Trump Hosts LPGA Tour Championship
The LPGA Tyco/ADT Championship set to debut at Donald Trump's new masterpiece - Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. - boasts a $1-million purse with $215,000 set aside for this years champion.
Pepper captured last years title at LPGA International Legends Course by three strokes over Rachel Teske after recording a four-day total of 9-under-par 279. This time around, Pepper - who has 17 LPGA Tour victories to her credit including two majors - has the home court advantage. She is the only player in the elite 30-woman field to hold a membership at Trump International. Its an advantage that cannot go unnoticed considering the South Florida residents performance last year.
You have to play your way into the Tour Championship. Thats what makes it so special. But in some cases, there are players that failed to finish in the top 30 and now find themselves afforded the opportunity to compete this week; Betsy King (31st) and Moria Dunn (32nd) are two of these players. King and Dunn replace Teske and Mi Hyun Kim.
Se Ri Pak ' second on the money list ' surprised everyone with her announcement to forgo the Championship and return to Korea to be with her family.
Pak withdrew from the event citing a family illness and was replaced by Marisa Baena, 33rd on the money list. Baena is one of the six competitors along with Laura Diaz, Moira Dunn, Cristie Kerr, Jill McGill and Mhairi McKay, who are playing in the championship for the first time. The Columbian native has three top-10 finishes to her credit this season.
In the case of Pat Hurst, five months pregnant with her second child, she had originally planned to forrgo the year-end championship, but then announced later that she felt good enough to play.
'Im feeling fine, Hurst said. This pregnancy is definitely a lot different than the last one. Im carrying the baby a lot higher, which helps.'
Another element that makes the last official money event of the season so special is the race for titles. And although Annika Sorenstam had eliminated all chances of Pak surpassing her on the money list, there was still a slim chance that Se Ri (69.69) could overtake Sorenstam (69.38) in the race for lowest scoring average and deny Ms. 59 the Vare trophy. Now it looks as if Annika 'owner of three Vare trophies (1995-96, 1998) - will add a fourth to her name.
Sorenstam looks to wrap up the year in the same fashion that it began for her. She has already sewn up the money title as well as Player of the Year and is in good position to break the record scoring average set by Karrie Webb in 1999 (69.43). With eight victories to her credit this season alone, Sorenstam is less than $10,000 shy of becoming the first woman to earn $2 million in one season.
Past winners of the six-year-old LPGA Tour Championship include Se Ri Pak 1999, Laura Davies 1998, Annika Sorenstam 1997 and Karrie Webb 1996. All four of these ladies won the tournament while it was played at the Desert Inn Golf Course in Las Vegas.
Trump International opened on Nov. 1, 1999. The Tom Fazio design incorporates over 1,000 live oaks, 800 coconut palms and 775 royal palms into the 6,413-yard, par 72 design. Two-and-a-half million cubic yards of sand were moved to create the highest elevation peak in South Florida. Although every hole is considered a signature hole, the 50-foot high waterfall behind the 17th green is one of the most memorable.
Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead
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."
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.
Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore
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.''
13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest
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.
McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi
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.
“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.