Eathorne Opens with 67 Figg-Currier Matches

By Martha BrendleMay 31, 2001, 4:00 pm
Picture perfect weather and greens as lush as the finest silk carpet awaited the 150 eager competitors Thursday morning and early scores definitely reflected those conditions.
Canada's A.J. Eathorne took full advantage of being in the first group of the day by recording 3-under-par 34-33 (67) to take the early lead as the first day of the U.S. Women's Open got underway. Not fully awake as she hit her first drive, Eathorne was jarred into alertness after knocking in a 45-foot putt for birdie on the first. 'Something like that going right in the middle of the hole really wakes you up.'
Eathorne, the 1997 Canadian Ladies Amateur Champion, was pleased and visibly excited to be in the lead, saying she would do everything possible to keep herself there. To everyone's surprise she admitted that she scrambled to finish where she did today. 'Looking at my stats for myself. I have three fairways and four greens on the front side and 12 putts. So that's pretty scrambly for me.'
Cindy Figg-Currier got things going on her back nine today where she made three birdies in a row to finish tied for the early lead at 3-under-par 32-35 (67). This is Figg-Currier's 12th U.S. Open appearance. She has missed the cut eight times and her best finish was a tie for 26th in 1990. Of the 11 Women's Opens she has played she is +107 over par.
Joining Eathorne and Figg-Currier with rounds in the 60's are Mi Hyun Kim, 35-33 (68) and Dina Ammaccapane, 34-35 (69).
Kim, afraid of missing her tee time, found herself awake at 2:30 am and unable to fall back asleep. 'It was a very difficult morning,' said Kim after a spectacular opening round where she recorded 26 putts.
Kim expects to do better that she did in 2000.
'Last year at the U.S. Open I learned how to attack the course and also how to manage the course,' Kim said. She played for the first time every with A.J. Eathorne, and kept an eye on her playing partner to see what she was doing. 'I don't usually watch how other players putting stroke. But I watched (A.J.'s) and tried to learn how she putted today, so that helped my putting too.'
Se Ri Pak finished at 1-under-par 35-34 (69), while Annika Sorenstam shot even par 34-36 (70).
While the first groups were heading in, defending champion Karrie Webb could be found calmly hitting ball after ball on the driving range.
Full-field scores from the U.S. Women's Open
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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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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.