Tiger Leads Trio of Americans into Semis

By Associated PressFebruary 23, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureTUCSON, Arizona -- Tiger Woods led a trio of Americans into the semifinals of the Accenture Match Play Championship on Saturday, finally getting on track with a chip-in eagle and easing past K.J. Choi, 3 and 2.
 
Woods had time for lunch and a quick session on the practice range before playing defending champion Henrik Stenson, who won his 10th consecutive match when Woody Austin gave away consecutive holes to lose momentum and eventually the match on the 18th hole.
 
Stewart Cink took out U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera, 3 and 2, to reach the semifinals for the first time, where he will play Justin Leonard, at No. 50 the lowest seeds still around at Dove Mountain.
 
Bracket buster, Leonard said as he walked off the 18th green after beating Vijay Singh, who narrowly pulled off another escape.
 
Woods made 12 birdies in 20 holes and needed them all to beat Aaron Baddeley in the third round, a match of the highest caliber. Choi, meanwhile, had advanced over Paul Casey despite making nothing better than par over the final 11 holes.
 
Their quarterfinal match was of the par variety.
 
Woods again hit an opening tee shot into the desert and gave away the opening hole, only to square the match with a 15-foot birdie. They halved the next seven holes, although this is where Choi essentially lost his chance to beat the worlds No. 1 player.
 
He had a putt to win the hole six straight times and missed them all, three of those putts from inside 12 feet. Woods was scrapping along with pars, throwing his club at the bag on a few occasions.
 
But it all changed at the turn.
 
Woods came up just short of the par-5 10th green, but chipped in for birdie and lightly pumped his fist. Choi was still 15 feet away for par on the 12th when Woods dropped a 30-foot birdie to go 2-up, and he had control the rest of the way.
 
K.J. put a lot of pressure on me with his ball-striking, Woods said. I just had to hang in there.
 
So did Leonard in the most fascinating match of the quarterfinals.
 
For much of the back nine, Leonard had a 1-up lead, Singh failed to hit a single shot that put pressure on Leonard, yet the Texan appeared to be under enormous pressure.
 
It wasnt a clean match, Leonard said.
 
But when he holed an 8-foot birdie putt on the 11th to win his second consecutive hole, Leonard went to 3 up and looked strong. Even after Singh drove onto the par-4 12th green, Leonard was determined to beat him with his wedge, and hit a beautiful pitch to 4 feet.
 
But his birdie putt lipped out, and that one short miss went a long way in affecting the mood of the match.
 
With Singh in the bunker on the 13th, Leonard misjudged the wind, came out of his shot and had 80 feet for birdie. He three-putted for bogey to lose another hole.
 
Singh looked like Houdini for the second straight match. He was 2 down with two holes to play against Pampling in the third round, won the last two holes, then in 25 holes. This was headed in the same direction.
 
Singhs approach on the 15th bounced hard off the left side of the green and appeared headed into the desert when it hung up in the lush green grass with only a foot to spare. Singh hit a poor chip and was lucky to stay on the green, then holed a 12-foot par putt to halve the hole. On the par-3 16th, Singh went after a sucker pin and landed in the right rough, the toughest spot from which to save par.
 
But thats what he did, chipping 6 feet by and making it.
 
Singh finally squared the match with his power advantage, hitting 7-wood to 20 feet for a two-putt birdie.
 
Leonard played the 18th hole for the first time all week, and he played it to near perfection. Leonard hit his approach to 10 feet, and Singh hit his a foot outside him.
 
Singh missed'he didnt have a single one-putt birdie all round'and Leonards winning up curled in the right side.
 
I deserved that one, he said.
 
Cabrera made it through the week as the only player not to reach the 18th green, which was bad news Saturday morning for the Argentine. He couldnt keep up with Cinks birdies, and Cink closed him out with a birdie on the 16th.
 
Stenson, meanwhile, is the marathon man of Dove Mountain. All four of his matches have gone the distance, and he played 25 holes Thursday to beat Trevor Immelman. He made sure his match against Austin didnt get past the 18th hole, hitting an approach to 2 feet for his 2-up victory.
 
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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.