Brittany Lincicome grabs early lead at Kraft Nabisco

By Associated PressApril 2, 2009, 4:00 pm
2007 Kraft Nabisco ChampionshipRANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. ' Brittany Lincicome never saw a 66 coming in the first round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
 
Likewise, defending champion Lorena Ochoa wasnt expecting to open with a 73 when she headed out onto the same desert course where she was 11 strokes better three years ago.
 
It was surreal, really, Lincicome said after taking the lead in the first LPGA major of the year Thursday with her 6-under 66 at Mission Hills.
 
Pushed along by playing partner Ji Young Oh in a round she likened to match play, Lincicome hit 16 greens in regulation. Oh hit 14 greens and was tied for second at 67 with Angela Stanford and Brittany Lang.
 
Lincicome, whose best finish in a major was a tie for second here two years ago, was thinking that something around par would have made for a good day.
 
If you would have told me that this morning I would have taken it and ran, she said about her 66. Obviously its a major, so its going to be playing long. The rough is going to be thick. Even par or 1 or 2 under I would have been completely satisfied.
 
While Lincicome and Oh fought it out, Ochoa struggled with her driver. The top-ranked Mexican star started on the 10th tee and was 2 under at the turn before carding three bogeys and no birdies on the front nine.
 
I got in trouble from the tee, said Ochoa, who had to save par after pushing her first drive of the morning to the left. When youre playing in a major championship, Im not so good in the morning. I think it was a good way to start a couple under. And then Im pretty upset that I didnt take advantage of that.
 
Ochoa hit only four fairways.
 
Three years ago, Ochoa opened with a 62 at Mission Hills to tie an LPGA major championship record.
 
Ochoa was impressed with the low scores.
 
I think its really good golf with the pin placement we had today, and I am surprised, she said. I think 3, 4 under is good, but I saw the 6s and thats very impressive.
 
Lincicome and Oh started on No. 10. Lincicome birdied Nos. 10, 11, 15 and 18, while Oh birdied 11, 14 and 18. Remarkably, they each went birdie-birdie-bogey-birdie-birdie after making the turn.
 
It was like match play, nine holes straight, Lincicome said. She would make a 30-footer for birdie and I would top it. I would make one and she would come on top of mine. So it was really just a fun day.
 
I was hitting the ball really well, keeping it in play, which has a been a little bit of a struggle lately, and then putting, I was making almost everything I looked at.
 
Stanford eagled the par-5 18th by hitting a 7-wood to 20 feet.
 
Kristy McPherson shot a 68. Tied for sixth at 69 were Ji-Hee Lee, Song-Hee Kim, Yani Tseng, Christina Kim, Katherine Hull and Jee Young Lee.
 
Tseng was the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2008. Just 19 at the time, she became the youngest player ever to win the LPGA Championship.
 
Michelle Wie, meanwhile, watched her 20-foot birdie putt roll into the cup on her final hole, pumped her fist and waved to the gallery.
 
After spending all day scrambling to save par around Mission Hills, Wie finished the opening round at 71 ' in a tie for 18th.
 
The way she was missing fairways, particularly early on, she could have been 4 or 5 strokes over. But her short game saved her and gave her confidence in her first appearance in this tournament in three years. Wie made several putts of 6 to 8 feet during her round of three birdies and two bogeys.
 
I feel very confident and grateful that they went in, Wie said after a birdie on the par-5 ninth. Hopefully, tomorrow theyll be for birdie.
 
Wie is back at Mission Hills for the first time since 2006, when she had a chance to win the Kraft Nabisco with a 25-foot eagle chip from just off the 18th green. It went 10 feet by the hole, and she missed the birdie putt to get into a playoff.
 
The 19-year-old Stanford sophomore, still seeking her first tour victory, is making her third start since earning her LPGA Tour card.
 
Wie was in the second pairing to go off on No. 10 Thursday morning and had to scramble from the start after missing her first three fairways.
 
It was a little sketchy in the beginning, but I felt confident with my putts, she said. You always get that same jittery feeling when you play in the majors.
 

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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.