WEEK 20 Phil Mickelson 25 consecutive years inside the World Top 50

Week 4

PIETERS RETURNS TO THE TOP 50

DP World Tour - Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Thomas Pieters won his first Rolex Series title as a gutsy closing 72 handed him a one-shot victory at the 2022 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship moving back inside the Top 50 to World No.31 from 69.The big-hitting Belgian hit the front on the first and never looked back, opening up a three-shot lead just before the turn at Yas Links and holding off the challenge of a high-class chasing pack on the way home.

Rolex Series winner Rafa Cabrera Bello briefly caught him on the back nine but as those around him stumbled, Pieters kept his cool to finish at ten under, one clear of Spaniard Cabrera Bello and India's Shubhankar Sharma and two ahead of Frenchman Victor Dubuisson and Norwegian Viktor Hovland.

Defending champion Tyrrell Hatton was then at seven under alongside fellow Englishmen James Morrison and Ian Poulter and Dane Jeff Winther, with Scotsman Scott Jamieson and Major Champion Adam Scott a further shot back.

Pieters becomes the first Belgian to win a Rolex Series event and claims his sixth DP World Tour title just 77 days after he won his fifth at the Portugal Masters.

"Winning a Rolex Series, it's as good as it gets in Europe," he said. "Hopefully this lists me, I'm not sure where, but I want to play all of the big tournaments and hopefully this gets me close.

"Top-50 is your strive point and when I jumped out maybe three years ago, I took it badly, but I'm happy to be back again.

"I feel like I've turned the corner and I'm playing really good golf. I'm really in control of my ball flight and it's nice to feel like that and making putts as well. My putting has improved massively and I felt like that's the thing that really kept me going on the weekend.

PGA Tour - The American Express

Hudson Swafford won The American Express for the second time in five years, breaking a late tie with an eagle in a closing-round 8-under 64 jumping 105 spots to World No.61.

Swafford beat Tom Hoge by two strokes on PGA West’s Stadium Course after beginning the day three strokes behind rookies Lee Hodges and Paul Barjon.

Tied for the lead with fellow former Georgia player Brian Harman and Francesco Molinari at 20 under, Swafford pulled ahead with the eagle on the par-5 16th. From 198 yards, he hit to 8 feet on the iconic hole with large, deep bunkers lining the left side.

Swafford then ran in a 20-foot birdie putt on 17, a par-3 hole called Alcatraz with an island green ringed by jagged rocks. He saved par on the par-4 18th with an 8-footer.

The 34-year-old finished at 23-under 265 in the three-course event for his third PGA TOUR title. He also won in the desert in 2017 and took the 2020 Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship.

Hoge shot a 68. The 32-year-old from Fargo, North Dakota, missed a chance to win his first title in his 201st career start.

Hodges, the 26-year-old from Alabama making his 14th PGA TOUR start, shot a 70 to tie for third at 20 under with Harman (64) and Lanto Griffin (67).

Molinari, the Italian star who won the 2018 Open Championship, bogeyed the 18th for a 68. He tied for sixth with Will Zalatoris (67) and Denny McCarthy (67).

Asian Tour - SMBC Singapore Open

Thailand’s Sadom Kaewkanjana secured the biggest title of his fledging career when he won the SMBC Singapore Open at Sentosa Golf Club becoming the highest current Ranked Thai player at World No.148, a career best.

Sadom, the joint-overnight leader, fired a composed bogey-free 69 on the Serapong Course to finish on 13 under and beat Japan’s Yuto Katsuragawa and Joohyung Kim from Korea by three strokes.

Katsuragawa returned a 68 while Kim wrapped up the Asian Tour Order of Merit title after signing for 69.

Sihwan Kim, who started the day sharing the lead, carded a 73 to take fourth place.

All four players booked their tickets to this year’s Open Championship at St Andrews as this week’s event is part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Sadom produced another inspired level of golf today that confirmed his status as one of hottest young golfers in the region and a star of the future.

The 23 year old was never really challenged on an extremely hot day. After Sihwan Kim made bogey on the first Sadom took the outright lead and did not look back. Birdies on six and seven saw him move three ahead and he calmly parred his way home and enjoyed the comfort of a three-shot lead playing 18.

He picked up a cheque for US$225,000 and finished the year in second place on the Merit list, with US$378,972.

PGA Tour of Australasia – Queensland PGA Championship

Gold Coast’s Anthony Quayle twice had to drag himself up off the canvas to complete a two-stroke victory in an enthralling final day of the Queensland PGA Championship in Brisbane.

Boasting a six-stroke lead through 54 holes at Nudgee Golf Club, talk at the start of the day centred around whether Quayle might match Ossie Moore’s 10-stroke record winning margin from 1986 yet just five holes in it was tied at the top.

Quayle made a disastrous start when he double-bogeyed the opening hole and when Sydney’s Justin Warren made three birdies in succession from the second hole the margin was down to one.

The wheels might not have completely fallen off but Quayle did have to take his shoes off when his approach to the par-5 fifth came up short and in the hazard, the resulting bogey bringing him back level with Warren at 10-under.

In the blink of an eye his lead had vanished into thin air yet a brilliant 5-iron to the par-4 sixth turned momentum back in Quayle’s favour, his birdie from close range and Warren’s double bogey after finding the hazard long of the green restoring a three-shot buffer.

The margin was back out to five by the turn after Warren made bogey at both eight and nine but just as Quayle settled again a new contender emerged in Louis Dobbelaar.

The nearest threat would ultimately come from Daniel Gale (66) in the group ahead but when Quayle safely navigated the treacherous tee shot at the par-3 18th the 2021 Queensland PGA Championship was finally secured, good friend Jake McLeod storming the 18th green to celebrate with a bottle of champagne.

“It was more stressful than I thought it would be but it was a lot of fun,” Quayle conceded after a roller-coaster closing 73.

As Warren was landing bombs early on the front nine, rising star Louis Dobbelaar continued to stay in the fight and when he picked up birdies at 12 and 13 the margin was again back to two.

But Dobbelaar’s charge also ran out of steam, a three-putt from close range at 15 handing Quayle a three-shot buffer with three holes to play.

The nearest threat would ultimately come from Daniel Gale (66) in the group ahead but when Quayle safely navigated the treacherous tee shot at the par-3 18th the 2021 Queensland PGA Championship was finally secured, good friend Jake McLeod storming the 18th green to celebrate with a bottle of champagne.

Korn Ferry Tour - The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay

Akshay Bhatia wasted no time in making an impact as a Korn Ferry Tour member, winning The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay with a final-round, 7-under 65, finishing two strokes clear of Paul Haley II at 14-under total. Bhatia earned 14 Ranking points moving from World No. 932 to a career best of World No. 374.

In his first start as a Korn Ferry Tour member, Bhatia raised the trophy at the spry age of 19 years, 11 months and 19 days.

The affable left-hander becomes the third player to win on the Korn Ferry Tour as a teenager, joining the company of PGA TOUR winners Jason Day and Sungjae Im.