The European Tour Year in Review

By Sports NetworkDecember 21, 2007, 5:00 pm
European TourWith many of the top players having typically solid years, a one-time phenom broke through to win the Order of Merit.
Justin Rose burst onto the scene as a teenager at the 1998 British Open, but finally broke through in 2007. He claimed two titles and won the Order of Merit for the first time.
Two European Tour regulars broke through with their first major titles as Angel Cabrera won the U.S. Open and Padraig Harrington took the British Open in a playoff.
There were 18 first-time winners in 2007 topped by Pablo Martin, who won the Open de Portugal as an amateur. He became the first amateur to win on the European Tour.
One year after winning his first Order of Merit title, Padraig Harrington claimed his first major championship.
Harrington, who finished third in the 2007 Order of Merit race, won the British Open in a playoff over four-time European Ryder Cup teammate Sergio Garcia.
The Irishman needed 15 strokes to complete the four-hole playoff, one better than Garcia. The Spaniard had held at least a share of the lead after the first three rounds, but was done in by a two-over 73 in the final round.
Harrington fired a four-under 67 to erase a six-stroke deficit and win his first major title. The victory also snapped a seven-year drought for Europeans as Paul Lawrie's win at the 1999 British had been the last major win for a European.
The Open Championship was played at Carnoustie and the last time it was played there was 1999 when Jean Van de Velde had a disastrous 18th to lose the title to Lawrie.
This year nearly saw a repeat of Van de Velde's meltdown. Harrington led by one on the 18th tee, but stumbled to a double-bogey after finding a burn off the tee.
Garcia, playing behind the Irishman, had to wait while Harrington finished and a raker tended to a greenside bunker. Garcia's second found sand, but he blasted to six feet.
The Spaniard needed that for the win, but he missed. Harrington birdied the first extra hole and Garcia made bogey giving the Irishman a commanding lead.
Harrington parred the next two, then bogeyed the 18th, but it was enough to claim major victory No. 1.
The victory at Carnoustie was Harrington's second of the season as he also claimed his national title, winning the Irish Open in a playoff over Bradley Dredge.
Harrington started and finished the season in strong fashion. He began the '07 season with a pair of top-six finishes, then closed with three top-nine finishes.
In between, he missed just one cut the entire season and that came at the U.S. Open, where he missed the weekend at Oakmont by three shots. His season was so strong he only finished outside the top 25 in three of his 15 starts.
His closing push secured his third-place finish in the Order of Merit race. He has finished in the top seven in that race in eight of the last nine years.
TOURNAMENT OF THE YEAR - A return to dominance
Year in and year out the HSBC World Match Play Championship has one of the strongest fields. The two players who make the final have to play four 36-hole matches.
Much like Fred Couples is the king of the Skins Game, Ernie Els is the king of the HSBC World Match Play.
Contested at Wentworth, where Els owns a home, the event may soon be named after Els. Els dominated U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera, 6 & 4, to win the title for the seventh time.
Els and Cabrera both won their opening matches, 6 & 5, while Els cruised past Andres Romero by the same margin in the second round. Cabrera took out 2006 winner Paul Casey, 4 & 3, in round two.
The semifinals saw both Els and Cabrera battle in their closest matches. Els fended off Henrik Stenson, 3 & 2. Stenson had a strong year in match play events as he won the WGC - Accenture Match Play earlier in the season.
Cabrera held off Hunter Mahan, 2 & 1, to get into the finals against his fellow U.S. Open winner.
Els raced out to a 3-up lead after nine holes, but after that his lead never dipped below 2-up the rest of the way. The first turning point came at the 22nd hole when Els scrambled to a par.
Cabrera had a five foot putt to halve the hole, but could not convert and he slid 4-down. The Argentine got back within 2-down after 27, but Els turned it on down the stretch.
Els drained an 18-footer for birdie at 10, then two-putted for birdie on 12 to extend his lead back to 4-up. He two-putted for par at 13, and that was enough to give him a 5-up lead with five to go.
Els knocked his second to 10 feet and the 14th and was conceded the putt after Cabrera missed the green and could not hole his birdie chip.
SHOT OF THE YEAR - Two hops into the burn
I've played golf for about 20 years now and have caddied for about 10 years as well. Needless to say, I've seen a lot of weird stuff on a golf course.
I have witnessed a hole-in-one where my playing partner seemingly snap-hooked his ball well left of the green until the ball ricocheted off a tree before rolling across the green and into the cup.
About the only shot I've have never seen in person is an albatross, or double- eagle.
Every golfer faces pressure at some point in their career. Standing on the 18th tee with a one-stroke lead in a major championship, when going for your first major championship win, has to among the most pressure-packed moments for a professional golfer.
Padraig Harrington faced just such a moment at the British Open, leading by one on the final tee. Harrington pushed his tee ball right of the fairway towards a burn.
The Irishman's ball bounced not once, but twice, on a small bridge and then into the burn. Harrington scrambled to a double-bogey, then defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff to win the British Open.
As amazing as it was to watch that shot on television, I saw it again just days later.
I played in a golf outing a few days after the British Open and watched a ball bounce past the tee box I was standing on, then bounce four times on a bridge behind the tee.
Unfortunately for that golfer, his ball also found water beneath the bridge. But it didn't matter since the event we were playing in was a scramble.
ROOKIE OF YEAR - A new German power?
Once upon a time, Bernhard Langer was the leading golfer from Germany. That torch has been passed on, but who is the new German star on the European Tour?
In 2007, it was Martin Kaymer. He was the named the tour's Rookie of the Year.
After missing the cut in six of his first seven starts, Kaymer collected five top-10 finishes and finished in the top 20 11 times in 29 starts.
Kaymer, who did not play in any major or World Golf Championship event, closed with two top-seven finishes. In those two events, he collected over 210,000 euros en route to finishing 41st on the Order of Merit.
His main competition for the award came from Alexander Noren and Alvaro Quiros, who won the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa. Noren finished 63rd on the Order of Merit, while Quiros finished 102nd after missing nearly four months with an injury.
Justin Rose - Since bursting onto the golf scene with a fourth place finish as a teenaged amateur at the 1998 British Open, things have not always gone Justin Rose's way. Rose began to fulfill his potential in 2007 as he won two events, including the season-ending Volvo Masters. That also gave him his first Order of Merit title.
Ernie Els - The South African won twice and posted eight top-five finishes while finishing second to Rose in the Order of Merit race. Made some noise at the end of the year when he skipped the Volvo Masters and a chance to win the Order of Merit.
Henrik Stenson - Despite missing the cut in three of the four majors, Stenson finished fourth on the Order of Merit. Picked up back-to-back wins, one on the European Tour and one on the PGA Tour, early in the season and had six top 10s in a limited schedule. Excluding the World Golf Championship events and the four majors, Stenson played just 10 events on 2007 European Tour International schedule.
Angel Cabrera - Picked up his first major title in winning the U.S. Open and took sixth on the Order of Merit despite making just 13 starts on the European Tour.
Retief Goosen - OK, so he finished ninth in the Order of Merit race, but he had more missed cuts (four) than wins (one). After a tie for second at the Masters, didn't have another top-10 finish in a stroke-play event the rest of the year and fell out of the top 20 in the world rankings.
Marcel Siem - This former winner posted just one top-20 finish and that came in his first start of the year. Fell to 129th on the Order of Merit while missing nine cuts.
Gary Emerson - Made 31 starts but finished 220th on the Order of Merit. He was the only player with more than 30 starts to finish outside the top 175 on the Order of Merit.
Jonathan Lomas - The only player to make 20 or more starts and finish outside the top 225 on the Order of Merit. Lomas picked up four pay checks in 20 starts.
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    Even with broken driver, Salinda beats Hagestad at U.S. Am

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 17, 2018, 2:52 am

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – With a trip to the U.S. Amateur quarterfinals on the line, and with the Pacific Ocean staring him in the face, Isaiah Salinda piped a 330-yard drive down Pebble Beach’s 18th hole.

    Not a bad poke with a replacement driver.

    Salinda’s Round of 16 match against Stewart Hagestad got off to a rocky start Thursday afternoon with an awkward tee shot on the second hole.

    “The ball came out weird, with no spin,” said Salinda’s caddie and former Stanford teammate, Bradley Knox. “He said, ‘Yeah, that felt weird.’”

    Salinda looked at the bottom of his Callaway Epic driver and noticed a crack.

    Worried that they'd have to play the rest of the round with only a 3-wood, Knox called a Callaway equipment rep, told him the issue, and was relieved to hear he'd meet them at the back of the third tee. Salinda teed off the next hole with a 3-wood – he’d taken driver there all week – and wound up in a tricky spot, on the side of a mound, leading to a bogey.

    “Then they came over and cranked the driver,” Knox said. “It was like a NASCAR pit crew.”

    The replacement driver was nearly identical – same head, same loft, same weighting – except for the lie angle. The new one was a degree flatter than his gamer, which led to a few more pulled shots than usual.

    “It took a little while to recover the mindset that we’d had the rest of the week,” Knox said.

    Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

    Salinda downplayed the equipment malfunction – “I just had to adjust, and it wasn’t really a problem” – but he didn’t play well early. After trailing for just one hole during his first two matches, he was 4 over par and 2 down through 10 holes against Hagestad, the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion who’d finally made match play after eight previous failed attempts.

    On 11, Salinda finally got going, stuffing a wedge shot to 10 feet and recording his first birdie. He followed with three clutch pars before another good approach on 15, leading to a conceded birdie to square the match.

    On the home hole, Salinda bombed his drive about 30 yards past Hagestad and had 220 yards to the flag. It was a perfect 4-iron distance, and he sent a rocket into a blinding sunset.

    “I never saw it,” Salinda said. “I told my caddie: ‘Where is that? I have no idea.’ But it felt good.”

    A lone voice shrieked as the ball landed on the green. They knew the shot had to be tight. Years ago, Stanford senior Chris Meyers had made an albatross on 18 for a walkoff victory with Lee Janzen at the PGA Tour Champions’ First Tee Open. Knox thought they’d come close to duplicating the feat.

    “Probably almost had a Chris Meyers,” Knox said, chuckling, as they walked up the fairway.

    The shot never had a chance to drop – turns out the spectator was well-lubricated – but it still was only 35 feet away, for eagle. Salinda cozied his putt to a few feet and could only watch as Hagestad’s last-ditch 25-footer stopped a rotation short of the cup.

    The Round of 16 victory continued a breakout summer for Salinda. His 15th-place showing at the NCAA Championship kick-started a three-month stretch in which he’s finally taken his game to the next level.

    “He’s shown flashes of brilliance before,” Knox said, “and he’s had the game. But now he has the consistency and the confidence that it’ll come back time and time again.”

    Salinda shot 62 in the third round and won the Pacific Coast Amateur, which boasts one of the strongest fields of the summer. Then he finished third in stroke play at the Western Amateur before a quarterfinal loss in match play.

    Now he’s one step closer to his biggest victory yet – even with a backup driver.

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    Salas (62) leads LPGA's Indy Women in Tech

    By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 12:50 am

    INDIANAPOLIS - Lizette Salas' waited 77 minutes to line up her 4-foot putt to take the lead Thursday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    She refused to let the weather delay get to her.

    When the 29-year-old California player returned to the course, she quickly rolled in the birdie putt, finished her round with another birdie at No. 18 and took a two-shot lead over Angel Yin and Nasa Hataoka with a course record-tying 10-under 62.

    ''I didn't even think about it the entire time,'' Salas said. ''I was hanging out with Danielle (Kang) and she was giving me her silly dad jokes. So it definitely kept my mind off of it. I was really excited to be back and to finish off with a birdie, from off the green, was the icing on the cake.''

    It's the lowest score by a female player at the Brickyard Crossing.

    Defending champion Lexi Thompson opened last year's inaugural tournament with a 63, one shot off of Mike McCullough's 62 in the PGA Champions Tour's 1999 Comfort Classic.

    But the way the saturated 6,456-yard course played Thursday, Salas needed virtually every putt of her career-best round to reach the top of the leaderboard.

    The morning starters took advantage of overnight rain by shooting right at the pins.

    And nobody made a bigger early splash than Yin, the 19-year-old Californian who finished second in last year's rookie of the year race.

    She opened with five straight birdies and shot 8-under 28 on the front nine. Only a par on No. 6 prevented her from becoming the sixth LPGA player to shoot 27 on nine holes. South Korea's Mi Hyang Lee did it most recently at the 2016 JTBC Founders Cup.

    Yin also tied the third-lowest nine-hole score in relation to par in tour history.

    Her only bobble came with a bogey on No. 13 and she closed out her best career round with a birdie on No. 18.

    Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

    ''I have never done that before,'' she said. ''I had nine putts, I think, on the front nine, which is incredible. I've never had that many little putts. But it just felt good. Everything was working.''

    Last year's runner-up for rookie of the year has never won an LPGA Tour title in her home country though she did win in a playoff at Dubai on the Ladies European Tour.

    Everybody seemed to find their groove Thursday.

    Eighty-eight of the 143 players shot under par and 54 were 3-under or better.

    And with more rain in the forecast Thursday night and Friday, the scores could go even lower as a star-studded cast chases down Salas, Yin and Hataoka.

    Four players, including Kang and Jane Park, are three shots behind.

    Seven players, including last year's tournament runner-up Lydia Ko, are four shots back. Ko was tied with Yin for the lead - until she knocked her tee shot on the par-4, 16th into the water. She wound up with a double bogey and birdied the final hole to finish with 66.

    After taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion, Thompson looked relaxed and comfortable in her return to the course. She shot 68.

    ''It was hard for me to take the break because I didn't want to show weakness,'' she said. ''But at the same time, it takes a lot of strength to acknowledge that you need that kind of break and just take time for yourself, especially when you're in the spotlight like this.''

    Salas, meanwhile, started fast with an eagle on the par-5 second and finished with a flurry.

    She birdied three straight holes on the front side to get to 5-under, added birdies at Nos. 12 and 14 to get to 7-under and then birdied the final three holes - around the approaching storm - to put herself in contention for her first title since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

    ''I have been just striking the ball really well this entire year, and just glad some more putts dropped today,'' she said. ''I was really refreshed. I didn't practice at all last week, and I was just really eager and excited to be back.''

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    Sordet opens with 62 to grab lead at Nordea Masters

    By Associated PressAugust 16, 2018, 11:23 pm

    GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Clement Sordet opened with four straight birdies to shoot 8-under 62 and take the first-round lead of the Nordea Masters on Thursday.

    Sordet says ''I wasn't really focusing on the score, I was just enjoying it.''

    The Frenchman, who shot his lowest European Tour round, has a two-stroke lead over Scott Jamieson of Scotland and Lee Slattery of England.

    Hunter Stewart is the highest-placed American after a 5-under 65 left him on a four-way tie for fourth with Christofer Blomstrand, Tapio Pulkkanen and Richard Green.

    Defending champion Renato Paratore's hopes of becoming the first player to successfully retain the title look in doubt after the Italian shot 9-over 79 at Hills Golf Club.

    Getty Images

    Peterson confirms plans to play Finals

    By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 9:17 pm

    After flirting with retirement for much of the summer, John Peterson confirmed that he will give it one more shot in the upcoming Tour Finals.

    Peterson, 29, had planned to walk away from the game and begin a career in real estate in his native Texas if he failed to secure PGA Tour status before his medical extension expired. His T-13 finish last month at The Greenbrier appeared to be enough to net the former NCAA champ at least conditional status, but a closer look at the numbers revealed he missed out by 0.58 points in his last available start.

    Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    But Peterson was buoyed by the support he received from his peers at The Greenbrier, and when he got into the Barbasol Championship as a late alternate he decided to make the trip to the tournament. He tied for 21st that week in Kentucky, clinching enough non-member FedExCup points to grant him a spot in the four-event Finals.

    Last month Peterson hinted that he would consider playing in the Finals, where 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season will be up for grabs, and Thursday he confirmed in an Instagram post that he will give his pro career "one last push."

    The Finals kick off next week in Ohio with the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship and will conclude Sept. 20-23 with the Tour Championship. Peterson will be looking to rekindle his results from 2013, when he finished T-5 or better at each of the four Finals events while earning fully-exempt status as the top money earner.