Wagner Holds Slim Margin in Texas

By Associated PressApril 5, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Shell Houston OpenHOUSTON -- Johnson Wagner says hes struggled too much on the PGA TOUR to apologize when things finally go his way.
 
Wagner got lucky bounces on two tee shots and shot a 3-under 69 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead over Chad Campbell after the third round of the Houston Open. The 28-year-old Wagner, winless in 43 career starts, had a 15-under 201 total.
 
Campbell, playing one group ahead of Wagner, birdied five of his first nine holes for a 65. Charley Hoffman and Bob Estes were three behind at 12 under. Estes shot a 64, the best round of the day. Hoffman had a 69. Geoff Ogilvy shot a 66 to reach 10 under, and Mathew Goggin was another shot back after a 72.
 
Wagner started the day three shots ahead of Hoffman and Goggin. Campbell was five back, but made up that deficit in eight holes.
 
Wagner saw it all, including Campbells 62-foot putt down a slope on the sixth. Campbell also holed a wedge from 88 yards for an eagle on the par-5 eighth.
 
I definitely didnt like starting with a three-shot lead and seeing it erased immediately, Wagner said.
 
Wagner, in his second year on tour, admitted Friday that he would have to battle his nerves to win for the first time and earn an invitation to next weeks Masters. He played better after Campbell tied him, sinking a 16-foot birdie putt on the par-3 ninth to get going.
 
On the back nine, Wagner got away with two bad tee shots, hitting a spectator on the 13th and a tree on the 15th, but escaping with two pars.
 
Ive had enough bad breaks not to feel bad about the good ones, he said.
 
Campbell was tied with Wagner for the lead until hitting his tee shot into the rough on No. 17 and taking a bogey.
 
The 33-year-old Campbell was the runner-up to Shaun Micheel at the 2003 PGA Championship, then won the Tour Championship later that year at The Champions in Houston. He won at Bay Hill in 2004, but has only two victories since, admitting that the run of success made him complacent.
 
He has four top-20 finishes this year and felt good about his game coming to Houston, even after missing the cut in New Orleans last week.
 
Golf is a weird game, he said. Lot of times, you dont get results as quick as you want them. You tend to be a little impatient.
 
Hoffman shot 1-under 35 on his front nine, then jump-started his round with a wedge to 4 feet on the par-4 12th. He added birdies at 13 and 14 before a bogey at the 17th.
 
I gave myself a lot of chances, Hoffman said. I could always make a few more putts coming down the stretch.
 
Estes started fast, with five birdies on his first eight holes. He hit his approach to the par-4 11th within three feet, then added birdies at 12 and 13 to secure his best round of a so-far forgettable year.
 
Hes missed five cuts in eight previous starts, but decided before the Mayakoba Classic to try an interlocking grip and a glove for the first time in his career. He missed the cut, went back to the 10-finger grip hes used since last year and tied for 33rd in New Orleans.
 
But the 42-year-old Estes knew he got away with some bad shots last week and returned to the interlock this week. Hes starting to wonder how his career wouldve gone if hed gone with the interlock sooner.
 
Small things like that can make a big difference out here, Estes said. If I havent figured out how to hold onto the golf club until the age of 42, then you know why Ive had to go through so much.
 
The second round was completed on Saturday morning after a storm delayed play for almost two hours on Friday.
 
Defending champion Adam Scott, who shared the first-round lead with Wagner, withdrew Saturday morning because of strep throat. Scott played 14 holes after the storm and shot a 76 in the second round.
 
DIVOTS
Fred Couples, who played at the University of Houston, teed off on No. 10 and shot 29 on his back nine, tying the tournaments nine-hole record. Couples, the 2003 champion, was 7 under overall after a 67. Phil Mickelson, who came to Houston specifically to prepare for the Masters, was 10 strokes behind Wagner after a 71 on Saturday. Davis Love III shot a 69 and was nine back. Love needs a victory to qualify for the Masters and stretch the longest active streak of major appearances to 71. Former President George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara were in the gallery.
 
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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.