Ladies Get Visit from Mother Nature

By March 1, 2005, 5:00 pm
The Big Break IIIEditors note: The Golf Channels Big Break III ' Ladies Only is the third installment of this hit series. As the title suggests, however, this season is just for the ladies. The 10 contestants are vying for entry into select LPGA tournaments, including the Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill.
With the group now down to the elite eight, the early morning brought another Mulligan Challenge for the ladies.
A giant wooden ship was erected and placed some 30 yards away with five separate holes cut through the wood, each hole with a different point value. The smallest hole was worth five, up to the biggest hole which was worth just one point. The contestant who accumulated the most points would win the mulligan that could be used in the upcoming Skills Challenge.
Big Break III
The pressure on the ladies to perform well was heightened by the constant presence of television cameras.
After the round was over, both Liz Uthoff and Debbie Dahmer were tied for the lead and a playoff ensued. Following two near misses by Dahmer, Uthoffs second attempt sailed through one of the holes to claim the mulligan.
By the time the Skills Challenge rolled around, Mother Nature had arrived at the Kingsmill Resort and the harsh elements would play a huge factor in not only how the women would perform, but also in how the final results would read.
Using the same tee box, the ladies were to hit three different length tee shots to three different greens ' 150 yards, 100 yards and 70 yards. Scoring lines were painted around each hole and the player with the most points after all three rounds would be granted immunity from the dreaded Elimination Challenge.
Mother Nature was seemingly in control through the first two rounds, as only Cindy Miller was able to score a point in the blustery, wet conditions.
I think everyone was a little disappointed in themselves, because on a normal day I think 95 percent us are going to get it on the green on every shot, decried Jan Dowling on the poor performance by the group.
Dowling, however, responded on the last shot, sticking her tee shot within 2 feet of the flagstick - good enough for three points. Sarah Sasse was also up to the challenge and landed her attempt inside the three-point circle to force a playoff between the two.
Theyre both great short game players, so it just came down to the point of the wind, said Danielle Amiee, sizing up the playoff.
I was just trying to hit the exact same shot I hit the first time because I hit it really solid, recalled Dowling on her pressure tee shot.
Both ladies again hit solid shots, but Dowlings stopped just an inch or two short of the two-point circle, giving Sasse the victory.
To know I dont have to go into the elimination is just such a huge relief, said a thankful Sasse about her chance to see another day.
The remaining seven ladies then made their way over to the Elimination Challenge where distance control was the key. Each player had four shots at a green, with the pin measured at 128 yards. Scoring lines where drawn across the green, and the closer the shot was to being pin high, the more points they would secure. After each contestant hit three shots, the points would be tallied. Then each would hit a closing shot to determine who would be exiting from the show.
That (distance control) is my strength. Im an incredible ball striker. From tee to green I have so much confidence, said Amiee on the days final challenge.
Valeria Ochoa started strong with a nine-point effort which all but ensured her making it to another show . On the other end of the scale was Dowling, who missed the green to the left on two of her shots and netted only three points on her final effort.
Big Break III
The two final combatants share a hug after their sudden death playoff was decided.
It was now down to the contestants last shot, with Dowling needing something big to happen to stay alive.
Dahmer, who only scored five points in her first go-round, then missed the green, setting Dowling up with a chance to win, lose or force a sudden death playoff. Her subsequent shot landed in the two-point zone to send the two into an Elimination Challenge shootout.
Dahmer was up first and put the pressure back on Dowling with an approach shot that was worth three points. Then the real drama began as Dowling lofted her playoff approach toward the pin. The ball landed in the three-point zone but started to spin back into the two-point area, which would be cause for elimination.
With the golf gods smiling down on her, Dowlings shot finally came to rest on the line, forcing yet another playoff round.
Golf is a game of inches and right there it was proven, said Dahmer about Dowlings fortunate break.
Dowling then turned the tables and hit the bulls eye on her closing approach, thus handing Dahmer her walking papers.
Its tough to say goodbye but somebody has to win, said a dejected Dahmer. You gotta be able to pull off the shots and when you dont, thats it - youre gone.
Be sure to tune in next Tuesday at 9 p.m. (ET) when the ladies face a rather large obstacle and the emotions run high.
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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.