Europe holds commanding lead heading into singles

By Jay CoffinAugust 18, 2013, 1:52 am

PARKER, Colo. – One way or another history will be made Sunday at Colorado Golf Club. Either Europe will win the Solheim Cup for the first time on American soil, or the Americans will complete the biggest comeback in the history of the cup.

Here’s how things look after Day 2, a very bleak day for the Americans:

Leaderboard: Morning foursomes – U.S. 2 1/2, Europe 1 1/2; Afternoon fourballs – Europe 4, U.S. 0; Total – Europe 10 1/2, U.S. 5 1/2.

What it means: Two years ago, on the eve of the 12th Solheim Cup in Ireland, many were wondering if the matches would quickly become irrelevant. If the Americans would’ve won, the overall score of the matches would’ve been 9-3 in favor of the U.S. and would’ve essentially made the rivalry seem ridiculous. But Europe won those matches with an epic singles performance and is in position to win back-to-back cups for the first time in history. This is a big deal.

Match of the day: The first fourball match in the afternoon pitted an all-rookie European team of Jodi Ewart-Shadoff and 17-year-old Charley Hull against Paula Creamer and rookie Lexi Thompson. Neither team ever had more than a 1-up advantage until the last hole and there were birdies aplenty. Ultimately Europe won 2 up. The difference was the par-3 17th hole when Thompson hit her tee shot to 5 feet and Hull hit hers to 4 feet. Thompson missed, Hull made and took the lead into the home hole.

Best of the rest: There were many good matches, and many stinkers too. The second best match of the day was a morning foursomes contest between Azahara Munoz and Karine Icher of Europe and Creamer and Stacy Lewis from the U.S. The Americans took a 4-up lead after 10 holes and appeared in the driver’s seat. But Europe won the next four holes to square the match. Sadly, the match ended when Europe butchered the 18th hole and handed the 1-up victory to the Americans.

Biggest disappointment: Easy one, the Americans got boat-raced in the afternoon and failed to record a point in the fourball session. Mostly everyone was flat and putting was abysmal. Americans didn’t even lead any of the four matches at any point on the back nine. The last time there was a clean sweep of a session in the Solheim Cup was in 2002 when Europe won afternoon fourballs 4-0.

Biggest disappointment, II: Angela Stanford. It’s difficult to imagine but she is now winless in her last two Solheim Cups. Stanford wen 0-3 two years ago in Ireland and is now 0-3 so far this week. This is her fifth Solheim Cup and her career record is 3-10-3.

Main storyline heading into Sunday: Can Europe hold on to its huge lead? History says it will. As staggering as it sounds, no team has ever come back from more than a 2-point deficit to win on Sunday. Seems unlikely this year, especially since European stalwarts Suzann Pettersen, Catriona Matthew and Anna Nordqvist all rested Saturday afternoon.

Shot of the day: This is an easy one. Anna Nordqvist aced the par-3, 180-yard 17th hole in morning foursomes to win the match, 2 and 1, against Morgan Pressel and Jessica Korda. Nordqvist was paired with Caroline Hedwall.

Quote of the day: “I love Europe, I love winning and I love beating the Americans. And we’re going to win tomorrow.” – Carlota Ciganda

Quote of the day, II: “That’s not the kind of sportsmanship that you maybe want to teach your children.” – Golf Channel analyst Judy Rankin after Michelle Wie and Jessica Korda left the 16th green and bolted toward the 17th tee before opponents Caroline Masson and Caroline Hedwall cleaned up a putt to halve the 16th hole.

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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.