Singh Nelson Inducted into World Golf Hall of Fame

By Associated PressOctober 31, 2006, 5:00 pm
World Golf Hall of FameST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Never mind that his name falls between Byron Nelson and Jack Nicklaus in an alphabetical list of the 114 members in the World Golf Hall of Fame. As Larry Nelson wrapped up his induction speech, he was quick to point out that he will never be considered one of the greats in golf.
But there may never be another like him.
Nelson had never touched a golf club in his life when he was drafted at age 19 for the Vietnam War, where he spent two years, enough time to learn the difference between a water leech and a land leech as he bounced from jungles to rice paddies. Only when he returned home from the war did he pick up the game, studying Ben Hogan's famous book on the five basic fundamentals.
Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh has won three majors and 29 PGA TOUR titles.
Nearly four years later, he earned his PGA TOUR card. And when his career ended, Nelson had three majors among his 10 victories, and he remains the only American to go 5-0 in a Ryder Cup.
Nelson and Vijay Singh, who toiled in the rain forest of Borneo as a club pro and rose to No. 1 in the world, took part in a blue-collar celebration of success Monday night when they were among five players inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
'This is one of the biggest achievements in my life,' Singh said.
They were inducted along with former Masters and PGA champion Henry Picard; Marilynn Smith, one of the 13 founders of the LPGA Tour who won 21 times and two majors; and Mark McCormack, who founded IMG and reshaped sports management with clients ranging from Arnold Palmer to Tiger Woods.
Nelson and Singh were elected on the PGA TOUR ballot. Nelson received 65 percent of the vote, the minimum required.
Singh was elected last year with 56 percent of the vote, but deferred his induction because of a commitment to play overseas last year. He still got in because of a clause in the criteria that if no one received 65 percent the vote that year, the player with the most votes would be elected as long he got more than 50 percent.
No one can dispute his record.
Singh, who was born in Fiji and had to run across an airport runway to get to the golf course, won 17 of his 29 tour titles after turning 40, tying the PGA TOUR record set by Sam Snead. He won the PGA Championship at Sahalee in 1998 and at Whistling Straits in 2004, with a coveted Masters title in 2000. And there was no secret to success. Singh is legendary for spending hours upon hours on the practice range, leaving rows of 5-foot long trenches from digging the ball out of the dirt.
The one cloud on his credentials was an accusation that he doctored his scorecard in the '83 Indonesian, which led to Singh being expelled from the Asian Tour. But he never quit. He gave lessons in Borneo for $10 and spent every free minute pounding balls, never losing hope of being the best.
'I owe everything to golf,' Singh said.
Nelson's story is simply remarkable, and unlikely to ever be matched in an era when players are given top instruction at an early age. He was a baseball player who thought golf was a sissy sport, but while in the Army, Nelson met a soldier who played golf in Florida, and he promised himself he would try it one day.
'I was sitting in a foxhole, looking out on a Vietnam night,' Nelson recalled about the end of his tour. 'What was I going to do when I got home? I thought, 'This is my opportunity. Maybe I'll start golf.''
He picked up the game at Pine Tree Country Club in Kennesaw, Ga., where Nelson was going to junior college. The pro gave him Ben Hogan's book, 'Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf,' and Nelson studied each step. Before long, he was an assistant pro who did well enough that members encouraged him to try the mini-tours.
'I was able to get as good as I did as quick as I did because I didn't have any other option,' Nelson said. 'Either I had to get better at the level I was, or I was gone.'
Nelson finished his career with 10 victories, three of them majors.
Picard, elected through the veteran's category, was as accomplished as a teacher as he was a player. Born in 1906, he won 20 times between 1935 and 1939, including six times in 1939 when he led the PGA TOUR money list. Picard won the 1938 Masters, the 1939 PGA Championship and played in two Ryder Cups.
He encouraged Snead to join the tour, and gave Hogan unconditional support at the start of his career. Picard later became a teacher, and his clients included Hall of Famer Beth Daniel, who presented him at the World Golf Village.
Smith and McCormack were selected through the Lifetime Achievement category.
Along with helping to found the LPGA Tour, Smith has conducted more than 4,000 clinics since 1949 involving more than 250,000 young golfers. She was recognized during the LPGA's 50th anniversary of one of its top 50 players and teachers.
McCormack qualified for the 1958 U.S. Open at Southern Hills, but he made his mark with a famous handshake deal with Palmer. That led to the creation of IMG, and it was McCormack who recognized golfers' earning potentials through endorsements and appearance fees.
'I've shaken hands with thousands, maybe millions of people around the world, from the common man to some very famous people,' Palmer said. 'But none meant as much as that one handshake with Mark. He was the right man at the right time in the world of sports management.'
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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.