Chopra Grabs Two Shot Lead at Buick Open

By Associated PressJune 28, 2008, 4:00 pm
2006 Buick OpenGRAND BLANC, Mich. -- Daniel Chopras tendency to be wild off the tee and accurate from the rough led Todd Hamiltons caddie to give him a nickname at the Buick Open.
Youre Rambo, he said.
Yeah, youre lethal from the trees Chopra recalled the caddie saying.
Now, he has another moniker: Buick Open third-round leader.
Chopra shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday to reach 16 under at Warwick Hills and take a two-shot lead into the final round. He made a 15-foot putt for birdie on the last hole after Dudley Hart bogeyed it to earn a cushion.
It makes my job a little easier, but not a lot, Chopra said.
Hart (70), Bubba Watson (68) and Woody Austin (69) were 14 under.
Luckily, none of the leaders went low, Austin said. So there wasnt a big separation.
Second-round leader Bo Van Pelt (73) was another shot back along with Kenny Perry (67), the highest-ranked player in a lackluster field that includes just three of the top 30 players in the world.
Chopra said any of the 10 players who are 12 under or better have a chance to win at Warwick Hills, one of the easier courses on the PGA Tour.
Its going to be an absolute shootout, he predicted.
Defending champion Brian Bateman, who missed the cut, is the only 54-hole leader at the Buick Open who did not go on to win in the last seven years.
Since winning the PGA TOUR's season-opening event and tying for 32nd the next week, Chopra hasnt fared better than a tie for 33rd and hes missed six cuts.
Treading water, he explained.
If the 34-year-old Swede, who sports a belt buckle shaped like his countrys flag, can hold off the wave of challengers Sunday he will move a step closer to playing in the Ryder Cup.
Im one of the players now that has a great opportunity to get in, he said.
Chopra was alone atop the leaderboard for the first time at the ninth hole when Hart had his first bogey of the tournament.
Hart pulled back into a tie with Chopra with a birdie at 16, where he got off to a good start with a 308-yard drive in the middle of the fairway. An errant drive set up trouble at 18, though, and he wouldve had to make a 31-foot putt just to stay within a stroke.
He has won twice on the PGA TOUR, with the last victory coming in 2000 at the Honda Classic. His highlight this year was in February, when he had a third-place finish at Pebble Beach.
Hart missed the last seven months of the 2007 season after a softball-sized tumor was discovered in his wifes lung. She had the tumor and two-thirds of her lung removed last May, but it turned out to be a benign mass. He returned to the tour this year under a family medical exemption and has already made enough money to regain his card.
Watsons career-best finish is a tie for second at the 2007 Houston Open and hes coming off a season-best sixth at the Travelers Championship.
Austin won his first of three titles at the 1995 Buick Open and his last was at the 2007 Stanford St. Jude Championship. He has been in the top 10 twice this season.
Chopra was wild off the tee Saturday'hitting just three of 14 fairways' but responded well enough to hit 13 of 18 greens.
I have a good imagination and can hit trundlers and cuts and hooks and find ways to get it on the green, he said. As long as you give me a swing and some kind of a gap, Im pretty good at finding it.
This golf course allows you to do that. It relaxes me a little bit off the tee so that I can go ahead and hit it. If I miss, I can use my skill to recover.
When he didnt land an approach, such as at No. 4'when his second shot rolled off the green and was almost buried under a camping chair'his touch was sharp enough to help him scramble for par.
His creativity also helped him during the second round when he hit a shot from both knees off the lip of a greenside bunker, setting up a gimme for par and another nickname from caddies.
They said, `Well, maybe we should start calling you Dorf, Chopra recalled. That was funny, too.
I said, `Well, I think I like Rambo better.
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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.