Harrington Up Early at Wachovia

By Associated PressMay 3, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 Wachovia ChampionshipCHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Padraig Harrington took three weeks off, the longest break from golf in his 10 years as a pro, and worried that he wouldn't be very sharp Thursday at the Wachovia Championship. He wasn't satisfied with hardly anything but his score.
 
Harrington made two tough par putts early, then a bunch more for birdies on his way to a 6-under 66, giving him a one-shot lead over Vijay Singh and Jason Bohn on a day of ever-changing wind that kept everyone on their toes.
 
'One mis-hit over here, it can cost you,' Singh said.
 
Tiger Woods found that out on the 18th hole as he tried to stay in range of the leaders. He changed clubs when he felt the wind shift and still flew the green to take bogey and an opening round of 70.
 
'It was an 8 (iron) when the wind was off the right, then it became a 7 when the wind was in, then the wind went in off the left, then went down off the left, and when I hit it was down off the right, when I thought it was in off the right,' he said. 'There you go.'
 
And there it went.
 
The scoring was decent and the leaderboard eclectic, about the only common thread was that it favored those with health issues.
 
During his three-week break after the Masters, Harrington had an early stage of skin cancer removed from his forehead and put his clubs down for a week, which is about as unusual as him taking a break.
 
Trevor Immelman lost 22 pounds from a parasite he picked up during the Masters and still isn't at full strength, although he managed a 68.
 
David Berganio Jr. went for a hike in the hills near his home in California and injured his back, but he shot 69.
 
About the only thing that mattered was trying to get through the fast, tree-lined course without getting into too much trouble.
 
'You just have to play smart,' said Singh, who won this tournament two years ago in a four-hole playoff.
 
Jeff Maggert was in the group at 68 after finishing with two straight birdies and one par that made him particularly proud, given how the wind began to blow hard in the afternoon. On the 491-yard ninth hole, he hammered a drive down the middle and still had a 2-iron to the green to 18 feet.
 
Stephen Ames, who will defend his title at The Players Championship next week, challenged for the lead until dropping shots on the 15th and 18th, both courtesy of the swirling wind, and was among those at 69.
 
Phil Mickelson got away with some shaky shots with his short game and shot 70, while defending champion Jim Furyk and Ernie Els were among those at 71.
 
'It wasn't just the driver, it was the irons, it was the 3-woods off the tee,' said Mickelson, who began working with Butch Harmon two weeks ago and said he would call him after his round. 'I didn't strike it as well as I wanted to. I didn't get in a rhythm.'
 
Harrington wasn't sure what to make of his round.
 
'I've been well in control, knowing what's happening,' he said. 'Today wouldn't have been one of those rounds, I've got to say. It would be nice getting everything going together, holing putts and playing well.'
 
The putting held him together in the first round at Quail Hollow.
 
Starting on the back nine, he missed the 11th green long and saved par with a 10-foot putt, then holed an 18-foot par putt after putting his approach into the bunker on No. 12. Facing one of the most dangerous shots on the course, however, he started making things easier.
 
From the right rough on the 351-yard 14th, with the green running away toward the lake, his sand wedge rolled to a foot for his first birdie. He went over the green on the par-5 15th and chipped to 3 feet, then made it three straight birdies with a 15-foot putt.
 
The Irishman picked up his next batch of birdies over a four-hole stretch on the front nine, hitting inside 4 feet on the second and third holes, and making a 25-footer for birdie on the fifth.
 
He had no bogeys on his card, and really no explanation for such a fine start.
 
'My focus wasn't as sharp as it could have been,' he said. 'You obviously need to take breaks, but definitely I was not as good mentally as I would have left off three weeks ago.'
 
Singh's only hiccup came on the 242-yard sixth hole when he missed the par 3 to the left and missed a 6-foot par putt. But he was solid the rest of the way, especially at the end. Quail Hollow has one of the most daunting finishes in golf, with a 217-yard par 3 to a peninsula green and a 478-yard 18th hole into the wind.
 
He missed the green well to the right on the 17th, but saved par with a 10-foot putt. And he hit his best tee shot on the closing hole, right down the middle, and gladly settled for par even though he gave himself a 10-foot look at birdie.
 
'Should have made it,' he said. 'But I'm happy with 5 under.'
 
Woods, playing on the one-year anniversary of his father's death, wasn't terribly disturbed with his 70. He took advantage of three par 5s and twice made good par saves to keep his round going until his shot over the green on the 18th.
 
'Nobody really went low,' Woods said. 'You just had to hang in there.'
 
DIVOTS
Brad Faxon played for the first time since he learned he had Lyme Disease. He wasn't sure when he was bitten by a tick, but said he would be on antibiotics for 21 days. 'I lost seven to eight pounds,' he said. 'For me, that's a ton.' ... Sean O'Hair withdrew after a 75 for personal reasons. ... Kenny Perry opened with a 77 and cleaned out his locker. 'You have to do what you have to do,' he said, without elaborating. By the end of the round, officials were not aware he had cleaned out his locker and left, and he was not listed as a WD. ... Frank Lickliter was disqualified after signing for an incorrect score. He had a 75.
 
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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.