A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week which saw a Monday triumph in La Jolla for Jason Day, Rory McIlroy faded in Dubai and Brittany Lincicome won in the Bahamas.
It was the third playoff in three weeks on the PGA Tour, and this time it didn’t finish until Sunday as Day and Noren ran out of light five holes into the extra hole contest after they both finished at 10 under with American Ryan Palmer who was eliminated at the first playoff hole. Day needed just the first hole the next day after Noren found the water to claim the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. Tiger Woods’ return to a full field event for the first time in twelve months was a measured success. Woods, 42, missed plenty of fairways and this included going six holes at a time not hitting a fairway. The fact he finished T23 is pretty impressive when you consider his poor form off the tee.
Rory McIlroy skipped two clear with eight holes to go in Dubai only to see his title hopes evaporate as Li Haotong dropped in four birdies across his last four holes and win the Dubai Desert Classic. Back-to-back birdies for the Ulsterman wasn’t enough as Li finished at an impressive 23 under and won for the first time at this level outside of China. From the Middle East to Malaysia for the Maybank Championship in Malaysia this week. Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti won last year at Saugana Golf and Country Club.
Paradise Island in the Bahamas was the location for a successful title defence for Brittany Lincicome who won the Bahamas LPGA Classic, an event truncated by weather to 54 holes. Brooke Henderson led at various stages as the duration of the event looked unsure but it was Shanshan Feng who led at seven under and Lincicome was two back after the second round finished. The tournament finished in darkness on Sunday as Lincicome birdied four of the last five holes. Adelaide hosts the next LPGA event when the ISPS Handa Australian Open begins on February 15.
Player performance notes
Players I’m interested to see how they go with notes related to capital investment if that’s your thing. “Cheesburger!” It’s the Phoenix Open, with the party hole and all, on deck for the PGA this week. Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama is the two-time defending champion at TPC Scottsdale.
Under 20: Rickie Fowler. The American is a combined 29 under in this tournament in the last two years with only Matsuyama better. He also won the Hero World Challenge in December.
Under 20: Hideki Matsuyama. We’ve already had a player defend a crown from last year this year when Fleetwood won in Abu Dhabi and Matsuyama can get the three-peat here. The last two times he’s won here Matsuyama had missed his previous cut and finished T33 so his T12 at Torrey Pines makes his hopes look even better here.
20 to 50: Byeong An. The world number 91 returned to form after two average starts with a T6 in Dubai last weekend. Last year An was sixth here after a prior T49 at the Farmers Insurance but that had come off a T13 in Abu Dhabi so going Middle East to Texas directly this time could help the 26-year-old.
50 to 100: Peter Uihlein. A winner in the second-tier Web.com tour season-ending tournaments last year the European Tour regular has registered good effort followed by bad effort (or withdrawal) recently and after missing the cut in San Diego the 28-year-old can improve on a T23 last year elsewhere in Texas when he played the Houston Open
200 to 500: Sung Kang. The Korean golfer missed three straight cuts before he was T12 here last year so they fact he’s made his last three cuts leading into his third go around TPC Scottsdale is promising. Scored five top ten finishes last year.
Greens in regulation
Before the event in Western Australia the Victorian Open is on this week with Dimitrios Papadotas the defending champion at the Barwon Heads’ 13th Beach Golf Links course for the men’s event. England’s Mel Reid is back to defend her crown from last year for the women’s tournament. The unique dual-tournament comes a week before the second World Super 6 Perth event which was won by Perth’s Brett Rumford last year. Given the variation in these events from the usual it’s good to see Australian authorities and their co-sanctioning partners for these tournaments keeping innovative ideas going even though changes may be controversial early on.
Anyone for tennis? Or maybe golf? In the case of a career choice for those adept enough at both a report in The Australian on the weekend outlined the gulf in prizemoney across the top few hundred in each sport with tennis lagging behind golf. Setting aside issues of revenue-sharing with tennis players currently seeking more from what tournaments make it was interesting to note the large variance. Chip Le Grand’s piece outlined that the top 1% in tennis get just over 50% of the prizemoney allocation but in golf the figures for both genders is down around 20% allowing for those ranked lower down to make a more comfortable living compared to those in similar rankings in tennis. Le Grand noted the break-even ranking in tennis appeared to be 336 for the men’s tour. In golf Ricky Barnes (as of last weekend ranked 336) offered an interesting comparison. Barnes, yet to win in 411 ranking events has earnt USD 8,990,777 since first paying PGA tour events 16 years ago. Barnes, in this season to date, has earnt USD 163,032. Barnes, 36, is making such a comfortable living he’s established his own foundation. Yes, I’m sure there may be a tax incentive for him to do so but I’d be surprised if any tennis player outside the top 100 would have done similar. Compare Barnes’ prizemoney to tennis where current 336 Daniel Dutra da Silva has earnt USD 169,619 in his career and the contrast is stark. Especially when you consider Dutra da Silva has won 13 futures titles (essentially the fourth tier below grand slams, World Tour events and Challenger tournaments) and Barnes doesn’t event has a web.com win.
Image via golfweek.com