Victor Dubuisson hoping new putter will change his fortunes

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Determined: Dubuisson.

Victor Dubuisson is hoping to make up for the disappointment of losing his PGA Tour card with a strong showing at this week’s Czech Masters and improve his position in the Race to Dubai rankings.

The 2014 Ryder Cup star heads to the tournament for the first time after missing the inaugural event 12 months ago, and he is looking to build on his impressive performance at the final Major Championship of the year earlier this month.

The 25-year-old, who finished tied 18th at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, currently sits 43rd in the Race to Dubai, and is hoping for further success at Albatross Golf Resort.

In a season in which he struggled with injuries, Dubuisson finished 172nd in the Money List of the PGA Tour, thus losing his playing privilege there next season.

“I am looking forward to playing here. Last year I couldn’t play, so I am happy to be here this year. It is a great opportunity to have another win,” said Dubuisson.

“This week will be a good week to try to win and try to get my Race to Dubai ranking up. This year hasn’t been as good as last year for me – it’s not a great season, so I really hope to do well this week and get my ranking up.”

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The Frenchman, who plays alongside former Ryder Cup player Peter Hanson and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen, is predicting a strong finish to the year after making the decision to change his putter.

He continued: “My form is starting to come back a little bit. The problem was my putting. For six months my putting was really, really bad. I had to do something, so I changed my putter.

“I worked quite a bit on it, and the last few weeks I’m doing better. I had a good result in the PGA Championship and I feel I am going to have a good end to the season.”

The man to watch this week is England’s James Morrison, winner of the Spanish Open and runner up in the Alstom Open de France.

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Jordan Spieth aiming for extended stay as world No 1

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Ruling the world: Spieth.

Having fulfilled what he termed his “lifelong ambition” of becoming the world No1, Jordan Spieth said yesterday he will not have any trouble in finding new motivation.

The 22-year-old’s standout season has seen him win The Masters and the US Open, finish second at the PGA Championship and tie for fourth at The Open. Coupled with two other wins on the PGA Tour, it is hardly a wonder that Spieth is leading the FedEx Cup standings entering the Playoffs this week.

And while he acknowledged that he didn’t consider the Playoff events on par with the majors, Spieth joked that the $10 million bonus for winning the FedEx Cup certainly “put some food on the table”.

“I put winning the FedExCup below a major championship,” Spieth said on the eve of The Barclays, which starts on Thursday at Plainfield Country Club.

“It’s something I’d love to win someday. The names on that trophy are no fluke. And so it’s something that hopefully I get a lot of chances at. I’d certainly set it as something I want to achieve more than winning just any regular event, definitely.

“It’s something that would put some food on the table for sure,” he dead-panned.

Spieth started the 2013 season without any status on the PGA Tour, but continued to post one good finish after another, which helped him gain entry into subsequent events.

It all changed when he secured his playing privilege by winning the John Deere Classic that year. In less than three years, he has shot to the top of the world rankings with his finish at the PGA Championship. 

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– UAE: Former Yas Links GM to head Ayla Oasis development

“I wouldn’t trade it for anything and to be honest, there are more and more records to try and break,” Spieth said, adding he did not want his stay as world No 1 to be short.

“I’m happy to be in that position now. But I’d like to obviously hold it. I think the only way to go about it is just focusing on this week. If you win each week, you’re going to stay No 1 and in my mind the goal is to approach each tournament to try and win and then try and keep this position for hopefully years.

“But again, it can change in two week’s time, so I’m aware of that. And that bit of fear on the back end of it is enough to get me going and to keep working hard.”

The tournament is without world No 2 Rory McIlroy, who decided to give himself another week’s rest before returning to action. The Northern Irishman played the PGA Championship, coming out of an ankle injury which saw him miss The Open and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Despite his absence, McIlroy can still reclaim the world No 1 ranking. He has fewer points to defend from last season (he was tied 22nd), and a Golf Channel report said Spieth will have to finish 14th or better to keep his hold on the position.

Also missing the event, in an effort to be better prepared for the next three weeks, is Sergio Garcia. Meanwhile, PGA Championship winner and world No 3 Jason Day withdrew from the Pro-Am yesterday due to a back issue, but is expected to make his first-round tee time.

Cornel Driessen, Day’s physiotherapist and trainer, said that the withdrawal was a precautionary move, and added: “Jason tweaked his back moving an item under his motor coach last night. This is a precautionary withdrawal for a long-standing disc issue.”

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Uncle Tiger will only get better says Cheyenne Woods

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Confident: Cheyenne Woods.

Tiger Woods is well on the way back to becoming a force in the game again after a torrid 2015, his niece Cheyenne Woods said on Wednesday.

The LPGA Tour rookie said it had been great to see her famous uncle return to form at the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championships last week and that “he’s only going to get better from here”.

Tiger was in contention going into the last round after stringing together rounds of 64, 65 and 68 – his best scoring sequence for two years.

A final round even-par 70 left him four shots behind winner Davis Love, but it importantly meant a first top-10 finish since 2013. It left Tiger ending his season on a relative high with “plenty of positives” to reflect on after missing cuts in the last three majors and slipping as low as 286th in the world rankings.

Tiger’s niece said: “I think we saw this past weekend that things are starting to come full circle and he’s playing great golf. It’s exciting to see and he’s only going to get better from here, I’m sure.”

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– UAE: Former Yas Links GM to head Ayla Oasis development

Cheyenne will play in the LPGA Tour’s “Asian swing” for the first time this year which begins at the Sime Darby Championship in Kuala Lumpur in October. She is just 25 but admits to occasionally feeling old when she looks at the young talent taking both the men’s and women’s game by storm.

Jordan Spieth, 22, has won two majors this year, while women’s world No 2 Lydia Ko is just 18 and Brooke Henderson this month became only the third player to win an LPGA event before her 18th birthday, after Ko and Lexi Thompson.

“I have played with Brooke a few times. I consider myself pretty young at the age of 25 but she is 17 or 18 – very mature for her age – but to see how well she is doing, it does make me feel a little old,” she added.

“Their emergence is a great shift for the sport. It makes the game a little bit more relevant for the younger teenagers and makes it a little bit more cool.”

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