Higton Goes Low in Edmonton

By Marty HenwoodJuly 17, 2003, 4:00 pm
EDMONTON, AB -- Rookie Jason Higton equalled the course record Thursday to take the lead after the opening round of the Canadian Tours $150,000 TELUS Edmonton Open.
 
After a bogey on his first hole of the day, the 23-year-old Californian turned it around to the tune of a 7-under 64 and a one-shot lead on Chris Locker of South Carolina. Aussie Neale Smith is at 5-under while three others, including Arden Knoll of Kelowna, BC, are three shots off the lead.
 
Starting his day on the tenth tee, Higton made the turn at even par before lighting up the front side of the Windermere G&CC for a 7-under 28. On the par-5 first, Higton knocked a 9-iron from 178 yards downwind to within three feet before rolling in the eagle putt. He then reeled off four straight birdies coming in to equal the course benchmark.
 
That eagle really woke me up and got me going, said the 2002 Big West Conference Player of the Year. I was just rock steady on the back nine. Ive done it all this season in the first round- played good, and played awful- so getting this quick start was key.
 
Locker, who erased a five-shot deficit in the final round to win the Greater Toronto Open last August, had a bogey-free day en route to his first sub-70 round this season. Players who pegged it up in the afternoon wave Thursday seemed to get the better side of the draw, when strong winds that had swirled all day throughout Windermere began to subside.
 
People have told me out here that the wind blows in the morning and lays down in the afternoon, and usually it is the other way around, reasoned Locker, whose best finish this year is a tie for 23rd at the TravelTex.com Canadian Tour Challenge. I guess we will see tomorrow. But all in all, I didnt leave a lot out there today. It was a solid round.
 
Since turning pro last year, Higton has noticed subtle differences compared to the amateur ranks but seems to be holding his own through the first half of the schedule.
 
The main difference out here is just how many solid players there are. But I am not going to get intimidated. I will stick to what it is I have to do, pick a target and go for it.
 
Knoll opened with a 67 despite having just played in just one event so far this year, missing the cut in Austin, Texas in February. He has reluctantly adjusted to life away from the tee boxes after a freak accident back in the summer of 2000. While playing in the McDonalds PEI Challenge Pro-Am, Knoll, the 1996 SCORE Award winner as the top touring professional in Canada, suffered an allergic reaction after being stung in the neck by a hornet. The venom leaked into an area behind his right eye, scarring the retina and costing him approximately 80 per cent vision in the eye. His depth perception is very limited, and so Knoll knows he is heading into the twilight of his career. But for one day at least, it was the Arden Knoll of old, with six birdies offsetting a pair of bogeys.
 
Ive got a game plan this week, and Id be thrilled if I could shoot four under every day, said the 1996 Payless Open champion. I didnt get in a whole lot of trouble today and made some shots when I needed to. I know I can still play, but the difference now is I dont have to please anyone with my swing.
 
The opening round also featured a hole-in-one when Montreals Craig Matthew aced the 188-yard, par-3 third.
 
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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. 

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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."