Wie blows big back-nine lead as Stanford wins SBS

By Associated PressFebruary 14, 2009, 5:00 pm
2006 SBS OpenKAHUKU, Hawaii ' Michelle Wie seemed to have the trophy in her grasp until Angela Stanford and a late stumble got in the way.
 
Stanford spoiled Wies bid for a victory in her first start as an LPGA member, overcoming a three-stroke deficit to win the season-opening SBS Open by three shots Saturday.
 
Stanford closed with a 2-under 70 for a 10-under 206 total at wind-swept Turtle Bay, giving the Texan her fourth career win and third in seven starts. Wie had a disappointing 73 for her second straight runner-up finish in the tournament.
 
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie led by three strokes with eight holes to play before losing by three. (Getty Images)
Missing the trophy by a little bit is going to motivate me to work even harder for the next one, said Wie, who hasnt won since claiming the USGA Womens Amateur Public Links Championships at age 13.
 
The 19-year-old hometown favorite was cruising along, but made a double bogey on No. 11 that gave Stanford the opening she needed.
 
That was the moment I needed to step up because that was my chance, Stanford said.
 
Wie said she felt she played solid.
 
I just had one bad hole, Wie said. Im kind of disappointed in that. But theres a lot of positive things I can take from this week.
 
Down by a stroke with six holes to play, Stanford used her irons to shoot her way back to the top of the leaderboard. She birdied three straight holes to reach 10 under and take a two-stroke lead over Wie with three holes to play.
 
The first birdie putt in the run, set up by a 5-iron into a brisk right-to-left wind, was from 15 feet.
 
I needed to see a ball go in. That was huge, she said.
 
The late birdie flurry provided Stanford complete momentum, while Wie helplessly watched. Wie had a chance to cut into Stanfords lead on No. 16, but lipped out a 3 1/2 -foot birdie putt. She then bogeyed No. 17 by hitting into the sand twice.
 
Conditions were tough and my putts didnt drop in. Things just didnt go my way, unfortunately, Wie said.
 
Stanford broke a big smile and was drenched with beer by other players after tapping in for birdie on 18. The win was surprising because she didnt feel quite ready to start the season.
 
The 31-year-old Stanford was the hottest player on tour to end the season and has emerged as one of the top golfers in the world. In the final six events of 2008, she won twice and finished no lower than a tie for sixth. She is ranked No. 8.
 
Stanford is off to a fast start after coming off a career-best season where she broke $1 million for the first time and finished ninth on the money list.
 
Wie appeared to be sailing away with the SBS title after the turn. She went up by three strokes with eight holes to play when Stanford ran into trouble around the green and bogeyed the par-4 10th.
 
Even Stanford had doubts whether she could recover.
 
Standing on the green at 10, I thought, I dont know if I can make up three shots in this wind, Stanford said. She was going to need a mistake.
 
And thats what happened.
 
Wie double bogeyed the par-4 11th, flubbing her 3-wood tee shot into the right marsh and sending her chip short into the rough. That dropped her to 8 under and saw her lead reduced to just a stroke, which Stanford just breezed by.
 
I was really quite shocked when her ball went in the hazard, Stanford said.
 
Stanford said thats when experience over her younger competitor paid off.
 
That front nine, she didnt make a mistake. She was doing everything she needed to do win, Stanford said. When she made the mistake on 11, she didnt rebound. You could see her youth. In that she didnt rebound as fast as she could have, I think.
 
Stanford and Wie started the day tied for the lead at 8 under. The last time Wie led going into the final day was at the 2006 U.S. Womens Open where she was tied with Annika Sorenstam and Brittany Lincicome. Wie ended up tied for third.
 
The finish was Wies 14th top-10 in her career and best since the 2006 Evian Ladies Masters. Wie also played the first SBS in 2005 as a 15-year-old amateur and tied for second.
 
Obviously, its not like I want to be second place all the time, Wie said.
 
Stanford, of Saginaw, Texas, said its just a matter of time for Wie. Shes got all the shots. Once she figures things out, she is going to be just fine.
 
Conditions at Turtle Bay were breezy for a second straight day with a few passing showers. Players tried to stay conservative with the wind.
 
(Stanford) just seemed very stead and very in control, Wie said.
 
Wie took sole possession of the lead when Stanford missed a 3-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth. The uncharacteristic mistake was Stanfords lone bogey of the tournament.
 
Wie went up by two strokes at the turn by sinking an 18-foot birdie putt that had the gallery packed three deep around the ninth green cheering wildly.
 
The lead couldve been bigger but Stanford was able to scramble for par. Stanfords drive bounced on the fairway and sailed left, through the crowd and over the cart path. Her ball came to rest at the roots of a large tree. She took a drop but went up-and-down to save par.
 
The crowd that followed the final group was almost as entertaining as the golf. The gallery ranged from Wies former classmates to real sumo wrestlers complete with topknots to stars from ABC drama Lost, which is filmed on Oahus North Shore.
 
Brazilian-born Angela Park struggled in the tradewinds and had a 75 to tie for third with South Koreas Na Yeon Choi (69) at 4-under 212, six strokes behind Stanford.
 
Taiwans Yani Tseng (72), the 2008 rookie of the year, and Japans Ai Miyazato (71) were 3 under, and Cristie Kerr (69), Sarah Lee (69) and Brittany Lang (73) followed at 2 under.
 
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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.