Notes Wie Tees Off with Secretary of State Rice
I thought she was really amazing, Wie said. I look up to her because shes a really strong woman. I cant believe I played nine holes with her. She was kind of a beginner, but she was pretty athletic. She actually hit her driver really well. She liked hitting her driver.
Wie said the rest of the day was a blur, although the 16-year-old was in charge of driving the cart.
'I was like, 'If I crash, the secretary of state goes down with me,'' she said.
She said her favorite subject was chemistry because you get to blow stuff up. And her least favorite?
Its kind of hard to say. I think all my teachers read Time, so ...
MASTERS WIVES TALE
Mark Calcavecchia was talking about his plans for the Masters when he mentioned what surely is a first on the PGA Tour. Is there anyone else whose wife has never been to the Masters but who has played Augusta National?
Thats a rarity, he said.
They were dating in 2001 when Calcavecchia played in a silly-season event late that year at Kiawah Island. He and Brenda drove over to Augusta National as the guest of Will Nicholson, chairman of rules and competition.
Calcavecchias wife (they married last year in Italy) grew up in Ohio playing golf and knew all about the Masters, so the reaction was predictable.
She freaked out, he said. And then she teed off.
First hole, the pin was in the same place it was Sunday, that middle hollow to the right, he said. She was up in the back of the green, putting down the hill. I said, This is fast. And we had just been on the putting green, which was kind of shaggy. She putted it 25 yards down the fairway.
It got better. Augusta National has only championship tees and members tees, so the men allowed Brenda to tee off at the top of the hill at No. 11 to giver her a chance. She made par. She hit the green at No. 12 and made par.
Then she makes bogey out of the creek on No. 13, Calcavecchia said. She shot 43 on the back, parred or bogeyed every hole. And she was excited.
Calcavecchia was able to play because he had qualified for the 2002 Masters, the first year of the significant strengthening of the golf course. He missed the cut and hasnt been back since, although he is eligible this year from finishing in the top 40 on the money list last year.
But he hasnt been back to Augusta National with Brenda, so on her next trip, shell have to stay outside the ropes.
Why no practice round?
I havent had the time or the opportunity or anybodys private jet I could borrow, he said.
ROAD TO A RULES OFFICIAL
Tyler Dennis scored well enough on his Rules of Golf exam to help officiate at a Nationwide Tour event when he was 16. He played on the Stanford golf team with Tiger Woods.
But heres where Dennis is different from other PGA Tour rules officials'he will take a leave of absence in September having been accepted to the MBA program at Cambridge.
Dont ask how I became a rules official, he said from the BellSouth Classic.
Dennis grew up in Utah and worked at a golf course where the head pro was a rules official. Dennis took the rules exam during a workshop, and wound up helping at a tournament in Provo where the field included Ernie Els, a 20-year-old from South Africa.
They gave me a cart and a radio and let me help out, he said.
Dennis played one year with Woods at Stanford. Woods left to become the No. 1 player, Dennis stayed and got his degree in mechanical engineering, then spent one year after college as an engineer before joining the Nationwide Tour as a rules official in 2000 and working his way up to the big leagues.
This sound corny, but my dad told me to do something you wanted to do, Dennis said. I think this is a great job. I love the PGA Tour and what it stands for.
And what does he do with a degree from Cambridge?
I not sure what Im going to be doing, Dennis said. But I know Ill be in golf.
Dont look for Darren Clarke at the BellSouth Classic, where many European tour players go the week before the Masters. Dont expect to see him at Augusta National early in the week, either.
Clarke is in the Bahamas this week and said he wont go to the Masters until Tuesday.
Augusta is tough enough, he said. And it will be just as tough when I get there.
Clarke has a place in Grand Abaco, where he and cancer-stricken wife Heather go to relax. She went to the Bahamas when Clarke played at Doral, where he withdrew after a 75 in the first round because of a wrist injury and went to the Caribbean island to join her.
Bone fishing, he said. Thats my Masters preparation. And probably a few beers.
Sergio Garcias 78 continued an ugly trend. He has not broken par in the final round in his five PGA Tour events this year, and his fourth-round scoring average is 75. ... Brad Faxon will take part in the Driving 4 Life Quest for a Cure Open golf tournament May 8 on the TPC at Boston, where proceeds are to help find a cure for Lou Gehrigs disease. Driving 4 Life was founded by Kim Julian, the widow of former PGA Tour player Jeff Julian, who died of ALS. ... Europes 2007 season again will start in China at the end of this year with the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai on Nov. 9-12. The tour then goes to Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia before concluding 2006 with two tournaments in South Africa ending on Dec. 17. ... The Womens Senior Golf Tour has renamed itself The Legends Tour and has four tournaments on the schedule this year, concluding with the Handa Cup on Dec. 16-17 at the World Golf Village.
STAT OF THE WEEK
The Players Championship has not been decided in a playoff since 1987, the longest streak on the PGA Tour.
Its my favorite place to get to and my favorite place to leave. And that was before they screwed the course up.' Mark Calcavecchia, on Augusta National.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead
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."
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.
Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore
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.''
13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest
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.
McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi
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.
“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.