Sunday at The Masters is a Banquet

By Brian HewittApril 7, 2007, 4:00 pm
The table is set. With Dresden china. Sterling Silver. And your grandmothers best linen napkins.
The Masters has been marinating in its own Georgia juices for three days now and it is time for a Sunday golf feast that almost always turns out to be delicious and charming, in large measure because it is not moveable.
The competitive appetites are properly whetted.
Nothing wrong with breakfast at Wimbledon. Or lunch at Wrigley Field in the midday Chicago sunshine. But they are nothing like the traditional dinner hour climax of The Masters.
The final pairing of Stuart Appleby and Tiger Woods will tee off at 2:15 p.m. A sudden death playoff, if needed, will begin on the 18th hole and alternate between the 10th and the 18th until a winner is determined. In the last 16 Masters the eventual champion has come from the last twosome.
Draw your own conclusions.
Woods, a four-time champion at Augusta National, is one shot back of Appleby. Applebys leading total of 2 over par is the highest in the history of the event.
After indifferent first two rounds of 73 and 74 that left him five shots back of the leaders at the halfway mark, Woods clawed back into contention with birdies on three and eight on a chilly, windy day that exalted par and turned birdies into a cause for full celebration. If he hadnt bogeyed 17 and 18 for the second time in three days, he would be leading.
Appleby had given us a hint of what was to come from him when he made seven birdies during a Friday 70 that had drawn him to within three of the lead. He took up where he left off Saturday with birdies on the second, third and fourth, a hole named Flowering Crab Apple by the Lords of The Masters.
There was nothing crabby about Applebys disposition after a wonderful par save from the left woods at the eighth that helped produce an outgoing nine hole score of 33.
This is the same Appleby who handed the Shell Houston Open to countryman Adam Scott on the final hole last Sunday when he pulled his approach into the water. Meanwhile he told people he wasnt especially looking forward to Augusta because, he said, he never played well there. In 10 previous Masters his best finish was a T-19 last year. In five of his first seven tries at Augusta National he failed to make the cut.
Now Appleby is gunning to become the first Australian ever to win the Masters. A victory by him would also help to erase the burning and painful memory of Aussie Greg Normans inglorious fourth round collapse and loss to Englands Nick Faldo in 1996 when The Shark started the final 18 six shots clear of Faldo.
The other early foot Saturday came from Retief Goosen, a two-time U.S. Open champion who arrived with his game in disarray. Goosen is still looking for his first top 10 in the U.S. this year and he made the 36-hole cut right on the number at 8 over par.
Then he whisked around to a 2-under 70 and suddenly stood at 6 over par, four back. Right about then the cognoscenti were forced to remind themselves that, of yeah, Goosen finished tied for third here in 2006 and 2005.
As for Phil Mickelson, the defending champion, he shot 73 and is tied with Goosen. Tied with Woods, one back of Appleby at 3 over, is first round leader Justin Rose.
One of the hardest rounds I think weve ever played here, Woods said of Saturdays crucible.
Sunday at The Masters is nigh. Somebody say grace.
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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.