Webb Leads by Four in Tour Championship

By Martha BrendleNovember 16, 2001, 5:00 pm
Round two of the season-ending Tyco/ADT Championship is over and first-round leader Karrie Webb, who has been virtually absent from the golf scene for the last five weeks, stands alone as the leader of the elite 30-woman field.
Webb holds a four-stroke advantage over the rest of the field going into the weekend. At 6-under-par 138 her closest competitors are Wendy Doolan and Annika Sorenstam, who stand tied for second at 2-under 142.
It was a beautiful, albeit windy day during the second round of the championship, and Trump International played tough. Not one player was able to break 70 Friday.
Webb, paired with Sorenstam for the second consecutive day, came the closest after following her opening-round 67 with 71. Both Sorenstam and Webb had a chance at pulling away from the field Friday. In the end it was Webb who capitalized on that opportunity.
Webb played solid golf on the front side making two birdies and moving to 7-under prior to making the turn.
I didnt hit as many fairways today, so I didnt hit it as close to the pin as I did yesterday, Webb said.
Turbulance began on the 11th hole where Webb made her first bogey of the day ' followed by a second on the 13th after failing to knock in a 10-foot putt for par.
The fact that I got out under par, and theres only two of us that did it, I feel like that was a bit of an accomplishment. I didnt feel like I played nearly as well as I did yesterday.
However, Webbs four-stroke lead isnt big enough for her to start counting prize money.
Youve seen a lot of players, you know, lose three and four shots in a matter of two or three holes,' she said. 'You know, that can quite quickly happen to anyone out here. Im included in that.
Sorenstam had a difficult day, making bogey on the 1st and continued losing precious ground on the front nine. In all, she recorded four bogeys to make the turn at 1-under-par ' a full six strokes behind Webb as they teed off on the 10th.
I got off to a horrible start. I had hit three greens in eight holes. Thats probably the worst Ive done in a very long time, Sorenstam said. Then luckily I kind of found my swing a little bit and played really solid on the back.
After making nine pars in a row, Sorenstam closed with her only birdie of the day.
Makes me smile a little bit, she said of her birdie on the last. Im very pleased to shoot 1-under for ten holes. Some tough finishing holes here.
'I did fall a little behind. But we still have a lot of golf left.
Meg Mallon took it to 5-under Friday but couldnt maintain it and finished with back-to-back bogeys on the 16th and 17th holes to end the day in sole possession of third place at 1-under 143.
It turned out to be a disastrous day for Marisa Baena. Things started off fine. The spunky Columbian had started the day at 3-under-par and moved to 4-under after the 1st hole. Just two holes later, however, Baena ' playing in her very first Tour Championship ' made double bogey, dropping back to 2-under-par.
Baena held steady, making par on the next six holes before making a bogey on the par-4 10th. Things did not improve as she made her way through the back nine. Baena made another bogey on the par-4 14th and followed shortly after with back-to-back double bogeys on the par-4 16th and par-3 17th.
Baena ended up in a tie for 10th with Lorie Kane, Michele Redman and Grace Park at 3-over-par 147.
Baena was not the only player to make double bogey on the scenic 17th. Doolan, who had been chasing Webb all day and at one point came within one stroke of tying the lead, made double bogey on the second-to-last hole of the day.
I hit a bad shot off the tee and didnt get it up and down, Doolan said pragmatically. These are a great closing three holes.
Youve got to hit good shots. If you dont you get penalized.
Janice Moodie and Cristie Kerr also fell victim to double bogey on the same hole.
Full-field scores from the Tyco/ADT Championship
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McIlroy gets back on track

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

He is well ahead of schedule.

Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

“Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

“I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

Everything in his life is lined up.

Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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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.