European Tour: Dubai Desert Classic – Sergio Garcia
Garcia ranked 1st in Greens In Regulation. 2nd for Driving Accuracy and 3rd for Driving Distance, all of which added up to rounds of 65, 67, 68 and 69 and a three-shot win over Henrik Stenson.
In a week where the early headlines were dominated by Tiger Woods’ appearance – and subsequent withdrawal – and adverse weather conditions, Garcia led from start to finish. This was his eighth appearance in Dubai and his first top 10.
The Spaniard was threatened but gave nothing away, not dropping a shot, while Stenson mixed five birdies and two bogeys for his 69. The decisive moment came at the 15th where Garcia stiffed his tee shot to bolt four clear.
England’s Tyrrell Hatton, who was one-over after 27 holes, finished at 14-under to tie with Denmark’s Lasse Jensen in third. Ian Poulter, who was part of the final threeball, struggled to a closing 76.
Garcia will now move back inside the world’s top 10.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) February 5, 2017
“We know Henrik will always come at you and he got on that run on the back nine,” Garcia said. “He hit it right over the flag on 15 and I knew he would have a tough up and down.
“To be able to hit the shot I hit with a 6-iron there was massive to give myself a kick-in birdie, and then obviously he made bogey. So I got back to four up to and then it was just a matter of staying calm.
“When I get to Augusta, US Open, the British Open, PGA, I just want to do the best I can. Just like I try any other week. Some weeks I’m really good like this week, and some weeks are not quite as good. But it doesn’t mean that I’m not trying. So at the end of the day the only thing I can do is give my best out there and if I leave the course feeling like I gave it everything then I am trying.”
PGA Tour: Phoenix Open – Hideki Matsuyama
Matsuyama won at the fourth extra play-off hole for the second year running – last year it was Rickie Fowler, this time it was Webb Simpson – as the 24-year-old claimed his fourth win.
It all ended at the driveable 17th as Matsuyama chipped and putted from 40 yards, rolling in from 15 feet for a three, as Simpson left himself a putt after a solid drive but was blocked out by a greenside bunker. He then took three more.
Simpson started the day in 11th and, while he was four under after 14 holes on Sunday, he didn’t look too threatening at 14 under. But he then found three birdies in the last four holes for a 64 and the clubhouse target.
Matsuyama, who shot a blemish-free 66, had a chance to finish things off at the 72nd hole but his putt came up half a roll short.
At the first extra hole both players had putts of around 20 feet, Matsuyama just sliding by while Simpson horribly misjudged the length. At the next the Japanese superstar was bunkered off the tee and then made a 20-yard up-and-down look very straightforward. Simpson was more aggressive with his putt but on they marched to the next, this time the 10th.
Here both players found sand off the tee and this time it was Simpson who came up a small fraction of a roll short of victory. One hole later it was finally concluded with Matsuyama going above Justin Thomas in the FedEx standings.
After nine holes the PGA champion (of Wentworth) Ben An looked to have the tournament in the bag with a three-shot lead. The Korean had got to 18 under but then slipped up at 10 and 11 and signed off with a brace of bogeys for a 73 and sixth place. Playing in the final threeball Martin Laird (73), who was birdie free, and John Peterson (72) both went backwards.
Louis Oosthuizen was third on his own after a closing 65.
Hideki Matsuyama has defended his title at the @WMPhoenixOpen!
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 5, 2017
“I don’t know if I played that well, but I won. That’s, I guess, the bottom line,” Matsuyama said. “It’s tough to compare how I play and the results. The results have been really good these last few months, and hopefully we can just keep it going.
“It’s very difficult to continue playing golf at a very high level. There is ups and downs, especially when I’m playing bad or having a bad day. What I’m trying to do now is to work hard, correct what I’m doing wrong, and continue on. It’s been a good run. I’m going to ride it as long as I can.”