Notes Singh to have surgery after Mercedes

By Associated PressJanuary 7, 2009, 5:00 pm
PGA TourKAPALUA, Hawaii ' Vijay Singhs most recent victory at the Chevron World Challenge wasnt all good news. Turns out the big Fijian injured his right knee at Sherwood, which will require surgery after the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
Singh said he sustained a slight tear of the meniscus in his right knee, which keeps him from squatting. He has withdrawn from the Sony Open next week in Honolulu to have surgery and take care of it while the season is still young.
He hopes to return in time for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Feb. 12.

JOHNSON AHEAD OF SCHEDULE: Thanks to an early start on his 2009 goals, Zach Johnson begins his season earlier than expected.
The former Masters champion had no reason to believe he would be part of the field at the winners-only Mercedes-Benz Championship. He was having his worst season in his five years on the PGA Tour, not even making it to the second stage of the playoffs and in danger of finishing out of the top 125 on the money list.
But with extra time off, he decided to meet with his team to set goals for the new season.
I had six weeks off to retool and revamp and re-polish, and thats when I sat down and said, What are we going to do next year? The fundamental changes, mental changes, lets do that now and play four out of the last five, which is exactly what I did.
One of those events was the Valero Texas Open, where Johnson went 62-64 on the weekend for a two-shot victory, which allowed him to book a flight to Hawaii.
Im encouraged, Johnson said. I thought the end of last year, my game was really, really good.
He couldnt suppress a smile as he thought about meeting with his support group, and it became apparent that this wasnt a time for everyone to share hugs and pat each other on the back. Johnson said his team is opinionated and passionate, which can lead to some heated discussions and frank opinions.
Its two or three days where we just go out and putt and chip and butt heads and eat a lot, he said.
The meeting of minds took place at Sea Island, and there was a reason for that. During the offseason, Johnson decided to move from Orlando, Fla., to St. Simons Island, Ga., joining a Tour group that includes Davis Love III, Brandt Snedeker and Jonathan Byrd. Plus, swing coach Morris Pickens lives there.
I wanted to get better practice facilities, that was one thing, Johnson said. We had the friends established and we wanted the small-town feel. The key factor was moving closer to my in-laws, and hopefully, my family gets bigger.
Johnsons wife is from Jacksonville.

SCOTTS KNEE: Adam Scott wont be starting the year at full strength.
Scott dislocated his right knee cap ' for the sixth time dating to high school ' while running out of the water at an Australian beach last month. It kept him from playing the Australian Open, and Scott still isnt sure how it will respond late in the round when he starts to tire.
Obviously, good enough to be here, Scott said of his knee. Unfortunately, this course is quite a tough walk, so thats going to be the test for me here.
Scott said he has hyper-mobile knee caps, and he has dislocated the right one so many times that it is loose. Asked about surgery, Scott said six doctors have recommended six procedures, none the same. He said it doesnt affect his golf swing, and he would rather not risk changing something in his right leg that could mess with his swing.
He said he would reduce his travel this year, and cut back on some activities such as tennis and snow skiing, and any other sport that involves running. But not surfing.
Im not strapped to the board at all, he said. Im free, and I can fall in the water ' if I fall, you know.

ON THE GO: Kenny Perry goes into this year eligible for seven events that were not part of his plans at the start of last season ' the four majors and three World Golf Championships. He plans to play them all this year, so what will he drop?
If I get in the four FedEx (playoff events), that will be 30 events for me, Perry said. Thats a huge year for me.
The only change is that Perry is having to skip the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, instead opting for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. But theres a good reason for that. His wife, Sandy, has been elected president of the PGA Tour Wives Association, and its biggest meeting is at Pebble Beach.
She says, Youre coming to Pebble, said Perry, who has not played the event since 2003.

SHARK OR ICE MAIDEN: Scott was thrilled to see his idol, Greg Norman, qualify for the Masters with his third-place finish at the British Open last summer, and he hopes to play another practice round with him at Augusta National.
I played with him in a practice round there the last time he played, and I thought that might have been the last time I ever get to play with him at Augusta, Scott said. So Im going to try and pin him down for a practice round again, which would be great.
As much as Scott enjoys tennis, he was asked if he would rather play golf with Norman or tennis with Normans wife, Chris Evert.
He thought about this for a moment.
I would potentially beat Greg at golf, so play golf with Greg, he said. Because I know Chrissy would probably kick my (behind) at tennis.
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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.