A collection of golf news, notes and thoughts for the week from across the globe after action in UAE, California and Singapore. This week sees the return of the LPGA for 2017.
A final round 67, the best of the day, saw Tommy Fleetwood win in the UAE with victory in the Abu Dhabi Championship. Fleetwood’s triumph in Dubai vaulted him to 53rd in the rankings and secures his European Tour card until the end of 2019 . This weekend’s Qatar Masters is light on for talent compared to last weekend with attention already turning to Tiger Woods’ appearance in Dubai next weekend and it’s an open event with two-time defending champion Branden Grace absent.
First-time PGA Tour winner Hudson Swafford booked a trip to Hawaii for next year’s Tournament of Champions with his first top level triumph winning the Career Builder Challenge in La Quinta in the Coachella Valley. Swafford, who has a name which sounds like he should own half of Lincolnshire, broke through in what was his 83rd PGA Tour start. Unlike Justin Thomas the weekend before Adam Hadwin couldn’t utilise his Saturday springboard when he shot 59 to grab the 54-hole lead and finished second to Swafford. Patrick Reed was the best performed of the big names finishing T12 seven strokes behind Swafford.
The Asian Tour returned for 2017 and despite the presence of Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia Thai veteran Prayad Marksaeng, 50, saluted in the Singapore Open for his first victory triumph since the Queen’s Cup in 2015. With Scott T9 and Garcia T11. 17 year-old Thai golfer Phachara Khongwatma finished in a group of four players one stroke back from Marksaeng and is now inside the top 200 at 198 six months after he played the British Open having qualified for the prestigious event at the age of 16. He will feature in this weekend’s Asian Tour event the Myanmar Open.
Hyo Joo Kim is the defending champion at the LPGA event is Bermuda which signals the return of the top tier of the women’s game for 2017. Ariya Jutanugarn, who won the money list in 2017, enters as favourite with world number one Lydia Ko yet to return.
Player performance notes:
Players I’m interested in to see how they go with notes that interest me related to capital investment if that’s your thing for this weekend’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. The event utilises both the South and North courses.
20 and under: Jason Day. The last six winners all played their second round on the north course so with a late first round tee off time meaning he will flip to the north course early on Friday this should benefit the Queenslander who has won here before.
20 to 50: Brooks Koepka. The world number 19 will be making his debut for 2017 and hasn’t been flash when contesting this event however Koepka finished 2016 in good shape winning in Japan in his last full field event before a T13 at the Hero World Challenge.
20 to 50: Phil Mickelson. It’s rare for a three-time tournament winner to be so wide in the market and after a T21 return last week the course specialist is in reasonable form.
100 to 200: Aaron Baddeley finished T8 last year here and as we outlined recently had good form at the end of 2016. Baddeley, 35, has the ‘playing on the north course on day two’ stat on his side.
100 to 200: Bud Cauley. Nine shots off the winner here in 2016 Cauley finished last weekend two strokes behind Swafford and his course experience here in San Diego will be vital.
200 to 300: Soren Kjeldsen. The veteran Dane plays well in the Middle East so it’s significant that he’s elected to play here this weekend. If the weather turns nasty like last year his links experience in howling conditions might be useful. However his form having missed the last two cuts and limited experience on West coast courses of the USA is a drawback.
Greens in regulation:
Tiger Return Mark 2 2016-2017 Season. It’s a bit of a mouthful but the 40 year-old, set to play four tournaments in a five-week stretch, features in his first full-field event in 19 months. Woods, who could rise to 90 with a win at Torrey Pines heads to the Middle East for the Dubai Desert Classic after this tournament before returning to the PGA Tour’s West Coast swing to the old LA Open, now known as the Genesis Open. This week will give us an idea as to whether his second round 65 at the Hero World Challenge was an outlier, or whether it reflects a moments we can continue to savour perhaps until a return to August in April. Woods won the last of his 14 majors here when he captured the 2008 US Open in a playoff over Rocco Mediate.
In reflecting on the failed Olympic legacy for golf in Rio according to reports late last year I didn’t think news related to Olympic golf would crop up until say mid 2019 but instead of the normal ‘pre-Olympics’ venue behind schedule/budget overblown/corruption scandal (circle all appropriate) the venue for golf at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 (the Kasumigaseki Country Club) has managed to dip it’s two into the ‘gender debate’ with The Guardian’s Japan correspondent Justin McCurry reporting the venue doesn’t allow females to play on Sunday nor afford them full membership. Wakasu Golf Links has been offered up as an alternative due to the fact it’s a public course, as opposed to Kasumigaskei which is a private club. It’s ridiculous given the recent saga with the Muirfield club in Scotland that whichever IGF, IOC or local organising committee member made this decision wasn’t cognisant of the problem this would, rightly, raise. Watch this space.
This golfing wrap first appeared on From the sideline of sport