Notes Masters Post-Mortem Floyds Big Give

By Associated PressApril 22, 2008, 4:00 pm
For those who believe the excitement at the Masters is forever gone because of changes to Augusta National, there are still a few questions to consider.
 
How to explain 2003, two years after the first big overhaul, when Len Mattiace only needed a par on the 18th hole to shoot 64 and win the Masters? He made bogey and lost in a playoff to Mike Weir.
 
What about 2004, when Phil Mickelson birdied five of the last seven holes to beat Ernie Els by one shot?
 
In 2005, Tiger Woods tied a course record by making seven straight birdies in the middle of the third round, the final four on Sunday morning because of rain delays. He went on to beat Chris DiMarco in a playoff after both finished at 12-under 276.
 
And for a course that supposedly had gone silent, Trevor Immelman was at 11-under 205 going into the final round. One has to go back to 2001 to find a lower score for the 54-hole leader, when Woods was at 12-under 204 and on his way to a fourth straight major. That was the year before the first dose of lengthening.
 
Could it be that one reason Immelman closed with a 75'and this is just a guess'was the wind? According to the weather service, the wind was blowing 16 mph and gusting to 26 mph when the final group teed off.
 
Much was made out of CBS Sports showing highlights of Gary Players victory in 1978, when he shot 30 on the back nine for a 64, the lowest final round by a Masters champion. Great stuff, for sure, but its not like that happens every year.
 
Remember, it was only a year ago when Jim Nantz produced a colorized version of Arnold Palmers victory in the 1960 Masters. Palmer didnt birdie either of the par 5s on the back nine, but rallied with a 30-foot birdie on the 17th and a 6-iron to 6 feet on the final hole.
 
He closed with a 70.
 
One final thought: Woods missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the 13th, failed to get up-and-down for birdie on the 15th (not the easiest chip), missed a 12-foot birdie on the 16th and three-putted for bogey on the 14th. Convert all those and he shoots 68, coming from six shots behind to the win his fifth green jacket.
 
Still a boring Masters?
 
POWELL HONORED
Renee Powell gave a public lecture last summer at St. Andrews titled, The Many Faces of Womens Golf. She returns to the gray old town this summer for an occasion she never imagined.
 
A coach, player, pioneer and one of only three blacks to play on the LPGA Tour, Powell will become the first female golfer awarded an honorary degree at the University of St. Andrews.
 
This is my first honorary degree, and to receive it from the University of St. Andrews, I am truly humbled, Powell said. I am very honored to be one of just a handful of golfers to receive an honorary doctorate from the university. And to be the first female golfer is incredible.
 
Other golfers who be awarded an honorary degree include Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, and Charlie Sifford.
 
Powell played 13 years on the LPGA Tour before retiring in 1980 to become a golf instructor in the United States, Africa and Europe. She is the head pro at Clearview Golf Course in Ohio, the only U.S. course that is designed own and operated by a black person'in this case, her father, William Powell.
 
It will be Powells third trip to the home of golf.
 
When I walk around St. Andrews, I realize how very fortunate I am to have been taught the game of golf and to play to such a level that has allowed me the opportunity to travel to St. Andrews, she said.
 
DUBAI CHAMPIONSHIP
One of Greg Normans golf courses at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai has been selected to host the inaugural Dubai World Championship, which will end the European Tour season in 2009 and offer a $10 million purse, the richest in golf.
 
The tournament will be held on the Earth course, which features a four-hole closing stretch that measures exactly one mile. Norman said it will be considered one of the most challenging and exciting miles of golf.
 
The longest mile in golf used to be known as the four closing holes at La Costa Resort, which hosted the Accenture Match Play Championship as recently as 2005. But that was before the nines were switched. And before the final 300 yards were under water because of so much rain.
 
DIVOTS
Laura Diaz and Nicole Castrale have been invited to play in the CVS Caremark Charity Classic. Its the second straight year that tournament hosts Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade have invited an LPGA team to the exhibition, to be held June 22-24 at Rhode Island Country Club. The tournament has raised more than $10 million for New England charities dedicated to children and families over the last nine years. The CN Canadian Womens Open will be played next year at Priddis Greens outside Calgary, where Karrie Webb won her first major at the old du Maurier Classic in 1999. THE PLAYERS Championship will allow free admission to practice rounds for local police and firefighters.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
In four tournaments this year, Lorena Ochoa has finished a combined 45 strokes ahead of Annika Sorenstam.
 
FINAL WORD
We have our Olympics'we have our major championships. And to add another layer in the Olympics, I think is the wrong thing to do. We need to concentrate on getting more affordable golf for people to play.'Tom Watson.
 
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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.