Three Tied for Top Spot at Canadian Q-School
The 25-year-old San Jose native took a three-shot edge into play Thursday but for the first time this week, had his hands full at Los Serranos CC, finishing with a 1-over 73. Ellis 54-hole total of 6-under 210 leaves him tied for top spot with fellow Californians John Mallinger and Peter Tomasulo.
Steve Frier of Richmond, BC posted a 75 and is at 5-over 221.
For the first half of Thursdays round, it appeared that Ellis would continue to set the tone and pull away from the field. Making the turn at 2-under for the day, he lost his touch with a double-bogey on the par-4 third, his 12th hole of the day, and had problems getting untracked the rest of the way in.
I had a bit of a struggle out there today, Ellis said. To shoot 3-over on that front side with the way Ive played all week is a bummer. But its over'Ive still got a chance to win (medallist honours), and that is all you can ask for.
Once the final putts falls Friday afternoon, the Canadian Tour will dish out ten exempt cards for the 2005 campaign, while another ten players and ties will earn non-exempt playing privileges.
The Canadian Tour will kick off the season with a two-week swing through Austin, Tex., beginning with the Barton Creek Austin Canadian Tour Pro Am Classic presented by Yes! Golf from March 12-15.
If Ellis thinks he is home and cooled with just one stroll through Los Serranos CC remaining, he hides it well. You couldnt fault him if he is taking nothing for granted until he secures his Tour card Friday afternoon. Last fall at the PGA Tours Qualifying Tournament, Ellis seemed to be a lock to advance to the final of three stages until a final-round 75 in Seaside, Calif. left him one shot shy of the number needed to move on.
I thought I had a trip to final stage locked up, so you can never say never, he admitted. I had a chance to play the PGA Tour, and it got away from me. But I try not to think about that. This (Canadian Tour) is where my focus is now. Ill go out and see if I can finish it off (Friday).
Scores after the third round of the Canadian Tours California Winter Qualifying School held at the 7,104-yard, par-72 Los Serranos CC:
. Ellis, John San Jose, CA 67 70 73 210
1. Mallinger, John Escondido, CA 75 69 66 210
1. Tomasulo, Peter Long Beach, CA 70 73 67 210
4. Beard, Michael Palm Desert, CA 71 71 69 211
5. Walton, Michael Palm Desert, CA 71 71 70 212
6. Yi, Dong Alameda, CA 68 74 71 213
7. Brown, Michael Cheltenham, PA 73 71 70 214
7. Coleman, Jim Bob Billings, MT 74 72 68 214
7. Itzen, Justin Palm Desert, CA 70 73 71 214
7. Sestero, Luke Scottsdale, AZ 71 71 72 214
11. Guetz, Brian Scottsdale, AZ 74 71 70 215
11. Henderson, Scott Dove Canyon, CA 70 74 71 215
11. Monfont, Kyle Dublin, OH 74 72 69 215
11. Riskam, Daniel Hermosa Beach, CA 72 67 76 215
15. Harrington, Scott Scottsdale, AZ 71 71 74 216
15. Henson, Berry LaQuinta, CA 71 76 69 216
15. Ruda, Jesse Santa Barbara, CA 72 76 68 216
18. Brunson, Daniel Greenville, SC 70 74 73 217
19. Guetz, Bret Scottsdale, AZ 73 74 71 218
19. Keller, Rob Temecula, CA 70 76 72 218
19. Surber, Russell Blaine, WA 69 75 74 218
22. Fonner, Matthew Los Gatos, CA 74 70 75 219
22. Mackenzie, Brock Yakima, WA 73 71 75 219
22. Overson, Darrin Orem, UT 73 78 68 219
25. Giarrantano, Tony Castle Rock, CO 71 78 71 220
25. Smith, Blaise Chino, CA 75 76 69 220
25. Streat, Heath Australia 75 73 72 220
28. Floyd, Dan McKinney, TX 74 71 76 221
28. Frier, Steve Richmond, BC 73 73 75 221
30. Patterson, Marcus Rancho Cordova, CA 76 76 70 222
30. Puska, Jeff Ladysmith, BC 71 77 74 222
30. Robertson, John W. Olympia, WA 77 72 73 222
30. Tayler, Nik (A) Australia 76 72 74 222
34. Burnier, Jean-Luc Dana Point, CA 75 74 74 223
34. Hatley, Reid Spokane, WA 72 78 73 223
34. Martin, Nolan Cold Springs, CO 76 75 72 223
34. McNally, Michael Billings, MT 77 72 74 223
34. Minamimoto, Osamu Japan 75 73 75 223
34. Nakane, Kenta Japan 75 73 75 223
34. Richardson, Brandon Junction City, OR 76 75 72 223
34. Streatfield, Andrew Marina, CA 79 74 70 223
42. Aga, Matt Carlsbad, CA 75 76 73 224
42. Dorothy, Dean Aiea, HI 76 78 70 224
42. Puekdang, Ty Berkeley, CA 74 74 76 224
42. Smith, Warren Houston, TX 76 76 72 224
42. Wiles, Trevin Sandy, UT 76 73 75 224
47. Ferlic, Gavin South Bend, IN 77 72 76 225
47. Jensen, Brent Pleasant Hill, CA 77 78 70 225
47. Kennedy, Robert Phoenix, AZ 70 78 77 225
47. Kirkpatrick, Miles Stockton, CA 75 76 74 225
51. Inlow, Travis Calgary, AB 77 74 75 226
51. Uchibori, Yuki Japan 76 72 78 226
53. Atlick, Scott Atherton, CA 75 80 72 227
53. Bergstedt III, Russell Phoenix, AZ 74 77 76 227
53. Dennis, Spencer Arroyo Grande, CA 76 75 76 227
53. Gavlak, Zac Phoenix, AZ 75 78 74 227
53. Kowaluk, Kurt Sudbury, ON 75 78 74 227
53. Kupeyan, Calvin Tecumseh, ON 77 75 75 227
53. Lindstom, Jon Castle Rock, CO 73 74 80 227
53. Moreno, JP Pico Rivera, CA 76 76 75 227
53. Sanchez, Cuauhtemoc Austin, TX 74 84 69 227
62. Park, Pedro New Zealand 75 79 75 229
62. Potter, Dan CoeurdAlene, ID 75 78 76 229
62. Takase, Atsushi Japan 78 76 75 229
65. Blackwell, Shane Scottsdale, AZ 78 74 78 230
65. Buxbaum, Aaron Encinitas, CA 74 78 78 230
65. Kuraoka, Justin Rancho Cordova, CA 79 75 76 230
65. Luce, Jeremy Austin, TX 81 76 73 230
65. Watanabe, Steve San Francisco, CA 76 78 76 230
70. Dickson, Chris Brights Grove, ON 77 79 75 231
70. Kang, Tai Abbotsford, BC 74 82 75 231
70. LeBlanc, Dale Scottsdale, AZ 80 76 75 231
70. Newbolt, Tim Kihei, HI 79 75 77 231
70. Smith, Ryan Australia 82 79 70 231
75. Heinz, Jerry Poway, CA 76 77 79 232
75. Kastner, Jason Hudson, QC 76 80 76 232
75. Smith, Todd Elk Grove, CA 73 83 76 232
78. Kawaguchi, Masa Japan 75 78 80 233
79. Kawano, Koichiro Japan 75 83 76 234
80. Pekuri, Mark Santa Monica, CA 80 77 78 235
80. Vinson, CJ Phoenix, AZ 76 80 79 235
82. Libby, Kyle San Jose, CA 80 76 81 237
83. Israel, Peter (A) Palm Desert, CA 83 81 74 238
84. Hamano, Takashi Japan 83 76 80 239
84. Pederson, Shawn Lahana, HI 77 81 81 239
84. Stevens, Noah Woodlands, TX 79 79 81 239
87. Duran, Tony Phoenix, AZ 80 83 77 240
88. Aldrich, David (A) Grass Valley, CA 82 80 79 241
89. Kennedy, Dean Vancouver, BC 80 85 77 242
90. Johnstone, Evan Orinda, CA 81 81 81 243
91. Narita, Mitsutake Japan 80 87 86 253
92. Stahlheber, Charles Vancouver, WA 98 87 81 266
McIlroy gets back on track
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.
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.
Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore
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.
Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again
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.
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.
McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call
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.
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.