Notes FedExCup Ideas Philly Fanatics

By Associated PressAugust 23, 2007, 4:00 pm
the Barclays Logo 2007HARRISON, N.Y. -- Jeff Maggert appears to have put a little more thought into the FedExCup than a lot of his peers. Or, he's simply more willing than most to talk about the format and suggest some major changes.
'I love the concept of the playoffs,' Maggert said Thursday after opening the PGA TOUR's new playoff series with a 5-under 66 in The Barclays. 'I'm not a fan at all of ending the playoffs now. I think they should be at the end of our season. I think a lot of tournaments kind of got the short end of the stick.
'Normally, Greensboro (Wyndham Championship) is a great tournament. It's been a great tournament for 50 years and now they are stuck with a very unfortunate date. ... Maybe we can move some tournaments around a little bit and so the same tournament doesn't get stuck with that date every single year after year.'
Maggert also suggested a rule change that would force players -- notably Tiger Woods -- to play all four FedExCup events or sit. The top-seeded Woods skipped The Barclays to rest and prepare for the last three events.
'I'd like to see Tiger play all four tournaments,' Maggert said. 'I'm sorry he's not here. ... I'd like to see some type of criteria or rule that if you pull out of a tournament, you're pulling out of the playoffs.
'Another thing I would like to see the last tournament, maybe everyone starting equally, because then you eliminate the fact that a guy could win the first three tournaments and the last tournament means nothing.'
When play backed up in the afternoon, Ernie Els took advantage of a lengthy wait on the 10th tee to stop for lunch.
'Walked off nine and I had Angel (Cabrera) and his group on the tee and they were still waiting for the green,' Els said. 'I knew it was going to be at least 15, 20 minutes and I was starting to feel a little shaky.
'They took all of the food away, so the lady was helpful, went back in the kitchen and got me a nice sandwich and I was ready to go again.'
The two-time Westchester winner shot a 65, leaving him two strokes behind leader Rory Sabbatini. Because of the slow play, the late starters began play about 10 minutes after their scheduled tee times.
Ben Curtis is a pioneer of sorts for the FedExCup.
The 2003 British Open champion had the distinction of being the first player to hit a shot in the playoffs, leaving his 5-iron just short of the green on the par-3 first.
'I'm the first,' Curtis said on his way to the tee.
But that's not all.
Curtis was quick to point out that he finished last at the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship, meaning he was the first to earn FedExCup points (147 of them).
The best of all would be the first to capture the $10 million deferred prize, although a bogey-bogey finish sent him to a 75. He's 110th in the standings, so his goal now is to avoid being one of the first players eliminated.
Gavin Coles became the first player to drop out of the playoffs when he withdrew during the round because of back pain. He entered the week 130th, with the top 120 after The Barclays eligible for the Deutsche Bank next week outside Boston.
Fellow Australian Stephen Leaney, 69th in the standings, withdrew because of a left wrist injury after shooting a 76.
Defending champion Vijay Singh shot a 75, matching the three-time Westchester winner's second-worst score in 51 rounds in the tournament.
The Fijian opened with a 77 in 1996 en route to a 20th-place tie. He also shot first-round 75s in 1999 and 2002. He tied for fifth in 1999 and missed the cut in 2002.
Playing the back nine first in a group with Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson, Singh dropped five strokes in a four-hole stretch -- including a four-putt double bogey on the par-3 14th -- to make the turn at 5 over. He fell to 6 over with a bogey on No. 2, then birdied Nos. 3 and 9 to finish at 4 over.
After his bogey on 16, a young fan rubbed it in as Singh passed by on his way to the 17th tee, saying: 'Nice bogey, Vijay.'
Jim Furyk was goofing around on a rainy Tuesday when he decided to put a new grip on his backup putter, something called 'Super Stroke' that looks as big as the barrel of a baseball bat.
The grip is 1.67 inches in diameter and conforms to USGA regulations.
He used it in the pro-am Wednesday, then gave it a real test Thursday in the first round of The Barclays. He took 30 putts on his way to a 70.
'No promises it will be there tomorrow,' Furyk said. 'I didn't dislike it.'
The idea of the fat grip is for players to not squeeze the grip so tightly, promoting more shoulder movement.
Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk had the largest gallery, with the New York fans again showing their vocal support for Mickelson.
One female fan professed her love for the Californian with a pink T-shirt that said: 'I (heart symbol) Phil.'
'I love coming here,' Mickelson said after his 67. 'I really have always enjoyed playing in the New York area. I love talking football with a lot of people here because everybody is so knowledgeable about sports. It's been really fun.'
For the first time this week, the sun peeked through the clouds early in the afternoon. 'The sun's coming out. Someone take a picture,' Jeff Maggert joked. ... Corey Pavin had the lone eagle of the day on the 321-yard, par-4 10th, holing out from 63 yards. He finished with a 68. ... Davis Love III shot a 69 a week after a kidney stone forced him to skip his title defense in the Wyndham Championship.
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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.