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The 2011 PGA Tour season officially wrapped last week, but a good portion of the players that made their way through the schedule sought out foreign tournaments to compete in this past weekend. Many of the PGA's best traveled to China to partake in the Shanghai Masters, a tournament that comes with high international prestige and huge payoffs.
Rory McIlroy walked away with an over-sized check in the amount of 2 million U.S. dollars after besting Anthony Kim in a playoff that lasted only one hole. McIlroy took advantage of sizzling iron play that gave him a bevy of birdie opportunities throughout the tournament's four rounds. Many other big names from the PGA Tour made the overseas voyage, and a handful finished near the top of the leaderboard.
McIlroy rolled his new and used golf balls to an impressive score of -12, but he was closely followed by Kim as well as Brit Ian Poulter and South Africa Retief Goosen. North American crowd favorite John Daly also has a passionate following in China, and large groups of spectators followed him on Saturday and Sunday as he put together solid rounds and wound up at -6 for the tournament.
A collection of other professionals were lured to Malaysia and the 6.1 million dollar purse at the Asia Pacific Classic. Although none of the top 10 players on the PGA Tour were in attendance, the highly competitive tournament featured Camilo Villegas, Fredrik Jacobson and Cameron Tringale. By the end of Sunday's round the field was looking up at Bo Van Pelt, who played a bogey free Sunday round and took home a first place check for 1.3 million dollars. Van Pelt birdied holes 13 and 15 by smacking long drives that gave him chip shots onto the par-4 greens. On hole 15, he was able to get an up and down birdie from the sand.
The beautiful city of Stogrande, Spain, played host to the Andalucia Masters this past weekend, and homegrown favorite Sergio Garcia proved to himself and his vast legion of Spanish fans that his game is still in top form with a one shot victory in one of Europe's most popular late-season tournaments. Six under par was enough to win at a course that is notorious for greens that roll faster than the waves of the Mediterranean Sea.
Fellow countryman Miguel Angel Jimenez gave Garcia a run for his prize money, and after early bogeys by Garcia in Sunday's round, was in an excellent spot to seize control of the tournament. Unfortunately, the fast condition of the greens along with the challenging pin placements made it difficult for the players to make up ground by getting their new and used golf balls into the cup in any strokes less than par. Even so, Jimenez barely missed a 16-foot putt for birdie on the 18th green that could have possibly put him into a playoff with Garcia, who has now won two different foreign tournaments over the past two weekends
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