Notes Beems bad day A David Duval sighting

By Associated PressJuly 17, 2008, 4:00 pm
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Open ChampionshipSOUTHPORT, England -- Jerry Kelly put the Royal & Ancient in the same league as the U.S. Golf Association on Thursday, and considering he shot 83 in the first round of the British Open, that wasnt a compliment.
Kelly, who criticized the USGA over the setup at Shinnecock Hills for the final round of the 04 U.S. Open, blamed the R&A for not moving up a few tees in 30 mph wind, which he said made it impossible for him to reach four of the par 4s.
I was really surprised because the R&A usually uses common sense, Kelly said. The weather was playable, but not with that setup. Do you want to take half the field out of the championship just because you cant hit it far enough? Basically, if youre not a long hitter out there today, then there are seven or eight par 5s.
R&A chief executive Peter Dawson didnt understand the fuss.
Three of the holes in question were the 499-yard sixth, the 11th and the 16th hole, which are moderate in length (just under 440 yards) but required a carry of some 210 yards to reach the fairway.
Vijay Singh couldnt reach the sixth hole in two by using driver twice, both solidly struck.
Dawson said with such a strong wind, the sixth hole played more like a par 5. He also noted that the claret jug is awarded to the lowest score, not the score under par.
It was a par 5 today, even though it was a par 4 on the card, Dawson said. I just dont see an issue with (No.) 6 at all. There was no issue about whether you could reach the fairway or not. End of story, as far as Im concerned.
He said the 11th hole required a 230-yard carry, but officials mowed the rough in front of the fairway earlier in the week and set the markers to the front of the tee box.
I do believe its reachable by most of the field if the ball was well-struck, Dawson said.
He didnt hear any complaints about the 16th, where the next forward tee is some 50 yards closer. He hadnt heard from Kelly, though, who had said he would talk to Dawson about the way the course was set up.
Theyve put themselves right in the same league with the USGA at Shinnecock, Kelly said. They knew what was coming. We knew what was coming yesterday. Four greens I couldnt reach. Three fairways I couldnt reach. I cant hit it far enough. This is a great golf course. You cant mess it up, except for the tees.
Dawson said he considered Kelly a good friend and a great supporter of the British Open who had a bad day at the office.
Links golf tough day by the seaside, Dawson said.
VETERANS DAY: Some of the British Open champions now on the 50-and-older circuit acquitted showed how much experience matters on the links courses, especially Tom Watson.
He was the first player under par Thursday'albeit briefly after a birdie on the opening hole'but the five-time champion refused to buckle in the wind and rain and finished birdie-par for a 74.
I have plenty of experience on Open Championship courses, but in conditions like this, you have to judge the wind right, Watson said. I did that today. If you dont do that and you hit some bad shots thats it.
Mark OMeara, who won at Royal Birkdale in 1998 at age 41, also had a 74 by playing the back nine in even par.
DUVAL STIRS: David Duval has said he was close to playing well again. In conditions that expose the slightest weakness, he used the first round of the British Open to show he was serious.
Ive been expecting some glimpses of greatness for a while, Duval said after opening with a steady 73.
Duval, who hasnt won since the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan at the end of 2001, showed remarkable control of his shots in 30 mph wind. His best shot was a 4-iron on the 184-yard 12th hole that he held against a harsh right-to-left wind to a right hole location. The ball settled 10 feet away for one of his three birdies.
Getting the ball onto the green is success, he said. Hitting it within 10 or 12 feet was obviously a great golf shot.
As for the six bogeys? Those were to be expected.
Duval, who won the British Open in 2001 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, has made only one cut in 11 starts on the PGA TOUR this year, and that was a tie for 60th at the Stanford St. Jude Classic. He has only two rounds under par.
But he rarely looked more in control than he did Thursday at Royal Birkdale.
I probably stand here with a lot more confidence than you maybe think I should if you simply look at results, Duval said. But Im the one holding the club, Im the one hitting the shots, so I know how Im truly swinging the golf club and how Im playing. And I feel good about it.
WET WEATHER: Lucas Glover played his entire round in the rain, and summed up his experience with one comment.
You know youre at the British Open when you come inside to change rain suits, he said.
SLOCUM STARTS: Heath Slocum figured his best chance of playing his first British Open was if defending champion Padraig Harrington could not play because of his injured wrist.
Warming up in the morning, he was two spots down from Harrington on the practice range, but didnt stay long.
When I saw him hitting full shots, I knew he was OK, Slocum.
So he retreated to the clubhouse, the putting green and family dining, bracing for a long day. The first tee time was 6:30 a.m., and the last group went off at 4:31 p.m. Slocum couldnt afford to leave the property.
Imagine his surprise when an R&A official tapped him on the back at 9:15 a.m. to tell him that Toru Taniguchi had withdrawn.
I was a little bit stunned, Slocum said. And I was pretty excited.
He played that way, too, opening with a 73.
BEEMS BAD DAY: Rich Beem took a few practice strokes on the second green and moved over his ball when he backed off, noticing that the wind made it wiggle. It moved the ball slightly, and Beem called for an official.
He was assessed a one-shot penalty because it was deemed he had grounded his club, and thus had addressed the ball when it moved.
I thought you had to be set to address the ball, Beem said. We sat there and argued for a good seven or eight minutes. I called another official, and apparently, once you put the putter down, youve taken your stance.
A triple bogey turned into an 8, and Beem was done after nine holes, joining Sandy Lyle as the two players who quit early.
I came over here to compete for the Open, and it wasnt meant to be, Beem said. It stinks. But its a hell of a game. Anybody who plays with any passion knows how hard it can be.
EARLY STARTERS: R&A chief executive Peter Dawson was on the first tee for the opening shots Thursday, watching as Craig Parry, Simon Dyson and Lucas Glover found the short grass.
Someone asked if he knew about Glovers reputation?
Oh? What would that be? Dawson said.
Glover is among the fastest players on the PGA Tour, and when told this, Dawson nodded his head and smiled.
Really? he said. Funnily enough, so are the other two.
Its a safe bet those three players were not first off the tee by accident.
DIVOTS: Davis Love III was among the 29 players who failed to make a birdie in the opening round, but he takes on special significance. Love failed to make a birdie in his final two rounds of the U.S. Open, and now has gone 55 holes in majors without one. All of the 19 rounds in the 80s came in the morning. Mike Weir shot 71 despite two double bogeys.
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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.