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Golf Talk: Mickelson Eyes European PGA Tour

By    |   Tuesday, 30 September 2008 02:05 PM

  • Mickelson Eyes European PGA Tour

  • Players: Don't Blame Nick Faldo for Losses

  • Villegas Wins Tour Championship

  • Els Skipping Nedbank Challenge

  • Fernandez-Castano Takes the British Masters

    Mickelson Eyes European PGA Tour

    Phil Mickelson and other American Ryder Cup players, plus international members of the PGA Tour such as Jeff Ogilvy and Vijay Singh, are taking a long hard look at joining the European PGA Tour. A meeting this week could decide their fate.

    Right now, to be a full-fledged member of that tour and be able to take part in the inaugural $40 million Race to Dubai, of which the winner gets about $7 million, a member is required to participate in 11 European Tour events, which includes the four majors and three World Championship tournaments.

    This year the season and the Race to Dubai runs from November 2008 to November 2009 to make it easier for PGA Tour players to participate in the required number of tournaments. The PGA Tour season starts in early 2009.

    Next season the European Tour mirrors the calendar year.

    "We're talking about big figures in golf, big personalities who want to expand their horizons," said Guy Kinnings of IMG, a player management company.

    Some PGA Tour members say they're tired of the repetitiveness of the PGA venues.

    "Some tournaments over here get a bit monotonous, with the thick rough. We would be stupid not to look to Europe," said Robert Allenby.

    The state of the U.S. economy could also drive the move of the tour, with the dropping dollar value and the prospects of sponsorships dwindling.

    Players: Don't Blame Nick Faldo for Losses

    Lee Westwood and other members of the European Ryder Cup team have had enough of Captain Nick Faldo being blamed for their loss.

    "The buck stops with the players, not the captain," Westwood said. "We hold the golf clubs, and we hit the shots, not the captain."

    Ryder Cup veterans Westwood, Padraig Harrington, and Sergio Garcia all failed to win a point. Garcia led off the final day's singles matches and fell to Anthony Kim, 5 and 4.

    "At the end of the day, it comes down to playing well," said Garcia. "If I had played better and I won my match, maybe we would be talking and writing a different story. It has nothing to do with Nick."

    The four European rookies — Soren Hansen, Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose, and Oliver Wilson — all stepped up and had a combined record of 6-5-2.

    Westwood blamed the American captain, Paul Azinger, for the "abuse" he was subjected to during the final round.

    "I'm not prepared to repeat it," said Westwood. "One was a particularly nasty reference to my mother on the 12th tee. They were incited to do that."

    Villegas Wins Tour Championship

    Prior to the start of the season-ending, four-event FedEx Cup, Camilo Villegas was another good young player with a bright future but no victories. He changed all that winning the final two tournaments, including the Tour Championship in a one-hole playoff over Sergio Garcia to thrust himself into the upper echelon of great young players.

    Unfortunately, the victory could not win him the FedEx Cup. Vijay Singh had that all wrapped up and, in fact, was presented the trophy (presumably the $10 million check is in the mail) while Villegas was still on the course vying for his second victory.

    "When they started the FedEx Cup last year, I had no idea what the system was going to be," Singh said.

    "I was reminded a thousand times before I started this week, make sure you finish 72 holes, sign your card, count your clubs, and everything else."

    That's all he had to do since he accrued enough points for the title winning the first two events, the Barclay's and Deutsche Bank.

    "We still, really, don't understand what's going on with the points system. I had no idea what the system was going to be," Singh said.

    "It's hard to tweak it to a point where the last tournament [Tour Championship] is as exciting as everyone wants it to be. I mean, no matter how much you tweak it, if somebody goes out there and wins two or three events, it's all over."

    Singh posted rounds of 73-74-72-70, and a final score of 289. Villegas and Garcia finished at 273.

    Els Skipping Nedbank Challenge

    For the first time since 1992, Ernie Els will miss the tournament now known as the Nedbank Challenge in his home country of South Africa that will be held in December.

    The Big Easy now lives in Florida so he could get his son Ben better treatment for autism.

    "It will be the first one I have missed in 17 years, but after moving my base to America this year and never previously having had a break in December, I decided I would spend more time with my family settling into our new home," he said.

    Fernandez-Castano Takes the British Masters

    Lee Westwood, fresh off his poor showing in the Ryder Cup, lost the British Masters to Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano on the third playoff hole.

    Westwood, the 13th ranked player in the world, drove it in the rough on the way to bogey while Fernandez-Castano made par to secure his fourth European Tour title.

    New Zealander Michael Campbell, who won the 2005 U.S. Open but has since dropped to 256 in the world rankings, was tied for the lead with Westwood after three rounds. But he shot a 72 and finished in third place, two shots behind the leaders who carded 276.

    Fernandez-Castano, ranked 159 in the world, fired a bogey-free, five-under par 67 while Westwood, who had two eagles on Saturday, shot 70.

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    Tuesday, 30 September 2008 02:05 PM
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