Talking points in golf this week


Paris (AFP) - Coronavirus continued to play havoc with golf tournaments in the valuable Asian markets on Monday, a day after Nick Taylor showed he can win and Min Woo Lee stepped up the sibling rivalry by claiming a tournament his sister had also won.

Here, AFP Sport looks at three talking points in golf this week:

Asian cancellations

-- This month's HSBC Women's World Championship in Singapore and the LPGA Thailand were cancelled Monday, meaning the US LPGA Tour has been forced to scrap all three of its lucrative early-season events in Asia after China's Blue Bay tournament was canned 10 days ago.

The women's Asia Pacific Amateur Championship in Thailand next week has also fallen while the PGA Tour's third-tier China series has been forced to move qualifying events to Indonesia and Thailand.

No decision has been made yet by the men's European Tour as to whether its flagship China Open in April will go ahead in the city of Shenzhen. The Hong Kong Women's Open, originally scheduled for next month, has been shifted to May.

Taylor holds off Mickelson

-- Nick Taylor's only previous PGA title was the victory in Mississippi in 2014 that earned him his tour card.

But on Sunday the Canadian fired a gritty two-under par 70 to complete a wire-to-wire victory in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Taylor made a double bogey 7 at the 14th but held his nerve, rebounding with birdies at the 14th and 17th while playing partner Phil Mickelson, who had won the event five times, crumbled with three bogies in the last six holes.

Taylor's highest end-of-season position on the US Fed Cup ranking was 93rd in 2017. He finished last season ranked 120th.

"It's no fun hovering around that 125," he said after a victory that ensures he will be on the tour next year. "I've been able to keep my card the last couple of years; did it a little bit earlier last year."

Sibling rivalry

Young Australian Min Woo Lee followed in his sister's footsteps by winning the innovative Vic Open in Geelong, Australia, on Sunday, while South Korea's Park Hee-young claimed the women's title after a play-off.

The 21-year-old Lee won his first title by two strokes from New Zealander Ryan Fox.

"As my first win, it's pretty sweet," Lee said. "I always knew I had the ability to be one of the top players in the world and I think I've shown that this week, for myself as well."

At the Vic Open men and women go out in alternate groups on the same course. Sunday opened with a mixed threeball to avoid a solo player after the second cut.

Lee's sister, Minjee, has won the women's event at the Vic Open twice but he did not accept that she had the edge.

"My sister and I winning the same tournament, it's pretty special," Min Woo said. "I've got bragging rights now, so it's even better."

Minjee, who had finished tied for sixth in the women's event, watched her brother finish

"It was really cool to just even be here with him and even watch him the last two holes," she said. "Just to see him play, I haven't really seen him play that much."

World rankings

Rory McIlroy nudged past Brooks Koepka to go top of the world rankings for the first time since 2015, even though neither man played this weekend.

Top 20 on Monday, February 10

1. Rory McIlroy 9.18 average points (+1)

2. Brooks Koepka 9.16 (-1)

3. Jon Rahm 8.67

4. Justin Thomas 7.63

5. Dustin Johnson 6.90

6 Patrick Cantlay 6.13 (+2)

7. Webb Simpson 6.07

8. Tiger Woods 6.05 (-2)

9. Xander Schauffele 5.73

10. Justin Rose 5.66

11. Tommy Fleetwood 5.6

12. Tony Finau 5.03

13. Patrick Reed 4.79

14. Adam Scott 4.51 (+1)

15. Louis Oosthuizen 4.45 (-1)

16. Gary Woodland 4.37 (+1)

17. Shane Lowry 4.32 (-1)

18. Bryson DeChambeau 4.26

19. Marc Leishman 4.20

20. Matt Kuchar 4.12

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