Roberts Punctuates 2007 Majors with Exclamation

By Associated PressOctober 7, 2007, 4:00 pm
Champions TourBALTIMORE, Md. -- Loren Roberts made it apparent very early that there would be no suspense in the final round of the Senior Players Championship.
 
Roberts made four straight birdies during a sizzling front nine Sunday and cruised to an easy victory, shooting a 3-under 67 to defeat Tom Watson by six strokes.
 
Starting with a three-shot lead, Roberts parred No. 1 before beginning his run of birdies. After tapping in a short putt for a birdie on No. 9, he made the turn at 30 with a seven-shot lead.
 
'He just closed the door early in the round, and locked it with that birdie on No. 9,' Watson said.
 
Roberts finished with a 13-under 267 total to claim the $390,000 winner's check.
 
A year ago, Roberts took a two-stroke lead into the final round of the Senior Players Championship and shot a 74 to finish in a tie for third. That bitter collapse lingered in his mind right until he walked off the course Sunday.
 
'For me personally, I really exorcised some demons today,' Roberts said. 'To come here today and start out with a three-shot lead and get the job done, that goes a long way for me in being able to get over a little bit of a hurdle that I had from last year.'
 
Roberts has won three major tournaments in 13 tries on the Champions Tour since joining in July 2005; only twice has he failed to finish in the top 10. It was his seventh win on the Champions Tour compared to eight on the PGA TOUR over a span of more than 20 years.
 
'This one might be the sweetest for me,' he said, 'because of what happened last year.'
 
Tied for the lead after the first 18 holes, Roberts moved atop the leaderboard late in the second round Friday and remained in front to the end. He and Watson were the only players in the field to have four sub-par rounds.
 
But Watson was no match for Roberts, who's known for his putting prowess but was sensational with his irons throughout the tournament. Sunday was no exception.
 
'You could tell today he was on with his irons,' Watson said. 'The ball was right in the middle of the clubface, every shot. Drivers, irons, I could see the handwriting on the wall early in the round.'
 
Watson shot a 68 to earn $228,800 and move over $20 million in career earnings. Fred Funk, who started in second place, shot a 71 to tie for third with Scott Simpson (65).
 
Teeing off in the final threesome with Funk and Watson, Roberts had a par on No. 1 before pulling away. The first of his four straight birdies came on a short putt on the par-3 second hole, which Funk also birdied.
 
Roberts upped his lead to four strokes with a 7-foot birdie putt on No. 3 after Funk came up short on his 15-foot putt for a birdie. Then came perhaps the most telling hole of the tournament, the par-5, 583-yard No. 4.
 
Roberts hit his second shot into the left bunker off the green, then chipped within 8 feet. He drained the putt, emphasizing the shot with a fist-pump. Funk, meanwhile, barely missed a 30-foot eagle putt and had to settle for a birdie that kept him four shots back with 14 to play.
 
Watson lost ground while making par on the first four holes. Although Watson made a 20-foot curling putt for birdie on No. 5, Roberts followed with a 6-footer for birdie to move five shots ahead of Funk, who parred the hole.
 
'To start off making four birdies in a row on the front nine, that was huge because it separated me from the field a little bit,' Roberts said.
 
His birdie on No. 9 sealed it.
 
'I said, 'Well, that's about it,'' Watson said. 'He's not going to screw up too much.'
 
Funk shaved two strokes off the deficit with birdies on 10 and 12, but his slim chance of catching Roberts ended with a double bogey on 13 and a bogey on 14.
 
The victory gave Roberts the lead in Charles Schwab Cup points, which could earn him a $1 million bonus at the end of the year. Jay Haas held the lead through last week.
 
The Senior Players Championship is sponsored by Constellation Energy.
 
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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.