Press Pass Redemption for Sergio

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 8, 2007, 4:00 pm
Press PassEach week, GOLF CHANNEL experts and analysts offer their thoughts and opinions on hot topics in the world of golf with the Press Pass.
Hot Topic
What is your favorite PGA Championship moment?
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist,
It would have to be the Tiger Woods-Bob May duel at the 2000 PGA at Valhalla that lasted much of the final day, not just the playoff. Close behind are Shaun Micheel's 7-iron at Oak Hill in '03 on the 72nd hole and the rainbow that appeared over the green on the last hole of Davis Love's win at Winged Foot in 1997.
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer,
The first PGA Championship I attended was in 2000 and it didn't disappoint. Valhalla is not much on the eyes, but the drama produced by Tiger Woods and Bob May that year has not been since matched. Tiger proved that week that he wasn't just a bully who beat up the little kids but then backed down when someone challenged him; he beat you up even if you fought back.
Mark Rolfing Mark Rolfing - Analyst, GOLF CHANNEL:
Sergio Garcias second shot at No. 16 at Medinah in 1999 when he was trying to chase down Tiger Woods. He carved a long iron around the tree and followed it up the fairway leaping like a gazelle. Where is that Sergio now?
Hot Topic
The amount of club pros in the PGA has been reduced the past two years to 20. Is that a good number, or should it be more or less?
Not more than 20. So few club pros make the cut. I am a huge fan of club pros and the long hours they put in with very little actual time left over to work on their games. But they do have their own national championship.
I like 10, no more than 15. As talented as they are, the club pros just can't compete in a major championship. I'd rather see those extra spots go to players not otherwise qualified in the form of exemptions -- either to international or TOUR players.
I think 20 is a good number. There still should be a club professional presence but any more than 20 would dilute the field and the stature of the event.
Which was more impressive last week: Lorena Ochoas first major win at St. Andrews or Tigers runaway sixth title at Firestone?
Tiger's was more impressive. Rory is road kill again. But Lorena's win was much more fun to watch. To win her first major at the Old Course, it was worth the wait.
Tiger's feels more impressive, but that's probably because he received far more airtime than did Lorena. However, I'll give the nod to Lorena. She's had to deal with the pressure of being ranked No. 1 yet not having won a major. She was also coming off a blown opportunity at the U.S. Women's Open. With all eyes on her, she dominated the field and won on the most historic course in all of golf. It's a shame there wasn't more than 1 1/2-2 hours worth of coverage each day.
I have to say Tigers runaway at Firestone. It was only a matter of time before Lorena would win a major like that. But Tigers victory and the way he did it shows just how dominant he is.
What is the ONE thing you are most looking forward to this week?
I'll be watching Sergio very closely for more signs of permanent scarring from Carnoustie. But the big story will center around whether Tiger completes 2007 winless in the majors.
Seeing if Tiger can finish off the major season in victorious fashion. As interesting as it will be to see if Sergio can bounce back from his heart-breaking loss at the British, I am more interested in seeing if Tiger can win his first major of the season in the final major of '07.
Will the thermometer break 100 in Tulsa? If it does anything could happen.
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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.