Blasberg Rd 1 Leader at Corning Classic

By Associated PressMay 22, 2008, 4:00 pm
2006 Corning ClassicCORNING, N.Y. -- Nothing slowed Erica Blasberg, not even all the layers she was wearing at the start of the LPGA Corning Classic.
 
Blasberg shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday, a raw day more like early March than late May, to take a two-shot lead over Na On Min of South Korea and Karine Icher of France after the first round.
 
If this is the final Corning Classic for 51-year-old Sherri Turner, whos contemplating retirement, she seems determined to leave her favorite tour stop on a positive note. The 1988 Corning champ shot a 4-under 68, only her second round in the 60s in six events this year, and was tied for fourth with Na Yeon Choi, Sandra Gal, and 2005 Corning champ Jimin Kang.
 
Another shot back among seven players was surprising Australian rookie Anna Rawson in only her fifth LPGA event. Rawson, who also is a model, equaled her best round this year'she also opened last weeks Sybase Classic with a 69 before a second-day 84 sent her packing.
 
Paula Creamer, runner-up here last year and the only player competing with a victory in 2008, never got her game going in tough conditions and finished at 2-under 70, four shots better than defending champ Young Kim.
 
Two-time Corning winner Rosie Jones, the only repeat champion of the event (1996-97), came out of retirement to help celebrate the tournaments 30th anniversary. Playing on a sponsors exemption, Jones shot 2-over 74 in her first appearance on tour since the 2006 U.S. Open.
 
The elements made it a challenging day. No need for the customary Corning swing, that backhand motion players and spectators always have to make to shoo the pesky gnats that swarm the course each spring. The temperature was in the low 40s when play began under gray skies and players had to contend with intermittent rain instead.
 
When Creamer took her practice swings at the first tee, a steady drizzle was falling. And when she teed off moments later, the sun was threatening to break through, though that didnt prompt her to discard the black earmuffs she was wearing.
 
By the time Creamer made the turn at 1 under, the earmuffs had been replaced by sunglasses as the sun broke through now and again. Still, the thermometer hovered around 50, winds began gusting to 20 mph, and Creamer finished her round in the rain, donning those earmuffs again.
 
I had four shirts on pretty much the whole day, said Creamer, who took last week off. Its difficult trying to keep your hands warm. Youre counting down the holes. I really wanted to hit some good shots down the stretch just to get my confidence. I think my mom, who has never played a hole of golf in her life, could have pitched better than I did.
 
Through it all, Blasberg never flinched. The California native started at No. 10 and made three birdies before the turn that included a 30-foot putt at the par-4 13th hole. She went to 4 under with a tap-in birdie at No. 4, recovered from a bad tee shot at the fifth hole and made birdie from 10 feet, then hit 8-iron to 3 feet for another birdie at No. 6.
 
Blasberg completed her best round since turning pro in 2004 by making a 20-foot birdie putt at No. 9, just her 27th putt of the day. That left her atop the leaderboard, an uncustomary position for a player whose best career finish in 66 LPGA events was a tie for eighth at Turtle Bay in February.
 
I dont really put pressure on myself, like I have to get a win, said Blasberg, a two-time All-American at Arizona and Pac-10 player of the year in 2003. I know Im playing good golf, and I know the more I work on my game, eventually itll come. The only thing thats holding me back is those birdies that can save a round. Its definitely in my mind, but Im not going to dwell on it.
 
This wasnt as easy as her scorecard made it look.
 
I was a little worried this morning when it was about 38. I started out with seven layers, and it wasnt happening, Blasberg said. But my hand warmers are still working.
 
Jones, a crowd favorite and the all-time leader in money won at Corning with more than a half-million dollars, retired because her aching body couldnt withstand the rigors of the tour. For a player who relished hitting in the heat of summer, Jones did all right considering the conditions and long layoff.
 
Everything is escalated when you get under the gun, said Jones, who stumbled with bogey at the difficult par-4 first hole and never displayed the deft putting touch that helped her win more than $8 million on tour. I didnt hit the ball that solid, but I felt like I kept it up there. If I can just get the old putter rolling on these greens again. Id love to make it for the weekend. Thats when its fun.
 
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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.