Tiger Tracker: Day 1 vs. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano

By February 22, 2012, 10:02 pm

MARANA, Ariz. – Tiger Woods, the fifth seed in the Sam Snead bracket, defeated No. 12 Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano in the opening-round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, 1 up. GolfChannel.com senior writer Randall Mell is at Dove Mountain and tracked their Day 1 match. (Rex's running blog | Match recapsScoring)

No. 18 (par 4, 480 yards): Woods was finally able to smile at the 18th green. With a terrific up and down from a greenside bunker, with an 8-foot par save, he halved the hole to win the match, 1 up. 'Neither one of us played our best,' Woods said. Frernandez-Castano left saying he felt like he let a golden chance get away. (Score: Woods wins, 1 up)


No. 17 (par 4, 482 yards): Tiger Woods' body language was not quite the equivalent of a four-letter word after he missed a 10-foot birdie chance to close out the match at the 17th, but it's close. Still, he leads with one to play. (Score: Woods 1 up through 17)


No. 16 (par 3, 247 yards): Gonzo is feeling no love. After a short missed putt for par at the 16th, the spectators let out some whoops and yelps. You can't say they were simply cheering a Woods' win. Woods had yet to hole out his par. Woods did, though, taking a 1-up lead. (Score: Woods 1 up through 16)


No. 15 (par 4, 343 yards): The spectators around the 15th hole were not nice at all. When Gonzo missed his short birdie chance to halve the hole, folks cheered heartily. The match is all square after a brilliant birdie from Woods. He drove the 343-yard green and just missed a 20-foot eagle chance. Gonzo is working against the will of the crowd. (Score: AS through 15)


No. 14 (par 4, 449 yards): Woods misses the green deep at the 14th, but he nearly holes out a delicate chip. Gonzo misses a 15-foot birdie chance to go 2 up. (Score: GFC 1 up through 14)


No. 13 (par 5, 583 yards): Woods misses a 10-foot birdie chance at 13, and he remains 1 down. Woods hasn't adopted Gonzo's claw grip. Not yet anyway. Actually, Gonzo had an 8-foot chance to win the hole but couldn't claw it in. (Score: GFC 1 up through 13)


No. 12 (par 3, 219 yards): After a double-bogey and a bogey to lose back-to-back holes, Woods gets a tourniquet on it at the 12th. He stops the bleeding with a 6-foot part save to halve the hole and stay 1 down. (Score: GFC 1 up through 12)


No. 11 (par 5, 659 yards): Woods offers Gonzo a gift at the 11th. With a scrambling par out of the desert, Gonzo goes 1 up in what is becoming a very sloppy match. Woods got in trouble with a questionable second shot left in the desert. A combination of poor choices and poor swings is hurting Woods. (Score: GFC 1 up through 11)


No. 10 (par 4, 493 yards): Holy Bush Whacker! Woods loses the 10th hole making a dreadful double-bogey through desert trouble. Gonzo goes all square winning the hole with a bogey. Woods was lucky to get out of the desrt without a snake bite or cactus needles stuck in his rump. Woods pulled his drive left into desert, and with a terrible lie, with a bush in his back, he hacked under another bush. From there, he whacked a shot through the bush but short in a waste area. Need we go on? (Score: AS through 10)


No. 9 (par 4, 476 yards): Woods let Gonzo off the hook at the ninth. Instead of 2 up, Woods makes the turn 1 up. Despite a wild pulled left approach, and a skulled chip over the green, Gonzo halved the hole. He did so after Woods striped his drive, then hit the green in regulation. Woods, though, three-putted from about 83 feet. Woods missed about a 4-footer to win the hole. (Score: Woods 1 up through 9)


No. 8 (par 5, 576 yards): Woods is walking differently now. He is feeling 'it' as he takes a 1-up lead at the eighth. After striping a driver and carving a gorgeous 3-wood right at the pin at this par 5, barely over the green, he gets up and down for birdie and wins the hole. (Score: Woods 1 up through 8)


No. 7 (par 4, 486 yards): We are all square. Tiger got his first birdie of the match in a big way, awakening his slumbering putter with a 50-foot bomb to win the seventh hole. After that shaky start, Woods is finding some rhythm. (Score: AS through 7)


No. 6 (par 3, 185 yards): At the sixth, Woods misses 12-foot birdie chance, but he still halves the hole. You can see Woods beginning to feel it now, feel his swing. (Score: GFC 1 up through 6)


No. 5 (par 4, 536 yards): Tiger Woods got his ball in the hole first, finally, at No. 5. Though he missed a 10-foot birdie chance, Woods wins the hole when Gonzo cannot get up and down for par. Gonzo was first in the hole at the first four holes. (Score: GFC 1 up through 5)


No. 4 (par 4, 393 yards): Gonzo is making a habit of getting his ball in the hole first, doing it again by holing nice 6-foot par save at the fourth. That makes Tiger's 3-footer more testy, but Tiger matches. Gonzo has been first in the cup at all four holes. (Score: GFC 2 up through 4)


No. 2 (par 5, 574 yards)/ No. 3 (par 3, 208 yards): Tiger Woods falls 2 down after two holes. He matches pars at the third. A pushed drive into the desert at the second leads to Woods losing the hole despite nice left-handed escape from desert shrub. Woods' biggest mistake so far is allowing Gonzo to build confidence. (Score: GFC 2 up through 3)


No. 1 (par 4, 460 yards): Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano immediately puts pressure on Tiger's putter, making 12-foot birdie at the first. Tiger can't answer with birdie chance from 8 feet. Fernandez-Castano goes 1 up. Notably, Gonzo switched to a claw grip last year to right some putting woes. He won the Barclays Singapore Open with it. (Score: GFC 1 up through 1)


Watch live coverage of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Golf Channel, Thursday/Friday 2-6PM ET; Saturday noon-2PM ET; Sunday 8AM-1PM ET. NBC coverage can be seen live Saturday/Sunday, 2-6PM ET.

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

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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.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he 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.