The Re-Gift That Keeps On Giving

By Brian HewittDecember 7, 2005, 5:00 pm
Yes, it's that time again.
Be careful what you ask for on your holiday gift list. It may be recycled by the time you get it.
I'm not sure if the nomenclature of 're-gifting' actually started on 'Seinfeld although a lot of people seem to think so. But the concept of re-gifting was around a long time before the concept of the sitcom.
It is in that spirit that I present my annual Christmas list for prominent people and organizations in golf. From the depth of my personal archives, I dredged up last year's list. Stay with me on this.
Last year I wished a season-long driving accuracy percentage of 60 percent for Tiger Woods. 'The rest,' I wrote, 'would take care of itself.'
Fact of the matter was, Woods didn't come especially close to 60 percent off the tee and he still won two majors, the U.S. money list and finished the season ranked No. 1 in the world.
Woods found the fairway off the tee in 2005 54.6 percent of the time. That was good for 188th place on the PGA Tour. If he gets that up to 60 percent in 2006, I predict he will win the calendar Grand Slam.
Last year I wished for Christmas Ernie Els would have better luck in the majors. This year I wish he just plays in all four majors.
Last year I wished U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman the emergence of a young gun. In 2006 I wish him the presents of the presence of Sean OHair and an old cannon, John Daly, on his team at the matches in Ireland.
Last year I wished Davis Love III another major. In 2006 I wish him another Tour victory. Hes the best current player not to have won since 2003.
Last year I wished Jack Nicklaus a fast start at The Masters. In 2006 I wish Nicklaus to play in a major.
Last year I put a win in the States on Colin Montgomeries Christmas list. In 2006 I put that same request on the list of the PGA Tour.
Last year I wished more silliness for Fred Couples. In 2006 Im hoping we see Fred Funk in a skirt again. Between the Skins Game and The Players Championship (five rounds of golf) Funk made almost $2.5 million.
Last year I wished Vijay Singh a good book. In 2006 Id like to see him hire a good ghost writer. His is a story, in its unexpurgated entirety, I would very much like to read.
Last year I wished Annika Sorenstam full recognition, in all circles, for being the dominant player she is. Actually, I think she got that gift in 2005.
Last year I wished Hootie Johnson narrower fairways, longer rough and faster greens at the Masters. Not added length. Maybe the present will arrive in 2006. Meanwhile Augusta National would do well to study the way the USGA will be setting up Winged Foot for the U.S. Open in June.
Finally, I wished the PGA of America the right person to replace Jim Awtrey. That gift arrived, too, Joe Steranka was right under their nose and they were smart enough to realize it.
OK, so maybe these arent all technically re-gifts. But you get the idea.
They play the major championships every year. And every year we seem to get a Birdie Kim or a Todd Hamilton or a Jack Fleck. Thats a re-gift that keeps on giving, too.
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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. 

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."