Rd 1 of BMW Championship washed out

By Associated PressSeptember 4, 2008, 4:00 pm
BMW ChampionshipST. LOUIS ' When the fans came out to watch Tiger Woods, there was no tournament. Arnold Palmer once played in a tournament, but fans couldnt get to the golf course.
 
St. Louis added yet another chapter to its dreary decade of golf history when the first round of the BMW Championship was washed out by storms that dumped 3 inches of rain on Bellerive Country Club.
 
We do know how to deal with adversity, said Jerry Ritter, the general chairman of the BMW Championship and a Bellerive member who has seen his share of it.
 
Dozens of players were at Bellerive getting ready for the American Express Championship the morning of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It was the first big event in St. Louis since the 1992 PGA Championship. Woods was playing in St. Louis for the first time in his career, but he only got in a practice round before the event was canceled.
 
Three years later, the U.S. Senior Open came to town, and rain washed out the second round Friday. At least they got in the tournament, with Peter Jacobsen going 36 holes on a creaky hip Sunday to win.
 
Palmer made his only appearance in the Boone Valley Classic on the Senior PGA Tour in 2000, and the King can draw a big gallery anywhere. But storms that week caused such a problem with traffic that fans couldnt get to Boone Valley.
 
The silver lining? Palmer returned four years later for the Senior Open, and with the cut pushed back to Saturday because of the rain, they at least saw him on the weekend.
 
And its not like the BMW Championship, the third stop in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, is a complete wash. The first round was postponed until Friday, with 36 holes on Saturday to get back on schedule.
 
The rain relented Thursday afternoon, giving tournament crews about 18 hours to get the course ready. It helps that Bellerive recently installed a new drainage system, which couldnt stop the downpour.
 
Its under water, said Slugger White, vice president of rules and competition for the PGA TOUR. Its as bad as Ive seen in a long time.
 
Creeks winding through the golf course transformed into lakes. Players would have needed boats to get across some of the bridges. Some landing areas in the fairways were water hazards.
 
It was so bad the ducks took the day off, White said.
 
The first round originally was delayed for two hours with hopes the storms would pass quickly. Hunter Mahan arrived a few hours before his scheduled tee time, but he knew what to expect when he awoke and called caddie John Wood.
 
I said, Is it raining? And he said, No, its pouring, Mahan said. I saw on television that creeks were flooded over and you needed a cart to get to some of the holes. Theres just too much water. To hold an event like this, it should be in the best shape possible.
 
Still to be determined is how White and his staff will set up the golf course.
 
Already a long course, the soggy fairways will make it play to its full length. White said some tees might need to be moved forward if previous landing areas are too much like a swamp.
 
He did not want to play 36 holes on Friday to keep traffic ' and subsequent damage ' limited while the golf course was trying to dry out. Plus, the fans in St. Louis now get a full day of golf on Saturday.
 
The third round was to end at 2:30 p.m. Saturday because of NBC Sports contract with Notre Dame football.
 
Now, we can give the fans and the community an extra five hours to watch golf, White said.
 
The BMW Championship is the third event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, with Vijay Singh holding such a large lead that he could wrap up the title before the season-ending TOUR Championship.
 
Singh won the first two events at The Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship.
 
Ritter said the tournament would honor Thursday tickets on the weekend, where the gallery was expected to top 35,000 people. He said ticket sales had been slightly short of a sellout, but that was due to another dose of bad news that St. Louis cant seem to escape.
 
Just as excitement was starting to build this summer, Woods announced he was having season-ending knee surgery.
 
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    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.