No Hanging Chad Here
26-year-old Chad Campbell had been hailed as a 'can't-miss' prospect since the beginning of the year. Sunday in Richmond, Va., at Stonehenge Golf and Country Club, Campbell started hot with a streak of birdies and finished with a birdie to capture his first Buy.Com Tour victory. His 21-under-par performance in the tournament earned him a first-place check of $76,500.
After making birdies at Nos. 1, 2 and 3 and then holing his 3rd shot at the par-5 4th for eagle, Campbell let it be known there was no hanging Chad on this particular Sunday; the rest of the field would have to out-shoot him.
They tried. Oh they tried. Veteran Kelly Gibson, who fired 64 on Saturday went low again with a Sunday round of 66. Darron Stiles had his own string of birdies to begin the day. He birdied each of the first four, but couldn't overcome Campbell's start of 6-under after six holes. J.J. Henry, himself a 26-year-old who went birdie-for-birdie with Campbell on Saturday, couldn't keep up on Sunday. He shot 1-under par on the day, finishing well back of Campbell's scorching pace of 65, the low round of the day.
So it's Campbell - a tour rookie - who wins the Richmond Open. His resume says we shouldn't be surprised. After all, he hasn't missed a cut all year and stood 9th on the money list coming into the week. If you think that sounds appealing, consider his year in 2000! All Campbell, who hails from Texas, did was win eight of the first 16 Hooters Tour events. He won 13 in all on the Hooters Tour. But until Richmond he still felt he had something to prove, and boy did he prove it!
What does this say about Campbell? It cements his place among the best on the Buy.Com Tour and makes believers out of those who were asking the young Texan to 'prove it' on the bigger stage. Now, first on the money list with more than $160,000 dollars for the year, Campbell has set himself up for more than just a good year financially. He also has a PGA Tour card well in his sights, which will be awarded to the each of the top 15 on the Buy.Com money list at year's end.
It's nice to see the Tour allow for its young guns to shine, and you can bet he'll tell you it was pleasing to beat the many veterans littering the leaderboard throughout the week. The likes of Gibson, Mike Heinen, Jim McGovern and local Richmond hero Bobby Wadkins all made their presence known, but in the end, as Gibson himself said after his round, 'No way to keep up with the kid - he's good!'
So add Campbell's name to the 'keep an eye on this kid' list, which now includes Jonathan Byrd, who won in Greenville, S.C., at the age of 23, Ryuji Imada, and David Gossett. All have been drawing raves from those in 'the know.' It's what makes this tour so much fun to cover, and so much fun to watch.
A final message then, to all those around the country and Canada too: head out to your nearest Buy.Com Tour event. These guys ARE good, and in a few years they'll be beating a group of veterans on the PGA Tour!
Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore
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.''
13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest
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.
McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi
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.
“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.
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
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."