Na Wilson share lead in Mexico

By Associated PressFebruary 27, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 Mayakoba Golf ClassicPLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico ' Kevin Na was going over all the things that are lining up for him right now, even bringing up something from four years ago that seemed like a bit of a stretch.
 
His point was obvious: The 25-year-old expects his first PGA Tour win to come at the Mayakoba Golf Classic this weekend.
 
Right?
 
Im not going to say that, he said, smiling wide and laughing nervously. But
 
With the worlds best 64 players in Arizona, Na came to Mexico seeking to build on a terrific start and certainly has. He shot an 8-under 62 Friday to zoom into a first-place tie with Mark Wilson (64) midway through the PGA Tours annual stop in Mexico.
 
Na had two birdies and no bogeys over his first nine holes, then something clicked as he made the turn. He birdied six of the next eight holes'including a pair that were among the 32 toughest on the PGA Tour last season'then stood over a 10-foot putt on the final green that wouldve tied the best round in the tournaments 3-year history. He barely missed to the right, forcing him to settle for sharing the best two-round score with Wilson at 10 under.
 
Trivial marks like those arent what Na is chasing. After finishing third, fifth and tied for 25th so far this year, hes looking to go home with the hefty chameleon trophy that goes to the winner of this tournament, played on the El Camaleon course designed by Greg Norman.
 
This is my sixth year out here (on tour), and I think Im ready to start making a move, said Na, whose third-place finish came at the FBR Open in Scottsdale and included a missed 8-footer on the final hole to keep him out of a playoff.
 
Na opened this tournament with a 68, never making a putt longer than about 6 feet. When he saved par with a 9-footer on his first hole Friday, he was eager to see where it was going to lead.
 
There was a couple of short putts I missed for birdie, but overall I hit a lot of good shots, and kept making pars, he said. The reason why I was able to really take it low on the back nine is I was patient. Even though I wasnt making putts, I would hit a good putt and keep telling myself, `Wait, itll start falling, and thats what I did on my back nine.
 
While Na came in with confidence, Wilson arrived filled with curiosity.
 
At home in Chicago on Sunday night, he visited with putting guru Kevin Weeks to try figuring out why he was struggling so much this season'three cuts and an also-ran in two other tournaments.
 
Weeks saw the problem right away: Wilson was lining up wrong, putting about 70 percent of his weight on his right foot and only 30 percent on his left. The fix was simple, too. All Wilson had to do was shift his right foot a few inches wider in his putting stance.
 
It felt naturally standing like that for some reason, Wilson said. But then when he showed me it was wrong, I was like, `Oh, yeah, that makes no sense.
 
Voila. Wilson was tied for fourth after the first round, then grabbed the lead late in his second round. He added to it with a birdie on his final hole, closing the round at 6 under.
 
Its amazing how different you feel over every shot when you feel like youre going to make your fair share of putts, said Wilson, who is seeking only his second win, and first since 2007. This is the first time in his career hes led after the second round.
 
First-round leader Bo Van Pelt (69) and J.J. Henry (66) were two strokes back at 8 under, Briny Baird (66) and Chris Riley (68) followed at 7 under, and veteran Corey Pavin (68) topped a group at 5 under.
 
David Toms, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 65, shot a 67 to reach 3 under, and defending champion Brian Gay was another shot back after a 70.
 
Those not making the cut included Jose Coceres, who lost a playoff to Fred Funk in the debut tournament two years ago; Pablo Larrazbal, the European tours reigning rookie of the year whod been among the first-round leaders with a 66; and Roland Thatcher, who set the tournament record of 61 last year.
 
The previous two-round best was 9 under, set by Funk, Boo Weekley and Cameron Beckman in 2007.
 

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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.