Fortunes of Golf Dont Shine on Bjorn Elkington

By Associated PressAugust 15, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PGA ChampionshipSPRINGFIELD, N.J. -- Anyone who has ever played the game knows something about the fortunes of golf.
The putt that had nowhere to go, yet somehow stays out.
The shot that lands in a divot.

It's a game that can be cruel. Often, it is at its cruelest at just the wrong moment.
Thomas Bjorn and Steve Elkington knew that long before they came out Monday morning with a chance of winning the storm-delayed PGA Championship. They knew it when they teed off on the 18th hole tied for the lead.
Sometimes, the golf gods are going to get you. And there's nothing you can do but wait for your next chance.
``You stick your nose in often enough, this game is going to give you one one day,'' Bjorn said.
Monday wasn't that day for Elkington, and it certainly wasn't for Bjorn. Both sat helplessly in the scoring trailer watching Phil Mickelson do what they couldn't -- birdie the 18th hole to win.
A few moments earlier, each had his chance to do the same thing. Both were betrayed by a golf course that wouldn't let them in.
Elkington's second shot ended up in a divot 96 yards from the hole, and it was all he could do to get it somewhat close. Bjorn wasn't as close, but the putt he thought was in all the way lipped out agonizingly at the end.
``I felt good over it and when it was about a foot from the hole I felt even better about it,'' Bjorn said. ``You can only say that it wasn't to be.''
Both Bjorn and Elkington were philosophical about their missed chances.
They had to be. Their only other choice was to let the quirks of the game beat them down.
Elkington had tossed and turned most of the night thinking about the lead he had on Sunday and how he let it get away. He thought about what he would do when he came out for his final few holes Monday and what he had to do to win his second major.
It had been 10 years since Elkington won the PGA at Riviera Country Club, but he came back for his final holes thinking he could do it again. He was only a shot behind Mickelson as play resumed with three holes to play.
Sure, what was left of the crowd from the day before was roaring for Phil. But crowds don't win golf tournaments; good shots and good breaks do.
Elkington got one of those breaks on the 18th hole when his drive hit a tree and bounced out, leaving him with a shot toward the green on the par 5.
Just like that, though, the course turned on him when his second shot rolled into a sand-filled divot.
Elkington thought back to when he won the Players Championship in 1991 and the same thing happened. Armed with the positive vibes, he hit his shot to 10 feet.
The putt was inside left. He hit it where he wanted and watched as the ball and his chance slid by the hole.
``It looked good from my angle,'' Elkington said.
Bjorn's looked even better. His actually hit the cup and lipped out.
``It was going nowhere else but in the hole. Somehow it stayed out,'' Bjorn said. ``There's not much more to it than that.''
Bjorn had come close before, losing the 2003 British Open when he couldn't get out of a bunker and made a double bogey on the 16th hole. This time he nearly birdied the last two holes, so he had something positive to think about in the eight long months before the next major championship in Augusta, Ga.
``I'll just keep going. 2006 is not too far away, and I'll look forward to those majors,'' the Dane said. ``One day, these major championships are going to break my way.''
One already broke Elkington's way, but it's been a long time since anything else has. He's battled injuries and sinus problems just to get back to this point and knows how hard it is to win one major, much less another.
``Tiger collects them like they're nothing,'' he said. ``For the rest of us, it's not that easy.''
Someone suggested to Elkington that even though he didn't win the Wanamaker Trophy, it was still something of a moral victory to be able to contend after all his problems.
He wasn't buying it.
Not on this day. Not on any day.
``There's no moral victory for coming in second in this major,'' he said. ``If anyone who can tell me who was runner-up in any major, I'll give you a hundred dollars. No one remembers you but family and friends.''
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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.