Garcia, Leishman share Masters lead after Day 1

By Doug FergusonApril 12, 2013, 1:25 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Sergio Garcia might have written himself off too quickly at the Masters.

When last seen walking off the course at Augusta National, the impetuous Spaniard was moping about his bad luck at this tournament and said last year it was increasingly evident he would never be fitted for a green jacket.

Garcia matched his best score at the Masters on Thursday, a 6-under 66 with no bogeys on his card, to share the lead with Marc Leishman of Australia. And he still wasn't entirely happy, although this time with good reason. He hit the ball so well his score could have been so much better.

''To tell you the truth, if I manage to make a couple of the putts that kind of stayed around the lip, I could have been probably 7 or 8 under par through 10,'' Garcia said. ''It was that good. And it wasn't like I was hitting pitching wedge every single time. I was hitting 4-irons and 5-irons and 6-irons, so it wasn't that easy.''

It sure felt easy for several players in a gentle opening round – even for an eighth-grader.


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Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old from China and youngest to compete in a major in 148 years, played well beyond his age and holed a 15-foot putt from just off the 18th green for a respectable round of 73 and a reasonable chance of making the cut.

Tiger Woods wasn't far off as he began his quest for a fifth green jacket. Wild at the start, including a tee shot that knocked a cup of beer out of a spectator's hand, Woods settled into a groove and opened with a 70 as his girlfriend, Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn, watched on a few holes.

In his four Masters wins, Woods has never opened with a score lower than 70. His key is not to shoot himself out of the tournament.

''It's a good start,'' he said. ''Some years, some guys shot 65 starting out here. But right now, I'm only four back and I'm right there.''

Garcia and Leishman had a one-shot lead over Dustin Johnson, who has a game that fits perfectly for Augusta and he finally brought it. Johnson hit a 9-iron for his second shot on the par-5 13th and made a 15-foot eagle putt, and he smashed his drive on the par-5 15th and hit pitching wedge just through the green for an easy birdie.

Fred Couples, the 53-year-old wonder at his favorite major, made bogey on the 18th and still was in the large group at 68. There were a dozen rounds in the 60s, and nearly half the field shot par or better. Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson recovered from a rough start by running off four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine to salvage a 71, while Rory McIlroy had a 72.

Woods said he struggled with the slower pace of the greens, and so did defending champion Bubba Watson, who opened with a 75.

''They're soft and they are slow, and consequently we have 45 people at par or better,'' Mickelson said. ''But that means I've got to change my whole mindset and just get after these pins, because the ball's not running like it used to and I'm giving this course way too much respect because of my past knowledge.''

It's not about respect for Garcia. Augusta National is the ultimate love-hate relationship, and Thursday was a rarity. He loved it.

Garcia began his round with an approach that danced by the hole and left him a tap-in birdie. He rolled in a 20-foot birdie on the par-3 sixth, and then shot up the leaderboard with a pair of tough, downhill putts from 8 feet on the ninth and 15 feet on the 10th.

''It's obviously not my most favorite place,'' he said. ''But you know, we try to enjoy it as much as we can each time we come here. Sometimes it comes out better than others, but today it was one of those good days. Let's enjoy it while it lasts.''

That was a far different attitude than last year on the weekend, when he went from one shot out of the lead going into the third round to back in the pack with a 75. He told Spanish reporters that day he had been trying his entire career to win a major and ''I don't feel capable of winning. ... After 13 years, my chances are over. I'm not good enough for the majors. That's it.''

Not so fast.

Garcia struggled off the tee on the back nine, and he three-putted for par at the 13th. He also made tough par saves on the 11th and 17th for his first bogey-free round at the Masters since 2002.

''The last eight holes mean a lot that I kept my composure, even though I didn't hit it as well as I did the first 10 holes,'' he said.

Composure is everything to Garcia, a 33-year-old who still acts like a kid. Only three weeks ago, he hit a tee shot at Bay Hill that settled on a large branch in a tree. Garcia climbed the tree, played a remarkable backhanded shot to the fairway and then jumped some 10 feet to the ground. He withdrew a few holes later when the rain arrived.

He smiles. He sulks. And he always says what he's thinking, which sometimes get him trouble. Garcia doesn't regret his comments at Augusta last year, only that he didn't choose his words carefully. He chalked it up to frustration, but says he is trying just as hard as he did when he was 19 and challenged Woods at Medinah in the 1999 PGA.

''Every time I tee it off, I try to play as well as I can, hope that my best that week is really, really good,'' Garcia said. ''And if I manage to do that, I will have a chance at winning. If my best is not that good, then, I'll struggle a little bit. Today, my best was pretty good. And I'm looking forward to doing the same thing the next three days.''

Guan only wants to enjoy himself, and as he sat in Butler Cabin for an interview, the Chinese teen looked composed. Guan said his goal for the week was to enjoy himself, and even a score two shots better than the defending champion didn't change that.

''I think I'm pretty focused on golf,'' Guan said. ''It's made me do pretty good so far.''

Woods has higher goals. He has gone five years without winning a major, and his last Masters title was in 2005. With three PGA Tour wins and the No. 1 ranking, he is the overwhelming favorite this week.

He picked up birdies on a pair of the par 5s, and made a short birdie putt on the sixth hole. The greens befuddled him, though, and it hurt him toward the end of the round. Woods missed a 6-foot par putt on the 14th, a 5-foot birdie putt on the 15th and a 12-foot birdie attempt on the 17th.

''The biggest challenge today was just the speed of the greens,'' Woods said. ''They just weren't quite there.''

Leishman was the first player to post at 66, a moderate surprise considering he missed the cut in his only Masters appearance in 2010, and he had failed to break 70 in his last nine rounds on the PGA Tour dating to the first week in March.

The turning point was four straight birdies in the middle of the back nine, finishing with a long putt on the 16th.

''I don't know how far that was, but it was in a different zip code,'' Leishman said. ''That happens when you have a good day, and you've just got to make the most of it.''

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis – “A really tough loss to the @LPGA family. God just added a fantastic teammate in heaven. Thinking about you, Nat!”

Christina Kim – “Rest with the Angels now, Greg Sheridan.”

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews – “RIP Greg Sheridan. One of the most successful and great caddies of World Golf, period.”

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott – “Sad to hear that long-time tour caddie Greg Sheridan has passed away. Greg, you will be missed.”

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas – “The world is a sadder place today without our buddy Greg Sheridan, a caddy and a friend for lifetimes…Godspeed buddy.”

LPGA pro Jennie Lee – “So sad to hear the news of long time LPGA caddie Greg Sheridan. I remember sitting next to him on the plane from Walmart to the U.S. Open one year and he gave me the best words of wisdom on player/caddie chemistry. He will be missed greatly. Thinking of you.”

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.