Women's PGA tee times: World No. 1 out late-early

By Randall MellJune 26, 2017, 5:37 pm

So Yeon Ryu will make her debut as the Rolex world No. 1 in a late afternoon start in Golf Channel’s window of televised coverage Thursday at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

She will get to enjoy watching her caddie, Tom Watson, fitted with the special world No. 1 bib for the first time.

Ryu is scheduled to tee it up at 2:40 p.m. ET at Olympia Fields alongside Suzann Pettersen and Gerina Piller. Golf Channel’s coverage will air from 12:30-3:30 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday with NBC televising from 3-6 p.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday

Ryu is the only player in the field with a chance at the season Grand Slam after winning the ANA Inspiration in April. It was Ryu’s second major championship victory. She has a game that appears tailored for major success. Ryu has five top-10 finishes in the last six majors. She is cumulatively 49 under par in those majors, which dates back to the start of 2016. Nobody’s better in that span with Ariya Jutanugarn next best at 47 under.

Here are the marquee pairings for the KPMG Women’s PGA (all times ET):

2:40 p.m. Thursday, 9:30 a.m. Friday: So Yeon Ryu, Suzann Pettersen, Gerina Piller

Ryu isn’t just world No. 1. She’s also first on the LPGA money list, first in the Rolex Player of the Year point standings and first in Race to the CME Globe standings. Pettersen is seeking her third major championship title. She won this event in ’07, when it was the McDonald’s LPGA Championship. Piller is seeking to make her first LPGA title of any kind. She recorded top-10

KPMG Women’s PGA Championship: Articles, photos and videos

2:50 p.m. Thursday, 9:40 a.m. Friday: Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson and Inbee Park

This trio of major championship winners should attract large galleries. Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at world No. 1 ended three weeks ago, slipped to No. 3 this week. She is winless in 11 months but has seven top-10 finishes this season. Thompson is a favorite this week. Thompson has finished T-2 or better in five of her last seven worldwide starts, a run that includes her victory at the Kingsmill Championship in May. Thompson appeared to be running away with the year’s first major until she was hit with a four-shot penalty on the back nine of the final round and lost to Ryu in a playoff at the ANA Inspiration in April.

9:40 a.m. Thursday, 2:50 p.m. Friday: Brooke Henderson, Ariya Jutanugarn and Alison Lee

Henderson is the defending champion. She defeated Lydia Ko in a playoff at Sahalee last year. Henderson arrives with a hot hand. She is coming off a victory in her last start at the Meijer Classic. Jutanugarn arrives hot, too. She won the Manulife Classic at month’s start, vaulting her to No. 1, until Ryu seized the top ranking on Sunday. Lee is looking for her first LPGA title and to mount a run to make her second U.S. Solheim Cup team. She’s seeking her first top-10 finish this season.

9:50 a.m. Thursday, 3 p.m. Friday: Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis and Sandra Gal

Wie is on a roll in a big turnaround this season. She has finished T-4 or better in four of her last five starts. She’s looking to add a major to her U.S. Women’s Open title at Pinehurst three years ago. Lewis, coming off a T-4 finish at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship last weekend, is looking for her third major championship title. Gal is looking to become the first German woman to win a major championship.

Getty Images

Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

Getty Images

Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

Getty Images

McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

Getty Images

Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.