Creamer Gulbis Ready to Take on the World

By Lpga Tour MediaJanuary 17, 2006, 5:00 pm
2005 WomenSUN CITY, South Africa - The 2006 LPGA Tour season begins this week with the Women's World Cup of Golf at the Sun City Resort in Sun City, South Africa.
 
The unique tournament offers a $1.1 million purse (unofficial money) and features 20, two-women teams representing their respective countries. The event will be played at the Gary Player Country Club, Jan. 20-22.
 
The event is co-sanctioned by the LPGA and the Robe di Kappa Ladies European Tour (LET), with countries qualifying from both Tours to compete. The tournament, which in last year's inaugural event became the first-ever truly worldwide team competition co-sanctioned by both Tours, consists of a three-day, 54-hole competition with a different format on each day: 18 holes of foursomes; 18 holes of four-ball; and 18 holes of stroke play. The winners will be determined by combining each team's scores from all three days.
 
Every country participating is capable of winning, but heading into the event England, Japan, Sweden and the United States have to be among the favorites. Japan returns as the defending champions as 12-time Ladies Professional Golfers' Association of Japan (JLPGA) winner and LPGA Tour rookie Ai Miyazato, will team up with new partner Sakura Yokomine. Miyazato teamed with Rui Kitada to win the 2005 Women's World Cup of Golf.
 
The 20-year-old Miyazato, who won the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament Presented by American Airlines late last year by a record 12 shots to earn exempt status on the LPGA Tour for the 2006 season, recorded 14 top-10 finishes on the JLPGA Tour in 2005, including six wins to finish second on the JLPGA money list. Yokomine, who is also 20, also had 14 top-10 finishes on the JLPGA Tour, including two victories, to finish fourth on the season-ending money list.
 
The team from Sweden is on top of the favorites list as LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame member Annika Sorenstam will tee it up with partner Liselotte Neumann to represent Sweden. Sorenstam, who won her eighth Rolex Player of the Year Award and sixth Vare Trophy last season, recorded 10 wins on the LPGA Tour and amassed more than $2.5 million in season earnings. During her career, Sorenstam has won 66 LPGA tournaments and has earned more than $18.3 million in career earnings. Thirteen-time LPGA champion Neumann finished the 2005 LPGA season strong with three top-three finishes, including a tie for second to her partner Sorenstam at the season-ending ADT Championship.
 
With American teenage sensation Paula Creamer on the U.S. team, the United States looks to be one of the favorites as well. The 19-year-old Creamer, who won two LPGA Tour events during her rookie season, will pair with 23-year-old Natalie Gulbis. Creamer, the reigning Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year, finished second on the 2005 ADT Official Money List with eight top-five finishes. Gulbis recorded 12 top-10 finishes, including seven top-fives.
 
Creamer and Gulbis both made history on the LPGA Tour in 2005, as Creamer became the youngest and fastest to earn more than $1 million in her career while Gulbis became the first person on Tour to earn more than $1 million in a season without a victory. Look for the United States to rack up a lot of birdies, because Creamer and Gulbis both finished in the top four in total birdies in 2005, combining to drain 650.
 
The flag bearers for England are Kirsty Taylor and long-hitting Laura Davies. Taylor recorded eight top-20 finishes on the LET, including a win at the 2005 Wales Ladies Championship. Davies, who has 20 LPGA victories and 46 international victories during her career, had back-to-back third place finishes at the ShopRite LPGA Classic and the McDonald's LPGA Championship in 2005.
 
Last year, the inaugural Women's World Cup of Golf was played in George, South Africa, at the prestigious Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate. Japan's duo of Miyazato and Kitada mastered all three rounds of competition and finished with a final score of 68-72-149=289 (-3). They were two shots better than runner-ups South Korea, who were represented by Jeong Jang and Bo Bae Song, and the Philippines, who were represented by Dorothy Delasin and Jennifer Rosales.
 
2006 Women's World Cup of Golf final field:
Australia -- Shani Waugh, Rachel Hetherington
Brazil -- Candy Hannemann, Luciana Bemvenuti
Canada -- Lorie Kane, A.J. Eathorne
Columbia -- Marisa Baena, Cristina Baena
England -- Kirsty Taylor, Laura Davies
Finland -- Minea Blomqvist, Riikka Hakkarainen
France -- Gwladys Nocera, Karine Icher
Germany -- Anja Monke, Miriam Nagl
Italy -- Veronica Zorzi, Silvia Cavalleri
Japan -- Ai Miyazato, Sakura Yokomine
New Zealand -- Lynnette Brooky, Gina Scott
Philippines -- Dorothy Delasin, Ria Quiazon
Scotland -- Catriona Matthew, Janice Moodie
South Africa -- Laurette Maritz, Ashleigh Simon (a)
South Korea -- Meena Lee, Bo Bae Song
Spain -- Marta Prieto, Paula Marti
Sweden -- Annika Sorenstam, Liselotte Neumann
Taiwan -- Amy Hung, Yu Ping Lin
United States -- Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis
Wales -- Becky Brewerton, Becky Morgan
 
Related links:
  • TGC Airtimes

  • Full Coverage - Women's World Cup
  • Rory McIlroy at the 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Getty Images

    McIlroy making big statement in first start of 2018

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 3:40 pm

    Rory McIlroy marched the fairways of Abu Dhabi Golf Club Saturday with that fighter pilot stride of his, with that confident little bob in his step that you see when he is in command of his full arsenal of shots.

    So much for easing into the new year.

    So much for working off rust and treating these first few months of 2018 as a warmup for the Masters and his bid to complete the career Grand Slam.

    McIlroy, 28, is poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    With back-to-back birdies to close his round, McIlroy put up a 7-under-par 65, leaving him just one shot off the lead going into the final round.

    “It’s good,” McIlroy said. “I probably scored a bit better today, short game was needed as well, but I hit the ball very well, so all in all it was another great round and confidence builder, not just for this week but obviously for the rest of the season as well.”

    McIlroy can make a strong statement with a win Sunday.

    If he claims the title in his first start of the year, he sends a message about leaving all the woes of 2017 behind him. He sends a message about his fitness after a nagging rib injury plagued him all of last year. He sends a message about his readiness to reassert himself as the game’s best player in a world suddenly teeming with towering young talent.

    After his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro, McIlroy is eager to show himself, as well as everyone else, that he is ready to challenge for major championships and the world No. 1 title again.

    “It feels like awhile since I’ve won,” McIlroy said. “I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    A victory would be all the more meaningful because the week started with McIlroy paired with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and reigning European Tour Player of the Year Tommy Fleetwood.

    McIlroy acknowledged the meaning of that going into Saturday’s round.

    “That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent healthy,” he said. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and one of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

    It’s worth repeating what 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman said last month about pairings and the alpha-dog nature of the world’s best players. He was talking about Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge, when Immelman said pairings matter, even in off season events.

    “When you are the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Immelman said. “They want to show this guy, `This is what I got.’”

    A victory with Johnson in the field just two weeks after Johnson won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in an eight-shot rout will get the attention of all the elite players.

    A victory also sets this up as a January for the ages, making it the kind of big-bang start the game has struggled to create in the shadow of the NFL playoffs.

    Johnson put on a tour-de-force performance winning in Hawaii and the confident young Spaniard Jon Rahm is just a shot off the lead this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour. Sergio Garcia is just two off the lead going into the final round of the Singapore Open. Tiger Woods makes his return to the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines next week.

    To be sure, McIlroy has a lot of work to do Sunday.

    Yet another rising young talent, Thomas Pieters, shares the lead with Ross Fisher. Fleetwood is just two shots back and Johnson five back.

    McIlroy has such a good history at Abu Dhabi. Over the last seven years, he has finished second four times and third twice. Still, even a strong finish that falls short of winning bodes well for McIlroy in his first start of the year.

    “I have never won my first start back out,” McIlroy said.

    A strong start, whether he wins or not, sets McIlroy up well for the ambitious schedule he plans for 2018. He’s also scheduled to play the Dubai Desert Classic next with the possibility he’ll play 30 times this year, two more events than he’s ever played in a year.

    “I’m just really getting my golf head back on,” McIlroy said. “I’ve been really pleased with that.”

    A victory Sunday will make all our heads spin a little b it with the exciting possibilities the game offers this year.

    Getty Images

    Garcia 2 back in weather-delayed Singapore Open

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 3:06 pm

    SINGAPORE - Danthai Boonma and Chapchai Nirat built a two-stroke lead over a chasing pack that includes Sergio Garcia and Ryo Ishikawa midway through the third round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open on Saturday.

    The Thai golfers were locked together at 9 under when play was suspended at the Sentosa Golf Club for the third day in a row because of lightning strikes in the area.

    Masters champion Garcia and former teen prodigy Ishikawa were among seven players leading the chase at 7 under on a heavily congested leaderboard.

    Garcia, one of 78 players who returned to the course just after dawn to complete their second rounds, was on the 10th hole of his third round when the warning siren was sounded to abruptly end play for the day.

    ''Let's see if we can finish the round, that will be nice,'' he said. ''But I think if I can play 4-under I should have a chance.''

    The Spanish golfer credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his first major championship title at Augusta National because of the stifling humidity of southeast Asia and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore in 2017, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the subsequent week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later. He is feeling confident of his chances of success this weekend.

    ''I felt like I hit the ball OK,'' Garcia said. ''My putting and all went great but my speed hasn't been great on this green so let's see if I can be a little more aggressive on the rounds this weekend.''

    Ishikawa moved into a share of the lead at the halfway stage after firing a second round of 5-under 66 that featured eight birdies. He birdied the first two holes of his third round to grab the outright lead but slipped back with a double-bogey at the tricky third hole for the third day in a row. He dropped another shot at the par-5 sixth when he drove into a fairway bunker.

    ''It was a short night but I had a good sleep and just putted well,'' Ishikawa said. The ''greens are a little quicker than yesterday but I still figured (out) that speed.

    Ishikawa was thrust into the spotlight more than a decade ago. In 2007, he became the youngest player to win on any of the major tours in the world. He was a 15-year-old amateur when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.

    He turned pro at 16, first played in the Masters when he was 17 and the Presidents Cup when he was 18. He shot 58 in the final round to win The Crowns in Japan when he was 19.

    Now 26, Ishikawa has struggled with injuries and form in recent years. He lost his PGA Tour card and hasn't played in any of the majors since 2015. He has won 15 times as a professional, but has never won outside his homeland of Japan.

    Chapchai was able to sleep in and put his feet up on Saturday morning after he completed his second round on Friday.

    He bogeyed the third but reeled off three birdies in his next four holes to reach 9-under with the back nine still to play.

    Danthai was tied for 12th at the halfway stage but charged into a share of the lead with seven birdies in the first 15 holes of his penultimate round.

    Getty Images

    McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

    Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

    McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

    Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

    McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, five shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

    Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

    “That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

    Getty Images

    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''