Ko on verge of No. 1, shares KEB lead through 54

By Associated PressOctober 17, 2015, 1:21 pm

INCHEON, South Korea - Lydia Ko and Sung Hyun Park rebounded to top the crowded leaderboard Saturday in the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship.

In position to take the top spot in the world, the second-ranked Ko overcame a double bogey with two late birdies in a 3-under 69. Park bounced back from a second-round 74 with a 67 to match Ko at 13 under 203 on Sky 72's Ocean Course.

''You might not even get one day out of the 365 days in a year where you hit it perfect,'' Ko said. ''I always say I love golf, because there is no perfect.''

Ko made the double bogey on the par-4 14th, driving left into the water and missing a 4-foot putt. The 18-year-old South Korean-born New Zealander rallied, driving the short par-4 15th to set up a two-putt birdie and making a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th.

''There's still a long day ahead of me,'' Ko said. ''But if I am holding the trophy at the end, it will be very special. To win at your birthplace, it's hard to do. To be able to win in front of the Korean fans and my family and relatives who have flown over from Jeju Island, I think it would be a very special moment.''

Park birdied three of the last four holes, also driving the 15th, holing a 20-footer on 17 and chipping to 2 feet on the par-5 18th. Making her first career LPGA Tour start, the 22-year-old South Korean player opened with a course-record 62. She would earn an LPGA Tour card with a victory.

''Actually, I had this conversation with my mom and we were just talking about it,'' Park said. ''I told her, 'If I should win this championship, I still don't think I'm ready for the LPGA Tour.' And even if I don't win tomorrow, I think I would be quite satisfied with the results of the championship so far.''

Ranked 54th, Park won the Korea LPGA's Se Ri Pak Invitational two weeks ago for her third victory of the season. She won the Korea Women's Open in June.

''To be really honest, I don't think I ever really thought about winning, and so I wasn't really confident coming into this week,'' Park said. ''I was more worried and nervous, but I'm quite proud of myself.''

Ko would take the No. 1 ranking from South Korean star Inbee Park with a victory Sunday and also could move up under other scenarios. Inbee Park was tied for 18th at 5 under after a 70.

Ko tied for second last week in the LPGA Malaysia after winning her previous two starts in Canada and France, where she became the youngest major champion. Ko and Inbee Park, a two-time major winner this year, are tied for the tour victory lead with four.

American Lexi Thompson and South Korea's Mirim Lee each birdied the 18th to pull within a stroke of the lead. Thompson had a 69, and Lee shot 67.

''I just know I need to make birdies, focus on myself and control my game,'' Thompson said. ''That's all I can do. Lydia is playing great and she's going to make birdies, we all know that. But it's not just her.''

Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn and South Korea's Yoon-Ji Cho were two strokes back at 11 under. Jutanugarn holed out from 110 yards for eagle on the par-5 fifth in a round of 67, and Cho had a 69.

Taiwan's Yani Tseng (69) was 10 under, and Norway's Suzann Pettersen (68) was 9 under along with China's Shanshan Feng (71). Pettersen won the event in 2007 and 2012.

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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.