Different Goals for Different Players

By Associated PressOctober 27, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Chrysler ChampionshipPALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Rod Pampling has never been to the Tour Championship.
Justin Leonard has never missed one.
Jim Furyk has one last chance to extend his streak to seven years with at least one PGA Tour victory. Vijay Singh is just as determined to win his ninth tournament of the season.
Joey Sindelar wants to get in the Masters. Craig Barlow wants to keep his PGA Tour card.
'There are bubbles all over the place,' Sindelar said Wednesday at the Chrysler Championship, the final full-field event on the PGA Tour. 'It's fun to have that chance.'

The Chrysler Championship becomes a numbers game Sunday:
  • The top 30 on the money list get into the $6 million Tour Championship next week at East Lake.
  • The top 40 get invited to the Masters.
  • The top 70 get into all the invitationals, such as Bay Hill and the Memorial.
  • The top 125 keep their PGA Tour cards for next year.
  • The top 150 have limited status, meaning players can ask for exemptions or enter only tournaments that have room for them, usually spots like Tucson, Reno and the John Deere Classic.
    Anyone outside the top 150 has to go back to Q-school, unless they have some other safety net.
    'It definitely doesn't feel good being (No.) 126,' said Barlow, who trails Olin Browne by $1,214. 'The way I'm looking at this week, it's just another golf tournament. If you want to think about that it's the last tournament of the year, and I'm 126th on the money list, you're going to drive yourself crazy.'
    Retief Goosen is the defending champion at Innisbrook, and he has no worries at No. 13 on the money list. Playing in the United States for the first time since he won the U.S. Open, Goosen is part of a strong field that has five other players from the top 10 in the world ranking -- Singh, Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III, Mike Weir and Stewart Cink.
    Still, most of the focus shifts down the money lists, the pressure increasing at each rung.
    Kenny Perry is $12,482 behind Pampling in his bid to get into the top 30 and go to the Tour Championship. Behind him are guys like Jonathan Kaye, Charles Howell III and Tim Herron. Leonard is No. 41 and probably needs a third-place finish to continue his streak.
    Several players have never been to the Masters, and this might be their best chance. Ryan Palmer won Disney last week to move from No. 91 to No. 37 on the money list. His victory made him eligible for the Chrysler Championship, and now it's a matter of protecting his position.
    Sindelar is No. 39, and he got some good news when he arrived at Innisbrook on Wednesday -- Jeff Maggert at No. 40, who already is eligible for the Masters, decided not to play. That means Sindelar went from a $9,000 cushion to a $61,000 cushion.
    'It helps for guys trying to pass me,' Sindelar said. 'So I'm kind of in the protect mode. If I could finish 25th or better, I should be OK.'
    Sindelar has been on the bubble more times than he cares to remember. He finished 126th on the money list in 2000 and had to rely on sponsor's exemptions the next year. But he won the Wachovia Championship in May, so his goals changed from keeping a job to driving down Magnolia Lane.
    Still, he knows what it's like for those guys lower down the food chain -- guys like Glen Day at No. 136.
    Day didn't know his ranking on the money list, only that he needs about $100,000 this week to keep his card, something he has done every year since he joined the PGA Tour in 1994.
    'I'm beyond the bubble. I'm on the wrong side of everything,' Day said. 'This is foreign territory.'
    Dangerous territory belongs to Steve Stricker, for a number of reasons.
    A three-time winner on the PGA Tour, he has struggled like never before and is No. 149 on the money list. If he gets knocked out of the top 150, Stricker would have to go back to Q-school.
    There's just one problem.
    'I didn't send in my tour school application,' he said. 'I'm kicking myself a little right now.'
    Stricker usually takes the year off after the Canadian Open. He prefers to spend time with his family in Wisconsin, hunting and fishing and forgetting what a golf club looks like.
    But given his situation, Stricker is playing for the fifth time in six weeks. If the worst happens, he can still get by as a past champion and scrape together a playing schedule for 2005.
    'I don't want to be in the 'Past Champions' category the rest of my life,' he said. 'I found that out about myself the last half of the year. Even though I hate the game sometimes -- we all do -- I found out how much I love it.'
    That's the passion he'll take to the first tee at Innisbrook on Thursday, hoping that he finds something -- a fairway would be nice -- in time to make his job a little easier next year.
    Either way, the season ends for all but the top 30 on the money list.
    'It's like the last week of school,' Day said. 'You just can't wait to get out, no matter what bubble you're on. You'd like to go home happy.'
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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.