A European Perspective
Woods in the Desert
Where better to build your first golf course than the worlds biggest building site, Dubai. One of seven emirates which make-up the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is undergoing huge growth at the present, especially in relation to tourism. Golf courses and hotels are springing up like rabbits all over the place. Woods is no stranger to the area; he captured a victory at the Dubai Desert Classic this year, a tournament which has grown into one of the European Tours premiere events. Woods project is part of Dubailand, which will encompass his course, a clubhouse, and residential and retail environments. The project is expected to reach conclusion in 2009 (industry insiders tell me the area will be a golf tourism Mecca by the time the project is a few years old). Woods has played the Dubai Desert Classic for three straight seasons; next years event is played the same week as the FBR Open on the PGA TOUR.
Clarke Not a Sports Personality - Yet
The BBC Sports Personality of the Year award is a very high honour to us Brits. Voted on by the public at the end of the year, it makes for some thrilling Sunday evening viewing as the winner is announced in a lengthy year-in-review type program. This year, Darren Clarke was a favorite to win, but was eventually beaten-out by Zara Philips, daughter of Princess Anne and the reigning European and World Equestrian champion. Without sounding too harsh, Im glad Darren didnt take the title this year; it would have been born from sympathy rather than his achievements on the course which were obviously affected by the problems in his home-life. Clarke is one of Britains most talented golfers and should hopefully bring home a major title in the next couple of seasons, and then he will be a worthy of BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
Fisher the Next Big Star
I had the opportunity to follow Oliver Fisher for a few holes this summer at the Open Championship International Qualifier at Sunningdale. His ball striking was first class and although he didnt make it through the qualifier, he seems like the real deal as they say. He wont be overjoyed by his first tournament result ' weekend rounds of 77 and 75 put him well down the order in South Africa, but Fisher is a star of the future. He was the Faldo Junior Series champion and seems to be following the path of fellow Faldo winner Nick Dougherty, who went through the Q-school to become European Tour Rookie of the Year in 2002.
A South and Central American Challenge
In an effort to give its members more playing opportunities, the Challenge Tour is already up and running for the 2007 season. The tour went to Argentina at the beginning of December and Mexico last week. Although not official yet, it seems the first three events of the calendar year of 07 will also be in Central and South America. What does this mean? Well, look out for more of the regions golfers to creep through on to the European Tour in years to come.
Walking to Victory
The R&A announced a 22-man squad for the 2007 Walker Cup last week. Despite players like Robert Dinwiddie, Oliver Fisher and Ross McGowan turning pro, it seems the squad will be plenty healthy for the matches in September. Rory Mcllroy is the young stud among the bunch. The Irish teenager won the European Amateur Championship this seasons and so far has avoided the temptation of turning professional, aided by the fact that hell be able to play in the Open Championship next season if he remains an amateur.
The first stage of the Asian Tour qualifying school was inundated with British players. I counted almost 25 percent of the competitors to be from the UK. The tour was the breeding ground of Simon Dyson, who recently used it as a stepping stone for the European Tour. With tours springing up in India and China this year, maybe Asia could become a great way to develop as a professional.
Email your thoughts to Tom Abbott
Lewis wins Portugal Masters for second time
VILAMOURA, Portugal – Tom Lewis won the Portugal Masters for a second time after shooting a 5-under 66 in Sunday's final round.
Lewis finished three strokes ahead of fellow Englishman Eddie Pepperell (67) and Australia's Lucas Herbert (71).
Sergio Garcia prepared for the Ryder Cup next weekend with a 65 to finish seven strokes behind Lewis.
Lewis made six birdies along with a single bogey on No. 10 to finish the tournament at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course on 22-under 262.
Herbert led through the first three rounds only to struggle on the final day. He hit a double bogey on the final hole to finish the round on par.
Lewis had trailed Herbert by nine shots after the first round.
''It's been a rough ride but this week I played hard,'' Lewis said. ''I obviously got off to a bad start, to finish the way I've been finishing has been brilliant.''
Lewis first won the tournament in 2011.
''I think this one means more,'' Lewis said, ''it means a lot to come and win this again.''
Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship
Tiger Woods has a three-shot lead entering the final round of the Tour Championship and is alongside Rory McIlroy in the final group. We're tracking him.
Tweets by GCTigerTracker
Rose tries to ignore scenarios, focus on winning
ATLANTA – No one has more to play for than Justin Rose on Sunday at the Tour Championship.
The Englishman will begin the day three strokes behind front-runner Tiger Woods after a third-round 68 that could have been much worse after he began his day with back-to-back bogeys.
Winning the tournament will be Rose’s top priority, but there’s also the lingering question of the FedExCup and the $10 million bonus, which he is currently projected to claim.
“The way I look at tomorrow is that I have many scenarios in play. I have the FedExCup in play. I have all of that to distract me,” Rose said. “But yet, I'm three back. I think that's my objective tomorrow is to come out and play good, positive golf and try and chase down the leader and win this golf tournament. I think in some ways that'll help my other task of trying to win the FedExCup. It'll keep me on the front foot and playing positive golf.”
Although there are many scenarios for Rose to win the season-long title, if Woods wins the Tour Championship, Rose would need to finish fifth or better to claim the cup.
There’s also the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking to consider. Rose overtook Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world with his runner-up finish at the BMW Championship two weeks ago. He will retain the top spot unless Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka or Johnson win the finale and he falls down the leaderboard on Sunday.
McIlroy needs putter to heat up to catch Woods
ATLANTA – Although Rory McIlroy is three strokes behind Tiger Woods at the Tour Championship and tied for second place he had the look of a man with a secret when he left East Lake on Saturday.
Trying to play catch up against Woods is never ideal, but McIlroy’s confidence stemmed from a tee-to-green game that has been unrivaled for three days.
“I definitely think today and the first day were similar,” said McIlroy, whose 66 included birdies at two of his final three holes. “I gave myself plenty of chances, and I think the biggest thing today was only just that one bogey. Got to put your ball in the fairway, put yourself in position, and for the most part, I did that today.”
For the week McIlroy ranks first in strokes gained: off the tee, third in strokes gained: approach to the green and second in greens in regulation. But to catch Woods, who he will be paired with, he’ll need a much better day on the greens.
The Northern Irishman needed 30 putts on Day 2 and ranks 23rd, out of 30 players, in strokes gained: putting.
McIlroy skipped the first playoff event, opting instead for an extra week at home to work on his swing and the move has paid off.
“I hit the ball well. My wedge play has been really good,” he said. “I've done a lot of work on it the last few weeks, and it seems to have paid off.”