Canadian Primed for Victory

By Marty HenwoodApril 27, 2002, 4:00 pm
MYRTLE BEACH, SC -- Rob McMillan of Winnipeg pulled away from a crowded leaderboard Saturday and will carry the lead into the final round of the Canadian Tours $150,000 Barefoot Classic.
 
The two-time Canadian Tour winner carded a 6-under 66 for a 54-hole total of 11-under 205 at Barefoot Resorts Greg Norman course and leads rookie David Hearn of Brantford, ON and Monday qualifier Paul Scaletta (Glen Allen, Va.) by three shots. Sean Dougherty (Wilmington, NC) and Will Mackenzie (Greenville, NC) are at 6-under 210.
 
McMillan, 26, first tasted victory on the Canadian Tour back in 1996 when, as an amateur, he shocked the field and captured the Xerox Manitoba Open. He then added another title to his resume when he won the 2000 TELUS Vancouver Open.
 
On Sunday, McMillan, who also won the 1996 Canadian Amateur Championship, will go for his initial triumph on U.S. soil. Craig Matthew of Ile Bizard, QC was the last Canadian to win a Tour event, accomplishing the feat at the Ontario Open Heritage Classic last July.
 
Im feeling pretty good. If you had told me Wednesday that I would have a three-shot lead going into the final round, Id have taken it, said McMillan, who hit 14 of 18 greens Saturday. But Ive drawn up a game plan how I want to play this course, and I am going to stick with it.
 
Tied with Hearn at 9-under after making the turn, McMillan gave himself a little breathing room with a birdie on the par-4 12th moments after Hearn, playing in the group ahead, bogeyed the hole. McMillan finished the day with six birdies and no bogeys.
 
To tell you the truth, I had no idea how anyone else was doing. Im not much of a leaderboard watcher. I believe if you take care of yourself and concentrate on what it is you have to do, things will fall into place.
 
Hearn, 22, is making quite a name for himself in his first season. This is the third time this year he has been in contention going into the weekend. His best result this year has been a 22nd-place showing in Austin, Texas. Hearn will be paired with McMillan Sunday, something the 2001 Canadian Four Nations Cup Team member is looking forward to.
 
Im really looking forward to playing with Rob Sunday, he said. Ive looked up to him through my entire junior career, and we should have a lot of fun. I am very pleased with the way Ive been playing, and hopefully I can continue.
 
The 26-year-old Scaletta has been the dark horse of the tournament. Six days after qualifying for the event, Scaletta finds himself in the final group with McMillan and Hearn Sunday, just three shots out of the lead.
 
It is a thrill to be in this position, said the former Virginia Amateur runner-up. I just wanted to get here and play my game. Ill come out tomorrow, try to hit some good golf shots and see where it takes me.
 
Full Coverage from the Barefoot Classic
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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.

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.