Wie, Lewis, Ko, Mo headline field in Toledo

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2014, 11:02 pm

SYLVANIA, Ohio – Some like to see their name in lights. Beatriz Recari was thrilled to see hers bolted to a light pole.

The name of each year's winner of the Marathon Classic is placed on the signs along the main drag of this Toledo suburb.

''It's really cool,'' said Recari, a 27-year-old Spaniard who has won three times on the LPGA Tour. ''It's obviously a great bonus not only to get this trophy and everything that comes along with it. But to get your own street for a year, that's pretty special.''

Recari has become a more of a household name as her career blossomed in the last year. After winning the Kia tournament, she outdueled Paula Creamer down the stretch to also win the Marathon.

While collecting more than $1 million in checks, she placed sixth in the tour's player of the year standings, finished 3-1-1 for the victorious European side at the Solheim Cup and contended at last week's Women's British Open.

She began the final round at Royal Birkdale three shots back of the leader but faded to a tie for 17th with a 79.

''I had a little bit of a slow start first half of the year, but feel like everything is coming along,'' she said, referring to lower back and hip problems. ''I'm working on things that feel good for me. I'm healthy and fit. I had a very good performance last week, and I'm very happy with my practicing.''

Mo Martin, who won the Women's British Open with a closing 72, is still adapting to the title of major champion.

''It's definitely been a whirlwind,'' she said of arriving in Ohio after several connecting flights and lots of frequent-flier miles. ''I hadn't even turned my phone on. When I eventually did get here, I turned my phone on and it kind of exploded, everybody just congratulating me.''

She also got a pat-on-the-back letter from no less than legend Arnold Palmer.

Recari and Martin aren't the only prominent players to keep an eye on this week.

Creamer, who won the tournament formerly known as the Jamie Farr in 2008, always plays well at Highland Meadows. She is one of the most popular players in the field every year.

''Yeah, I love this golf course,'' she said. ''I shot 60 here (in the first round in '08). I have a lot of really good memories. This just fits my game.''

There's also local favorite Stacy Lewis - a Toledo native - who's ranked No. 1 in the world.

''It's always fun coming back here just for me,'' said Lewis, a winner this year in Arkansas, yet another of her childhood homes. ''Just having the family connection, we have big family dinners on the weekends and stuff. It would be awesome to win here.''

The field also includes five-time winner Se Ri Pak, top newcomer Lydia Ko and U.S. Women's Open champion Michelle Wie.

Regardless of who ends up winning on Sunday afternoon, it's likely somebody who produces birdies in bunches. Eleven times in the last 16 years, the winner at Highland Meadows has finished at 14-under 270 or better.

''Small greens, narrow fairways,'' said Wie, who has been coming to the tournament since she got an exemption when she was just 13. ''You feel like if you hit good shots, you should be rewarded.''

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.