Lady Commodores Prevail in NCAA Central Regional
NORMAL, Ill. -- Vanderbilts womens golf squad added another chapter to the programs growing history by picking up its first-ever NCAA Regional title on Saturday at the par-71, 6,108-yard University Golf Course in Normal, Ill.
The Commodores posted the days best round with a 4-over par 288 for a three-day total of 893 to outdistance the second place Arizona Wildcats by nine strokes. With the title, the Black and Gold advance to the NCAA Championships at Auburn, Ala., from May 18-21, where as NCAA Central Region titlists, they will be paired with the champions of the NCAA East and West Regionals.
VU sophomore May Wood carded a final round of 1-under par 70 to finish second individually at +2 just three strokes off the pace set by Arizonas Erica Blasberg (-1). Overall, four Commodore golfers finished the tournament in the individual top 15: May Wood (second at 2-over par 215), Courtney Wood (eighth at 10-over par 223), Kristen Svicarovich (tied for 10th at 14-over par 227) and Sarah Jacobs (tied for 15th at 15-over par 228).
We were on the verge of shooting a very low round as a team today, said fourth year head coach Martha Freitag. However, this course is not really the type of course that would allow that to happen. We had very strong rounds today from May, Sarah and Kristen, while Courtney was burning the edges of the cup with her putting all day. This victory was exactly what we were hoping for coming in. When we go to nationals we will be paired together with the other regional champions in an elite group.
May Wood, a native of Signal Mountain, Tenn., opened her day by going out in 2-under par 34. For the second straight round the sophomore carded a bogey on her opening hole, but today Wood bounced back immediately with birdies at #2, #3 and #6. A bogey at #10 dropped her to 1-under for the day, while a birdie at #15 and a 4 at the par-3 17th closed out her round of 70. Over the three days, Wood was VUs most consistent player by firing rounds of 73-72-70 for a three day total of 215.
Sarah Jacobs of Whites Creek, Tenn., bounced back from a round of 85 on Friday to fire an even par 71 to strengthen the Commodore team effort. After going out in 1-over 37, the senior carded two birdies to just a single bogey on the back nine to come in at 1-under 34 to secure the even par round of 71.
Freshman Kristen Svicarovich picked a great time to post the best round of her brief collegiate career as the rookie shot a steady 1-over par 72. The Hillsboro, Ore., native tallied 15 pars, two bogeys and a birdie at hole #2.
Senior Courtney Wood (Brentwood, Tenn.) completed the scoring contingent for the Black and Gold with a 4-over par 75, while freshman Chris Brady (Cary, N.C.) carded an 8-over par 79.
Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore
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.
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.
Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again
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.
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.
McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call
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.
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.
Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title
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.
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.