What We Learned: Moore or less

By Jason SobelOctober 28, 2013, 1:02 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the world of golf. In this edition, our writers weigh in on Ryan Moore's future, how golf is thriving in Asia and how Suzann Pettersen is thriving there, too.

When it comes to Ryan Moore, there are plenty of reasons for optimism. Nine of his last 12 rounds have been in the 60s. He has back-to-back top 10s to start his 2013-14 campaign. After his CIMB Classic victory, the third of his career, he credited his ongoing work with his swing coach, Troy Denton, and his physical trainer. But it’s still too early to anoint Moore, 30, as one of the players ready to break through in the majors. He has only a pair of top 10s in 23 major starts, and none since 2009. He hasn’t finished inside the top 20 in his last 12 major appearances. Two of his three wins have come in late fall, when many of the world’s best are resting from a long year. Moore is a short hitter who wasn’t particularly sharp with either his irons (114th) or his putter (110th) in 2013. A year earlier, he was 61st in greens hit and 22nd in putting en route to his best season as a pro, when he had eight top 10s and a victory. If he’s to transform from consistent contender to major champion, he’ll need to continue to sharpen all aspects of his game.  Ryan Lavner

Remember the name Chang-woo Lee. I'm not going to pretend to know anything about the 19-year-old Korean other than what I've read in the wake of his Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship title, but I do know he has recent history on his side. That's because each of the last three APAC champions – Hideki Matsuyama twice; Tianlang Guan once – has made the Masters cut. Not that the folks in green jackets care about a little thing like criticism, but they opened themselves up to it when they first started granting an invitation to the inaugural winner of this event in 2009. Instead, they've helped cultivate young talent and watch it flourish. For those asking why PGA and European tour events were held in Asia both this past week and next week, one of the major reasons is growing the game in a region where it's booming. The game is only becoming bigger in the Far East, where players are growing more talented and the thirst is there for better tournaments. These few weeks, with a Korean amateur securing a Masters invitation and some of the game's best showcasing their skills, may not become the norm, but get used to it. In Asia, the game is only going to continue to thrive. – Jason Sobel

Norway's Suzann Pettersen has planted more flags in foreign nations than any Viking ever did. Pettersen is especially fond of conquering Asian events. They love her there, and she loves them back. Pettersen's win Sunday at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship was a successful title defense. She has won more than a third of her LPGA titles in Asia (5/14). She has six professional titles overall in Asia. She also won a Ladies European Tour event in China this year. Overall, Pettersen has won pro titles in nine different countries.  Randall Mell

According to the PGA Tour, Sunday’s weather delays at the CIMB Classic – two stoppages totaling nearly four hours – was the first of the 2013-14 season. While technically correct, that distinction feels a tad evasive considering the circuit’s track record with Mother Nature this year. Still, we got a primetime playoff Sunday night (Monday morning in Malaysia) between Gary Woodland and Ryan Moore, so let’s call this a push. – Rex Hoggard

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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 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.

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 four 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. 

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."