Z. Johnson captures Hyundai TOC title

By Doug FergusonJanuary 7, 2014, 1:39 am

KAPALUA, Hawaii - Zach Johnson started the new year the same way he ended the last one.

Johnson pulled away with three straight birdies on the back nine at Kapalua and closed with a 7-under 66 for a one-shot victory over Jordan Spieth in the Tournament of Champions on Monday.

Johnson didn't need any heroics, like holing out from a drop zone on the last hole when he beat Tiger Woods in the World Challenge last month in California. This was mainly about chipping and putting, and Johnson is among the best.

He hit a wedge to 8 feet for birdie on the 14th to take the outright lead for the first time. Facing a dangerous shot up a steep slope to a green with a false front, Johnson caught it perfectly on the 15th for an easy birdie. And he hit wedge to 5 feet for a third straight birdie that gave him control.

Spieth, who had a one-shot lead going to the back nine, birdied his last two holes for a 69.


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''I just picked it apart,'' said Johnson, who finished at 19-under 273. ''I didn't deviate from anything I typically do on a golf course.''

Webb Simpson, tied with Spieth and defending champion Dustin Johnson to start the final round, never caught up and closed with a 70. He tied for third with Kevin Streelman, who had a 67.

Jason Dufner was four strokes back in fifth after a 69.

Dustin Johnson made three bogeys before making his first birdie. He shot 73 and tied for sixth.

Zach Johnson might finally get some of the credit he deserves as one of the elite in golf, even though he doesn't have the raw power of his peers. This was the 11th win of his career. Since his rookie season in 2004, only Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh have won more PGA Tour events.

It also was his third win in his last six starts, dating to the BMW Championship north of Chicago in September that qualified him for the winners-only event in Kapalua.

Spieth was playing in the final group for the first time and looked poised as ever. With birdies on both par 5s on the front nine, he had the outright lead and looked as though he might become the youngest player with two PGA Tour wins since Ralph Guldahl in 1932. The signature shot was from a bunker short of the 14th green. He blasted out to 6 feet above the hole for a chance to match birdies with Zach Johnson, in the group ahead.

Except that he missed it.

And then he had to scramble for par on the 15th when what he thought was a perfect shot rolled down the slope 45 yards away. ''Yes!'' Spieth said when the ball was in flight. But when he saw it land softly and tumble down the hill, he followed that with, ''You've got to be kidding me.''

It took two chips to reach the green, and only a 10-foot par putt kept him in the game.

Spieth missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the 16th, and the two birdies at the end at least gave him a good start to his new year. He earned $665,000.

Dustin Johnson, trying to become the third back-to-back winner at Kapalua, fell back early and never quite caught up. He opened with a three-putt bogey. It took him three shots to reach the par-3 second, and he three-putted for par on No. 5.

Simpson, who received some encouraging news about the newborn of caddie Paul Tesori before starting his round, also found the wrong gear with consecutive bogeys early in the round and spent the rest of the day trying to catch up. He birdied three of his last five holes, but that wasn't enough to keep pace with the leader.

Five players had at least a share of the lead at some point in the final round, and mistakes were magnified.

Dufner holed a 60-foot eagle putt on the sixth hole and grabbed a share of the lead with a shot up the hill and into a stiff wind to 4 feet for birdie on the 13th. His mistake was making pars on the short 14th and the par-5 15th, three-putting from long range on the latter.

Masters champion Adam Scott got within one shot of the lead with an eagle on the 15th hole, only for his wedge to hit the flag on the 16th. He had to settle for par, and he closed with a bogey to finish in the tie for sixth. He never was a serious threat to win, though, not with Zach Johnson facing so many easy birdie holes and making it look easy.

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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.