Quiet final set for Sunday

By Associated PressFebruary 28, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. ' Every other golf tournament requires two days to sort out whos playing the best, another day for players to get into contention, and the excitement building as one player emerges as the winner.
 
The Accenture Match Play Championship works in reverse.
 
The opening round Wednesday is filled with 32 matches and plenty of action. Thursday isnt too bad, either, with 16 matches. But when the final round arrives Sunday, only two players have a chance to win.
 
Not surprisingly, attendance dwindles.
 
The attendance Saturday at Dove Mountain was 7,640, nearly half as much as Thursdays session, but still higher than last year when Tiger Woods won two matches on his way to victory.
 
Geoff Ogilvy noticed it the first year he won this tournament, beating Davis Love III in the final.
 
When were alone for breakfast at La Costa, theres 25 tables in there, and Davis and I are walking one side of the room to the other, he said. The locker room attendant is standing over you the whole time because youre one of only two guys. You pull into the parking lot and theres two cars. When youre playing, it seems normal. But its all the little stuff.
 
There will be four players on the course in the afternoon.
 
Ogilvy and Paul Casey begin their 36-hole championship match in the morning, while Stewart Cink and Ross Fisher will play an 18-hole consolation match that begins in the afternoon.
 

 
THE PRACTICE ROUND: Geoff Ogilvy and Paul Casey live about 5 miles away from each other in Scottsdale, and they are members at Whisper Rock. Thats where they were playing when both decided to play a practice round at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club on Dove Mountain, a new site for this years tournament.
 
It would seem as simple as one guy picking up the other.
 
But it wasnt.
 
They drove separate cars. They played in 3 1/2 hours in carts, skipping the 11th hole because of a group in front of them.
 
And then they drove home.
 
Both of us drive cars that dont have many seats in them, Ogilvy said, referring to his Porsche.
 
Casey was a little more coy about the car he was driving, even after someone pointed out that Ogilvy mentioned his Porsche.
 
He probably got here quicker than I did, then, Casey replied.
 

 
BACK IN CINK: Stewart Cink became only the fourth player to reach the semifinals of the Accenture Match Play Championship in consecutive years, joining Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson and Geoff Ogilvy.
 
He didnt get a chance to play in the finals again ' Cink lost, 8 and 7, to Woods last year ' but he was pleased with his results.
 
Cink started poorly this year. He tied for 24th in the 33-man field at Kapalua, tied for 32nd at the Sony Open, then missed the cut at the FBR Open outside Phoenix. He didnt play again for three weeks, and that was no accident.
 
I worked really hard on my short game the last three weeks, Cink said. I was unhappy with my scoring.
 
He made one trip to Las Vegas to visit swing coach Butch Harmon, and Cink noticed a big difference in winning his first four matches against Richard Sterne, Lee Westwood, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els.
 

 
DIVOTS: An American failed to reach the final match for only the second time in tournament history. The other was in 2007, when Stenson (Sweden) beat Ogilvy (Australia). The only hole this week when Casey did not have the lead was No. 1 in the second round against Mathew Goggin, when Casey came up short of the green, pitched to 4 feet and made par. The only hole Ogilvy and Casey did not play at Dove Mountain during their scouting trip two weeks ago was the par-5 11th. Both are only 1 under for the week.
 
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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.