Money is What Matters at Chrysler

By Associated PressOctober 26, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Chrysler ChampionshipPALM HARBOR, Fla. -- The only pressure Olin Browne felt Wednesday was finishing his breakfast in time to meet his 17-year-old son at the fitness trailer.
 
He didn't make a U-turn whenever he saw a notepad or a TV crew. He wasn't concerned about the PGA Tour money list. Mention the word bubble, and Browne probably was thinking champagne.
 
That wasn't the case a year ago in the Chrysler Championship, when Browne showed up at Innisbrook dangling at No. 125 on the money list and needing to stay there if he wanted to keep his PGA Tour card. He declined interviews before the tournament, and after missing the cut, he made a quick exit to an uncertain future.

But two months ago, Browne won the Deutsche Bank Championship, then tied for second in the Texas Open. He already has earned nearly $2 million -- his best season ever -- and is making plans for his first Tour Championship.
 
He hasn't forgotten where he was, and what guys now on the bubble are going through.
 
``It's a hard place to be,'' he said. ``Everybody wants a piece of you. Guys are crawling out of the booth to interview you on the putting green. What you want to do is focus on preparing, not what you're up against. But what everyone else wants to talk about is what you're up against.''
 
It's not quite that bad this year at Innisbrook, although nerves are still frayed.
 
The Chrysler Championship, which starts Thursday with a field that includes defending champion Vijay Singh, Retief Goosen and David Toms, was supposed to be the final full-field event on the PGA Tour. That changed when Hurricane Katrina postponed the Southern Farm Bureau Classic in Mississippi to next week. Those who fail to finish inside the top 125 on the money list -- or the top 40 to get into the Masters -- still have one more chance.
 
The only thing at stake this week is finishing in the top 30 to get into the Tour Championship.
 
That's still enough to get some players' attention.
 
Charles Howell III is at No. 30 on the money list, and after a pro-am round that lasted nearly five hours, he was on the putting green and then at the practice range, firing long irons into a cool, stiff wind.
 
He was 33rd on the money list last year at Innisbrook, shot 3 over on the weekend and didn't make it. And to remind him what it takes to get to East Lake, all Howell has to do is consider last week at Disney, where he tied for 15th to earn $68,200 and didn't move anywhere on the money list.
 
``It's going to take a good week,'' he said. ``It doesn't matter if you're 25th or 40th. You've got to play good.''
 
B.C. Open winner Jason Bohn is 31st, a mere $2,570 behind Howell. At the very least, Bohn has to make the cut and finish ahead of Howell to get to the Tour Championship.
 
``After winning, then finishing second in Boston, my goal since then has been to finish in the top 30 on the money list,'' Bohn said. ``I missed the cut last week. If I had made the cut, I might be inside that number. I did look at the money list, and between 28 and 33, there's not a big difference. So, I'm a solid week away.''
 
Right behind him is Peter Lonard of Australia, who won the MCI Heritage this year and is $6,419 behind Howell.
 
Lonard once finished 127th on the money list in Europe and had to go to qualifying school, so he has some perspective on the difference between playing for his job and playing for a perk -- the $6.5 million Tour Championship.
 
``I want to get in, but I've had six months of opportunities to close it out,'' Lonard said. ``I've got myself to blame. But it's not like I'm trying to keep my card. I've been in that position. This would be cream on the cake.''
 
Browne knows the feeling, considering his amazing turnaround.
 
He had to rely on sponsor's exemption and his status as a past champion on the PGA Tour, but his 18 months of grinding over swing changes with coach Jim Hardy finally paid off.
 
The first sign came at the U.S. Open, where he was in the second-to-last group Sunday at Pinehurst No. 2, only three shots behind Goosen, until shooting 80 in the final round. But the 46-year-old hit broke though outside Boston, winning the Deutsche Bank Championship for his first victory in six years.
 
Looking back at where he was a year ago, it is hard to fathom going to the Tour Championship.
 
``I have never made top 30 in my career. I hadn't done anything to feel confident enough that top 30 was attainable,'' Browne said. ``It's a pat on the back for the guys who have played great. But this is all about a couple of years of hunkering down and doing better.''
 
Asked about his goals, Browne said he doesn't bother setting any.
 
``If I set my goals too low, I get to them too easily. If I set them too high, I go insane,'' he said. ``I just want to play well. Because if you play well, and you give yourself a chance to play well every day, all that stuff takes care of itself.''
 
That's good advice to the guys on the bubble, a spot Browne knows all too well.
 
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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.