European Tour Report Cards

By November 25, 2002, 5:00 pm
European Tour
Birdies, Pars and Bogeys ' thats how were rating performances this year on the European Tour.
 

Birdies
 
The European Ryder Cup team rebounded from the heart-breaking loss in Brookline in 1999 to defeat the stronger-on-paper USA team at The Belfry. The squad was led by aging wonders Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer as well as some fearless play by some of the rookies in the Sunday singles matches. It was the Euros third victory in the last four Ryder Cups. Underdogs no more.
 
Though Retief Goosen won the Order of Merit title, it was Ernie Els who had the tours best year. He won three official events and also the Cisco World Match Play tournament, where he defeated Sergio Garcia, Vijay Singh and the red-hot Montgomerie in successive days. One of his official wins was, of course, the 131st Open Championship, the third major of his career. Ring up a Birdie for the Big Easy.
 
Sam Torrance captained the European Ryder Cup team to a resounding victory. Enough said.
 
Padraig Harrington continues to improve and is on the verge of becoming one of golfs superstars. Finishing a close second to Goosen on the Order of Merit, Harrington won the Dunhill Links Championship, which had one of the strongest fields of the season. He also played well and showed consistency in the majors with high finishes in each, setting the stage for a truly break-out year for 2003.
 
A record 14 golfers won their maiden European titles this season, compared to the previous high of 13 in both 1996 and 2000.
 
Justin Rose is now in full bloom, winning four events worldwide ' two on the European Tour ' and also finishing in the top-10 on the Order of Merit. He was one of only four players on tour to have multiple wins in 2002.
 
Aside from Rose, Adam Scott and Luke Donald also enjoyed wins this year. The trio will look to make things far more difficult for the older European stars in the future.

 
Pars
 
It's hard to imagine Goosen getting a Par on his report card, but when you win a major and are ranked only behind guys named Woods, Mickelson and Els in the entire world, more things of are expected of you. Yes, he won the Order of Merit, but he did that the year before. Only one victory, in what others would call a career year, is the reason here for Goosens mark. Superstardom doesnt come easy. Great Par, though.
 
Montgomerie also posted a Par even though a late-season rally would have you believing otherwise. His exceptional and dominant play at the Ryder Cup may have earned a lesser player a sure fire Birdie, but this is Monty. His streak of consecutive years with at least one win came down to the final sunset of the season, with darkness giving the Scotsman a shared first place with Bernhard Langer. Though he had a strong showing of top-10s, Monty came up rather empty in the majors ' two missed cuts, a dismal 82nd in the Open Championship and a tie for 14th at the Masters. Hes happy to make Par.
 
Sergio Garcia began the year with talk of leading both the PGA Tour and the European Tour in winnings, and looked the part by snatching the PGA Tours season-opening Mercedes Championship. He ultimately finished sixth on the Order of Merit and 12th on the PGA Tour money list. Good stuff, but much like Goosen, wins are what counts for a player like Garcia, and with just one on each tour, a Par is the score.
 
Jose Marie Olazabal, Nick Faldo and Langer all showed flashes of their old selves but Father Time, longer courses, and the strength of the youngsters is making it undoubtedly ever more difficult to find the winners circle for the Hall-of'Famers. But make no doubt, there is still some get up and go in these thoroughbreds.

 
Bogeys
 
2002 has come and gone, and marks yet another year in which no European player was able to captured one of the four majors. The 1999 Masters with Spains Olazabal sporting a green jacket continues to get smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror. Up to the young guns to turn this Bogey back into an easy Birdie.
 
Lee Westwood. Again. Hes now gone Bogey-Bogey the last two years.
 
The leaping celebration of Paul McGinley as he sank the winning putt for the Europeans. Its painful to watch replays of it. And its a great argument as to why many people dont think of golfers as athletes.
 
Paul Naylor and Freddy Valenti. Who? Exactly. These two finished last on the official Volvo Order of Merit, tied for 341st, each bringing in a whopping $117.21. Selling their clubs would have brought in more cash.
 
Darren Clarke, like his good buddy Westwood, could seemingly go through the motions and do better than his results in 2002. No top-15s in majors, and just one win with a grand total of three top-10s overall.
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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.