Sergio Garcia looks ahead for 2013

After helping Europe into victory during the 2012 Ryder Cup, Sergio Garcia was last December able to end his four-year Asian Tour win-less streak after winning the Iskandar Johor Open.

After failing to win a title in the tour since the 2008 HSBC Champions, Sergio Garcia seems to have got over his two year slump from 2008-2010; a time when he fell into 74th place in the PGA tour ranking money list and out of the top 50 in the Official Golf Rankings.

Now found in a comfortable 16th place in the Official World Golf Rankings, the 2012 season was certainly one of improvement for the Spaniard who won the Wyndham Cup in August, finishing a spectacular -18 to par.

This however was almost shaded into neglect after the 32 year-old won the rain swept Johor Open with a brilliant finish at 11- under 61. Though the path wasn’t always the straightest for Sergio Garcia after a frustrating week on the green, the Spaniard went ahead to clear all opposition; so much so that his final round was the lowest by a winner in Asian Tour history:

“It has been a long week because of the weather but I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end it.”

Interestingly, since helping Europe defeat the United States in the Ryder Cup under the watchful gaze of Jose Maria Olazabal, Garcia becomes the seventh Ryder Cup star to win a title.

Joining him in raising individual cups are Justin Rose, Peter Hanson and Ian Poulter amongst others.

All of this is of course made even more spectacular considering that only in November Garcia was put under the knife as he underwent an operation to correct a stigmatism. Speaking in November he said almost prophetically:

“I had the surgery, but everything went well. I will have three tournaments towards the end of the year. I hope I can play good, finish on a high note and get ready for the next year.”

With the Christmas and New Year seasons firmly done with, it is expected that Garcia will build on what he has achieved this year and continue the momentum into 2013.

The Spaniard however, is not the only one who is looking to improve into 2013 as former world number one, Tiger woods is also looking to take victories this year to a new level.

After four years of searching for his 15th major title, Woods speaking on his official blog had this to say:

“Looking ahead to next year, I’m just trying to win those big four tournaments, and obviously try to use other events to prepare for them and try to win them as well”

Although Tiger had a very patchy 2011 season after being out through injury for the majority of it, 2012 has been very successful for him, having picked up no less than 3 cups during year; earning him a very respectable $6,133,158,00.

With the 2013 season teeing off in Hawaii, all eyes are sure to be on the 37 year-old.

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Sergio Garcia Charges up the Leaderboard in Dubai

Having undergone eye surgery after the Ryder Cup, it seems that the treatment has in no way affected the 32-year old after Sergio Garcia birdied four of his first five holes at the DP World Tour Championship on Friday.

After taking seven weeks off to undergo the surgery to correct astigmatism, the 2012 Wyndham Championship winner resumed joint 49th but the player soon worked his way up to 21st place; just four spots behind leader, Luke Donald.

Speaking about his eyesight Sergio Garcia said:
“I’m still kind of getting used to it. My sight’s not changed immensely, but the main reason was that with contact lenses I was feeling very uncomfortable.”

As the competition continued, Sergio Garcia was able to finish with another birdie on the eighth hole and by this point, had climbed all the way to joint 11th. The same luck however was not to be enjoyed by Ian Poulter, who after a double bogey on the same hole, sent him down into 52nd place.

Problems started to arise however when Garcia three-putted on the 12th hole and failed to get up and down from short of the green on the 13th. At this point Garcia was joint leader with Englishman Luke Donald and German Marcel Siem; creating great excitement within the crowds.

In the end, Garcia was able to finish with a very amiable score, matching the course record with 8 under-64 and 14-under 274 for the tournament as a whole; finishing in a T9 position.

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Europe Win the Ryder Cup 2012

Starting the third & final day 10-6 down, the odds were stacked against Europe to even make a reasonable score, let alone retain the Ryder Cup by winning a majority of the 12 singles matches.  But with Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose & Paul Lawrie winning the first five matches, the final day was an amazing show of awesome, nail-biting golf.

Ian Poulter didn’t lead in his match against Webb Simpson until the 17th hole and Justin Rose needed 18 holes to beat Phil Mickelson finishing with two sublime birdies.

While Rory McIlroy beat the young charismatic Keegan Bradley after only arriving at the Medinah Country Club ten minutes before his tee time in a police car with the excuse he had confused Eastern with Central Time!

Luke Donald & Bubba Watson was the first match of the day & the first to finish with Donald winning 2&1. But apart from Paul Lawrie thrashing US rookie Brandt Snedeker 5&3 every match was a tight one, with many switching from red to blue and back again.

It went right down to the wire, the last two matches between Steve Stricker & Martin Kaymer and Tiger Woods vs Francesco Molinari.  With three holes to play both matches were all square with Europe needing just one point to retain the Ryder Cup. And it went down to the 18th when Steve Stricker made his putt and left Martin Kaymer a shot to win or lose the Ryder Cup for Europe. With just one match remaining, Kaymer won the Ryder Cup for Europe in the most amazing comeback of all-time.

In a post-match interview José María Olazábal attempted to dedicate the win to his great friend Seve Ballesteros before breaking down with emotion.

Sunday’s Singles:
Bubba Watson lost to Luke Donald 2&1
Webb Simpson lost to Ian Poulter 2 up
Keegan Bradley lost to Rory McIlroy 2&1
Phil Mickelson lost to Justin Rose 1 up
Brandt Snedeker lost to Paul Lawrie 5&3
Dustin Johnson beat Nicolas Colsaerts 3&2
Zach Johnson beat Graeme McDowell 2&1
Jim Furyk lost to Sergio Garcia 1 up
Jason Dufner beat Peter Hanson 2 up
Matt Kuchar lost to Lee Westwood 3&2
Steve Stricker lost to Martin Kaymer 1 up
Tiger Woods v Francesco Molinari A/S

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US Masters Golf Championship

Watching the US Masters Golf Championship last weekend was absolutely riveting. The final round had so many twists from the off with some spectacular golf shots.  Charl Scwartzel and Tiger Woods both made an early surge on Rory McIlroy’s overnight lead and they were followed by a group of others playing some exceptional golf.

Charl Schwartzel eventually won the Masters by two shots (14 under par) by playing some truly amazing shots but most of all by playing a steady, confident round.  He appeared to be unfazed by the pressure and said it was helpful playing with another steady player KJ Choi.  But from the off Schwartzel’s chance of slipping on the famous green jacket was given a kick start with a chip and run for a birdie on the first and an amazing eagle at the third.

By contrast, it was sad and rather distressing watching Rory McIlroy fall apart and eventually breakdown in front the cameras and capacity crowd at the famous Augusta Golf Course.

McIlroy had lead from day 1 and had previously played three great days of golf as he went into the final day with a four shot lead that had everyone convinced he was finally going to win his first major. The boy from Hollywood, Northern Ireland will turn 22 next month but for the past four years, since turning pro when anyone was asked they said it was only a matter of time until Rory McIlroy starting winning majors.  Over the past few years he has won plenty of championships, but like Britain’s young tennis star Andy Murray, has fallen shot when given the chance to win a major.

On Sunday McIlroy looked nervous, quickening his pace and from the off the lead began to shrink.  But as he went into the back nine he was still leading by one shot from the likes of Charl Schwartzel, K J Choi, Jason Day, Adam Scott and Tiger Woods who was playing some sublime shots and looked to have returned to his best.

As McIlroy fell apart at the 10th with a triple bogey that included hitting two trees and shot to pieces through Amen Corner, the chasing pack was joined by Luke Donald and Geoff Ogilvy.  Rory literally broke down on the 12th hole with a four putt, it was the reason I don’t watch reality TV.  I was watching a young person’s world shatter and it was uncomfortable viewing.  Rory McIlroy finished the day with a round of 80!

With three holes to go the young Australian, Adam Scott had edged into the lead from his playing partner and fellow Australian Jason Day, and Charl Schwartzel.  But it was Scwartzel who remained calm while playing some sensational shots who eventually won the US Masters by two shots.  A very worthy winner that seemed appropriate exactly 50 years after fellow South African, Gary Player became the first overseas golfer to win the Masters.

Charl Schwartzel won with 14 under from Adam Scott and Jason Day on 12 under.  While Luke Donald was the best placed Britain tied in fourth on 10 under par along with Tiger Woods and Geoff Ogilvy.

It was good to see Rory McIlroy get a great reception as he walked towards the 18th hole.  He had started the final day on 12 under but finished on 4 under, and everyone felt his pain.  And though he was magnanimous in defeat and faced the media soon after, showing a maturity beyond his years, I wondered if this was just another experience that Rory McIlroy will place under his belt to win a major or would he follow in the golf shoes of Sergio Garcia, who also received global accolades and showed all the promise as a teenage golfer but choked on several occasions when it looked like he was about to win a major.  Sergio Garcia is now 31.

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Links Abu Dhabi – best golf course in the Middle East

Yas Links Golf Course in Abu Dhabi
Yas Links Golf Course in Abu Dhabi

Links Abu Dhabi, the new Kyle Phillips designed golf course is the “best course in the Middle East” according to the latest issue of Golf Course Architecture magazine.

The world-class development on Yas Island, home to the Yas Marina Formula 1 Circuit, venue of the season ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and the spectacular Ferrari World, the world’s largest indoor theme park, has received widespread critical acclaim.

It is the first Middle East design for leading course architect Kyle Phillips, creator of World Top 100 Course Kingsbarns, Scotland, as well as the highly rated Verdura Golf & Spa Resort (Sicily), Dundonald (Scotland), and The Grove (London), who has created an extraordinary links overlooking the Arabian Gulf that rides rolling sand hills along three kilometers of coastline, and features nine seashore greens.

This championship course is located on the west shores of Yas Island and includes a 5750 m2 (57000 ft2) luxurious clubhouse and world-class, floodlit practice ranges and academy of golf.

In a unique twist, Phillips was able to design not only the golf course, but the coastline along which the course runs. That’s because the channel along the western edge of Yas Island had to be dredged to produce the 1.8 million m3 (cubic metres) of fill used to construct the golf course. The result is a coastline that lends itself perfectly to exciting golf holes, and one that is also benefiting from an approved environmental programme that has introduced 130,000 mangrove plants.

Yas Links General Manager, Chris White, said: “Kyle has created a breathtaking golf experience at Yas Links and one that is unique in the Middle East. It is a rolling, heaving golf course, weaving through sand hills and wending its way along the shoreline with views of the Arabian Gulf on all 18 holes.

The course opened in March 2010 as a semi private golf club offering both golf and social membership as well welcoming guest play; and in January 2011 some of the world’s top golfers will experience Yas Links for themselves in 2011 when the world’s most prestigious one-day Pro-Am tournament moves to Abu Dhabi.

The Invitational on January 17, 2011, hosted by Abdullah Al Naboodah, will see some of the world’s best players join forces with 50 invited amateurs for a day of great competitive golf. World No.1 Lee Westwood, reigning US Open Champion Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia and Ross Fisher plus more to confirm.

For more information visit www.yaslinks.com.