Sorenstam Back with the Boys
For the third time this year, the worlds top female player will compete against the fellas, this time in The Skins Game.
Sorenstam will take on Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson and defending champion Mark OMeara in the $1 million event, which will be contested at Trilogy Golf Club in La Quinta, Calif.
This is Sorenstams maiden appearance in this skins game, but it is not her first foray into such a competition.
The 48-time LPGA Tour winner has played in four LPGA Skins Games ' winning in 1997. She also got a nice tune-up for this particular event by competing in the Tiger Skins exhibition two weeks ago in Singapore.
Sorenstam, who became the first woman in 58 years to compete on the PGA Tour when she missed the cut in the Bank of America Colonial, collected five skins for $35,000 to finish second behind Retief Goosen. She was the lone female in the four-person field, which also consisted of Jesper Parnevik and local player Lam Chih Bing.
(The) experience I got that week, I know I can win a few Skins, Sorenstam said. I think my chances are par 3s; I noticed on the par 5s and 4s when they hit the driver they just hit the so much further, but I am happy with my game right now.
Hopefully I can continue to play like this, and make a birdie on the right hole and win the right skin it will be all mine.
Sorenstam has won six times on her tour this year, and nearly made it a seventh last week in the LPGA's season-finale.
Meanwhile, her competition is far from championship form.
Mickelson failed to win a tournament this season, and went 0-5 in last week's Presidents Cup. Couples, who won this year's Shell Houston Open, is continuing to battle a bad back. And O'Meara is coming off his worst financial season in his lengthy PGA Tour career.
This is the first time the par-72, 7,085-yard Trilogy venue has played host. It is the seventh different venue in the events 21-year history.
OMeara won last years edition over Tiger Woods, Mickelson and Couples by finishing with eight skins and $405,000.
OMeara will be competing in this annual event for a fifth time. He won in 1998 and 2002, and finished second in 97 and 99. With $1,320,000, he trails only Couples in career Skins earnings.
Couples is making his record 10th appearance. He is the most prolific player in Skins history. He holds the record for Most Career Skins Won (58), Most Career Skins Money ($2,270,000) and most birdies in one year (nine, in 1999).
He won in 1995, 96 and 99, and has earned at least three skins in each of his 10 career starts.
Mickelson returns for the second straight year. The San Diego native made his debut with three skins and $300,000.
The two-day event will be televised Saturday and Sunday.
Each of the first six holes (1 through 6) will be worth $25,000. Each of the second six holes (7 through 12) will be worth $50,000. Holes 13 through 17 will each be worth $70,000, and the 18th hole, the Toyota Super Skin, will be worth $200,000. The foursome will play for $300,000 on Saturday and $700,000 on Sunday.
All four players have agreed to donate 20 percent of their winnings ($200,000) out of the $1 million purse to their favorite charities.
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.
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.
While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.
He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.
"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."
Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.
"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."