A Plea for Perspective

By Kraig KannSeptember 2, 2005, 4:00 pm
Does it really matter if Tiger Woods wins this week? Is it big news if Davis Love, Justin Leonard, Sean O Hair or Fred Couples wins the battle at the Deutsche Bank Championship and blows Woods away in the process? Hardly.
My wifes sister and family have called New Orleans, La., home for the past ten years or so. Now, they cant even call anybody they know. And theyre not in New Orleans anyway.
Obviously, my family is not alone in what has become a national disaster with tragic implications far reaching. At first, they scurried, with their child in tow, to Memphis, Tenn., leaving a car behind and many of their personal belongings. They never imagined it could be so bad. This week theyve driven to suburban Dallas, Tex., where my brother-in-laws company has a disaster relief office. Hes working from there and the family is holed up in a hotel room for the immediate and foreseeable future. Who knows ' Dallas could become a permanent home seeing that they have no idea if their recently built home event exists.
Watching the news this week brings me back to 9/11. Like the terrorist attacks, Katrina didnt happen near my home, but it sure feels like were a part of it. This country is in trouble ' and golf hardly seems like something to get fired up over.
Hey, Im not trying to come across as 'Father Teresa' here. Were all thinking about the folks who are stranded, abandoned or simply grieving about lost family or lost possessions. Im sure as you read this, you too, are probably figuring out how to make a donation to the cause.
This week the streets in Boston are dry and clear ' except for the traffic into the TPC for the Deutsche Bank where Woods visits one of Americas great cities and hopes to knock around some of the games top stars in this Friday-Monday tournament that gets bigger and better every year.
Defending champion Vijay Singh, who trails Woods by nearly six full points in the World Ranking, wont be able to dig into that lead at an event that ends on Labor Day. His withdrawal due to back spasms will let Woods work on padding his lead even further.
To me, though, Labor Day will take on a more important meaning this week. This country has plenty of work to do as the recovery along the Gulf coast begins. Whats sad at this point is that were not yet even to the point where chain saws can begin to cut the fallen limbs from trees that took out power and homes and cars.
Ever feel overwhelmed about tasks around the house that leave you not even knowing where to begin? Imagine how leaders in New Orleans feel. Try putting yourselves in the shoes of those running the government in Mississippi.
Next weeks Solheim Cup will take on a more patriotic feel than it has in the past. America will rally around a team, but that team is playing with a greater sense of pride than ever before. And dont think captain Nancy Lopez isnt aware.
This week, golf is just golf. Its a diversion. Its not life or death. Its not even mildly important. That stuff can wait. There are folks stuck in a dome in either New Orleans or Houston right now that really cant wait. They cant wait to find out what life exists for them when things are safe.
This week, turning to The Golf Channel seems like a 'shame on you' situation. The niche channel that we all love so much is hardly where our hearts should be.
Louisianas tour professionals like Hal Sutton, David Toms, Kelly Gibson, Mike Heinen and others are more important than any tour event. And if you are inclined to want to look ahead to a golf tournament ' then wait til next months Southern Farm Bureau Classic outside Jackson, Miss., or next years Zurich Classic of New Orleans (if it is staged at all.)
Those tournaments will be worth rallying around.
For now, lets keep golf and sport in its proper perspective. Its all just a game. Life itself is a fragile thing right now for many in this country. But I know that you already knew that.
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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.

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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.''