Former career am leads Champions Tour event

By Associated PressAugust 23, 2014, 2:49 am

SNOQUALMIE, Wash. - Mike Goodes shot an 8-under 64 on Friday for a one-stroke lead in the Boeing Classic.

Goodes, 57, got off to a fast start with an eagle on the first hole, knocking it in from a bunker. He then had six birdies in the first round of the Champions Tour stop at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge.

Goodes, who maintained his amateur status until joining the Champions Tour in 2007, is looking for his second career win to go with the 2009 Allianz Championship. The last time he led any round in any tournament was the 2013 Insperity Open in Houston.

''I'm dying to win,'' Goodes said. ''That doesn't necessary mean you will but I'd love to win again. It would mean a lot.''

In the previous nine Boeing tournaments, no first-round leader has gone on to win the title.

Mark Brooks was all alone in second after a 65. The 1996 PGA champion shot a 6-under 30 on the back nine, one short of the course and tournament record of 29 set by Scott Simpson in 2006.

''When you do it as long as I have ... you deserve occasionally to have a nine like that,'' said Brooks, who won seven times on the PGA Tour but not since his PGA title.

Mark O'Meara, Gene Sauers, Scott Hoch, Mark McNulty and Jeff Sluman are at 6 under.

Five players shot a 67, including Mark Calcavecchia. He shot a 5-under 31 on the front nine, matching the course record done 20 times, including by Calcavecchia in the opening round last year.

Goodes did not want to play on the PGA Tour. He ran a successful business and preferred to remain an amateur. He was convinced by his business partner and his wife to try the 50-over circuit in 2007. For his first two seasons, 2007 and 2008, he got into tournaments through the arduous Monday qualifying.

''I came really close to not doing it because I wasn't sure it made sense for me to lose my amateur status to go chase Monday qualifiers,'' he said. ''But it's been great.''

He has won more than $3.5 million on the Champions Tour with 20 top-10 finishes in 165 career starts.

''The money's great but I love competing, like most people, and to be able to compete against Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer and Fred Funk and Mark O'Meara, sometimes you beat on them and most of the time you lose to them, but to compete with them is living the dream,'' Goodes said.

Langer, who has won three of the past five tournaments and is well ahead in the Charles Schwab Cup standings, shot a 2-under 70 and is tied for 22nd. It ended his streak of rounds in the 60s at 10 straight. His bogey on No. 2 also ended his bogey-free streak at 66 consecutive holes.

Couples, a local favorite, finished at 1-under 71. Defending champion John Riegger shot a 73.

One of the more interesting pairings featured three players who have shot a 59 in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event. Kevin Sutherland, the first Champions Tour player to shoot a 59 last week in the second round of the Dick's Sporting Goods Open, joined Paul Goydos and Chip Beck. Those two are among the six to do it in a PGA event.

Beck had the best round of the threesome with a 70.

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.