Singh sinks Sergio in Barclays playoff

By Associated PressAugust 24, 2008, 4:00 pm
the Barclays Logo 2007PARAMUS, N.J. ' Vijay Singh ended up beating Sergio Garcia on a gopher hole.
 
Yes, a gopher. Or maybe a mole.
 
Singh won The Barclays for a record fourth time Sunday, matching Garcias long birdie putt on the first hole of a playoff and finishing off his Spanish friend on the second extra hole after Garcia got a lucky break from the furry critter.
 
After Singh topped Garcias 27-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole ' the 472-yard 18th ' with a 26-footer, things got a little weird on the 577-yard, par-5 17th.
 
Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh reacts to his second victory on Tour in the last four weeks. (Getty Images)
First, Garcia uncharacteristically hooked his drive into the left rough. Then, with Singh in the fairway, Garcia hit his second shot behind a huge tree in the right rough. Singh then hit a 267-yard approach onto the green, about 20 feet long and right.
 
I got stymied behind the tree and I got lucky because I got a drop because of some gopher holes or whatever it was, Garcia said. It wasnt where my ball was, but like about 5 or 6 feet left. It was actually moving. You could see the grass going up and down. It was actually there and we were trying to find it, but we couldnt.
 
Able to get a clear path to the green, Garcia advanced the ball near the front of the green about 30 feet from the hole and nearly holed his chip. Singh then rolled his 20-foot eagle putt within inches for a tap-in birdie.
 
I wasnt really concerned about him, Singh said. I just wanted to know why he got a drop, there was obviously a mole there and he was burrowing at that moment, you could see him popping out. I was really focused on what I was doing.
 
The 45-year-old Fijian closed with a 1-under 70 to match Garcia (70) and Kevin Sutherland (68) at 8-under 276 on the sun-baked Ridgewood Country Club course, the first-time site after 41 seasons at Westchester Country Club.
 
Its a great golf course, said Singh, the 1993, 1995 and 2006 winner at Westchester. Westchester was a good golf course. This tops Westchester. Every single player out there absolutely enjoyed this golf course.
 
The Bridgestone winner three weeks ago at Firestone, Singh earned 11,000 FedExCup points in the playoff opener to take the lead with 109,500 points ' 5,125 ahead of second-place Garcia. Singh also earned $1.26 million for his 33rd PGA TOUR victory.
 
Singh and Garcia, a two-time Westchester champion who won THE PLAYERS Championship in May in a playoff with Paul Goydos, had the large crowd around the 18th green roaring with the birdie exchange on the first extra hole.
 
I think he was surprised to make his, Singh said. I was surprised to see it go in and he was even more surprised to see mine go in.
 
Singh and Garcia high-fived each other after Singh holed his putt.
 
Hes a good friend of mine, Singh said. Its hard to see your friend not win, especially if hes playing against you, but somebody has to win.
 
Sutherland was on the back fringe in three when Garcia and Singh holed out.
 
I really am happy with how I played and, obviously, disappointed I wasnt able to play a little bit better in the playoff, said Sutherland. Ive got to forget about that and think about the other 72 holes.
 
Third-round leader Kevin Streelman (72), Ben Curtis (68) and Mathew Goggin (67) tied for fourth at 7 under, and Martin Laird (67), Justin Leonard (67), Nicholas Thompson (67), Mike Weir (72) and Paul Casey (72) followed at 6 under.
 
Garcia reached 8 under with a tap-in birdie on 17, and missed a chance to get to 9 under on 18 when he pulled a 16-footer. Singh, playing in the final group, reached 8 under with a two-putt birdie on 17, and also missed a 16-foot birdie try on 18.
 
It was a tough day. It wasnt easy to get close to the hole, so birdie was difficult to come by, Singh said. It was drying out really, really a lot, and youve got to play almost conservative on some holes.
 
But it was a great playoff, though. I enjoyed that.
 
Phil Mickelson shot a 68 to tie for 19th at 4 under. He dropped from third to fourth in the points standings entering his Deutsche Bank title defense.
 
I was a good round and it gives me some momentum to carry over, he said.
 
Steve Stricker, three strokes ahead after a second-round 64 and four in front at 12 under after 10 holes Saturday, had a 71 to join Mickelson at 4 under. The winner last year at Westchester, Stricker shot a 77 in the third round.
 
Kenny Perry, second in the standings behind the sidelined Tiger Woods entering the week, had weekend rounds of 72 and 76 to tie for 48th at even par. A three-time winner this season, Perry dropped to seventh in the points race.
 
DIVOTS
 
Lee Janzen, the last qualifier at No. 144, finished at even par to jump to 119th ' the second-to-last spot for the Deutsche Bank. Alex Cejka, in the Czech Republic for the PGA European Challenge Tour event that he sponsors, ended up 120th. After the Deutsche Bank, the field will be cut to 70 for the BMW Championship and to 30 for the Tour Championship. Woods dropped to 15th. The 2009 event will be played at Liberty National in Jersey City.
 
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    Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

    By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

    Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

    The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from a trip to Augusta.

    He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).

    Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Web.com Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

    Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

    Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Web.com Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

    Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

    The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

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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.