Debate Is He Right or Wrong

By Associated PressJuly 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
2006 John Deere ClassicSILVIS, Ill. -- Kenny Perry never imagined facing so much criticism over where to play golf.
 
There was a time when he was desperate to play anywhere. He was 26, with two children in diapers and no money for a third attempt at qualifying for the PGA TOUR. Thats when he made a deal with an angel, Ronnie Ferguson, an elder at the Church of Christ in Franklin, Ky., who offered him $5,000 for one last shot at Q-school with one string attached.
 
If he failed, Perry didnt owe Ferguson a dime. But if he made it, Perry would give back 5 percent of his tour earnings to David Lipscomb University, a small Christian school in Nashville, Tenn.
 
That was 22 years and $25 million ago.
 
Over the years, Perry has collected 11 victories on the PGA TOUR, including two in the last six weeks at the Memorial and the Buick Open. The kids who have gone to Lipscomb with help from his scholarship program have become teachers, nurses, youth ministers.
 
This is worth remembering as Perry gets buried next week for skipping the British Open, sticking to his original plan to play in Milwaukee.
 
As determined as he was to play golf for a living, Perry was equally tenacious about playing in the Ryder Cup at Valhalla, just up the road from his old Kentucky home.
 
This is a lifetime opportunity for him, U.S. captain Paul Azinger said Monday.
 
Azinger is partly responsible for Perry essentially wrapping up a spot on this team so soon. He revamped the qualifying process to put more emphasis on the current year, which was a good thing for Perry. He was 79th on the money list last year, but already this year has two victories and a playoff loss and is No. 4 in the U.S. standings.
 
Consider what happened the only other time Perry played in the Ryder Cup. He qualified for the 2004 team based almost entirely on his 2003 performance, when he won three times. Not surprisingly, he played only two matches at Oakland Hills and lost them both.
 
Clearly, those memories linger.
 
I told (wife) Sandy, this might be the worst thing Ive ever wished for, Perry said. I may play poorly and get drilled.
 
No need to wait for the Ryder Cup to get hammered.
 
There are plenty of guys who make a Ryder Cup team without winning a major. Perry might be the first to clinch a spot without having played in a major that year.
 
He wasnt eligible for the Masters. Then, he chose not to go through 36-hole qualifying for the U.S. Open the day after he won the Memorial because he was worn out. Besides, Perry said he has never played well at Torrey Pines and wanted to conserve his strength for PGA TOUR events that would give him a better chance at winning, and making the Ryder Cup team.
 
With only five weeks remaining in the qualifying process, Perry is virtually a lock to make the team. Along the way, his outstanding play earned him a spot at Royal Birkdale through a special money list.
 
This might be Perrys best chance to win a major, considering his form and Tiger Woods knee.
 
But he turned it down.
 
Woody Austin didnt go to Carnoustie last year because he had played two months straight and didnt want to show up at the toughest links course in the world and shoot a million. It would be one thing if Perry wanted to rest his 47-year-old bones. But hes playing this week at the John Deere Classic, and next week at the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee.
 
I committed to all these tournaments when I was ranked 100th in the world, said Perry, who is now at No. 20. And now, all of a sudden, Ive won twice. Im not going to back out on them.
 
He risks the respect of his peers, however.
 
Why would anyone skip a chance to play one of four major tournaments that define a career? How does it look when one of the top Americans ducks a major to play against the B-Flight in Milwaukee?
 
The most peculiar part of Perrys decision is that he finished 16th or better in three of his last four Opens. His best finish was at Royal St. Georges, where he wound up four shots behind Ben Curtis in a tie for eighth. That was in 2003, the best season of Perrys career.
 
Anyone playing this well'and few are better at the moment'can win anywhere.
 
Such a decision contrasts with Sean OHair going through hoops to get a passport to St. Andrews in 2005 after winning the John Deere Classic, or Bob Estes flying across the ocean as an alternate and leaving without ever hitting a shot.
 
Then again, Perry isnt the first player to skip a major at the top of his game.
 
Arnold Palmer was the Masters champion in 1964 when he stayed home from the British Open because he was tired. Annika Sorenstam was 28 when she skipped the du Maurier Classic, citing fatigue after taking appearance money from two overseas tournaments.
 
Perry at least should get credit for being the first American to care more about the Ryder Cup than a major.
 
Besides, his captain is squarely behind him.
 
I dont care and he doesnt care, Azinger said about the British Open flap. So why should it bother anybody else? The guy has the guts of a burglar. Hes going to be 48. He can do whatever he wants. Im happy for him.
 
Azingers only instruction for Perry after he won the Buick Open was to set new goals so he stays sharp before Valhalla.
 
One might be to win the PGA Championship and gain a small measure of redemption at Oakland Hills.
 
Another would be leading his team to a rare victory at the Ryder Cup in Kentucky.
 
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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.