Some players are only getting their golf clubs out of cold storage (Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry are among those kick-starting their year's work at this week's Abu Dhabi Championship), but Séamus Power's hot streak of form has him already on target to accomplish some of his pre-season goals.
A tied-third place finish in the Sony Open not only lifted the 34-year-old Waterford professional into the world’s top-50 (and on target to secure an invitation to the Masters in April) although the player himself is has ear-marked a place in the season-ending Tour Championship as the true barometer of letting his clubs do the talking.
"I think I'll have probably my spot in the [FedEx Cup] playoffs locked up after this week. That's a nice one. It's by far the earliest I've ever had it locked up before so it's kind of new territory for me," admitted Power after finishing tied-third alongside Kevin Kisner.
“The goal is to be in East Lake at the end of the year for the Tour Championship, the FedExCup playoffs. That goal doesn’t change after this week. It just kind of just adds a couple points to my total, but [there is] a long ways to go.”
Power, in 14th position in the FedEx Cup standings after a strong start to the wraparound season, is in the form of his life. He has missed only two cuts in his last 19 tournaments and, with that win in the Barbasol Championship last summer providing added security, he has kicked on to the point where he can realistically secure places in all four Major championships this year and also entry into limited field WGC events.
This week, Power is playing in the American Express tournament in La Quinta, California.
“I really enjoy playing there. Anyone who has been to Palm Springs in the winter, it’s beautiful. The grass is greener. Normally it’s perfect conditions. La Quinta Country Club to me is the best conditioned course I think I’ve seen. It’s incredible. I really enjoy putting there.”
Female golfers swing into Forbes list for top earners
The increased profiles – and earning potential – of women golfers is reflected in two players, Jin Young Ko and Nelly Korda, breaking into the Forbes list of highest earning sportswomen that is traditionally dominated by tennis players.
While five of the top-10 are indeed tennis players, both Ko – in sixth – and Korda – in ninth – reflect of the growing impact of women golfers.
Ko was estimated to have earned $7.5 million (€6.5 million) in 2021, with some $3.5 million (€3 million) coming in prize money and $4 million (€3.5 million) in sponsorship deals with LG Electronics, Korean Air, Jeju SamDaSoo mineral water and Reijuran skincare products.
By the Numbers: 434/49
What a difference a year makes: when Séamus Power missed the cut at last year’s Sony Open, he was ranked 434th in the world rankings; this year, a third place finish in Hawaii saw him break into the world’s top-50 for the first time, in 49th position.
Word of Mouth
"Russell was playing so beautifully the front nine; but, at the turn, I was thinking, 'He can't keep this up, can he?'" – Hideki Matsuyama on trailing Russell Henley by five strokes heading to the turn of the final round of the Sony Open. Matsuyama would eventually prevail in a playoff with Henley (hitting a 3-wood approach from 277 yards to three feet to set up the winning eagle), giving the Japanese golfer his second win of the season (to go with the Zozo Championship) and move him to the top of the FedEx Cup standings and back into the world's top-10 (in 10th).
On this day: January 18th, 1998
Fred Couples – the player known as "Boom Boom" – sealed an emotional triumph with a playoff victory over Bruce Lietzke in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic at Bermuda Dunes in California, a win which gave him his 13th career win on the PGA Tour.
Troubled by back injuries for the preceding seasons which limited his playing schedule, and suffering the loss of his father Tom to leukaemia the previous November, Couples compiled rounds of 64-70-66-66-66 in the five-round tournament for a total of 28-under-par 332 with a birdie on the 18th hole of his final round enabling him to tie Lietzke.
In the playoff, Couples hit his approach to the Par-5 into the gallery behind the green, got a free drop and pitched to three feet for a birdie. Lietzke’s own 15-foot birdie putt grazed the hole but failed to drop.
“This is not the greatest win I have ever had, but it was a great time to win a tournament,” said the 38-year-old Couples of his first win in two years. “Winning again was very important.”
"Kevin Na taking 3 minutes to putt them, does get old" – Grayson Murray sparking off the tit-for-tat twitter duel with Na.
"U missing the cut is getting old!" – came Na's response to Murray, who actually hasn't played since withdrawing from the 3M Open last July to deal with health issues.
"If they penalized you like they should for slow play you'd never make another cut either" – Murray has the last word.
At London Heathrow first trip of the year and about to start my 35th year @DPWorldTour @ADGolfChamps – who else but Colin Montgomerie taking to the skies again for another season. Monty, winner of a record eight European Tour order of merit titles, is in the field for this week's Abu Dhabi Championship.
Know the Rules
On the putting green, a player addresses the ball with her club anchored directly against her body. However, during her backswing, the player removes the putter from the anchor point and continues with her stroke with the club no longer anchored. What is the ruling?
There is not penalty. The prohibition against anchoring in Rule 10.1b only applies while the player is making the strokes (ie the forward movement of the club made with the intention of striking at and moving the ball).
In the Bag: Hideki Matsuyama (Sony Open)
Driver: Srixon ZX7 (9.5 degrees)
3-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 (15 degrees)
5-wood: Cobra King Radspeed Tour (19 degrees)
Irons: Srixon Z-Forged (4-9)
Wedges: Cleveland RTX-4 Forged (46, 52, 46 and 60 degrees)
Putter: Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS