Notes Stewarts Legacy Lives On

By Associated PressSeptember 16, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Payne Stewart's presence is still with the U.S. Ryder Cup team, nearly five years after his death.
Stewart died in a plane crash in 1999, but his memory lives on in the American team room at Oakland Hills.
Captain Hal Sutton brought with him a picture of Stewart, Sutton and David Duval celebrating their 1999 Ryder Cup victory from a balcony at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
It hangs as an homage to the fiery competitor and well-liked teammate who so relished Ryder Cup play.
'I felt like everybody needed to remember Payne,' Sutton said Wednesday. 'He has a prominent spot in our team room this week.'
The picture was the first thing Davis Love III saw when he walked into the room this week.
'Every time we play one of these we think about him,' Love said, 'because he should have been captain, he should have played on another couple teams.'
Stewart, who had an 8-9-2 record in five Ryder Cups, died a month after his U.S. team rallied for the improbable win at Brookline.
Now the event is back on U.S. soil for the first time since Stewart's death.
Stewart's mantle as a practical jokester and comic relief seems to have fallen to rookie Chris Riley, who has kept things light with his youthful exuberance.
But Love said no one can replace Stewart.
'He is missed in the team room, he's missed as a competitor,' said Love, who was paired with Stewart in the morning foursomes at Brookline. 'He was a bright spot ... We don't have enough Payne Stewart, Chris Riley-type players out there.'
Proud Papa
American Chris Riley was grinning ear-to-ear as he walked into the media room on Wednesday.
The Ryder Cup rookie proudly showed off pictures of his daughter, Taylor, who was born Sept. 2.
The affable Riley had trouble coming up with words to describe the experience of becoming a parent for the first time, so he offered up a gem of an anecdote that captured the moment.
'I asked the doctor if I was able to cut the umbilical cord and she told me, 'Chris, you can't even sign your name right now. I'm not going to let you cut the umbilical cord,' Riley said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
'To be a father,' Riley said, shaking his head. 'I can't stop kissing my little baby, it's unbelievable.'
Tough Memories
Davis Love III returned to Oakland Hills for the first time since the 1996 U.S. Open, and he was very familiar with two of the holes during his first practice round.
'Certainly,' Love said, 'I remembered 17 and 18 very well.'
Those two holes cost Love the U.S. Open. He was at 3 under par and tied for the lead in the final round when he missed the green on the par-3 17th and made bogey. Then, Love had a downhill, 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole, but it somehow stayed above the hole by some 3 feet, and he missed that for another bogey.
He wound up one shot behind Steve Jones.
'The memories are coming back,' Love said Wednesday. 'The worst memory I have is sitting in the room watching the guys finish, knowing I should have finished better. But any time you play good on a golf course, you feel comfortable. And I feel comfortable here.'
Love got to the 18th during his first practice round and decided against returning to the spot of his 20-foot putt.
'I didn't want to go and putt,' he said. 'But I thought about it.'
Dress Code
Ian Poulter has made no secret of his disdain for stodgy golf attire.
But the 28-year-old Englishman has no problem complying with the European team's conservative look this week.
'I'm happy to wear any uniform this week, no matter what it is,' Poulter said. 'Whether it be funky pullovers or nicely tailored trousers, I really don't mind.'
Poulter caused quite a stir at the British Open when he showed up in Union Jack trousers that elicited cat calls from some and complaints from others.
European captain Bernhard Langer said he knew Poulter's eagerness to play in his first Ryder Cup would outweigh his need to make a fashion statement.
'You know, it might not be totally his choice what he's wearing, but he's so happy to be here that he'll put his legs into anything and put any shirt on that he's going to be given to look like the team,' Langer said.
Caddie Prank
It didn't take long for Steve Williams to realize the joke was on him.
The caddie for Tiger Woods is a race car driver in New Zealand, and last year he signed a deal with Valvoline to wear its logo on his sleeve while carrying Woods' bag.
All 12 players, and 11 other caddies showed up at the team photo session with a small Pennzoil patch on the left sleeve.
The patch was removed before the official photo was taken.
The security presence at Oakland Hills was understated, but unavoidable.
Security officers dressed in all black carefully inspected each bus that brought fans to the course from the Silverdome in nearby Pontiac. The officers checked under each bus and around the wheel wells for anything suspicious.
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said he didn't see a need for anything more.
'I was at the Democratic National Convention where people were dressed in full military gear, with M-16s and helmets,' Kilpatrick said. 'I just don't think we need it here.'
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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.