Champions Tour Top 5 in 2004
No. 5 -- 3M Championship
In golf, everyone has a losing record. Tom Kites winning percentage is around .03 ' and hes in the Hall of Fame. That means Kite has won 25 and lost 792 in his combined PGA and Champions tour careers. That being said, losing, though often, is never easy to stomach, and is made all-the-more difficult when you blow final-round, back-nine leads in major championships. Kite did that in both this years Senior British Open and U.S. Senior Open ' in back-to-back weeks. One week after his second straight Sunday meltdown, however, Kite soared back into the winners circle at the 3M Championship. This time, he birdied three of his final seven holes, including the last, for a one-shot victory over Craig Stadler. It was more than just sweet redemption; it was his first taste of success in 22 bitter months.
I'm proud of this win, especially after what's happened the last two weeks, Kite said after his seventh career victory on the 50-and-over set. Out here, you've got to have selective memory.
No. 4 -- Bank of America Championship
Craig Stadler won 13 times on the PGA Tour. He has eight Champions Tour victories in just two years. Hes got a Masters title and two senior majors to his credit. But its his win at this years Bank of America Championship that may head that list of accomplishments. Its not that the BOA is the most prestigious event on the senior schedule, or that he broke any records or did anything spectacular along the way to victory. Its a combination of what he did and what happened some 550 miles away that made this triumph so special. Moments after Stadler shot 64 to whip the field in Massachusetts, he watched in the scorers tent as his son Kevin won his first Nationwide Tour event in Findley Lake, N.Y. They became the first father-son duo to win in the same week since Bob (Emerald Coast Classic) and David (The Players Championship) Duval did so in 1999.
'I never dreamed of both of us winning on the same day, the elder Stadler said. This is probably the best golfing day I'll ever have. Individual accomplishments don't even come close to this.
No. 3 -- Senior PGA Championship
There is supposed to be a window of opportunity on the Champions Tour. A window that usually closes around the age of 55. Hale Irwin, however, has broken that window into shards, and has shattered records in the process. He started the 2004 campaign with 38 tour wins and added another at ' appropriately enough ' the Legends of Golf. No. 40 would come at the Senior PGA Championship. The odds were stacked against him at Valhalla Golf Club. The course was listed at nearly 7,200 yards and was playing even longer under wet conditions. Add into the stop-and-start nature of the tournament, due to Mother Natures interference, and there was no way a man nearing 59 years of age with a bad back should win this senior survival. Unless that man is Hale Irwin. After five days of play and countless weather delays, Irwin was the last man standing. Tied with pre-tournament favorite Jay Haas, who was making his tour debut, Irwin birdied the final hole for a one-stroke victory. It was his fourth Senior PGA title and his first major victory since the 2000 U.S. Senior Open.
It's been an awkward week for everyone,' Irwin said. I'm proud, I'm relieved and I'm glad it's over.'
No. 2 -- JELD-WEN Tradition
There was a lot of debate as to who was the leading candidate for player of the year leading up to the tours final major of the season. Craig Stadler was among that select list, but he lacked a major title on his 2004 resume. And it didnt appear that would change at the JELD-WEN Tradition. That was until the 15th hole in Round 3. Eight strokes off the lead, Stadler holed a 4-iron from 207 yards for double eagle. He managed to cut his deficit to four by the start of the final round, yet still found himself well in arrears on the back nine Sunday. But while the leaders stalled and stumbled down the stretch, Stadler closed like a champion. He birdied each of his final four holes for a one-shot victory over Jerry Pate and Allen Doyle. Local favorite Peter Jacobsen, whose production company ran the Portland, Ore. tournament, excited the crowd with a share of the 54-hole lead. But a double bogey on the 71st hole sealed his fate in a tie for fourth.
Eighty of us come out here and all 80 of us don't want to spoil Peter's party,' Stadler said, before adding a wry smile.
I'm still shocked I won this week, he added. I got up to the 18th green and saw the leaderboard with the bogeys and said, 'you know they keep opening the door a little bit and somebody's going to stick their foot in there, and fortunately it was me.
No. 1 -- U.S. Senior Open
Peter Jacobsens rookie season on the Champions Tour was supposed to be a boon for both the tour and for his pocket book. Having won on the PGA Tour at the age of 49, Jacobsen was supposed to tally trophies, rake in the money, and attract legions of fans along the way. But leading up to the U.S. Senior Open it had been one big pain in the hip. Jacobsen had played in just two tournaments and had to withdraw from two more thanks to a balky ball and socket, which required surgery on April 20. He was going to skip the Senior Open, as well, but decided to give it a try -- only because it is the Senior Open. After two rounds it seemed to be a wise decision; he was tied for the lead with Tom Kite. That was the good news. The bad news was, rain had washed away play on Friday, so there would be a 36-hole Sunday. It was a worrisome proposition for a man two months removed from hip surgery, forced to traverse 36 holes in one day (carts are not allowed in senior majors). Kite moved two clear of Jake with a third-round 65, and appeared ready to add a U.S. Senior Open crown to his 1992 U.S. Open title. But back-to-back bogeys at the 15th and 16th holes in the final round derailed his confidence, and a double bogey at the last ' while he was still tied for the lead ' was the ultimate train wreck. Kite, whose daughter Stephanie was watching in the gallery, finished a heartbreaking two back. Hale Irwin and Jay Haas, both of whom have ties to the Bellerive area near St. Louis, Mo., each could have tied Jacobsen with birdies at the last, but both failed, with Haas' birdie pitch clipping the hole. Jacobsen then calmly made his necessary par for his improbable victory.
It feels unbelievable, said Jacobsen. I've played in USGA championships since I was 15 years old. U.S. Juniors, U.S. Amateurs, U.S. Opens and now my first U.S. Senior Open I competed in. I won it. I'm speechless practically.
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.