U.S. Open sectional recaps: Donald in; Stricker out

By Will GrayJune 9, 2015, 2:39 am

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – One of the more grueling days on the golf calendar is now complete. Here is a look at how things fared at each of the 10 U.S. Open sectional qualifying sites on Monday, as the field for Chambers Bay is nearly filled:

Columbus, Ohio: The deepest qualifying field saw a player with significant ties to Chambers Bay come out on top. Michael Putnam hails from tiny University Place, Wash., and is as close as it comes to an expert on next week’s venue. He shared co-medalist honors with PGA Tour rookie Sam Saunders, while newly-crowned NCAA individual champ Bryson DeChambeau shared third place with David Hearn.

Qualifying spots also went to Sebastian Cappelen, Daniel Summerhays, George McNeill, Ryo Ishikawa, Brad Fritsch, Cameron Smith, Bo Van Pelt and Camilo Villegas.

A 5-for-3 playoff was required to determine the final spots, where Danny Lee, Robert Streb and D.A. Points earned berths, while Kevin Chappell and Alex Cejka were relegated to alternates.

Other notable misses include Vijay Singh, Memorial champ David Lingmerth and Steve Stricker, who will miss the U.S. Open for the first time since 2005.


Scores: U.S. Open sectional qualifying results


Memphis, Tenn.: Days after his wife, Morgan, gave birth to the couple’s first child, rookie Blayne Barber earned co-medalist honors with Tyler Duncan and Brad Elder to earn a spot in his first U.S. Open.

The other qualifiers were highlighted by Retief Goosen, whose 10-year exemption for the most recent of his two U.S. Open wins expired last year. He made it on the number, as did Andres Romero, who chipped in for eagle on his final hole of the day.

Other spots went to Tom Hoge, Brandon Hagy, Charlie Beljan, Brian Harman and amateur Davis Riley. Among the notables on the outside of the cut line were Harris English, David Toms and Martin Laird, who all missed by two shots, as well as former world No. 1 David Duval.


Jupiter, Fla.: A recent run of poor results sent Luke Donald to qualifying for the first time in more than a decade, but the former world No. 1 ensured that his streak of major appearances remained intact. Donald rebounded from a slow start to share medalist honors with Andrew Pope and amateur Jack Maguire.

The final spot went to amateur standout Sam Horsfield, who missed by a shot at the Florida sectional last year but this time around outlasted amateur Cristobal del Solar.

Notable misses included former Ryder Cuppers Chris DiMarco and Brett Wetterich.


Purchase, N.Y.: Two-time U.S. Open champ Lee Janzen earned his way back into the field for the first time since 2008, shooting rounds of 69-68 to take medalist honors. Janzen finished two shots ahead of Jamie Lovemark, while the final two spots went to Pat Wilson and Rich Berberian.

Notable misses included Johnson Wagner and four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champ Nathan Smith.


Springfield, Ohio: Fresh off a T-8 finish at the Memorial, Tony Finau made only one bogey across 36 holes and qualified with rounds of 66-67. Michael Davan, a player without status on a major tour, earned medalist honors, while the final spots went to Web.com player Stephan Jaeger and amateur Nick Hardy, who just completed his freshman year at Illinois.

Brian Stuard, who medaled in Springfield each of the last two years, missed by four shots.


Dallas: Mark Silvers earned medalist honors with rounds of 66-65, but the biggest story was 15-year-old amateur Cole Hammer, who earned a spot after opening with a 64. Hammer will be the youngest participant next week, as the other qualifying spots went to amateurs Matt Mabrey and Kyle Jones along with former Texas standout Cody Gribble and veteran Jason Allred.

Those missing out included Peter Malnati, Steve Marino, Carlos Ortiz and Bob Estes, making his first competitive start in more than a year after a shoulder injury.


Rockville, Md.: Former Navy golfer Billy Hurley III returned to the Old Line State and earned a spot in the U.S. Open, sharing medalist honors with amateur Denny McCarthy after rounds of 66-72. The final spot went to veteran Tim O’Neal, who years ago saw his Tour card vanish with a triple bogey on the final hole of Q-School.

O’Neal edged out Joshua Persons in a playoff, while notable misses included Steve Wheatcroft and Mark Hubbard.


Ball Ground, Ga.: Matt NeSmith was the hottest player of any sectional Monday, running away with medalist honors at Hawks Ridge GC. NeSmith, who plays for the University of South Carolina, carded 17 birdies and an eagle across 36 holes, cruising to a four-shot win over University of Georgia standout Lee McCoy.

Veteran Roberto Castro grabbed the third and final spot, edging out his brother Franco by a shot. Former LSU teammates Smylie Kaufman and Stewart Jolly missed out, as did U.S. Amateur Four-Ball champ Todd White.


Newport Beach, Calif.: Kevin Lucas made only two bogeys across 36 holes to take medalist honors, two shots clear of a trio that included University of Texas standout Beau Hossler, who contended at the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic. Hossler shared second place with Jared Becher and amateur Jake Knapp, while spots also went to the University of Illinois’ Brian Campbell along with Josh Anderson and Alex Kim.

Those on the outside included Patrick Cantlay, Jason Gore and Max Homa, while Fred Couples withdrew before play began.


Cle Elum, Wash.: The day’s final qualifier produced a trio of University of Washington products, each of whom will have plenty of support at Chambers Bay. The list is led by standout Cheng-Tsung Pan, who earned medalist honors with two straight rounds of 1-under 69, while the other two spots went to another pair of Huskies, Richard Lee and Troy Kelly.

Those missing out included University of Oregon head coach Casey Martin, who came up five shots short.

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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 four 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."