Spieth sets single-season earnings mark

By Doug FergusonSeptember 27, 2015, 10:34 pm

ATLANTA - At age 22, Jordan Spieth became the first $22 million man in golf Sunday.

Spieth capped off a dream season when he poured in putts from all over East Lake and closed with a 1-under 69 for a four-shot victory in the Tour Championship. That was all he needed to become the youngest player to capture the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus.

His fifth victory of the year, including two majors, was worth $1,485,000 and allowed the Texan to set a PGA Tour record with $12,030,465. And if that wasn't enough, Spieth went back to No. 1 in the world.

His battle with Henrik Stenson long over, Spieth finished it off in fitting fashion. He made an 8-foot par putt that was never going anywhere but right in the heart.

''This is one I cannot wait to celebrate,'' Spieth said.

The first person to greet him was his little sister, Ellie, who keeps him so grounded. His parents, girlfriend, grandfather and high school friends from Dallas were at East Lake to watch another amazing performance in a year filled with them.

Stenson couldn't do much about it.


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On two holes around the turn with the Swede in tight for a certain birdie, Spieth matched him with a 20-foot birdie on the par-5 ninth and a 45-foot birdie on the par-3 11th. At that point, Stenson just stared at Spieth with a wry smile and patted him on the back.

''It's been a phenomenal year for him,'' Stenson said after a 72 to tie for second. ''I watched it firsthand at the first two rounds at Augusta, and he played phenomenal and putted phenomenal. And it was the same putting display, really, today - just an exhibition on the greens, to be honest.

''His putting and mental focus is the best in the world. It's hard to argue that.''

And there's no longer an argument for PGA Tour player of the year.

Jason Day had five victories, including his first major at the PGA Championship, and there was talk a sixth win and the FedEx Cup might put the Australian in the discussion. Not anymore. Spieth won the Masters and U.S. Open, missed a playoff by one shot at the British Open in his spirited run for the Grand Slam and was runner-up at the PGA.

Along with winning the money list, Spieth won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average.

Stenson made a $1 million putt of his own, though it was the least he could do. He was three shots behind when he shanked his shot from the 17th fairway and made double bogey. That dropped him into a four-way tie for fourth and moved him to No. 3 in the FedEx Cup. But he bounced back with a 60-foot birdie putt on the last hole to tie for second and finish No. 2 in the FedEx Cup for a $3 million bonus (instead of $2 million).

Danny Lee (65) and Justin Rose (66) joined Stenson in second place. For Stenson, it was his third runner-up finish in the FedEx Cup playoffs, and his fifth runner-up finish this year without a victory. He still has more events left on the European Tour.

But this week - and year - was all about Spieth.

Even when he missed the cut in the opening two playoff events, Spieth knew he could atone for it all by winning the Tour Championship. He showed up Monday morning to get to work on the range, and Sunday morning was even more impressive. Spieth arrived three hours before his tee time, dressed in tennis shoes as he went to the practice green.

''Early grind,'' caddie Michael Greller said.

They only do that at the majors, and Spieth approached the Tour Championship that way. Ultimately, that's what finished off his big year.

''This is incredible,'' Spieth said. ''This is an event where we approached it like a major championship. I didn't have a great playoff, but I put a lot into this week. Mentally, I stayed in it. And boy, that putter sure paid off.''

Spieth had made only two bogeys in 58 holes at East Lake until he made two in a row at Nos. 5 and 6 to fall into a share of the lead with Stenson. He three-putted the sixth by hitting his first putt 6 feet by the hole, and he left a long birdie putt on the next hole well short.

''C'mon, buddy, get your speed right,'' Spieth said as he walked off the green.

It was a gentle scolding at just the right time.

Spieth seized control with an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 8, a two-shot swing when Stenson took bogey from the trees and the bunker. The next half-hour was like a highlight reel from Spieth's year on the greens, especially the long birdie putt on the 11th.

''You're feeling like you got a good chance to make up some ground,'' Stenson said. ''But he just poured that one in the middle. It's fun to watch and just say, 'Well done.'''

There really wasn't much else to say.

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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 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.

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. 

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."