded.

This time, tournament organizers brought Woods, Mickelson, Lee Westwood and PGA champion Martin Kaymer to Shanghai’s riverfront in the famous Bund district. They were equipped with swords, and they struck a pose to celebrate the ancient Chinese martial art of tai chi.

It was a bit dramatic, but the point had been made.

Golf finally has a real battle for No. 1 in the world, and it figures to play out at Sheshan International over the next four days.

“It’s an interesting time for golf,” said Westwood, who ended Woods’ record reign at No. 1 in the world. “It’s a lot more interesting when it’s more volatile with who can become world No. 1. Martin has obviously played very consistently just recently. Tiger and Phil have been at the top of the world rankings for a while, as I have myself. I think for the neutral (fan) who doesn’t normally watch golf, it’s captured their imagination.”

This used to be the time of year when players chase appearance money in exotic locations, wanting to win for pride but without the kind of pressure found during the summer.

That might not be the case when the HSBC Champions starts Thursday.

“It’s exciting, I’m sure, for the public,” Woods said. “But as far as the players are concerned, I think everyone still has the same focus, and that’s to win tournaments. That’s how we got into the position we’re at, how we got our ranking as high as the top four players in the world. We were able to win golf tournaments. That’s why we’re here doing that.”

Woods is no longer No. 1, nor has he looked like it for most of the year. He has gone 51 weeks and 12 tournaments without a victory, the longest drought of his career. At stake this week is trying to avoid getting shut out on the PGA Tour for the first time in his career. This also is the only World Golf Championship he has not won.

“I’ve come close,” Woods said. “Unfortunately, I just haven’t done it yet.”

He wasn’t particularly close last year, despite playing in the final group with Mickelson. Woods’ game blew up on the front nine to fall from contention, and Mickelson held on for a one-shot win over Ernie Els.

Westwood hasn’t been playing much at all.

He put himself in position to be No. 1 by finishing second in the British Open at St. Andrews despite a calf injury that was affecting his ankle. Since then, Westwood has played only six rounds in stroke play and four matches in the Ryder Cup.

If he doesn’t finish ahead of Woods or Kaymer – and possibly Mickelson – he most likely won’t be No. 1 by the end of the week. That wouldn’t be such a disgrace. The first time Woods reached No. 1, he lasted only one week.

Kaymer had a chance last week if he had finished among the top two in Spain, but he tied for 21st. What makes the German stand out are his victories this year. He not only won the PGA Championship in a playoff at Whistling Straits but had three other titles on the European Tour, making him the most prolific winner this year.

He also leads the European Tour’s money list and has a chance to become the first German to win the Order of Merit since Bernhard Langer in 1984, a few months before Kaymer was born.

“I think Tiger, the last 10 years or last 12 years, he’s the No. 1 in the world,” Kaymer said. “I think in everybody’s head, he’s still the best player in the world. Of course, he’s playing not so good at the moment. When people say I’m playing like the No. 1 in the world at the moment, it’s nice to hear. But officially, Lee Westwood is the No. 1.”

It can be tough to keep track, although it ultimately comes down to great golf.

The rough is thick again at Sheshan International, and the greens are relatively firm from a recent cold spell in Shanghai. And while there is so much emphasis on the current version of the “Big Four,” the field is strong as ever, typical of a world championship.

It features 15 of the top 20 in the world, with most of the absentees being Americans who choose not to play or travel this time of the year – Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson. The other is British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, still recovering from an ankle injury.

Mickelson has won the HSBC Champions twice in the last three years. He finally is fully healthy for the first time since he was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. And despite failing to get to No. 1 over the last six months, he is still in the mix.

“I would love to accomplish that, but the only way to do that is play good golf,” Mickelson said. “And the only way to do that is to not worry about it and try to make some birdies. This is a tournament that has a lot of world ranking points, one of the strongest fields in golf, on a course that I’ve played well on in the past. I feel like I can put together a good week here and compete for the title.”

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Molinari holds off McIlroy to win BMW PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 3:20 pm

VIRGINIA WATER, England - Rory McIlroy left his victory charge too late at Wentworth as Francesco Molinari delivered a clinic in front-running to win the BMW PGA Championship by two shots with a 4-under 68 on Sunday.

McIlroy, who led by three shots at halfway, entered the final round tied for the lead with Molinari on 13 under par but a Sunday shootout at the European Tour's flagship event never really materialized.

Instead, as McIlroy toiled to a 70 that was propped up by birdies on the par fives at Nos. 17 and 18, Molinari went bogey-free for a second straight day to claim the fifth victory of his career and the biggest since a World Golf Championship in Shanghai in 2010.


Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship


The Italian only dropped two shots all week and finished on 17-under 271, with McIlroy alone in second place. Alex Noren (67) and Lucas Bjerregaard (65) were tied for third place a stroke further back.

Molinari moved into the automatic qualifying places for the Ryder Cup, which he hasn't played since 2012 when Europe beat the United States in the so-called ''Miracle at Medinah.''

He'd previously had five top-10 finishes in the last six years at Wentworth, including being runner-up to Noren last year.

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Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.