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Sergio Garcia targets world No.2 spot

World number three Sergio Garcia thinks the ‘Race to Dubai’, which opens with the $5 million HSBC Champions this weekend, will attract more and more top golfers to play European Tour events over the next couple of years.

The Spaniard, who plays on both the European and U.S. PGA Tours, is also hoping to add a personal footnote to the start of a new era for European golf by unseating American Phil Mickelson as the world number two in Shanghai.

“It’s the start of the Race to Dubai, so we are all very excited,” the 28-year-old told reporters on Wednesday.

“I think that we’ve been talking about the new era for European golf … This Race to Dubai is going to bring some different things to the tour.”

What it will bring above all else is a purse of $10 million and a further $10 million in bonuses up for grabs at the tour championship in Dubai next November.

As the fields for European events get stronger, Garcia said, the number of world rankings points would also increase — an added incentive for the better golfers to sign up.

“That’s definitely going to be the case this year for the race to Dubai and the European tour for many years to come, and I think that’s why you are going to see more good players coming more often and playing in Europe,” said Garcia.

“Obviously guys are at least trying to join the tour … so I know we are looking forward to keep making the tour stronger and get us as close to the (U.S.) PGA Tour as possible,” he added.

Mickelson, the defending champion in Shanghai, was one player considering signing up for the 2009 European Tour but the 38-year-old American seemed to have cooled on the idea by the time he arrived in China.

“I’m not ready to commit to it, it might be something I do next year. I wouldn’t rule it out,” Mickelson, who won after a playoff at the Sheshan International last year, said on Tuesday.

“When I commit to the European I expect to play, not just the minimum, but to really be a part of the tour.

“I’m just not ready now to commit to that. I’m not going to rule it out for the future. I think that’s where the game is growing and is heading.”

A victory for Garcia, widely regarded as the best active player never to have won a major, would give him a chance of overhauling Mickelson in the world rankings this weekend.

“If I can play well, I can move fairly close to that second spot in the world,” he said. “If I can win or come close to it … that’s what I need to do to have a chance.

“I feel like I’m playing well even though there’s doubt that your legs get a little heavier, but I’m just trying to finish the year strong.”

The Champions, which is co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours, the PGA Tour of Australasia, South Africa’s Sunshine Tour and the China Golf Association, starts on Thursday.


November 5, 2008

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