Creamer, A. Jutanugarn headline new Green Bay event

By Associated PressJuly 5, 2017, 11:40 pm

Plenty of pro football's greatest memories have been made in Green Bay, Wis.

This week, the LPGA hopes to forge a little history of its own when it conducts the first edition of the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic in Oneida, a sovereign nation just down the road from storied Lambeau Field.

Host course for the inaugural event beginning Thursday is Thornberry Creek at Oneida, a Rick Jacobsen-designed course that will play at 6,624 yards and to a par of 72 for the 72-hole event. A field of 144 golfers will chase the $2 million total purse, with $300,000 going to the winner.

World No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand will headline the field along with 11 more major champions, including 2010 U.S. Women's Open champion Paula Creamer, four-time winner and top Canadian star Brooke Henderson, 19-time LPGA winner Cristie Kerr, 15-time LPGA winner and European Solheim Cup legend Suzann Pettersen and LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame member Karrie Webb.

Other top names in the field include 2015 U.S. Women's Open champion Ingee Chun of South Korea, England's Charley Hull and fan favorites Christina Kim and Cheyenne Woods.

Full-field scores from the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic

"I'm really excited to see Green Bay and test my game at Thornberry Creek," said Jutanugarn, who will be joined in the field by her sister, Moriya. "I have heard that Wisconsin has some serious golf fans and we look forward to competing in front of them."

The Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic will serve as the final test prior to the U.S. Women's Open, to be played next week in New Jersey. This year's tournament is the eighth in the LPGA Tour's busy 12-events-in-as-many-weeks stretch and is sandwiched in between two major championships.

This week's Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic marks the 18th tournament of what has been an exciting 2017 LPGA season that's seen 16 different tournament winners.

The inaugural Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic, one of four new events on the LPGA Tour this season, will be held on the Oneida Reservation immediately across Interstate 41 from Green Bay. The course is owned by Oneida Nation, which has more than 17,000 tribal members worldwide, and managed by the Oneida Golf Enterprise Corporation.

Henderson is playing the best golf of her career and is likely to be in contention this week. In her last three starts, she hasn't finished outside the top 11 and she captured her fourth career LPGA victory at the Meijer LPGA Classic two weeks ago. Henderson followed that with a runner-up finish at last week's KPMG Women's PGA Championship, falling one shot short in her title defense at the major championship.

"It's really exciting to have a new event on the schedule and especially here in Wisconsin," Henderson said. "I haven't spent a ton of time here before, but I'm really happy to be back. My agent has been talking about this tournament almost all year, so I'm excited to finally be here and to get started."

The Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic field features 30 of this year's 37 LPGA Tour rookies, the most to tee it up at a tournament this season. This season features players from 33 countries, the most in Tour history, with 126 active international players.

Through 17 events of the 2017 season, American players have taken home four tournament titles: Brittany Lincicome (Pure-Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic), Kerr (LOTTE Championship), Lexi Thompson (Kingsmill Championship) and Danielle Kang (KPMG Women's PGA Championship).

During the 2016 season, Thompson and Brittany Lang were the only Americans to take home a tournament title. Americans have won at least five LPGA events in eight of the last 10 seasons, with the exception of 2016 (two) and 2011 (four). The last time Americans won back-to-back events on the LPGA Tour was in October 2015.

World No. 1 and two-time LPGA winner this season So Yeon Ryu of South Korea holds a narrow lead in the current Race to the CME Globe standings with 2,266 points. Top-ranked American and 2017 Kingsmill champion Thompson is close behind with 2,199 points, followed closely by reigning Race to the CME Globe winner Jutanugarn (2,177) and Henderson (1,653).

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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.