Adam Scott surges into lead after second round of ISPS Handa Australian Open

Adam Scott moved up the leaderboard on Friday.

With the DP World Tour’s 2023 season getting underway with two events in Australia in the past two weeks, it was to be expected to see many Aussies playing in their home country.

After the second round at the 2022 ISPS Handa Australian Open, It’s looking as if a native could capture the trophy for the second straight week.

Last week, it was World No. 3 Cameron Smith coming away with the title. Now, Adam Scott is looking for a win Down Under. Scott fired a 7-under 63 at Victoria Golf Club on Friday in Melbourne, capped with an eagle on the closing par-5 18th to move into a share of the lead following the second round.

“It was a good day,” the 42-year-old Scott said. “There’s a lot of trouble out here, and I was aware of it every hole. I managed to stay out of it most of today. Turned things around and in a good spot going into the weekend.”

Scott’s round consisted of five birdies and the eagle. On Thursday, he shot 1 under at Kingston Heath Golf Club, a round that included seven birdies but also four bogeys and a double.

He shares the lead with David Micheluzzi, who matched Scott’s 71 with one of his own on Friday at Kingston Heath. The duo has a three-shot lead over a trio of players tied for third.

Smith shot his second straight round of 1 over on Friday, but he made the cut on the number.

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‘That is as bad as I’ve played in a long time’: Cameron Smith off to ‘rubbish’ start at ISPS Handa Australian Open

The world No. 3 won the Australian PGA Championship for a third time last week.

Looking to become the first Australian to win the British Open and Australian Open in the same year, Cameron Smith got off to a “rubbish” start on Thursday at his national Open, and by his terms that’s putting it lightly.

“That is as bad as I’ve played in a long time. It was pretty (expletive),” said Smith of his 1-over 71 in the opening round at Victoria Golf Club. “I think the course was pretty difficult, the conditions were pretty difficult, but I need to be better than that.”

The world No. 3 won the Australian PGA Championship for a third time last week and properly celebrated the victory with friends and family at a local bar.

“Maybe some delayed tiredness, maybe. I did feel a little bit foggy out there at times,” explained Smith, “but it’s not really an excuse, it’s my job to do all that stuff.”

“It’s not like I don’t know how to play golf, it was just a bit of a bad day.”

The unique event is held over the two courses – Victoria and Kingston Heath golf clubs – and this year is concurrently running both men’s and women’s tournaments, with each offering a $1.15 million purse. This year’s event also includes an all-abilities division which will begin play on Friday.

David Micheluzzi shot a 7-under 63 on Thursday at Victoria to take the early lead on the men’s side, with Grace Kim leading the women after a 7-under 66 at Kingston Heath (the women are playing the course at a par 73) in the first round.

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Watch: Cameron Smith celebrates Australian PGA Championship win by watching replay at a local bar

Now this looked like a good time.

Cameron Smith had a monster year.

His 2022 campaign began with a win over Jon Rahm at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January. Then, two months later, he took home the biggest prize on the PGA Tour, the Players Championship. In dramatic fashion, Smith chased down Rory McIlroy at the Open. Then, he left for LIV Golf where he won in his second Saudi-circuit start.

And, finally, he won the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship last week on the DP World Tour for the third time in his career.

For the Aussie, there was only one way to celebrate: head down to the nearby Breakfast Creek Hotel and have a few pints with some buddies. Oh, and watch the replay of the final putt that clinched the victory.

This video is too good.

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Cameron Smith leads Fortinet Australian PGA Championship by three shots heading into Sunday

Smith is in position to add to a career year.

Cameron Smith’s last worldwide win came at the LIV Golf Series stop in Chicago, his second Saudi-circuit start. Before that, it was the 150th Open at St. Andrews.

Now, he’s in position to add to a career year.

Smith leads the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship by three shots with 18 holes to play at Royal Queensland GC in Brisbane, Australia. After using a Friday 65 to vault up the leaderboard, the Aussie fired a Saturday 2-under 69 to separate from the field.

It was an up-and-down day for world No. 3, cashing in six birdies while also adding four squares to the card.

If he wins Sunday, it’ll be his fourth DP World Tour victory.

Read: ‘He definitely wanted me to stay’: Cam Smith recounts phone call with Rory McIlroy after their battle at St. Andrews

His closest chasers are Yan Wei Liu and Masahiro Kawamura who both sit at 8 under, three back. A group of four players, including Min Woo Lee, are 7 under, four back.

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Cameron Smith chasing Jason Scrivener at 2022 Fortinet Australian PGA Championship

Cameron Smith is showing out in his return home.

Cameron Smith is making the most of his return to Australia for the first time in three years.

The third-ranked golfer in the world fired a second-round 6-under 65 on Friday at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland Golf Club in Brisbane, moving into solo second at 9 under through 36 holes at one of the biggest golf events Down Under. Smith trails leader Jason Scrivener by one shot heading to the third round.

Scrivener, who was tied for the first-round lead, shot 67 on Friday to take control of the lead.

“Yesterday it was pretty stress-free and I hit the ball tee to green really well,” Scrivener said. “Today it was a little scrappier, got away with a few things and scrambled well. All in all, pretty happy with it.”

Masahiro Kawamura and Cameron John are tied for third at 8 under.

Adam Scott, who shot 5 under in the opening round, shot 1 over on Friday, his lone highlight coming with a long birdie putt on the 17th hole. Min Woo Lee, who shared the first-round lead with Scrivener, shot 2 over in the second round and is at 4 under for the tournament with Scott.

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Louis Oosthuizen teeters on missing three majors next season as three LIV golfers earn spots in 2023 British Open

Oosthuizen is teetering on the brink of missing three majors in 2023.

Unless the R&A announces a change in the criteria for earning spots in the British Open, South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen will have a chance to play next July at Royal Liverpool because he won the 2010 British Open at St. Andrews. All past winners are given a spot in the field until they reach age 60.

However, after tying for second at the 2021 PGA Championship, then being the runner-up at the U.S. Open and tying for third at the British Open that same year, Oosthuizen is teetering on the brink of missing the other three majors in 2023.

Last week, Golfweek explained to readers how pros earn spots in all four major championships, and while each uses a slightly different set of criteria to fill out their field, maintaining a high spot on the OWGR is a primary method elite golfers use. For instance, golfers ranked 50 or better on Dec. 31, 2022 can expect to get an invitation to compete in the 2023 Masters.

As of Monday morning, Oosthuizen is No. 49.

The OWGR does not award points for performances in LIV events, so like most LIV golfers, Oosthuizen’s spot on the OWGR has slowly risen since he was suspended from the PGA Tour. In his case, Oosthuizen has risen from No. 21 in early July to No. 49 on November 20. If he goes higher than 50, and he likely will in the next week or two, Oosthuizen will not meet any of the traditional criteria used by the Augusta National Golf Club to warrant an invitation. He also won’t have an exemption into next season’s PGA Championship. As for the U.S. Open, Oosthuizen will likely need to go through qualifying to get into the field at Los Angeles Country Club because the OWGR cutoff for an exemption has traditionally been No. 60 two weeks before sectional qualifying (May 23, 2023) or on the day of sectional qualifying (June 6, 2023).

Three other LIV golfers are likely feeling better than Oosthuizen on Monday because they appear to have earned spots in the field at the 2023 British Open.

Traditionally, golfers who finish in the top 30 in the DP World Tour’s Race to Duabi earn a spot in the following year’s British Open. Rory McIlroy won on Sunday, but Spain’s Adrian Otaegui finished 15th and fellow Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal finished 23rd. England’s Richard Bland finished 24th.

Those performances do not earn them a spot in any of the other three major championships and their world rankings of 98 (Otaegui), 86 (Larrazabal) and 89 (Bland) are not high enough to earn exemptions either.

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Jon Rahm wins third DP World Tour Championship; Rory McIlroy claims fourth season title

It was the Rahm and Rory show at the 2022 DP World Tour Championship.

It was the Rahm and Rory show at the 2022 DP World Tour Championship.

Jon Rahm shot a 5-under 67 on Sunday to win the tour’s season finale in Dubai at 20 under, two shots ahead of Tyrrell Hatton and Alex Noren. With the win, he becomes the first player to win the tour championship for a third time.

Rory McIlroy’s lucky number this week at Jumeirah Golf Estates was four, as in, he’s now been crowned European Number One four times. McIlroy closed with a 68 for a solo fourth-place finish and clinched the points race when Matt Fitzpatrick tied for fifth. McIlroy earns the Harry Vardon trophy as a result, something he also took home in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

“It’s been seven years I last did it. This is my fourth one but it’s been a while, I’ve won three FedEx Cups since the last time I won this and it means a lot,” he said.

Only Colin Montgomerie (eight) and Seve Ballesteros (six) have more Vardon trophies.

For Rahm, this win marks his ninth DP World Tour victory and third worldwide title in 2022.

“Hopefully, people can stop telling it has been a bad year,” he said.

Rahm began the day with a one-shot lead and started his final 18 with three straight birdies. He bogeyed the fourth but added birdies on Nos. 7, 13 and 15. He now has three wins and four top-5s at Jumeirah Golf Estates’ Earth Course.

“I like this course and this course likes me. I hope this is the third of many more,” he said.

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Jon Rahm ‘maximized the round’ on moving day to take lead at 2022 DP World Tour Championship

The DP World Tour’s rankings prize is up for grabs.

Following Friday’s second round at the 2022 DP World Tour Championship, Jon Rahm felt as if he left a couple shots on the course during his 6-under performance.

On Saturday, his thoughts couldn’t have been more different.

“I don’t think I could have shot any lower today. Maximized the round,” Rahm said. “Wasn’t my best off the tee, but I was able to actually get some birdies out of some not so good situations. I didn’t hit any of the fairways on the par 5s and still played them 3-under par.”

Rahm fired a 7-under 65 on moving day to nab the lead at 15 under for the tournament heading into the final round. He trailed 36-hole leaders Matt Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton by four shots before the third round, but now those two are chasing the Spaniard.

Ranked fifth in the world, Rahm had seven birdies and no bogeys at Jumeirah Golf Estates on Saturday. He leads Fitzpatrick, who shot 2 under, by one and Alex Noren by two. Hatton and Rory McIlroy are T-4 at 12 under, three back. McIlroy matched Rahm with a 7-under performance.

As it stands, McIlroy is projected to win the DP World Tour points standings. There remains plenty of fluidity in the points race with 18 holes to go, but it’s clear what McIlroy’s goal is.

“It’s really cool, I’ve got to this stage in the game over 15 years as a pro, and I’m still trying to do things for the first time,” McIlroy said. “I’ve never won the FedEx Cup and this tour’s rankings in the same year, so it would be really nice.

“It’s been a wonderful year. I’ve played some really, really great golf and really consistent golf. If I’m able to go out there tomorrow and shoot a good score and get the job done, it would be a really nice way to end what’s been a great year.”

Fitzpatrick, projected second in the standings, could nab the title with a victory as long as McIlroy doesn’t finish solo second.

However, those two are both chasing Rahm heading to Sunday in Dubai.

“I’m hoping come tomorrow I can be a little better off the tee, and still keep the good iron play and good putting going,” Rahm said.

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Lynch: Rankings complaints are less about fuzzy math than outdated European entitlement

Justin Harding earned more ranking points for second at the 2019 Magical Kenya Open than he did for a T-12 at the Masters.

“The world is unfair, Calvin,” the precocious child in Bill Watterson’s celebrated comic strip Calvin and Hobbes was once told by his father.

“I know,” Calvin replied. “But why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?”

That Tao of Calvin has been embraced as a governing sentiment by European tour loyalists, who appear more alert than ever to any perceived dilution of their circuit’s long-established grace and favor status. And in August’s radical overhaul of the Official World Golf Ranking, the perpetually aggrieved found fresh wood with which to fashion a cross that they might nail themselves to.

“Laughable” is how Jon Rahm described the OWGR at this week’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. “The fact that the (PGA Tour’s) RSM Classic, which doesn’t have any of the top 20 in the world, has more points than this event, where we have seven of the top 20, is laughable.”

Rahm is a thoughtful guy and, to be fair, his comments erred only in their timeliness. The rankings were laughable. Now they are like most rating systems: merely imperfect.

Golf’s world ranking was compromised at birth and corrupted regularly thereafter, hostage to politicking and used as a statistical strut to prop up weak tournaments and tours. Member tours designated ‘flagship’ events, often ensuring more ranking points were awarded than would otherwise be justified by the strength of field. Every tour was also assigned a minimum number of points that would be given to winners of tournaments with weak lineups. The PGA and European tours both had a 24-point minimum. The PGA Tour relied upon that in roughly 12% of its events and the Europeans in about 50%, while other tours used it every time.

Any time an event was artificially inflated in value with the use of minimum points, the ranking was degraded, which served also to diminish the worth of accomplishments against elite fields. The 2019 Magical Kenya Open was elevated that year from the Challenge Tour to the main European circuit, but the field quality remained challenged. Justin Harding was the only player ranked higher than 117th in the world. He finished second and earned more ranking points (10.4) for that result against mediocre competition than he did for a T-12 at the Masters (10.3) a month later.

The system introduced this summer ended institutional bias and endemic false accounting. Every player contributes points to a total that is disbursed by percentage. The winner of the RSM Classic is projected to receive 37 points, or 17.2% of the 215 total points available. The winner in Dubai should get 21.8, or 18.2% of the 121 points on offer.

“The current method recognizes that every player contributes to the strength of a field,” said Mark Broadie, the Columbia Business School professor who devised the algorithm. “The winner of the DP World Tour Championship has to beat 49 players, with 34 of those players ranked in the top 200. The winner of the RSM classic has to beat 155 players, with 68 of those players ranked in the top 200, a considerably tougher challenge.”

People minded to look for eye-opening wrinkles in the ranking system won’t be disappointed. For example, the man who finishes dead last in the no-cut tournament in Dubai is projected to receive more points than the bottom four finishers in Georgia, who will have beaten 90 guys to play the weekend. The line between imperfect and unfair is often a matter of perspective, and legislating against every such scenario is impossible.

The OWGR has flaws but it isn’t laughable. Removing bias from any system will always be perceived as unfair by those who benefitted from that bias. Griping from those quarters ought to be greeted with skepticism, if not quite the contempt warranted for the conspiratorial guff being peddled by LIV golfers who are eager to portray the OWGR as lacking credibility or being part of a cabal intent on ruining Greg Norman’s folly. (It’s a diversionary tactic to skate around the pesky non-compliance issue.)

Dismissive verdicts like that of Rahm are proving commonplace among Europeans accustomed to their tour offering ranking points incommensurate with the talent pool competing for them. The only credible way to rank the world’s best golfers is to measure how they perform and against whom they do so, without consideration for legacy entitlements or politics. The new ranking system is finally weighted toward accuracy rather than influence. Some people are just unhappy that their thumbs have been dislodged from the scale.

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Co-leader Tyrrell Hatton gets tough crowd on 18th hole after big par save at 2022 DP World Tour Championship

The two names at the top remained the same after the second round.

Tyrrell Hatton was thrilled with his par save on the 18th hole.

The crowd at Jumeirah Golf Estates? Not so much.

Hatton’s tee shot on the par 5 went into the creek meandering the fairway, so he dropped his ball about 250 yards from the green. He smoked a 3 wood  and two-putted for par. This comes a day after making bogey on the closing hole.

Yet the fans encompassing the green didn’t give much of a response to his shot.

“That’s probably one of the best 3-woods I’ve hit in my life, to be fair, and I didn’t realize it was as close as it was,” Hatton said. “It was a tough crowd on 18. Nice way to finish the day.”

Hatton fired a second-round 5-under 67 and remains tied with Matt Fitzpatrick at 12 under with 36 holes left in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. The duo played together Friday after matching 65s on Thursday, and they again copied each other in the second round.

Hatton’s round consisted of eight birdies, three bogeys and the clutch par save on the 18th. Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick’s first bogey of the week came on the 12th hole, but he countered with three birdies on the front and back nine to maintain a share of the lead.

Fitzpatrick has won twice before at the DP World Tour Championship. A third win would help him clinch the season-long points race.

“I feel really comfortable with where my game is at, particularly after three weeks off and looking forward to the weekend,” Fitzpatrick said.

The duo has a three-shot lead on Alex Noren and Adri Arnaus, who sit at 9 under. Jon Rahm, who shot 6-under 66 on Friday, is at 8 under and tied for fifth.

Rory McIlroy, the top-ranked player in the world and leader in the DP World Tour points race coming into the week, shot 4-under 68 on Friday and is T-11.

If Fitzpatrick—who came into the week third in the points race but now projects as the points leader—were to win, McIlroy would need to finish solo second or in a two-way tie for second to win the DP World Tour season-long championship.

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