Bjerregaard leads BMW Masters as Garcia falls back

By Associated PressNovember 13, 2015, 1:26 pm

SHANGHAI - Lucas Bjerregaard is learning how to deal with the pressure of playing from the front and closing in on a maiden European Tour title, too.

The Dane heads into the weekend with a three-stroke lead at the BMW Masters after carding a 6-under 66 in Friday's second round.

Bjerregaard trailed overnight leader Sergio Garcia for much of the day before surging into the lead with three birdies in his last four holes to match his opening-round score. He's now shot below 70 in 12 of his last 13 rounds since mid-October, going a combined 47 under.

Garcia, meanwhile, ran into trouble on his back nine on a cold, blustery day at Lake Malaren Golf Club. He bogeyed No. 12 and hit into the water on No. 13 for a double-bogey, falling four strokes back.

The Spaniard recovered to shoot a 71 and tie for second place at 9 under with Thongchai Jaidee (68).

Bjerregaard has been in top form this autumn, posting four top-10 finishes on the European Tour and falling just short of capturing his first title at the Hong Kong Open three weeks ago. Playing in the final group, the 24-year-old Dane led Justin Rose by a stroke down the stretch before a double-bogey gave victory to the Englishman.

Still, it was a far better finish than the last time Bjerregaard played in the final group on a Sunday at the Alfred Dunhill Championship last December, when he collapsed with a 17-over 89 in the final round.

''It was nice in Hong Kong to prove to myself and prove to everyone else that I can still compete up there, so hopefully I can do that again this week and just come up one place better than last time,'' Bjerregaard said.

Ian Poulter (68), Paul Casey (69) and An Byeong-hun (71) were tied for fourth at 8 under on Friday, while Peter Uihlein (66) sank seven straight birdies to jump into a tie for seventh at 7 under with Ross Fisher (71).

Playing alongside Bjerregaard, Uihlein began his birdie spree on the par-5 15th hole and narrowly missed matching the European Tour record of eight consecutive birdies when his 20-foot putt on the par-3 fourth hole slid just to the right of the cup.

''I was cheering him on,'' Bjerregaard said. ''I was really hoping that would go in.''

Uihlein started the day in a tie for 48th place but is suddenly only five strokes off the pace going into the weekend.

''It was weird. I was level-par going into 15, 1 over for the day, and I felt like I played 24 holes really, really well,'' the American said. ''I felt like there was going to be a surge coming and I didn't know it would be seven in a row, but I'm pleased it was.''

Garcia, who shot 64 on Thursday, made three birdies in a blemish-free front nine to get to 11 under before faltering on No. 12 and 13. His second shot on the par-5 15th found the bunker next to the green, but he made a nice recovery to birdie the hole and get a stroke back.

''If you didn't hit the right shot at the right time you could pay. And I did a couple of times,'' Garcia said. ''It feels like it should have been a little bit better, but it is what it is.''

The BMW Masters is the third of four events in the European Tour's Final Series, which ends next week at the DP World Tour Championships in Dubai. Race to Dubai leader Rory McIlroy is skipping this week's tournament, giving Danny Willett a chance to pass him in the standings with a strong showing in Shanghai.

Willett shot a 69 to get to 3 under on Friday in a tie for 28th.

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”



Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.