Loves Major Streak in Jeopardy

By Associated PressApril 2, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Shell Houston OpenHOUSTON -- Tiger Woods winning streak ended at Doral. Another impressive run could end this week at the Houston Open.
Davis Love III must win to qualify for next weeks Masters and continue the longest active streak of major championship appearances. Love hasnt missed a major since the 1990 U.S. Open, a run of 70 in a row.
The streak is on his mind, but hes realistic about his chances. Love tore ligaments in his left ankle when he stepped in a hole while playing golf last September and spent five months recovering after surgery.
This is a week to try to get in the Masters, Love said Tuesday. This is also a week to try to get my year going.
Hell play in his seventh event of the year this week'ahead of his doctors expectations'but hes finished no better than a tie for 24th at Pebble Beach in February and missed three cuts.
When I first started back, they (doctors) said, Dont even worry about the Masters. Youre not going to have enough time to be ready even to play in it, much less win a tournament before it. I feel like Ive got a leg up, Love said. Now, Ive played six times and I havent made any progress. At least Ive played, Ive gotten some rounds in and Im still playing, so Ive still got a shot.
Love has been in this spot before, in 1995, and won in New Orleans the week before the Masters to earn an invitation. He was the runner-up to Ben Crenshaw at Augusta after shooting a 66 in the final round.
But that was 13 years ago, when he was playing better and with much more confidence than he is now.
Love played 10 holes at the Tournament Course at Redstone on Tuesday and said the layout perfectly suits his game. Not even he knows if hes ready to start winning again.
Its a little bit different this year, coming off an injury, he said. I havent really had a chance to win this year. I havent had a lot of great rounds. Its a whole different feeling.
Love has gone into every tournament this year thinking about his streak of majors'to the point where its become a distraction. He hasnt broken 70 in a first round and opened with a 76 in New Orleans last week before missing the cut.
I think its kept me from getting off to good starts, Love said. If I do get off to a good start, it will be there at the end. But Ive just got to get going, period. One good round is going to be pressure to play two good rounds and two good rounds is going to be pressure to play three.
The first tournament I played was my best tournament. I was just going on adrenalin and excited to be back, he said. I really havent played a good tournament since then. I need to just get the year rolling.
The ankle injury didnt affect Loves swing, but walking courses is a challenge now. He had the ankle enclosed in a protective boot for most of his rehab and the other muscles in his leg weakened as a result.
Former touring pro Mike Hulbert, Loves close friend and part-time caddie, told him to stay patient and that might be the most difficult part for Love.
Most people, when they come back from that, they go back to playing a little bit of golf or playing a little bit of tennis, he said. Theyre not walking 6-8 miles a day, hitting golf balls and trying to play to get in the Masters.
Im not coming back and gradually working back into a normal life. Im coming into a highly competitive, highly stressful (situation). One week youll be walking around in the rain and one week youll be walking around in the mud, one week, itll be hilly. Im not giving it any breaks.
At first, doctors told Love that the ankle injury might sideline him for the entire year. Whether he makes the Masters or not, Love knows his situation couldve been much worse.
Ive got to be thankful that Im playing. I couldve had this whole year off, it was that bad of an injury, he said. We jumped on it with good doctors and I got a good therapist and I did the right things. Im very thankful that Im back playing.
Im not thankful for my scoring average, Im not thankful that Im coming up on my third tournament that Im not exempt for, but Im thankful Ive got a chance to play, that Im still out here playing, he said. It wouldnt have taken much to be a year or two off, or a career-threatening injury. Im happy to be here.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.''

    Getty Images

    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. 

    Getty Images

    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.