February Golf – Johnston To Win The NBO Oman Open?
The PGA Tour looks the place to concentrate your golf efforts in February, with the big guns likely to be out in force at places like Pebble Beach and Riviera. Meanwhile, the European Tour goes low-key for a couple of weeks with relatively new events in Australia and Oman before heading to Qatar for an event that should attract plenty of Ryder Cup hopefuls.
You may also want to take a look back at our round-up of the best of January’s action on the PGA Tour and the European Tour, as well as take a peak at the Top-50 Watch and the Ryder Cup Standings, which might provide plenty of pointers to certain players’ motivations over the coming months.
European Tour January Round Up
Last season’s European number one Tommy Fleetwood certainly showed he isn’t resting on the laurels of last season’s success with a victory in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and the 27-year-old is now up to number 12 in the world rankings. Meanwhile, everyone thought that Rory McIlroy was going to coast to victory in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, but 22-year-old Haotong Li had other ideas. He wasn’t the youngest winner though, as 21-year-old Shubhankar Sharma won his second European Tour Event in his last four starts when winning last week’s Maybank Championship. Meanwhile, Chris Paisley notched-up one for the thirty-somethings win victory in the BMW SA Open.
A European side captained by 2018 Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn also retained the Eurasia Cup by beating Asia 14-10, with a high-class team that featured many Ryder Cup hopefuls in Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrell Hatton, Ross Fisher, Rafa Cabrero-Bello, Alex Noren, Matt Fitzpatrick, Berndt Wiesberger, Henrik Stenson, Paul Dunne, Thomas Pieters, Paul Casey and Alexander Levy.
European Tour Events In February
ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth (8-11 Feb)
NBO Oman Open (15-18 Feb)
Commercial Bank Qatar Masters (22-25 Feb)
ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth
This will be just the second edition of a quirky little event that is one of golf’s latest initiatives to attract new viewers and new sponsors. The field will play 54 holes as normal, but then the top players will play a matchplay knockout format over 6-holes to decide the winner. Aussie Brett Rumford is set to defend the title he won last year, whilst other interesting names include Lee Westwood and Thorbjorn Olesen, with the latter having won a stroke-play event at the course in 2015.
NBO Oman Open
This will be the inaugural staging of the NBO Oman Open, in what is another initiative by the European Tour to lure sponsors from around the world for what is now truly a global tour rather than just a European one. Nobody really knows what to expect, but big names like Ryder Cup stars Chris Wood and Andy Sullivan have it on their schedule, as does fan favourite Andrew “The Beef” Johnston.
Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
The Commercial Bank Qatar Masters has been a regular on the European Tour since 1998, and it has a terrific role of honour. Paul Lawrie, Adam Scott, Ernie Els, Henrik Stenson, Retief Goosen, Alvaro Quiros, Thomas Bjorn, Chris Wood, Sergio Garcia, and Brandon Grace have all won here. Lawrie, Scott and Grace have all lifted the trophy twice, suggesting this is real horses for courses kind of golf, so don’t rule out last year’s winner Jeung-Hun Wang who played well in the Desert Swing in January.
PGA Tour January Round Up
World number one Dustin Johnson confirmed his attentions to stay at the top of the rankings by starting 2018 with a win in the Sentry Tournament of Champions. However, world number two John Rahm was quickly hot on his heels with a victory in the Career Builder Challenge. Former world number one Jason Day also emerged from a lean spell to capture his second Farmers Insurance Open Title, whilst it was a first ever PGA Tour Title for Patton Kizzire in the Sony Open in Hawaii.
PGA Tour Events In February
AT & T Pebble Beach (8-11 Feb)
Genesis Open (15-18 Feb)
Honda Classic (22-25 Feb)
AT & T Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach is an iconic course that has hosted several major championships, but also annually hosts the AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. It is played over 3 different courses on the first three days with players taking it turns to play Pebble Beach Golf Links, Monterey Peninsula Country Club, and Spyglass Hill Golf Couse, before those that make the cut line-up for the final 18 holes on the Pebble Beach Golf Links. The last 10 renewals have seen a real mixed bag, with both Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker winning twice, whilst Phil Mickleson won his fourth title here, and there were also victories for Jordan Spieth and Jimmy Walker. However, there were also three shock results with victories for Steve Lowery, D.A. Points and Vaughn Taylor.
The Genesis Open
The PGA Tour then moves to another iconic venue at Riviera Country Club, which has hosted the Genesis Open in all but 3 of the last 45 years. It’s another venue that has produced a few shock winners of late, with victories for James Hahn, John Merrick and Aaron Baddeley, but there have also been double wins for Phil Mickleson and Bubba Watson (both left-handed), as well as Dustin Johnson, Bill Haas and Steve Stricker.
The Honda Classic returns to the PGA National Course in Palm Beach for the 12th consecutive time, and, whilst this one Dustin Johnson tends to sit out, there have still been plenty of big name winners. Rickie Fowler won in 2017, preceded by the likes of Adam Scott, Padraig Harrington, Russell Henley, Ernie Els and Rory McIlroy.
Gaining a place in the Top 50 of the World Gold Rankings opens plenty of doors for players, including automatic entry into the 4 Majors, so it’s always worth keeping an eye on those who have a chance to break into it, and those who are in danger of falling out of it – as they’ll be keen to put in good performance soon.
Players of interest that sit between 40th and 50th in the world rankings include Adam Scott, Webb Simpson, Jason Dufner, Bernd Wiesberger and Kyle Stanley, so they could be worth putting on your radar in the coming month.
Meanwhile, from the players outside the world’s top-50, the likes of Russell Henley and Brandt Snedeker catch the eye on the PGA Tour, having been winners in February in recent seasons, whilst an up and coming name with form at Pebble Beach is Chesson Hadley. On the European Tour, Frenchmen Alexander Levy could be worth following as he’s desperate to get in the 2018 Ryder Cup team being as it’s being held in Paris. Two more players who will be aiming for Ryder Cup places are Bernd Wiesberger and Shane Lowry, whilst Kiradech Aphibarnrat is another playing well enough to gate-crash the top-50.
European Ryder Cup Standings
The Ryder Cup Standings could also be valuable pointers, as players not currently in an automatic spot will be desperate to get one.
European Points List
World Points List
USA Ryder Cup Standings
It seems an age since Xander Schauffele won the 2017 Tour Championship but watch out for this talented young man making a bid for a Ryder Cup spot soon. He’s currently only 18th in the standings, but looked like he could be a useful asset for he USA if hitting the same heights he did at the end of last season. Some big names also need to get into gear if they’re going to make the team automatically, such as Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson – and dare we say it Tiger Woods.