Not A Bad Idea at All

By Kraig KannNovember 15, 2001, 5:00 pm
2001 Warburg CupThe inaugural UBS Warburg Cup begins Friday with teams comprised of players in their 40s (Mark O'Meara, Nick Faldo) and in their 70s as well (Arnold Palmer).
Actually, the idea pits two 12-man teams divided equally with players in the 'over 40' category and the 'over 50' category. The United States vs. The World, as it's being billed, is taking place at the famed Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. Who cares if the wind blows and the scores soar, right?
As World Team competitor Des Smyth of Ireland put it, 'You look up and down the range and it's just awesome!'
With names like Palmer and Gary Player serving as 'playing captains' who will lead others like O'Meara and Faldo, Tom Watson and Bernhard Langer, Mark Calcavecchia and Ian Woosnam, Raymond Floyd and Isao Aoki, Curtis Strange and Sam Torrance, this cup has the chance to runneth over with excitement.
Watson himself said this is a great opportunity and a fantastic event in the making. 'Its kind of a nice replacement for the Ryder Cup this year. An unfortunate one. But this will be fun and definitely competitive.'
The resumes speak for themselves. More than 1000 tournament wins between the 24 competitors and 66 majors. Granted, 18 come from the now non-playing team member Jack Nicklaus, who had to withdraw from the event due to injury. He was replaced by Dana Quigley, who showed up on the putting green before Thursday's pro-am brimming with excitement. 'This is like a Christmas present!' he said.
What sets this competition apart from, say, the Ryder Cup or Solheim Cup, is that there's a purse at stake, and actually a pro-am taking place prior to Friday's opening matches. The winners will each take home $150,000 and those on the losing side will pocket $100,000 each. Not bad with the holidays drawing near.
U.S. team member Scott Hoch, a two-time PGA Tour winner in 2001, told me at a Wednesday night dinner that this event has great promise. 'I think its great,' he said, 'I'm really glad to be a part of it.'
What will make this event stand out - I hope - is the chance for competition going hand-in-hand with entertainment. I know it's tough to tell Hale Irwin and Raymond Floyd to smile and shake hands while contemplating shots in a 'four-ball' match, but if they can do it, and even shake a few hands along the fairway, this will be an event that could grow. It is scheduled for at least the next five years.
I'm certainly not advocating a rebirth of the 1991 Ryder Cup matches, which forever live as the 'War by the Shore.' In fact, I hope Bernhard Langer makes the putt at the 18th this time around. I hope Mark Calcavecchia makes his way to the clubhouse with a string of birdies instead of looking for a rope to hang himself.
I can't wait to walk the fairways with these stars, and my hunch is that those who come out or watch our coverage on The Golf Channel will have just as much fun. After all, don't we deserve some fun with the current state of affairs going on around us?
What a chance for fans to make their way to the island, see some of the games greatest and take a stroll on a course rich with tradition. Don't miss it!
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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.