Heat Wave May Lead to Low Scores

By Associated PressJuly 18, 2006, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship HOYLAKE, England -- Tim Herron sauntered around the putting green in front of the Royal Liverpool clubhouse, soaking up a glorious day and marveling at what he had seen out on the course.
They were sunbathing over there, he said, motioning off into the distance with his club.
Sunbathing? At the British Open?
During Tuesdays practice round at this historic course along the Irish Sea, the temperature was climbing into the 80s beneath a brilliant blue sky, with nary a cloud to be had.
Royal Liverpool
Clear skies and warm weather greeted players at the beginning of the week.
There were no fearsome gusts whipping in off the water, just a refreshing breeze. Instead of bundling up in sweaters and jackets, most fans milled around the links wearing shorts and T-shirts.
If conditions stay anything close to this through the weekend, Tiger Woods record 19-under score while winning at St. Andrews six years ago could be in jeopardy.
Obviously, it can be done, said Woods, who won again at St. Andrews last year while using five more strokes. As we all know, it all depends on the weather. We played St. Andrews in 2000 with no wind. It can spring up at any time, you just never know. But if not, the guys are going to be making plenty of birdies.
The mound behind the 13th green was an especially popular spot for soaking up some rays. One young fan removed his shirt, used it to cover his face, sprawled out on the trampled-down grass and actually dozed off while getting a tan. He wasnt bothered in the least by Rich Beem and Peter Lonard, yukking it up below as they came through the par-3 hole.
With the carnage at Winged Foot still fresh on their minds, the guys taking part in the years third major wouldnt mind a catching a break from the notoriously fickle English weather.
I dont care whether it blows or not, Jim Furyk said. As long as its in the 70s, there wont be any complaining from me. I just hate it when its 59 degrees and raining.
For the practice rounds, at least, he didnt have any worries.
The country was in the grips of a heat wave that was expected to push the temperature at Royal Liverpool into the mid-80s, though it was expected to cool off a bit by the time the first real shot was struck on Thursday.
This being Britain, theres always the threat of showers rearing up at any time, though meteorologists said it didnt seem that likely before the weekend. But rest assured, everyone will be keeping an eye on the forecast.
More than any other major, this event is defined by its weather.
The ancient courses that make up the British Open rotation'and Royal Liverpool, back in the mix after a 39-year absence, is certainly no exception'rely on cold rain and blustery winds to ward off todays big hitters. When conditions are benign, the shorter, wider layouts are there for the taking.
After the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, this is a pleasant sight, said Mark Calcavecchia, who won the British in 1989. I think its going to be a nice week of weather and unless it gets really windy, youre going to see some really good scores out there.
That certainly wasnt the case at the last major, when Geoff Ogilvys 5-over-par score was good enough to give the Aussie his first major title.
While Winged Foot was defined by failure'Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie both making double bogeys on the 72nd hole, Furyk missing a short putt that could have forced a playoff, Tiger Woods missing the cut'this tournament could produce the sort of gaudy scores normally associated with less-glamorous events named after banks, phone companies and farming equipment.
If conditions stay anything close to what they were on Monday, its going to take an awfully good number to claim the claret jug. Maybe not as low as Tiger Woods winning score at St. Andrews in 2000 (a 19-under 269), but certainly along the lines of his 14-under victory at the birthplace of golf a year ago.
Its playing short and playing fast, Calcavecchia said after his practice round. On a day like today, you would have seen a lot of low scores.
In a tournament that already has produced such unlikely major champions as Ben Curtis, Paul Lawrie and Todd Hamilton, the un-British-like weather could expand the field of contenders and possibly pave the way for another surprise winner.
Everybody is saying how nice the weather is, but we play in nice weather most weeks in the USA, Calcavecchia said. I would almost like to see it 20 degrees colder and really windy. I really would.
Then again, Royal Liverpool presents a different sort of challenge for todays golfers, many of whom werent even born (Woods and Phil Mickelson among them) when this course last hosted the British Open.
Several golfers simply walked the course on Monday, getting an idea of all the nooks and crannies before they attempt to hit a shot. For some of those who did swing away, the steep learning curve was apparent.
Japanese golfer Yasuharu Imano, whos paired with Mickelson and Northern Irelands Darren Clarke for the first two rounds, stepped gingerly down the steep incline beside the 14th green to get an idea of what he might face after an errant shot.
Imano took a mighty whack with his putter but didnt come close to clearing the ridge, the ball settling back at his feet while the smattering of fans groaned. Another swing. Same result. More moans.
Finally, on his third attempt, Imano got the ball to stay on the green. Then he turned the wrong way to head to the next hole, finally locating the proper path with the help of a marshal.
Curtis, just a month removed from his first victory since that improbable British Open triumph at Royal St. Georges in 2003, isnt so sure that scores will dip all that low, even if the sunny weather holds out.
Everybody talks about how St. Georges was nice (weather) and should have been ideal scoring, said Curtis, who captured the claret jug with a 1-under score. But the course played really tough. This is fairly similar and I think by Thursday, itll get tougher.
Related Links:
  • Tee Times - 135th Open Championship
  • Course Tour - Royal Liverpool
  • Full Coverage - 135th Open Championship
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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.