Royal Sharkdale

By Brian HewittJuly 18, 2008, 4:00 pm
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Open ChampionshipThis one is tailor made for People magazine. But it will play pretty well in the golf media, too.
Aging, blonde, Australian, former superstar rediscovers his game at the advanced age of 53 and finds himself in the final group Saturday at the years third major championship after recent marriage to blonde, American superstar, also 53.
Yes, the lead story at Royal Birkdale through 36 holes is the pair of 70s Greg Norman has posted in the wind, rain and chill. Only K.J. Chois 1-under total is better in the field that started as 156 players.
Greg Norman
Greg Norman is greeted by his wife Chris Evert after his second straight 70 Friday. (Getty Images)
We now approach a weekend with dire weather in the forecast.
Norman, whose Hall of Fame career was highlighted by the two major championships he won at the British in 1986 and 1993, arrived at Birkdale fresh from a whirlwind honeymoon with Chris Evert, who by the way, has 16 more major tennis championships in her CV than her new husband.
Shes been there, Norman said of Evert when asked what kind of support his new bride is lending. She knows exactly what you have to do.
And shes her new husbands biggest fan. She really feels every shot, Norman added. She plays every shot with me and shes walked every shot although sometimes its hard to find her.
Normans two-day total of even-par 140 comprises five birdies, three bogeys and one double. He has one-putted 17 holes in two days. His next three-putt in this 137th Open Championship will be his first.
I havent been here in a long time, he acknowledged Friday. Im a realist.
But he also acknowledged that he has been there. And there is memory.
Earlier in the week I praised the straightforward Birkdale layout of 7,173 yards for not being Quirkdale. Too often golf courses get unnecessarily tricked up for major championships.
Little did I know at the time that Birkdale was going to become Sharkdale by the time darkness descended Friday night on these classic links by the Irish Sea.
The other Aussies will tell you that they could see this coming. There has been a spring in Normans step ever since he and Evert started keeping regular company. And there was a cutting edge to his golf game that his countryman noticed during the practice rounds.
Now the man they call The Shark is chasing history with the singular purpose of a Great White. If Norman pulls off victory, he will shatter the record as the oldest player to win a major. Julius Boros was 48 years, four months and 18 days old when he won the 1968 PGA Championship at Pecan Valley in Texas. Norman will be 53 years, five months and 11 days old on Sunday.
And in case you were wondering what blast of air would rush in to fill the vacuum left by the absence of world No. 1 Tiger Woods, heres your answer.
Maybe 53 is the new 32 (Woods age). Maybe, for one week at least, an old Shark is the new Tiger. Or maybe this is all a dream that will disappear in a hail of Norman bogeys on Saturday and Sunday.
But isnt it fascinating how Norman, for years the most identifiable international face in golf, has replaced, at least for now, Woods, currently the most identifiable international face in golf.
There was a time during Normans long reign as the best player in the world in the 80s and 90s that people complained that the game was too Shark-centric; that the television directors showed all of his shots and not enough of the rest of the best players. Woods took over before the 90s had expired and those same kinds of complaints arose.
Its almost as if Norman handed off the Q-rating spotlight baton to Woods who, somehow, has figured out a way to temporarily loan it back to him ' knowing it will be in good hands ' until he returns to golfs big stages some time next year.
To be sure, Choi is the 36-hole leader. And he birdied the last two holes Friday to earn that distinction. But to be extra sure, almost everybodys eyes right now are on Greg Norman.
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    Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

    Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

    Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

    Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

    Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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    Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

    SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

    Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

    Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

    With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

    ''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

    Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.

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    ''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

    Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

    Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

    He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    "I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

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    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.