LPGA Opens the Door to 2007 Season

By Lpga Tour MediaFebruary 12, 2007, 5:00 pm
2006 SBS OpenKAHUKU, Oahu, Hawaii ' For the third straight year, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) begins its official season in the beautiful state of Hawaii. Defending champion Joo Mi Kim is among 138 golfers who will compete from Feb. 15-17 on the Palmer Course at the SBS Open at Turtle Bay.
Kim became a Rolex First-Time Winner at this event last year, after outlasting Lorena Ochoa (after one hole) and Soo Young Moon with two birdies in a two-hole, sudden-death playoff. Kim joins a deep field that includes nine of the top-10 players from the 2006 season-ending LPGA Official Money List.
Leading that charge is Ochoa, who was the 2006 Rolex Player of the Year. The 25-year-old enters her fifth year on tour after coming off the strongest season of her career. Ochoa won six tournaments to claim her first Rolex Player of the Year title, the Vare Trophy and the ADT Official Money List title. With $2,592,872 in season earnings, Ochoa was the second player in LPGA Tour history to surpass the $2 million mark in season earnings. She added six runner-up finishes and ended last season with 20 top-10 finishes in 25 starts.
Ochoa is not the only player looking to continue where she left off. LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame member Karrie Webb re-emerged as a top player on tour in 2006. The Australian's back-to-back victories at the Australian Women's Open (Feb. 1-4) and ANZ Ladies Masters (Feb. 8-11) proved she is back to her winning ways in 2007. Webb won five LPGA tournaments, including her unforgettable second win at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, where she holed a pitching wedge from 116 yards to eagle and force a playoff, which she later won. Webb also became the third player in LPGA history to earn more than $2 million in one season (joining Annika Sorenstam and Ochoa). Webb has accumulated more than $12 million career earnings and has 35 career LPGA Tour wins, which includes seven major championship victories.
Twenty-year-old Julieta Granada is also a player to beat this week. Granada not only became the first player in women's professional golf to win a $1 million first-place paycheck at the season-ending ADT Championship in November, she also is coming off a victory at the Women's World Cup of Golf. An unofficial event on the LPGA Tour schedule, she teamed with Celeste Troche to represent Paraguay and the team won by seven strokes over Team USA. Granada set an LPGA Tour record in 2006 for the most money earned by a rookie ($1,633,586), which broke Paula Creamer's 2005 mark of $1,531,780.
Other players who will challenge for the title this week include 2006 tournament winners Cristie Kerr, Mi Hyun Kim, Juli Inkster, Jeong Jang, Hee-Won Han, Seon Hwa Lee, Se Ri Pak, Brittany Lincicome, Sherri Steinhauer and Meena Lee.
Creamer is eager for her third-career victory while LPGA Tour stars Natalie Gulbis, Morgan Pressel, Brittany Lang and Ai Miyazato look for their first win on the LPGA Tour.
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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.