Looking for Some Love in Greensboro

By Golf Channel NewsroomOctober 13, 2004, 4:00 pm
There are a handful of 2004 PGA Tour winners in the field for this weeks Chrysler Classic of Greensboro.
They have names like Byrd and Johnson and Parry and Pampling. But, like the controversial catcall at this years Match Play Championship, there is no Love.
Davis Love III, coming off his most productive season ever, is running out of time to add a 19th career tour title in his 19th year of tour service.
Love enters Greensboro winless ' no trophy to showcase on the mantle in his massive motor home.
He lost to Tiger Woods in the 36-hole final of the WGC-Match Play, and then finished runner-up in his next start in the Honda Classic, when Todd Hamilton pipped him with birdies over his final two holes. He has since collected four top-10s, but hasnt really contended for victory.
'Solid year, but not great,' Love said Wednesday. 'I'm kind of at a crossroads. I could make a lot of money and not really move up that much, so it's really just about trying to get a win. After this week, other than the Tour Championship, I'm sure how much I'm going to play.'
Since Bay Hill in March, Love has posted only two sub-70 scores in the first round. His first-round scoring average during this span of 14 stroke-play events is 72.86. His second-round scoring average during that time frame is almost three strokes lower, at 69.93.
Seven times this season, his second round score has been at least five strokes lower than his starting number.
I just haven't been putting four good rounds together,' he admitted earlier in the year. 'I've been having three maybe, sometimes two, but not four, and off to bad starts. Big numbers the first day and bad starts the first day have been holding me back.
There are only four tournaments, including this one, Disney, the Chrysler Championship and the Tour Championship, remaining on the 2004 tour calendar.
Love usually likes to play out the string, so he may well have four more chances to get at least one title to defend next year.
If he doesnt, the good news is that the last time he went winless in a season was 2002. He then won four times in 03, including The Players Championship.
This is his 12th appearance at Greensboro. He won here in 1992, but missed the cut last year, just months after completing his redesign on the 1962 Ellis Maples course.
'Last year, there was a lot going on,' Love said. 'The fans have always been very supportive and they want to see me do well. That's probably part of the reason why I haven't done that well up here.'
Love has one number on his side: 40. He reached the milestone birthday in April. Three of the last four champions have been at least 39 years of age. The only exception was last years winner, Shigeki Maruyama.
Maruyama, like Love, is in search of his first win of the season.
The diminutive Japanese standouts best chance at victory came in a runner-up finish at the Nissan Open. He also has five other top-10 finishes on the year.
Maruyama has won each of the last three seasons. He entered 2004 as one of only four players to have accomplished that feat. That list also included Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and Justin Leonard.
Woods, of course, knocked off Love at the Accenture to keep alive his streak (which actually extends to nine years). However, Furyk and Leonard, like Maruyama, are winless. Furyk is here this week; Leonard is not.
This is the 65th playing of the tournament, and the 28th straight time Forest Oaks Country Club (par 72, 7,315 yards) is playing host.
Only one player has ever successfully defended his Greensboro title. Sam Snead won back-to-back in 1949-50 and 1955-56. He also won the inaugural event in 1938, as well as in 46, 60 and 65 (at the age of 52).
His eight Greensboro titles are more than any other player at any other event in tour history.
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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.