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This Week in Golf -- Jan. 15-18

Jimmy Walker
Jimmy Walker fired a 7-under 63 in the final round to win the 2014 Sony Open.


SONY OPEN IN HAWAII, Waialae Country Club, Honolulu, Hawaii - Having already collected his first tour win earlier in the season, Jimmy Walker continued his hot play as he fired a 7-under 63 in the final round to win the 2014 Sony Open in Hawaii.

Walker rallied by Chris Kirk for his second win in the first six events of the 2013-14 season. Walker went on to win one more title and make his first Ryder Cup team.

Kirk, the third-round leader, failed to hold the 54-hole lead, but he did pick up his third victory in three years later in 2014 at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Walker, who was in the penultimate group, birdied the 16th and 17th to end at minus-17. Kirk had an eagle chip at the last to try to force a playoff, but he ran the chip eight feet by the hole. He converted the birdie effort to end alone in second place.

On Monday, Walker coughed up a chance at his fourth PGA Tour win. He shared the 54-hole lead, but played the final nine in even-par and Patrick Reed caught him to force a playoff. Reed birdied the first extra hole to earn his third PGA Tour victory.

Walker and Kirk will be joined at Waialae by Jason Day and Matt Kuchar. Those four, all ranked in the top 25 in the world, played the Hyundai Tournament of Champions last week and more than two-thirds of those participants are also competing at the Sony.

A pair of Japan Golf Tour stars, Hiroshi Iwata and Hideto Tanihara, were invited to the event this week. Several 50-and-older players will also be at Waialae, including Fred Funk, Paul Goydos, Davis Love III, Kenny Perry and Vijay Singh.

Golf Channel has coverage of all four rounds. NBC will kick off Sunday's final round coverage, with Golf Channel airing the completion of the round.

The PGA Tour heads to the California desert next week for the Humana Challenge. Patrick Reed opened with three straight 63s last year and cruised to a 2-shot win over Ryan Palmer.


ABU DHABI HSBC GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - A return to the desert for the European Tour brings with it a return of some of the best players in golf.

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy will make his first start of 2015 this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. McIlroy is one of nine former major champions in the field.

McIlroy will be joined at Abu Dhabi Golf Club by the likes of Martin Kaymer, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Ernie Els and Darren Clarke.

Kaymer won this event three times in a four-year span (2008-11) and he shared second place in 2009. McIlory was runner-up to Kaymer in 2011, he was second to Robert Rock in 2012 and shared second-place last year. Stenson (2006, 2008) and Rose (2013) have also had runner-up finishes at this event.

Pablo Larrazabal closed with a 5-under 67 last year to hold off McIlroy and Phil Mickelson, who went 63-69 on the weekend. McIlroy had been assessed a 2- stroke penalty in the third round for taking an illegal drop.

The win for Larrazabal was his third on the European Tour.

Along with several of the top European Tour players, world No. 10 Rickie Fowler also made the trip to the desert. Fowler will be competing for the first time since the first week of December, when he played in the Hero World Challenge hosted by Tiger Woods.

Golf Channel will have early morning coverage of all four rounds.

The European Tour continues its desert swing next week with the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. Sergio Garcia birdied the third playoff hole last year to defeat Mikko Ilonen and win for the 11th time on the European Tour.

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