A Little Bit of Everything

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 2, 2009, 5:00 pm

SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT: The PGA Merchandise Show made its annual appearance at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. The 56th edition featured some 10 miles of Show aisles and approximately 1,100 interactive exhibits.
Backspin Multiple choice question ' the PGA Show is: A) a place where people try to convince you that you need to spend $500 on a new driver instead of on your children. B) a place where you can find someone pushing head covers of a skunk's anus. C) a place where beautiful women in skimpy outfits pretend to know golf but couldn't tell you what separates Canada from Mexico. D) All of the above (and then some).

DON'T OVERSTAY YOUR WELCOME: Phil Mickelson made his 2009 debut at the FBR Open, an event hes twice won. Not only did he fail to add a third title to his resume, he missed the cut, shooting 76-73.
Backspin When Tiger Woods was sidelined it was assumed ' naturally ' that Mickelson would benefit the most. Instead, hes slipped to fourth in the world ranking and hasnt won since before the 08 U.S. Open. Maybe the real Lefty will return when Tiger does.

LUCKY 13: Kenny Perry, playing in his 22nd straight FBR Open, made a 22-foot birdie putt on the third hole of sudden death to claim his 13th Tour victory. The 48-year-old, who bogeyed 18 to force the playoff, defeated 32-year-old Charley Hoffman.
Backspin Perry usually doesnt heat up until summer time, but this victory couldnt have come at a better time. His father has had two stents put in his heart. His mother has blood cancer and is in an assisted-living facility. And his wifes mother fell at a fast-food restaurant, breaking her knee cap and two vertebrae. Winning doesnt cure everything, but hopefully it helps a little in the healing.

YOUTH PREVAILS: Rory McIlroy notched his first European Tour victory, taking down one of the best fields of the year at the Dubai Desert Classic. The 19-year-old from Northern Ireland survived not only stiff competition, but myriad weather delays and suspensions of play to win by one over Justin Rose.
Backspin Europe needs young stars and it seems to have one in McIlroy. The best thing for the tour is that if the Race to Dubai is successful it actually has a good chance at keeping their talent on the home tour, instead of having them defect to the U.S.

HE DEFINITELY HAS BETTER HAIR: Mark O'Meara, playing this past week in Dubai, said, prior to his victory, that McIlroy is ahead of where Tiger Woods was at the same age.
Backspin O'Meara said this about Anthony Kim as well. And recently he said this about me: 'Tiger is probably a little more athletic, but Mercer is probably a little more adept at using a remote control than Tiger is at their current age (both 33). Rarely does Baggs get caught for more than a split second on a channel like Lifetime.'

MR. SUNSHINE ... FOR NOW: Colin Montgomerie was named the 2010 European Ryder Cup captain at Celtic Manor in Wales. Montgomerie, who will be 47 when the competition begins, will be Europe's youngest ever captain.
Backspin He will also be the most entertaining and engaging captain ever ' on either side ' until Oct. 3, 2010, when the U.S. comes from behind to repeat as champions. He'll then be asked his thoughts on the outcome and he'll respond as only Monty can, 'No, it feels great to lose. Wonderful, actually. Why did you ask me that question? Why are you even allowed to breathe?'

GINN AND BEAR IT: Ginn Resorts announced that they were immediately dropping sponsorship of all golf tournaments, which includes the LPGAs Ginn Open and the Champions Tour Ginn Championship.
Backspin That's crushing news for the LPGA. The Ginn was one of the tour's most popular and most lucrative events. Maybe they can join in on the lawsuit the PGA Tour has already filed against Bobby Ginn and company for breach of contract. Word of advice, courtesy X-Files, for all professional organizations: Trust no one.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: FBR Open officials announced a weekly attendance total of 470,294. The Buick Invitational field list was released last Friday ' without Tiger Woods on it. Mercedes-Benz signed a two-year deal to become the official car sponsor of the Northern Trust Open. ... The Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl.
Backspin In the words of Judge Smails, Pfff I dont believe it. Theres still talk about Tiger returning at the Match Play. Crazy talk. Good thing. That event would have a tough time attracting a good field otherwise, what with only Riviera, Los Angeles and a $6.3 million purse to offer. ... Santonio Holmes' feet never left the ground on the winning catch. Just like Phil Mickelson's after winning the 2004 Masters.

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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.