Sluman Slays Playoff Demons

By Mercer BaggsJuly 22, 2001, 4:00 pm
Jeff Sluman first earned his PGA Tour card in 1982, only to lose it the following season. In 84, he was quickly forgotten, invited to play in just one event ' the B.C. Open.
He still carries a money clip commemorating that tournament. It reminds him of where he once was, and who was there with him.
Thats what makes his victory this week in Endicott, N.Y. his most emotional; that, and the fact that he finally prevailed in a playoff.
Free Video - Registration Required Sluman comments on his first playoff win
Despite blowing a two-shot lead on the 72nd hole, Sluman defeated Paul Gow on the second extra hole to win the 31st B.C. Open.
Sluman pocketed $360,000 for his first win of the season. He lost in a six-way playoff earlier in the year at the Nissan Open.
I got off the schneid, joked Sluman, who entered the playoff stymied with an 0-6 career record. 'I've lost them in one-man, two-man, six-man playoffs, just about everything.'
For the second straight week, Sluman started the final round with at least a share of the lead. Last week, he failed to convert his advantage into victory at the Greater Milwaukee Open.
This week proved to be different.
Sluman, who was born three hours from the En-Joie Golf Club, shared the overall lead with Gow and Jonathan Kaye at 19-under on the back nine. Kaye, who held sole possession of the lead at one point on Sunday, played his final nine holes in even par to shoot 67 and finish in third place.
Playing in the final twosome, Gow and Sluman were tied at 22-under heading to the par-3 17th. Sluman made birdie, while Gow carded a bogey-4.
Leading by two with one to play, Sluman missed the green with his approach shot on the par-4 18th. Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Australian kept alive his chances by spinning his second shot to within two feet of the hole.
Sluman pitched to eight feet and could have ended the event in regulation, but failed to save par. Gow made his short birdie putt to force sudden death.
The two finished 72 holes at 22-under 266.
After both men parred the first playoff hole, Gow hit his tee shot on the par-4 18th into the tree-lined right rough; however, his ball ricocheted off a tree and dead left into a concrete, water-filled ditch.
With his ball nestled halfway in the running stream, Gow decided to play from the hazard. He successfully advanced his ball some 80 yards and then placed his third shot within 15 feet of the hole.
Sluman went the more traditional route, finding the fairway and the green in two shots. When Gow missed his par save, Sluman confidently sank his birdie effort from 15 feet to win his fifth career tour title.
'I learned lot of things, that I can play and compete against these guys. I matched with one of the best players of the world all day. It was great fun.'
News, Notes and Numbers
*Ty Tryon, the high school junior from Orlando, Fla., shot a final-round 2-under-par 70 to finish in a tie for 37th place at 9-under. The 17-year-old opened in 65 to earn a share of the first-round lead. He closed with rounds of 72-72-70. This was Tryons second PGA Tour start. He tied for 39th at the Honda Classic in March.
*After shooting 62 to claim a three-stroke lead through two rounds, Brett Quigley shot back-to-back 72s to finish tied for 8th at 15-under.
*Bobby Wadkins, playing in his final PGA Tour event before becoming eligible for the Senior Tour, finished at 7-under 288. Wadkins, who turns 50 on Thursday, has never won since joining the tour in 1975.
Full-filled scores from the B.C. Open
Getty Images

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 right 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."

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.

Getty Images

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.''

Getty Images

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. 

Getty Images

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.