WGC's winner likely to be a 20-something

By Jason SobelAugust 5, 2011, 11:13 pm

AKRON, Ohio – Call it a coincidence or call it a reflection of the current state of the game. Either way, facts are facts.

There are four players tied for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational lead entering the weekend and at age 31, Adam Scott is the oldest of the quartet – by three years.

In a season that has already seen Rory McIlroy win the U.S. Open at 22, there have been a dozen different twenty-somethings who have claimed PGA Tour titles, tying last year’s total as the second-most since 2000.

Tied with Scott is one of those players – Keegan Bradley, who won the Byron Nelson Championship – plus another who already owns a career victory in Ryan Moore and a third in Rickie Fowler who looks poised to win not only soon, but often.

That foursome shares the lead at Firestone Country Club, each at 8 under through 36 holes. Of course, they each took different journeys to the top of the leaderboard.

The elder statesman of the four, Scott followed an opening-round 62 with an even-par 70 on Friday, posting just two birdies against two bogeys.

“Obviously I had a lot of momentum yesterday and seemed to find my rhythm off the tee and into the greens and on the greens,” he said. “But today was a little tougher. I started really solid, but couldn't make anything on my first nine. And then I just hung a couple drives out to the right, so I was in the rough and scrambling a little bit coming in. But it was fairly solid golf, other than that.”

Bradley put on a second-round ball-striking display, hitting 15 of 18 greens in regulation in shooting a bogey-free 65. And he couldn’t have been happier about it.

“I played a great round of golf today,” he maintained. “It was really fun. It’s great to be out here at Firestone in the middle of contention at this tournament. Today was one of the more fun days of my career, for sure.”

“Fun” may not be how Fowler described his round, even if it was the most eventful of anyone in the field. Finishing on the course’s back nine, he didn’t card a single par on his final eight holes, instead making an eagle, four birdies and three bogeys en route to a 6-under 64 – the low round of the day.

“It was kind of just go, stop for a second, go, stop for a second,” Fowler said. “But it's fun. It's always nice to know that making a lot of birdies is a good thing. There's always something good to take out of it. I just happened to make a couple of bad swings and mistakes there that cost me a couple strokes, but hopefully we'll set those aside for the weekend and move on.”

Moore enjoyed what can best be described as a triple bounce back in the middle of his round, finishing his front nine with three consecutive bogeys, only to begin his back nine with three consecutive birdies. In all, he carded seven birdies on the day, finishing with a second straight 66.

“This is where you want to be obviously going into the weekend,” he explained. “Just shooting a couple solid 4 under rounds of golf where I kind of fought through a little early frustration today and still hung in there and had a good back side. And yesterday was just a good, solid all-around day. Kind of doing it two different ways, but two really good solid rounds of golf are a really good way to start off a tournament.”

The four co-leaders may be a youthful group, but as we’ve seen so many times this season, youth can often prevail on the biggest of stages.

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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

"I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.