Danger Will MacKenzie

By Brian HewittJanuary 13, 2007, 5:00 pm
Appropriately, the name of the show was Lost in Space.

It had its television run in the 60s. And it became part of the pop culture mostly because of the robot character who warned one of the series protagonists, Will Robinson, when trouble approached.

Danger, Will Robinson.

Now golf has its very own space cadet.

Will MacKenzie finished fourth at the Merecedes-Benz Championship on Maui last week. And he was at it again this week, shooting a 65 in the first round of the Sony Open before racing out to a quick lead Friday.

The only danger at the moment is that Will MacKenzie will cool off. Hes a character in the best sense. In golf, different is almost always good.

And the 32-year-old MacKenzie is different. Hes also smart enough to know how to play along with a gag.

Asked in the press room Thursday where he was staying, MacKenzie replied, On the beach.

Good answer, one reporter said.

In a hammock, MacKenzie said. 'Hammock 29.

Between two palm trees or three?

Two, he said.

One of yours?

No, he said. Im renting one. Its like three bucks a night.

Actually MacKenzie made $540,000 last year for winning the Reno-Tahoe Open. Add on the quarter of a million (give or take a few thousand) he picked up at Kapalua last week, and MacKenzie could almost afford a beachfront condo in Hawaii.

Will MacKenzie is a breath of fresh, salt air.

He sounds like Sean Penns Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. And right now is playing golf more like Matt Damons Rannulph Junuh (on a good day) in The Legend of Bagger Vance.

Friday he started his round in Hawaii with four straight threes.

Now if we can just get Will Smith on Will MacKenzies bag at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am we WILL have the best karma in golf since Jack Nicklaus made magic with No. 1 son caddying Sunday at Augusta in 1986.

All I remember right now is hitting 7-iron into 18, MacKenzie said, moments after Thursdays round. Im pretty bummed about that. I really wanted to get that one last birdie in. But over-all its a great start.

And he laughed.

Im not going to commit sui or anything if I dont finish a tournament or something this year, he added.

Sui is the word that actually showed up in the transcript of his post-round interview. Normally, you would think that was a typo. But then MacKenzie was off and talking about the bad tooth that almost got him last week.

I was in that chair getting ready to be geared up for about two hours of gnarly work, and I was like, this is going to be great. I was just shaking my head in Wailuku going: Get it over, Bro. Get it over so I can fly and rehab this for a day so I can play this week.

Speaking of flying, anybody out there remember Mark The Bird Fidrych?

Its early, but the sporting world will beat a path to MacKenzies hammock if he keeps up this kind of run. Golf Channel broadcasts already have provided several sneak previews.

The important thing is that MacKenzie must not change.

Or to put it another way, with apologies to Paul McCartney:

Hey dude, dont make it bad.

Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt

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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.