Tornado Cuts Short Ladies European Event

By Golf Channel NewsroomAugust 28, 2005, 4:00 pm
Ladies European TourHELSINKI, Finland -- Lisa Holm Sorensen of Denmark claimed her maiden professional victory at the Ladies Finnish Masters today after it was ended after 36 holes.
After two rounds of 70, the 22-year-old rookie finished at a total 2-under-par 140, one shot clear of four others at one under par.
They were: Suzann Pettersen (Norway), Cecilia Ekelundh (Sweden), amateur Caroline Westrup (Sweden) and Ursula Wikstrom (Finland).
An unexpected mini tornado caused severe damage at Helsinki GC, Finland. Players were evacuated from the course after a tornado swirled over the course and lifted people and tented structures from the ground.
Two spectators and a competitor were taken to hospital with injuries after a large hospitality tent was completely lifted from its location in between the 4th and 7th greens and fifth and eighth tees.
Kirsty S. Taylor from England, who is in her fourth year as a professional on the Robe di Kappa Ladies European Tour (LET), suffered a minor head injury after she was struck on the back of the head by a pole while taking refuge inside the structure.
Eye witnesses said that, after being hit, a rope fell around Taylors neck, which she managed to release before it whipped backwards with force as the tent was blown down the fairway.
Several other players were shaken after being involved in the incident. Linda Wessberg from Sweden was struck on the arm by a flying tent pole after turning a corner on the fifth fairway.
She said: The whole tent was coming straight at me.
Tournament officials were given no warning as to the severe weather conditions and only rain showers were expected. However, forecasters later predicted more severe weather for the afternoon and hence the tournament was cancelled after 36 holes, with the final results those at the end of the second round of the tournament.
Sorensen, the surprise winner, who was previously 108th on the LET Money list, was somewhat confused after the incident, which shook up many players.
Im not really sure how to react, Sorensen said. Im happy to win but sorry that it had to happen this way.
Yvonne Cassidy, the Tournament Director, made the decision to evacuate the course at the first opportunity.
She said: I was on the third tee when all of a sudden, just out of nowhere, the tornado whipped up in the trees and started moving fast towards the Piccadilly. Thats when I started screaming in the radios to evacuate the course because it was wicked. It was not a pretty sight.
One eye witness said: The temperature just dropped and then you suddenly saw the clouds whirling around above you and everything started getting sucked up.
Local player Minea Blomqvist, who was playing the first hole at the time, said: 'Im just glad that more people werent injured. Its not the sort of thing that ever happens in Finland.
Sorensen, the eventual champion, had not yet teed off in the third round when the course was evacuated.
Having been struggling to keep playing privileges in 2006, Sorensen can now relax in the knowledge that she will be exempt for three years on the LET and will be included in the fields of some of the Tours most prestigious tournaments, such as the Weetabix Womens British Open and the Evian Masters.
The most important thing is that I get to keep my card, said the Dane, who admitted she had been nervous and had taken some advice from fellow country woman Iben Tinning the night before. I never expected to have a victory this year.
When I saw Kirsty coming in I was shaken and I felt very sorry for her and for all the other players who were crying.
Sorensen heads to the Nykredit Masters in her home country of Denmark as a champion next week, where her win may just begin to hit home.
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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.