Pressel riding surge of confidence into ADT

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2008, 5:00 pm
2006 ADT ChampionshipWEST PALM BEACH, Fla. ' Morgan Pressel has playing privileges at Trump International, meaning she can get on the lavish course whenever she wants.
Fortunately, she wont have to call in any favors this week.
It was a rocky 2008 for Pressel, who became the youngest major winner last season by claiming the Kraft Nabisco title but never got rolling this year, with her one victory overshadowed by five missed cuts (three consecutively) and not being able to finish better than 25th in 17 of 25 tournaments.
Still, she managed to be among 32 qualifiers for the ADT Championship, the season-ending LPGA bash which starts Thursday on one of her home courses, a mere 30-minute ride north from her Boca Raton home.
And the cool $1 million winners prize would surely help Pressel forget the headaches that plagued 08.
Anytime that you play poorly, its not a confidence builder, said the 20-year-old Pressel, whose win at the Kapalua Classic in October went a long way toward assuring her a spot for the ADT, which chooses its qualifiers through points accrued over each half of the season. It wasnt pretty.
Not even close to pretty.
Pressels emotions got the best of her more than once, she broke 70 only once in her first 28 rounds this year, and was never really in contention at the Nabisco in her first chance to defend a title.
So Pressel ' who freely acknowledges she has very little patience ' didnt wait until the season ended to change things.
She hired a new swing coach over the summer, with hopes of generating more clubhead speed and regaining distance she was rapidly losing off the tee. An added commitment to fitness and strength helped there considerably, and Pressel even decided it was time to refine her putting game, too.
Pressel skipped the LPGA stop in Mobile, Ala. in early September, so she could get a full month off to work on her game. Before the layoff, her last result was a tie for 60th at the Safeway Classic; three starts after the layoff, she was a winner again at Kapalua ' and enjoyed a surge of confidence that was sorely lacking.
Its better to make changes than to continue playing poorly, Pressel said. That was kind of my mind-set. I didnt want to continue playing like that, continue beating myself up over the poor play and it feeds off itself after a while. Its not easy to make a change while youre playing but it was something I set my mind to.
The bold move could pay further dividends this week.
Pressel is a fan of the unusual ADT format, and just might have the necessary amount of confidence right now to be in that mix for the $1 million prize, which gets displayed, in cash, in a thick plexiglass cube on Sunday.
The field gets cut to 16 after Fridays second round and the scorecards are wiped clean, and Saturdays round trims the field to eight finalists, with $100,000 for second place and $20,000 for third.
It is a true playoff tournament where you have 32 people, and everybody getting eliminated up until the last day, said Cristie Kerr, a Miami native and member at Trump International. So I think it adds to a lot of drama. You know, having eight people and not knowing whats going to happen.
Sundays round starts with everyone tied once again.
Its the third year of the $1 million winners prize; Julieta Granada won in 2006, Lorena Ochoa is the defending champion.
Annika Sorenstam ' who is making whats billed as her final LPGA Tour appearance this week before stepping away from the game to start a family and pursue business interests ' has won four ADT titles, but each of those came in the conventional, four-round, stroke-play format.
I dont know if you ever get used to this format, Pressel said. Its definitely a bit crazy. Thats part of the reason why its like that. Its a story line and it draws attention. It makes it exciting. It definitely makes it exciting come Sunday. Youve just got to play well.
It really is that simple.
Now, maybe for the first time all season, Pressel believes shes playing well enough to win.
Shes got a great will for the game and a feistiness about her, that as long as it takes, nothings going to hold her down, said Kerr, a longtime friend who had Pressel among the bridesmaids in her wedding. Thats just the way she is. She made a change in coach and some changes to her putting and some things, but thats what good players do. If somethings not working, they find a way to make it work.

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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.