Piercy (62) flawless, leads Matsuyama by 3 at CIMB

By Associated PressOctober 29, 2015, 7:04 am

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Scott Piercy allied some crisp putting to solid tee-to-green play and shot a flawless 10-under 62 on Thursday to take a three-stroke lead after the first round of the CIMB Classic.

Piercy made 10 birdies at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club to pull away from Hideki Matsuyama, who had eight birdies and a bogey in his 65.

Piercy's 10-under score matched the tournament record set by Nick Watney, who had a 61 at the par-71 Mines Resort and Golf Club in 2012.

Jason Gore was tied for third on 66 with Keegan Bradley and Charles Howell III plus Alex Cejka and Cameron Smith. Eight players shared eighth place on 67, including last year's runner up Kevin Na.

Two-time defending champion Ryan Moore was again in contention, in that group at 5 under.

Adam Scott was tied for 16th on 68 in a group of 10 players including Padraig Harrington and Scott Brown, who made up for an earlier double bogey by sinking a hole-in-one on the par-3 15th and winning a BMW sports car as reward.


CIMB Classic: Articles, photos and videos


Piercy's 62 was his lowest round since a closing 61 at the Phoenix Open two years ago.

The Las Vegas native, who turns 37 next week, started brightly with birdies on the first three holes and also finished well with birdies on 17 and 18.

Piercy began the new PGA Tour season with a tie for 25th at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, and blamed bad putting for disguising a game he otherwise felt ''was in a good spot.''

''I made the putts I didn't last week and got a little lucky as well,'' Piercy said.

One of the ''lucky'' holes was the par-4 13th, where his approach shot dropped 10 feet below the green, but he managed to chip in for birdie.

''It was good fortune, a good break and it was nice to see the ball go in,'' said Piercy, who has three Tour victories, including the Barbasol Championship in July.

''I only missed three or four greens today so if you got 14 chances, you're doing pretty good.''

Matsuyama said he aimed to get plenty of rest ahead of another round Friday in the draining tropical heat.

''In this weather, you can't beat yourself too much. I'll practice a little bit and head back to the hotel,'' said the 23-year-old Japanese.

''I hit my driver really well today and that was the reason for my low score. This is my third time here and I love the course. Playing the last couple of years prepared me for that.''

Former world No. 1 Scott was satisfied with his 68 and being in a good position to challenge for the lead in the coming days.

The Australian, now 16th in the world, had an eagle on the par-5 fifth but also bogeys at Nos. 7 and 12.

''The greens are rolling so you could really make some putts and I should have done better but overall, I'm happy,'' Scott said.

''We have to hit good shots as there are some trick lies and you have to play solid. You need to play good shots to get a good score.”

Getty Images

Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

Getty Images

Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

Getty Images

McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

Getty Images

Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.