Friday 19 January 2018

Power looks to take advantage as he targets first Tour win

Seamus Power. Photo: Getty Images
Seamus Power. Photo: Getty Images

Phil Casey

Ireland's Seamus Power will look to take advantage of a weakened field as he bids to continue the streak of first-time winners in the Sanderson Farms Championship.

With the top 50 in the world eligible to compete in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China, world number 75 William McGirt is the highest-ranked player in the field at The Country Club of Jackson.

But with a total prize fund of $4.3million (€3.6m) up for grabs, Power has plenty of motivation to follow in the footsteps of defending champion Cody Gribble, 2015 winner Peter Malnati and 2014 champion Nick Taylor in winning a maiden PGA Tour title in Mississippi.

The 30-year-old regained his playing privileges by claiming the last of the 25 cards available via the Web.com Tour Finals money list and was immediately back in action in the first event of the 2017-18 'wraparound' season.

Rounds of 70 and 75 saw Power miss the cut in the Safeway Open in California, where he was not helped by the late arrival of his clubs, so the world number 303 will be keen to make the most of another start this week.

"I will get into enough tournaments where if I play well, it will make a difference," Power told IrishGolfDesk.com earlier this month. "That's all you can ask for.

"It's nice I will see all the courses for the second time and I will know what's going on. I'm going to have a lot more advantages this year that I didn't have last year."

Former Major champions Retief Goosen, Angel Cabrera, Davis Love III and Shaun Micheel are also among the field in Mississippi.

On the European Tour, meanwhile, Jon Rahm admits the pressure is on as he tries to bounce back from a disappointing home debut with a strong performance to boost his chances of winning the Race to Dubai.

Rahm played his first professional tournament in Spain in last week's Andalucia Valderrama Masters, but missed the cut as compatriot and tournament host Sergio Garcia went on to lift the trophy.

That saw Garcia close the gap on Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood to fewer than 800,000 points, with Rahm remaining more than a million adrift ahead of this week's WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai.

However, a victory at Sheshan International could take Rahm to the top of the money list, depending on Fleetwood's result, and leave the 22-year-old in pole position to become the first Spanish European number one since Seve Ballesteros in 1991.

Hopeful

"I was sad not to make the cut in my home country and my home event but I come here hopeful," said Rahm, who has finished third, second and 28th in his three World Golf Championship events to date.

"I feel like every time I miss the cut I become stronger the next week, so hopefully history repeats itself and I play good this week.

"The game feels good. Last week for me was a special week. A lot was going on, a lot more than I expected, so that's maybe why I didn't perform my best, you never know, but the game feels good.

"It's a big week, especially with not going to Turkey and South Africa. I've decided to rest. This is my third week in a row in a long year and I may be putting a little pressure on myself because I know I need two good weeks to maybe win the Race to Dubai.

"But if I don't win and Tommy wins he'll be a great, deserving winner. Hopefully I finish as high as I can. It's been a great year so far, so just the fact that I have a chance is a blessing."

Fleetwood took last week off to spend with his new-born son and admits his practice was limited, but he was sixth in the Italian Open on his previous start and will have the advantage of contesting all four remaining events this season.

"It's difficult towards the end of the year to try and not look at the Order of Merit too much," the 26-year-old from Southport said.

"You can't control what your rivals are doing, you've got so many good players up there you are kind of expecting them to win one."

Paul Dunne is the only Irishman in the field for the WGC-HSBC Champions which got under way overnight.

  • WGC-HSBC Champions, Sky Sports Golf 3.0am
  • Sanderson Farms Championship, Sky Sports Golf 7.30pm

Irish Independent

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