Almanac Golf: Spain’s winning double, Tiger back again



A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week which saw Spaniards Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm salute in Singapore and California, respectively, with Tommy Fleetwood of England winning again in the United Arab Emirates. The LPGA resumes this week also in the Bahamas.


Opening Drive


The Asian Tour attracted the defending Masters champion for it’s first main stroke-play event of the season and Garcia didn’t disappoint winning comprehensively by five strokes at the Sentosa Golf Club with some tickets to the Open confirmed among those who finished behind the 38-year-old (more on that later.)


England’s Fleetwood won for the third time in a year (and it could have been four if not for a lost playoff in Shenzhen in April) when he won the Abu Dhabi Championship by two strokes from Ross Fisher. Fisher co-led coming into the day with Belgian Thomas Pieters who is now 1/5 when leading or co-leading at 54 holes.


It was not quite the 78-hole drama of the previous week but Rahm needed extra holes to repel the challenge of Andrew Landry after the American birdied 18 on Sunday to force a playoff at the Career Builder Challenge on the PGA West Stadium Course in La Quinta after they both finished at 22 under. Rahm won it on the fourth extra hole for his fourth triumph in the last 12 months.


Staying in the Bear Republic of California the PGA Tour this week sees Tiger Woods return to a full field event for the first time in the States since he missed the cut here last year. The Farmers Insurance Open in 2017 was won by last week’s victor Rahm at the Torrey Pines venue. Woods has claimed a major (the US Open) here plus this event seven times in La Jolla and Woods last won it in 2013. If he makes the cut this weekend it’s a win for his return.


The LPGA resumes for the year with the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic at Paradise Island with American Brittany Lincicome the defending champion having won twice here.


Player performance notes


Players I’m interested to see how they go with notes related to capital investment if that’s your thing. The Dubai Desert Classic is the second of the Middle East swing events and Garcia won here last year before claiming the Masters three months later.


Under 20: Rory McIlroy. The Ulsterman started well when he hit all bar one green in his opening round and finished T3 behind Fleetwood last weekend. He’s good a great record in the Middle East and won here three years ago.


20 to 50: Matthew Fitzpatrick. Already a winner in the country as we noted last week. The prospects of the Sheffield native look strong after he claimed a tie for third place with McIlroy last week in Abu Dhabi.


100 to 200: Ryan Fox. The Kiwi’s length off the tee will help here but he has mixed results in the UAE. He started brilliantly last year here before fading to finish T63. However he was fourth two weeks ago in the NZ Masters and his run of form in the France, Irish and Scottish Open’s when he went 6-T4-T4 could be a useful pointer given the wind can pick up at this venue.


100 to 200: Jeung-Hun Wang. The second of the repeat picks. The 2017 Qatar Masters a champ started off well enough in the UAE finishing T15 last week and the immediate back up here could benefit the Korean.


200 to 500: Lucas Bjerregaard. The 2017 Portugal Masters champion won twice last year, the other been the team’s Sixes event, and has the length off the tee which could set him up well here.


Greens in regulation


It was a weekend of quality winners with numbers 3, 11 and 18 in the world all saluting. The Asian Tour’s Singapore Open continued a trend of recent star victories in the region as Garcia won with Justin Rose having romped home in the Indonesia Masters late last year. All three weekend winners to go with Rose’s triumph in late 2017 perhaps show this year’s Ryder Cup won’t be a Team USA romp, despite what others are thinking.


Tap in


Garcia’s triumph in Sentosa as not only notable for the Spaniard continuing an impressive record of at last one victory every year since 2011 but it saw four players (including on Australian) book a spot at the Open in Carnoustie in July. Thai duo Jazz Janewattananond and Danthai Boonma along with American Sean Crocker got the first three sport as Lucas Herbert claimed fourth on a rankings countback over those not already qualified in the field when he finished T8. Herbert had three consecutive top seven finished in his last few tournaments in Australia this summer. Interestingly, Zimbabwe-born Crocker was T7 in the Australian PGA with Herbert and has risen rapidly in the rankings . Crocker, 21, is currently ranked 540 but could be inside the top 300 by the time the major comes around.



About Hamish Neal

Born in Lower Hutt New Zealand Hamish is forever wedded to all things All Black, All Whites, Tall Blacks and more. Writing more nowadays in his 'spare time' (what is that anyway?) but still with a passion for broadcasting. Has worked in various sports development roles in England, Northern Ireland and Australia.


  1. Good stuff Hamish. I really enjoy the European tour events – particularly in the Middle East with the good time zone for Australian TV. Tommy Fleetwood’s iron play and putting on Sunday was extraordinary in a howling gale. Ross Fisher did little wrong, as highlighted by the gap back to third. More action this weekend in Dubai.
    Not sure about Garcia’s form in Singapore against a much lower class field. He must have been paid a motza in appearance money to play there instead of in a serious field in the UAE.
    My focus at Torrey Pines will be on Jason Day’s return rather than Tiger’s (Yanks leaving the lights on for their Harold Holt). Last year was very disrupted with his mother’s illness and injuries. His driving and putting both went off with injuries contributing to a shortened backswing. Hoping he has had time now to sort it out.
    Crazy technology continuing to make courses obsolete and the game too expensive for average players. Twisted face drivers to correct toe and heel hits only really helps big hitters, and takes skill out of the game. Interesting article about golf ball materials on the BBC website. Sergio hitting it 18 yards longer than last year.
    Dustin Johnson playing no more than a 7 iron for all his second shots at last year’s US Open. The cost of water and land for increasing golf course length to contain this technology is madness. I have been looking at resort course prices for my next holiday and a lot want over $300 for a round when you factor in carts etc. A day’s salary for me. No thanks. The uber rich are ruining golf (and the world).

  2. Peter. Wonder if Day can see off Noren later. Interesting to see the impact of the delay… I do wonder what the appearance fee was for Sergio in Singapore as the appearance fees in UAE are not to shabby either. Technology and the impact of climate change impacting courses will be very interesting. How will this impact small venues I wonder.

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