x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Koepka holds his own alongside Woods at Dubai Desert Classic

European Tour rookie non-plussed about another star pairing, although his Dubai Desert Classic bid stuttered on back nine, writes John McAuley.

Brooks Koepka plays his third shot on the par 5, 13th hole during the third round of the Dubai Desert Classic on Saturday. David Cannon / Getty Images
Brooks Koepka plays his third shot on the par 5, 13th hole during the third round of the Dubai Desert Classic on Saturday. David Cannon / Getty Images

DUBAI // Not that you would notice under that huge flat-billed cap, but Brooks Koepka’s eyes presumably portray next to no fear.

The American, in the early embers of his inaugural season on the European Tour, may be low on laps around the professional circuit, but his CV already has some entries that would be sure to get the blood flowing.

Ranked up there is last year’s PGA Championship, when in only his third major championship appearance, Koepka was paired alongside Tiger Woods, the top draw.

Having just shared a tee-time with Rory McIlroy at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Saturday, that Oak Hill experience now has company. As befits his personality, Koepka did not seem too perturbed by the whole hullabaloo.

“I’m pretty laidback,” he said following a third-round 70. “Even with Tiger, it wasn’t that I was nervous. I just got caught a couple of times watching him play.”

For a while on Day Three at the Majlis, Koepka represented the centre of attention. Having begun the day two off leader McIlroy, he nudged ahead at the eighth, holing a daunting 50-foot putt.

He had already made one from 35 feet on the fifth, but in between missed a seemingly straightforward effort from inside five. Walking off the eighth, his caddie, Ricky Elliott, cracked: “We have to be careful not to knock it too close to the hole.”

Koepka dutifully obliged, but his profligacy with the putter quickly waned. By the time his work was done, he had cancelled out two more birdies with three bogeys. Thus, he begins the final round four back from frontrunner Stephen Gallacher, in a tie for third with Thorbjorn Olesen at 12-under par.

It will be a battle of the flat-bills, not that you would be able to see any emotion lurking underneath, mind.

“Just golf,” shrugged the perpetually blase Koepka about his disappointing back nine. “Can’t get too upset. Still got a chance going into tomorrow, so can’t complain.”

Tiger Woods’ visit to Delhi will have ‘huge impact’ on golf in India

One of India’s leading golfers believes Tiger Woods short visit next week to Delhi will generate a long-lasting interest in golf.

Woods is visiting India for the first time to compete on Tuesday in an 18-hole corporate outing on the Delhi Golf Club in the India capital.

The 14-time major winner has been invited by Pawan Munjal, chief executive and Managing Director of the Hero Motor Group, one of the largest motor cycle manufacturers in the world.

Woods will play alongside Munjal and European Tour based Shiv Kapur, who is also a member at the Delhi Club and is sponsored by Hero.

Kapur, 31, won the Asian Tour “Rookie of the Year” title in 2005 but still awaits a first main European Tour victory.

“Tiger’s visit to India is going to make a huge impact and there is a big buzz already not only in Delhi but the whole country,” said Kapur after shooting a third round of 70 at the Dubai Desert Classic.


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