Sindelar Thrilled at Turning 50

By Associated PressJuly 3, 2008, 4:00 pm
Champions TourENDICOTT, New York -- Birthdays dont seem to phase Joey Sindelar, even the big ones. He was so excited about turning 50 he was gushing about it long before the fact.
The prospect of playing the Champions Tour can have that effect on newcomers to pro golfs senior circuit.
It was probably less stressful because in our world that means you get to be a rookie again, said Sindelar, who celebrated his 50th on March 30. So, there was all kinds of positive impact to go along with a potentially not-so-positive milestone. I probably looked forward to it more than most people.
Sindelar also is looking forward with great anticipation to Friday, when the Dicks Sporting Goods Open begins at En-Joie Golf Club. Sindelar, who won the B.C. Open in 1985 and 1987 on the course before the tournament was eliminated from the PGA TOUR, tees off in mid-morning in a threesome with Andy Bean and defending champion R.W. Eaks.
Youre going to look at two guys who can really play, Sindelar said. I think the folks will be surprised at the level of play. R.W. shot 17 under last year. Thats pretty amazing.
Eaks beat Bruce Vaughan by three shots for his first Champions Tour triumph by making three eagles and 15 birdies, shooting 8 under on both the par 5s and par 4s.
This tour is amazing for those of us who are eligible, said Sindelar, who has won just over $380,000 in his inaugural season. As a pro golfer, unless youve got some kind of hangup or desire to be on the biggest stage in the world'the regular PGA TOUR'this has to be the best job in the world. The guys put it in the hole like you cannot believe.
Including Sindelar, who has three top-5s in eight starts, including a tie for third in the Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill in May. His new life didnt start out so well, though'he shot 75, 76, 71 to finish in a tie for 61st in his first event, the Cap Cana Championship.
My first two weeks I was not able to get a handle on it, said Sindelar, a seven-time winner on the PGA TOUR. It was a very funny thing. Clearly, in hindsight, I had been staring at that opportunity for way too long. I had been talking about it for several years with my friends, family, anybody who knew me from golf. Youre going to be 50, its going to be great. Youre going to do this, youre going to do that.
I got out there and I was shook. I was very, very nervous those first two weeks. Its funny, non-tour friends of mine found that hard to believe, that I had played competitively my whole life and that I would be whacked-out going on to this new place. That just goes to show you the power of the brain. It became way too important.
The B.C. Open was staged at En-Joie from 1971-2005, when flooding from the Susquehanna River forced the finale of the event to be moved to Turning Stone Resort about 90 miles northeast. Sindelar, who grew up and still lives in Horseheads, hadnt played En-Joie in three years prior to this week and was stunned when he returned.
Its shocking how much improvement theyve made, he said. And thats not compared to last year or the flood years. Thats compared to any of my last 20 years out there. Dicks (Sporting Goods) made a commitment and it shows.
Ironically, the B.C. Open managed to survive for so long without ever having a title sponsor. Its future was placed in doubt when the PGA TOUR moved it opposite the British Open beginning in 2000, which assured it would be dominated by players at the lower reaches of the money list or from the minor leagues of professional golf.
The quaint, small-town feel of the tournament was an anomaly on a circuit dominated by big-money corporate sponsors and network television contracts. Named after the cartoon strip, the event struggled financially in one of the tours smallest markets.
Still, it managed to survive more than three decades and raised more than $8 million for local charities before finally becoming a victim to the major modifications to the tour schedule that began in 2007.
Sindelar likes what has transpired since, especially since Dicks, which was founded in nearby Binghamton, has become that long-sought-after benefactor. The purse this week is $1.6 million, with $240,000 going to the winner.
I just always felt this Champions event might be a better fit, Sindelar said. I just think this is a perfect place for them. I just hope the future is bright.
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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.