Mills Motoring Along in MTS Classic

By Marty HenwoodJuly 11, 2003, 4:00 pm
Canadian Tour-LargeWINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Jon Mills of Oshawa did the job he needed to do and watched as Dean North struggled coming in Friday to carry the lead into the weekend at the Canadian Tours MTS Classic.
Trailing North by four shots as the day began, Mills carded a 6-under 65 for a 36-hole total of 10-under 132, two shots better than Winnipegs North and Bryn Parry of North Vancouver, BC.
Dave Christensen is at 7-under 135, while two other Canadians, Brett Bingham and Wes Martin, are four shots off the pace.
Despite an hour and a half delay in pegging it up Friday thanks to an early afternoon thunderstorm, Mills didnt seem to miss a beat, carding a 4-under 31 on his front side. He continued his hot streak after the turn, chipping in for eagle on the par-5 second, his 11th hole of the day, and was able to keep the ship righted despite three-putting for bogey twice over the final nine holes.
I think the key today was even after a couple of three-putts, I was able to keep it going, said the 25-year-old. Its Friday, and there is still a lot of golf yet. But I cant ask for anything more. This is where I wanted to be- in position to compete for first prize on the weekend.
North went through the opening 34 holes of the tournament playing bogey-free golf. Leading Mills by one shot with just two holes to go Friday, he double-bogeyed number eight before following that up with a bogey-4 on the ninth, by far the toughest hole of the tournament. Over the first two days, there have been 9 birdies on the hole compared with 122 bogeys, 13 double bogeys and one from the dreaded 'other' column. With a large hometown crowd following him throughout the day, North said he settled down after the first couple of holes, which should bode well for him Saturday when a larger gallery will follow him around the 6522-yard, par-71 track.
I dont think I can be any more nervous than I was today, so I should be fine on the weekend, reasoned North. When you should 8-under (like Thursday), it is easy to get down on yourself when you miss a couple of birdies. And when things are rolling they way they were for me, you know you will eventually make bogey.
A total of players 73 players were 1-over 143 or better and made the cut.
During an outstanding amateur career, Mills finished sixth at the NCAA National Championship while at Kent State University and helped lead Canada to the Four Nations Cup title in 2001. He grew up playing golf with Canadian rising stars Derek Gillespie and David Hearn, who was also a member of that Four Nations squad, and weeks after gaining his Canadian Tour card in 2001, he earned playing privileges on the Nationwide Tour at PGA Q-School.
I think that was a leaning experience more than anything for me, he admitted. But being friends with guys like Derek and David, it brings out the best in us. Deep down, we want to beat each other. In the past week or so, I have been working with my coach, not as much on the mechanics but more on the mental approach. Ive implemented that into my game more, and it is working.
Parry, who finished 6th at this event last year, continues his impressive run at Pine Ridge, with six consecutive rounds in the 60s.
I love this golf course, it sets up good for me, said Parry, who is staying with the sister of his girlfriend, Deborah, in Winnipeg this week. It doesnt hurt that Deb is here and we are staying at place that feels like home. A hotel can be a lonely place at times, and its nice I can get a home-cooked meal every night.
After hitting his tee shot into the left rough on the final hole, play was suspended for when a thunderstorm rolled into the area. An hour and twenty minutes later, Parry was able to dig the ball out from 220 yards and hit the edge of the green with his approach before getting up and down to save par.
That was key for me heading into the weekend, added the 31-year-old. I want to play with the best on this Tour, and any Tour, and see where I stack up.
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    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    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."

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    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.

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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.