Woods Wie Beat of Two Drums

By Kraig KannSeptember 15, 2006, 4:00 pm
This week the sagas continue. Two players detailed, discussed and debated more than any other trying to win a golf tournament. But my how different their worlds have become.
Lets start with Tiger Woods, who this week set sail overseas with sights set on a sixth win in six starts. His previous five included two major championships, a WGC event, his Deutche Bank stop in Beantown, and yet another title that included keys to a new Buick. Five wins in completely different fashion ' proving that Woods can do -- and does -- whatever it takes to hold the trophy when its finished.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has won seven times on the PGA TOUR this season.
If youve been one to find fault with Woods over the last five years or so.. then stop. Forget about the reasons you challenged his thought process. Dismiss the criticism of his swing changes. Laugh at the preposterous belief that hed fallen prey to a slump. Quit thinking that Hank Haney isnt a good match.
Nobodys perfect, including Tiger. But when it comes to winning, to use his lingo: hes close.
In order of wins, this streak of five provides a clinic in the art of How To. Irons off the tee to win the British at Royal Liverpool. More birdies at the Buick than migrate south each year before winter. A Sunday throttling of Luke Donald and everyone else who believed they could put more red on the board, or in their wardrobe, than Woods himself at the PGA Championship. A back-nine blip at Firestone, as if on purpose to light a fire necessary to remind Stewart Cink and us that he can come from behind and outlast any challenger in a playoff. And then a Monday charge in Boston to make Paul Revere proud and Vijay Singh forget all about his awesome display on Sunday.
Whatever it takes, Woods does it. And just when we find reason to believe that Phil Mickelson or someone else might be fit for a challenge, Woods proves hes really no match.
Take it from Lee Trevino. A major champion, Lee watched Jack Nicklaus dominate the game in an era that included Palmer and Watson, Trevino and Floyd, Player and Casper, and made the assessment recently that if Woods were in the mix, only Jack would be able to give him a run with some dose of regularity, and he might not have gotten him very often.
If that isnt saying something, then what is?
This week provided a chance at the six-pack, if you will - Woods joining 15 others (including six other Ryder Cup members) in a tune-up for the Ryder Cup at the World Match Play outside London.
And, though he lost to Shaun Micheel in the first round, five straight is still not too bad.
By the way, 53 victories on the PGA TOUR for Tiger is exactly fifty-three more than Michelle Wie has earned on any professional tour of duty.
And so where is Michelle this week in hopes of getting her first? Shes rubbing shoulders again with the big boys at the 84 Lumber Classic in Pennsylvania. And after her appearance overseas on the European Tour last week, ruffling feathers might be a more proper way to describe the state of her very presence on any tour right now.
Ive said it before. And Ill say it again. I like Michelle Wie a lot. Shes a charming teenager with a phenomenal amount of ability and the potential to be a dominant force for years to come.
But its very good for her that charming comes before ability, because right now the million-dollar smile and the classy way she carries herself isnt outweighing friction from comments last week on the mens European Tour about hopes to give the -- gulp -- Ryder Cup a try someday.
Teenagers are allowed to dream big. We encourage it in our children. We admire it in those who achieve greatness. But the time and the place for a speech like that is in the bedroom mirror during some quiet time after a few victories. Not in front of the media with a Ryder Cup just a few weeks away.
I give Michelle all the credit in the world for her finishes in LPGA majors over the past few years. Her consistency in the big ones rivals so few.
But imagine the conversation in the Ryder Cup team room next week. What might rookies Brett Wetterich and J.J. Henry be thinking? And what would Woods and Mickelson be uttering? And one could only wonder what Annika was saying to herself.
Someday soon, 16 year-old Michelle becomes 17-year-old Michelle and suddenly the age becomes much the same as Paula Creamers was when she jumped aboard the LPGA train. Cristie Kerr was young, too. Look at their resumes.
Talent is one thing. Shes got that and then some. But if things dont calm down a bit, the million-dollar smile and the millions in the bank arent going to keep the millions who love to watch her play from calling her into further question. Twelve with superstar talent hasnt equated to 16 with a stack full of victories.
Tiger did it one way. Michelle is doing it another way. For Wie, the jury is still out. But juries can be awfully tough.
Just ask Tiger.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
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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.