Nari Kim Takes Day 1 Futures Tour Lead
'It was steady golf on the front nine but somehow on the back nine I ran into more trouble, so it was kind of a strange way to do it,' Kim said. 'I actually had more birdie chances on the front nine than the back nine.'
While Kim might be a rookie on paper with the Duramed FUTURES Tour, some background research on the first-year player reveals an experienced veteran who has put her time in with the LPGA and KLPGA. Last season, she recorded a career-best tie for 17th at the SBS Open at Turtle Bay on the LPGA Tour. A native of Seoul, South Korea, Kim blazed through the morning sun to carve out five birdies on the scorecard and take an early lead heading into Saturday's second-round action.
Coming off of a 16th-place tie in the season-opening Bright House Networks Open in Lakeland, Fla., Wigger had her sights set on bigger things in Daytona Beach. The former four-time Academic All-American at Virginia stormed through the back nine with four birdies including back-to-back birdies on No. 17 and 18 to head into the clubhouse.
'I played pretty well, I putted awesome,' said Wigger, of Louisville, Ky. 'I had 24 putts on the day. I just had one really bad hole and ended up doubling No. 7. It was just a great round with solid ball-streaking and solid play.'
Wigger could tell the momentum was on her side on the 13th hole when she hit a drive that caromed near the trees, but received a lucky bounce. On her ensuing provisional shot, Wigger stuck the ball three feet from the pin to set up her birdie streak. As a senior at UVA, Wigger tied for second at the 2006 NCAA Fall Preview at the LPGA International Golf Course and has played the course on numerous occasions, prompting her to call it a home course.
Two-Time 2007 Tournament Champion Leon Finds Red Numbers in Season Debut
Two-time Duramed FUTURES Tour winner Taylor Leon made her anticipated season debut in Daytona Beach and finished at 1-under par with a 71 in her first round of the year. The top individual at the CIGNA Golf Classic in Bloomfield, Conn., and the Betty Puskar Golf Classic in Morgantown, W.Va., as a rookie, Leon captained the winning pro-am team earlier in the week and battled back from a bogey on her first hole today to rattle in three birdies on the front nine.
'I definitely played better than what I have been playing,' said Leon of Dallas. 'I hit the ball well and made some good putts, but I feel like I could have played better. I don't know why that first hole always gets me, but I just stayed focused, made a birdie (on No. 5) and calmed down.'
Leon is no stranger to the LPGA International Course, finishing at 2-under par in the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament last fall to earn conditional status and tying for fourth at the 2006 NCAA Fall Preview in Daytona Beach with the University of Georgia. She also tied for 33rd at the 2004 Rolex Junior Girls Championship.
A non-exempt member of the LPGA Tour and two time first-team NGCA All-American in Athens, Ga., Leon was ninth on the Duramed FUTURES Tour money list as a rookie despite playing only eight events.
AMERICAN SYSTEMS Makes Corporate History
The second tournament on the calendar of the Duramed FUTURES Tour schedule signified the first sports-sponsored event for the Chantilly, Virginia-based AMERICAN SYSTEMS. Founded in 1975, the company provides systems engineering, technical and managed services to government and private sector customers. Executive Vice President Bobby Christian was on hand with Duramed FUTURES Tour CEO Zayra Calderon in Daytona Beach to present awards following the pro-am tournament and was on a team led by second-year Duramed FUTURES Tour player Caroline Larsson of Stockholm, Sweden.
March Madness Extends to the Links
With the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament coming to a close in San Antonio, Texas, the college rivalries continue to heat up on the course - just ask former UCLA Bruin Mo Martin and former North Carolina Tar Heel Ashley Prange. The pair set up a bet for dinner between Martin's Bruins and Prange's Tar Heels if they meet in the title game. UCLA would have to knock off Memphis and UNC would have to down Kansas for the showdown to take place. Martin's former teammate at UCLA, Bridget Dwyer, helped her pro-am to a second-place finish. The Jayhawks are represented on the Duramed FUTURES Tour roster by rookie and 2007 Big 12 champion Amanda Costner, who is not in the tournament field this week.
Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead
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."
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.
Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore
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.''
13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest
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.
McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi
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.
“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.