Michael Allen leads Sr PGA in first Champions event

By Associated PressMay 23, 2009, 4:00 pm
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Senior PGA ChampionshipBEACHWOOD, Ohio ' After failing to win in 271 PGA Tour events, Michael Allen figures hes due.
Getting a fresh start in his senior debut, Allen shot a 3-under 67 on Saturday for a one-shot lead over Jeff Sluman and Tom Kite through three rounds in the Senior PGA Championship.
These guys are great players and they have beaten me for a long time, but maybe its my turn, said Allen, who stands at 3-under 207 through 54 holes.
Allen, who turned 50 in January, is an unlikely leader in the tours first major championship of the year. He swore he wont be shaken by the major champions and perennial winners who are chasing him.
Im certainly not intimidated. I guess when youre 50 you kind of lose some of that, he said. Out here I played with most all these guys for years and I know them all pretty well. If theres any intimidation, Im more intimidated by the factors of winning tournaments than I am playing with the guys.
Sluman had the lead to himself before bogeying the 16th and 18th holes, completing a 70 that left him tied with Kite, who bogeyed the final two holes for a 69.
Pretty sadistic finish, those last couple of holes, Kite said. Obviously, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth for a little while. But theres some range balls out there that Ill beat some frustration out on. Then well be ready to go tomorrow.
Allen, who turned pro in 1984, deliberated whether to play in this weeks Byron Nelson event on the PGA Tour or to make his first foray on the Champions Tour. So far, hes made a wise choice.
It was a little bit of a tough decision, Allen said. You got a $6.5 million tournament, thats a big tournament out there. But it was a tournament that really hasnt been great to me over the years. So I thought that this was really a nice opportunity to come out and see how I match up.
In 12 starts on the PGA Tour this year, Allen has made the cut in nine. His best finish was a tie for 22nd at the AT&T Pebble Beach.
He has won tournaments as a professional before, taking the 1998 Nike Greater Austin Open and the 1989 Bells Scottish Open on the European Tour.
His 66 in the second round tied the lowest of the day, and his 67 on Saturday was again the best in the field.
He was even on the day through the first 13 holes before stringing together three birdies.
A wedge to 6 feet set up a birdie at the par-4 14th before he birdied both of the back-to-back par-5 holes on the long and treacherous back nine at Canterbury Golf Club.
The Arizona resident was on the right fringe in two shots at the 15th, chipped to 3 feet and hit the birdie putt. At the signature 616-yard 16th hole, he hit a driver and a 3 wood to the upslope in front of the green, then chipped to 6 feet for another birdie.
Through the first three rounds, Allen leads the field by hitting 76 percent of greens in regulation. The key has been accuracy off the tee ' hes driven into the fairway on 31 of 36 chances.
Two major champions struggled down the stretch.
Sluman, winner of the 1988 PGA Championship and with six wins on the regular tour and two as a senior, was on the left fringe just above the pin in three shots at the 16th hole but three-putted for bogey. He then found trouble off the tee at the closing hole and made another.
I just have to drive it better. The last two days I just really, honestly, dont know where its going off the tee, he said. If I dont find something between now and 10:15 tomorrow, its going to be a tough day for me.
Kite, who won the 1992 U.S. Open among his 19 PGA Tour victories and has won 10 times on the Champions Tour, had not bogeyed a hole all day until bad drives on the last two holes.
Im pleased with my the position. I just wish I hadnt bogeyed the last two holes, he said.
Former Masters champion Larry Mize had an adventure-filled final six holes. He was tied for the lead with Sluman and Kite after nearly holing his tee shot on the par-3 12th, tapping in for birdie from 6 inches.
At the 14th, he hit into the thick, wiry rough on his first two shots and made double-bogey, only to slam-dunk a chip from the back fringe for eagle on the next hole. He then bogeyed two of the final three holes for a 71 that left him another shot back at 209 along with Gil Morgan and Tim Simpson.
Joey Sindelar (69), Bruce Fleisher (69) and Jay Don Blake (71) were three shots off the lead.
Scotsman Ross Drummond, a surprise leader after a second-round 66, needed 13 more putts than the 24 he used on Friday. He lapsed to a 76 and was at 212.
One part of his resume is almost identical to that of Allens: Drummond never won in more than 20 years on the European tour. He was disappointed by his four three-putts in the third round.
I really just lost it on the greens, he said. And that just kind of spilled over into my game.
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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.