DJ wins weather-shortened Barclays over Kuchar

By Doug FergusonAugust 27, 2011, 5:49 pm

EDISON, N.J. – Dustin Johnson beat the rain and everyone else Saturday at The Barclays to win the opening FedEx Cup playoff event.

Johnson shot a 29 on the front nine of rain-softened Plainfield Country Club for the second straight day and closed with a 6-under 65 to pull away from mistake-prone Matt Kuchar for a two-shot victory.

The Barclays was reduced to 54 holes because of Hurricane Irene, and there was as much drama in the sky as on the course. Kuchar started the third and final round with a one-shot lead. If the round could not be completed because of too much rain, the tournament would have reverted to 36 holes and Kuchar would have been declared the winner.

The rain came down hard right after Johnson holed a bunker shot for eagle on the fourth hole. But it held off just long enough for Johnson to collect his first win of the year and fifth of his career. He becomes the first player since Tiger Woods to go straight from college and win in each of his first four years on the PGA Tour.

“We got lucky,” said Johnson, who moves to No. 4 in the world ranking. “The weather held up for us long enough.”

Johnson, who finished at 19-under 194, wasn’t the only big winner on Saturday.

Ian Poulter birdied four of his last five holes for a 64, making him one of eight players who moved inside the top 100 in the FedEx Cup standings and advance to the second playoff event next week outside Boston.

William McGirt, the last of the 125 players who qualified for the playoffs, birdied the 17th hole that pushed him to No. 96. Padraig Harrington went from No. 124 to No. 80 with his tie for 13th. And then there was Ernie Els. He would have been eliminated had the tournament been cut short to 36 holes. Els had a 67 to from 118th in the standings to No. 99.

“You’re trying to survive. It’s desperation,” Els said. “It’s sadistic. In a way it’s fun, if you’re into that (stuff).”

Johnson goes atop the FedEx Cup standings as the four-tournament race begins for the $10 million prize.

The course was so soft and vulnerable to low scoring that Brandt Snedeker made an early run at 59 when he birdied his opening five holes and went out in 29. He was slowed by a bogey on the 14th and wound up with a 61 to tie for third with Vijay Singh, who had a 68.

Kuchar and Johnson, however, separated themselves quickly with a riveting front nine.

Johnson opened with back-to-back birdies to briefly take the lead, and then the fun began. Kuchar birdied the par-3 third for a two-shot swing when Johnson missed the green. Johnson responded with a two-shot swing of his own by driving into the bunker on the 328-yard fourth and holing out for eagle, while Kuchar had to scramble for par.

They matched birdies on the fifth, seventh and ninth greens, and that’s where Johnson showed that extra work on his putter was paying off. He holed a 25-foot birdie on the seventh when Kuchar already was in tight, then a tricky 12-foot putt on the ninth after Kuchar had laid back and spun his approach into 4 feet.

Kuchar caught Johnson with a 15-foot birdie on the 11th, but it unraveled after that.

Kuchar decided to lay up on the par-5 12th - Johnson was in the rough and had no choice - figuring that his wedge game would lead to birdie. But he was on a slope in between wedge, an awkward shot to a tough pin, and his shot landed in the middle and spun back off the green.

He rolled his putt some 6 feet past the hole and missed the next one for bogey to fall one shot behind. On the next hole, Kuchar again had a length putt from just off the green and rammed them past the hole and off the green on the other side to make another bogey. Just like that, he was two shots behind. Against Johnson, it was hard to make that up.

“Sunday tendencies are to come up a little short, and I gave it a little extra,” Kuchar said. “Very frustrating because I feel like that’s the strong part of my game.”

Crews had removed the scoreboards before the last round because of the approaching hurricane, although it didn’t matter to the guys trying to win the tournament. They knew were they stood.

It was farther down the list, where players were trying to get into the top 100 to keep chasing the $10 million FedEx Cup, where it mattered. McGirt had some help from his wife, who was in the gallery.

From the 17th fairway, she flashed “101” with her fingers, to indicate where he was projected to finish in the standings. He pulled 7-iron and produced the “best swing I made all week, bar none” to 5 feet for birdie.

Johnson now has the most wins (5) of any American in his 20s, although this one seemed overdue. He had gone nearly a year since his last win, despite having chances at a World Golf Championship in March and the British Open in July.

He showed off his power by hitting driver on just about every hole, enough to clear bunkers and other trouble. And his putting carried him, especially the key birdies to match Kuchar on the front nine.

The only help he needed was from the weather, and Johnson got that, too.

He grabbed the crystal and the $1.44 million for winning, spoke to the press and then raced across the parking lot to get to a private airport and fly home to South Carolina for a few days. The Deutsche Bank Championship doesn’t start until Friday.

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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.