Notes Finchem Disappointed in Tiger

By Associated PressAugust 22, 2007, 4:00 pm
the Barclays Logo 2007HARRISON, N.Y. -- PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem's news conference Wednesday at The Barclays opened with a question about Tiger Woods' decision to skip the first event of the four-tournament FedEx Cup playoffs.
 
'Obviously, I'm disappointed with his decision,' Finchem said. 'It's not a decision that I like to see him make, candidly, any week of the year, but he doesn't play them all. ... From the standpoint of the sponsor here, the fans in New York, it's certainly a negative. You know, I would like to see it the other way.'
 
Woods, who made the last of his four Westchester Country Club starts in 2003, repeated Tuesday in a monthly newsletter that his body needed a break after consecutive victories in the Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship, and that he wanted to be sharp for the final three FedExCup events and the Presidents Cup.
 
In addition to Woods, five other eligible players are missing, reducing the field to 138. No. 59 Bernhard Langer is playing in the KLM Open in the Netherlands, No. 64 Stephen Ames is taking the week off, No. 96 Jose Maria Olazabal is sidelined by a knee injury, No. 126 Jason Bohn has a rib injury, and No. 133 Ryan Palmer passed because of a family illness.
 
Finchem also was asked about possible FedExCup format changes.
 
'It's just like a tournament, or an eligibility structure,' Finchem said. 'You get through with it, you study it, you examine what the fans think about it, players think about it, sponsors think about it, and then you adjust.'
 
MARQUEE GROUP:
With the groupings set by the FedExCup points, defending champion Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson -- the top three seeds in the field -- will play together the first two rounds.
 
'That will kind of get us going a little bit,' Singh said. 'Obviously, you want to be ahead of the other guys and they feel the same way.'
 
Last year, Singh won The Barclays for a record third time to tie Sam Snead's record for victories over 40 with 17 -- a mark the 44-year-old Fijian has pushed to 19 this year. Singh won the 1993 event on the traditional Westchester Country Club course for the first of his 31 PGA TOUR titles and also won in 1995.
 
'I think I have more knowledge about this golf course than any other,' Singh said. 'You know the breaks. You know where not to hit it. You know where to take a risk.'
 
In other marquee groups, No. 5 K.J. Choi will play with Rory Sabbatini and Masters champion Zach Johnson, and No. 8 Charles Howell III will tee it up with fellow young stars Brandt Snedeker and Adam Scott.
 
FULL STRENGTH:
Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk are back at full strength for the start of the FedExCup playoffs.
 
Mickelson has been slowed by a left wrist injury that he suspects happened while practicing out of the deep rough at Oakmont in preparation for the U.S. Open.
 
After withdrawing from the Memorial, he missed cuts in the U.S. Open, AT&T National and British Open, then tied for 46th in the Bridgestone Invitational and tied for 32nd two weeks ago in the PGA Championship.
 
'My excitement level to play golf is very high,' Mickelson said. 'I feel like I've been suspended for three months. ... My hand feels great now. I'm able to practice fully. I feel like my game is getting sharp, and when the three majors have already passed. So, I am actually very excited about the FedExCup and I'm excited about the Presidents Cup, and I'm even going to play a few events overseas.'
 
Furyk successfully defended his Canadian Open title in late July for his 13th PGA TOUR victory, then withdrew from the Bridgestone the following week because of back pain and missed the cut in the PGA Championship.
 
'Right now, I feel I'm in good health,' Furyk said. 'I played quite a bit and practiced when I was home. I don't feel limited in any way right now.'
 
DIVOTS:
Ernie Els, the 1996 and 1997 winner, is making his first appearance in the event since 2004. ... Sergio Garcia won the 2001 and 2004 tournaments. ... The winner will receive $1.26 million from the $7 million purse, and 9,000 of the available 50,000 FedExCup points. ... The tournament is in its 41st season at Westchester Country Club. The 2009 event will be played at Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J.
 
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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.