Par 5 Moving Up in the World

By Randall MellFebruary 1, 2011, 8:16 pm
Setting the week’s agenda with five questions for the world of professional golf at large . . .

Is Martin Kaymer ready to ascend to the top of the world rankings?

Talk about precision German engineering.

Kaymer must have looked like a birdie machine to world No. 1 Lee Westwood when Kaymer won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship two weeks ago in the last start for both players.

Martin Kaymer
Martin Kaymer won this year's Abu Dhabi Championship. (Getty Images)
After finishing 26 shots ahead of Westwood and leaping over Tiger Woods to No. 2 in the world rankings, Kaymer is in position to make the biggest world-ranking move of his career. While he can only move up one spot at the European Tour’s Commercialbank Qatar Masters this week, it’s one giant spot. Kaymer can become the 14th player to gain the No. 1 spot since the Official World Golf Ranking was created in 1986.

Kaymer will end Westwood’s 14-week run at the top if he wins the Qatar Masters and Westwood finishes lower than second. Kaymer can also ascend to No. 1 if he finishes second and Westwood finishes outside the top 22.

The fact that Westwood and Kaymer are both in the field marks the first time Europeans ranked Nos. 1-2 in the world have met in a tournament since No. 1 Nick Faldo squared off against No. 2 Bernhard Langer at the Irish Open in 1993.

Kaymer’s seeking his sixth European Tour victory in 13 months, Westwood his first in that same span, but it won’t be as easy for Kaymer as it was at Abu Dhabi, where he’s so comfortable. Westwood favors this week’s Doha Golf Club layout

“It’s a golf course that suits me down to the ground,” Westwood says in a story on the European Tour’s website. “When you get rough like you do in Doha, it is a good driver's golf course, so I would expect it to suit me. It's almost like a major championship setup with firm greens and thick rough. With its firm greens, you can get close to the flags – but you need to be mentally strong, as it is a thinking man's golf course.”

The Qatar field also features world No. 6 Paul Casey, No. 7 Steve Stricker, No. 12 Ian Poulter, No. 15 Retief Goosen, No. 16 Robert Karlsson and No. 19 Louis Oosthuizen. John Daly and Sergio Garcia are also scheduled to play.
Is Phil Mickelson about to see Tiger Woods in his rear-view mirror?

There’s an old saying, something like, “If you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes.”

In that regard, Phil Mickelson’s view hasn’t been so good for awhile, as it relates to the world rankings.

Mickelson, like all his colleagues, has been looking at Woods’ backside for a long, long time, but nobody’s been closer than Mickelson. Last year, Mickelson spent 29 weeks at No. 2 directly behind Woods. The year before that, he spent 39 weeks at No. 2 behind Woods. With Mickelson’s strong finish at Sunday’s Farmers Insurance Open on Sunday, he jumped two spots to No. 4, back into a familiar spot directly behind Woods, of course.

It’s been nearly 14 years since Mickelson’s ranked ahead of Woods.

Going to the Masters in 1997, Mickelson ranked No. 9 in the world and Woods No. 13. That’s the last time Mickelson’s ranked ahead of Woods. A week later, with his ’97 Masters’ victory, Woods climbed over Mickelson to No. 3.

This is the week Mickelson could finally change his world ranking scenery.

With a strong finish at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Mickelson can move his ranking ahead of Woods for the first time since April 6, 1997. Mickelson can move ahead of Woods with a first-, second- or third-place finish, depending on what happens at Qatar.
Can Bubba, Lefty and Jhonny re-enact their Torrey Pines drama?

Bubba Watson, Mickelson and Jhonattan Vegas are all in the field at the Waste Management Phoenix Open after finishing 1-2-T3, respectively, last weekend.

Mickelson’s won twice at TPC Scottsdale and finished second another time. Watson has one top-10 finish there in four tries, but he’s a birdie machine who ought to do well with all the confidence percolating from last week’s victory at the Farmers Insurance Open. Watson handled his cauldron of emotions beautifully coming down the stretch, making you think this guy’s seriously moved to another level. Vegas won a birdie blitz in the desert at the Bob Hope Classic two weeks ago and showed he’s got the game for nearly any kind of track with his finish at Torrey Pines. All three of these guys look like they could have huge springs if not huge years.
Who are the animals around TPC Scottsdale’s 16th hole going to devour?

Ian Poulter got a full dose of the lunacy that reigns around the wildest hole in golf last year.

After carving his tee shot to 7 feet in the final round, he was lustily cheered. After missing the birdie putt, he was just as lustily jeered and booed.

Walking off the green, Poulter scratched his nose with his middle finger fully extended. Poulter tweeted that he was merely getting something off his face, but a message was delivered. The animals can be amusing and insulting and quite creative in managing both at the same time. Poulter, by the way, isn’t in this week’s field. He’s almost as far away as you can get at the Qatar Masters.
Does the Australian Women’s Open mark the start of the women’s season?

The LPGA season doesn’t start for another two weeks at the Honda LPGA Thailand, but there are a lot of LPGA pros getting their years started at the Australian Women’s Open this week.

Yani Tseng, the 2010 LPGA Rolex Player of the Year, is teeing it up as defending champ at Commonwealth Golf Club outside Melbourne. So is Rolex No. 1 Jiyai Shin. Four-time Australian Women’s Open champ Karrie Webb is in a marquee pairing with Stacy Lewis and 15-year-old American phenom Alexis Thompson. Laura Davies, a two-time winner of this event, is also in the field along with American Christina Kim and major championship winners Karen Stupples and Eun Hee Ji.
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Rose (64) peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:40 pm

A former U.S. Open champion appears to be finding his form just three weeks ahead of the year's second major.

Justin Rose ascended to the top of the leaderboard Friday at the Fort Worth Invitational, with rounds of 66-64 pushing him to 10 under par for the week.

Through 36 at Colonial, Rose has marked 12 birdies against just two bogeys.

"Yeah, I did a lot of good things today," Rose said. "I think, you know, the end of my round got a little scrappy, but until the last three holes it was pretty flawless. I think I hit every fairway pretty much and obviously every green to that point. ...

"Yeah, the way I played through, I guess through my first 15 holes today, was about as good as I've played in a long time."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose won in back-to-back weeks last fall, stunning Dustin Johnson at the WGC-HSBC Championship and riding that victory right into another at the Turkish Airlines Open.

Now the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion feels himself once again rounding into form ahead of this year's Open at Shinnecock. A final-round 66 at The Players gave Rose something to focus on in his recent practice sessions with swing coach Sean Foley, as the two work to shore up the timing of Rose's transition into the downswing.

As for his decision to tee it up at Colonial for the first time since 2010, "It was more the run of form really," Rose explained. "I feel like if I didn't play here it was going to be a little spotty going into the U.S. Open. I felt like I wanted to play enough golf where I would have a good read on my game going into Shinnecock.

"So rather than the venue it was more the timing, but it's obviously it's just such a bonus to be on a great layout like this."

For whatever reason, Rose does tend to play his best golf at iconic venues, having won PGA Tour events at Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional.

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Koepka (63): Two wrist dislocations in two months

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:19 pm

Brook Koepka's journey back from a wrist injury that kept him out four months hasn't been totally smooth sailing, even if his play has suggested otherwise.

Koepka on Friday fired a 7-under 63 to move up the leaderboard into a tie for third, three shots behind leader Justin Rose through the end of the morning wave at the Fort Worth Invitational.

After a slow start Thursday saw him play his first 13 holes 3 over, Koepka is 10 under with 11 birdies in his last 23 holes at Colonial.

"It doesn't matter to me. I could care less. I'm still going to try as hard as I can," Koepka said. "I don't care how many over or how many under I am. Still going to fight through it."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Just like he's been fighting his wrist the last two months or so. Koepka reinjured his wrist the Wednesday of The Players when he was practicing on the range and had to halt mid-swing after a golf cart drove in front of him. He nonetheless managed to finish T-11.

And that's not the only issue he's had with that wrist during his return.

"We had a bone pop out of place. I didn't tell anybody, but, yeah, they popped it back in," Koepka admitted Friday. "Luckily enough we kind of popped it back into place right away so it wasn't stiff and I didn't have too, too many problems.

"Yeah. I mean, I've dislocated my wrist twice in the last two months. You know, different spots, but, I mean, it's fun. I'll be all right."

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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below: