Notes Broken Hand Flirting with 59

By Associated PressSeptember 6, 2007, 4:00 pm
BMW ChampionshipLEMONT, Ill. -- Arron Oberholser has been struggling with injuries to his hand and wrist since the U.S. Open, and it finally caught up with him Thursday when he withdrew from the BMW Championship after eight holes.
Oberholser, who tied for second last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship, is at No. 29 in the standings for the PGA TOUR Playoffs. If no one else behind him does anything, he could still wind up in the top 30 and qualify for the Tour Championship.
Either way, he won't be at the TOUR Championship next week in Atlanta.
'I won't be able to play at East Lake, even if I made it,' he said. 'Finishing the year at East Lake in the top 30 ... you've had a good year. I love the course there and was pointing toward that. I just can't go any more.'
Oberholser was 3 over through eight holes when he walked off the course.
His hands have been bothering him since Oakmont, and the injuries include a fracture in the left hand. Oberholser isn't sure if the fracture is getting worse or if he's having to compensate in other areas of his hands, putting more stress on him.
'I just have a whole mess of issues right now -- arms and wrists and hands,' he said.
He plans at least three weeks of rest and therapy at least three times a week. Doctors have told him that he should be able to play in time for a new Fall Series tournament in the Phoenix area that is six weeks away.
Oberholser's withdraw meant 65 players remained in the field.
Stewart Cink was more perturbed than most when he heard a parade of complaints about the FedExCup from various players, who suggested the tour didn't consult them about the changes.
Cink was on the front lines as a member of the PGA TOUR policy board. He also was in player meetings that were not well-attended.
'It's been documented for a year now in print,' he said. 'I don't see how you can complain about not knowing. As far as being left out of the process, I think that a lot of players were asked, just about everybody was given an opportunity. We had abysmal attendance at player meetings. That's our forum. If you can't take the time to come to the player meeting and voice your opinion, then how else are we supposed to get it?'
Cink said players shouldn't gripe about anything until after the FedExCup is over, then figure out how to make it better.
Tiger Woods can't relate to guys on the bubble to make the TOUR Championship, or any bubble. But there was a time he had to play a lot of golf to reach a goal. After turning pro in 1996 at age 20, Woods was given seven starts to make enough money to avoid going to PGA TOUR qualifying school.
'My outlook was to get into a rhythm of playing week after week because I had never done that,' he said. 'Then on top of that, get a win somewhere, and it will take care of everything.'
He tied for 60th in Milwaukee, finished 11th at the Canadian Open and had a chance to win at the Quad City Classic until he coughed up a 54-hole lead to Ed Fiori.
'That's why I was so bummed out when I played that bad against 'The Gripper,'' Woods said, alluding to the strong grip Fiori used. 'I knew that if I just won that event, I have a card for two years and I don't have to go to Q-school.'
He clinched his card with a tie for third the next week at the B.C. Open, took a week off, then won in Las Vegas for the first of what is now 59 career victories.
Cog Hill already was soft from rain on the eve of the first round. Making it even easier for the players was being allowed to lift, clean and place their balls in the short grass.
The rain never arrived.
'The fairways slowed up, but more the greens,' Tiger Woods said. 'When you have ball in hand, you're firing at just about every flag. It's one of those things where you felt like you had to shoot something in the mid-60s or else you're going to be left behind.'
It wasn't quite that bad.
Only 28 players out of the 65 who finished their rounds shot in the 60s, although only 22 players failed to break par.
Justin Rose made a 45-foot birdie on his ninth hole to shoot 29 on the front at Cog Hill, then rolled in a birdie from 20 feet at No. 10 and had a simple up-and-down for birdie at the par-5 11th. Just like that, he was 8 under through 11 holes and thinking of a certain magical number.
Rose would have needed four birdies over the last seven holes for a 59.
He played them 2 over and shot 65.
'It briefly came across my mind on the 11th hole, but I never got really excited about it from that point of view,' he said. 'I knew it was a par 71, which is always a little easier than a par 72.'
Rose knows what it's like. He had a birdie putt for 59 on the easy Palm course at Disney last year, and settled for a 60. Turns out he didn't even win the tournament, finishing five shots behind Joe Durant.
'It's always disappointing when you're 8 under par through 11 and you finish 6 under,' he said. 'But at the same time, I think you've got to realize it's certainly not an easy course.'
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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.