Colonial cast worthy of a Jenkins tale

By Rex HoggardMay 28, 2017, 12:15 am

FORT WORTH, Texas – On Tuesday, university officials are going to name the press box at nearby TCU stadium after legendary sports writer Dan Jenkins.

The Fort Worth native is as much a part of this community as BBQ and Ben Hogan. Well, BBQ for sure. But it does make one wonder why the press center at Colonial isn’t already named in his honor.

Just imagine if the all-world scribe, who made a cameo at Colonial earlier this week, was perched behind his laptop at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational on Saturday.

His signature simplicity would probably recall that 54-hole front-runner Webb Simpson is the guy who won the U.S. Open that should have gone to Jim Furyk if not for a filthy set-up curveball from the USGA on Sunday.

That Stewart Cink, who is tied for fourth place with Kevin Kisner and three shots off Simpson’s pace, is the guy who won Tom Watson’s Open Championship in ’09 at Turnberry; and Paul Casey – who is tied for second place at 7 under with Danny Lee – was last seen dusting off the American side with a walk-off ace at the 2006 Ryder Cup.

None of that is fair or even accurate – Simpson has won since his U.S. Open breakthrough in ’12 and Casey has reinvented himself into a top-15 player – but then Jenkins’ gift has always been his insightful brevity.

Jenkins would have commented about Saturday’s heat, which included a heat index of 108 degrees. Perhaps figuring that Texas has four seasons – drought, flood, blizzard and twister. He’d also probably make a biting observation over the lack of brisket in the Dan Jenkins Press Center media dining.

But most of all, Jenkins would marvel at the play through three windswept and simmering days at Colonial, which includes a shrine to the World Golf Hall of Famer in the clubhouse.


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Having played Colonial regularly, perhaps even with Hogan himself, he would consider Simpson’s third-round 67 something much more impressive than the sum of its math.

Simpson had just a single bogey on Day 3, played the aptly named Horrible Horseshoe, Nos. 3 through 5, in even par and pulled away from the field with birdies at Nos. 10 and 11 for a two-stroke advantage on a course that rarely allows that type of breathing room.

“I'm thrilled to have the lead. I think it's been awhile. I don't know how long it's been,” said Simpson, who dropped an overtime decision to Hideki Matsuyama earlier this year at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. “I was happy to go out in the last group today and hit some good shots, make some good putts in this environment to kind of get me ready for tomorrow.”

Jenkins would recognize the journey that Casey has been on the last few years as he recovered from injury and off-course distractions to become a world-class player again. He’s found the consistency he once enjoyed but now must discover a way to translate that into trophies.

At 39 years old, perspective has become a sympathetic counterpart for the Englishman.

“It's pressure every week. It’s still a stacked leaderboard. A lot of very talented, brilliant guys near the top of it,” Casey said. “I feel a pretty good calmness. Yeah, I'd desperately love to win and I will try my best tomorrow. I don't know, 17 years of doing this I'm certainly not soft, but there is more calm than there used to be.”

Cink’s story would resonate with Jenkins. Although the six-time Tour winner described Colonial as “cute,” which is probably not what anyone this side of the Trinity River would care to hear, he is playing this season on a career money list exemption; think of it as a lifeline for those who aren’t interested in the golden fairways of the PGA Tour Champions just yet.

Cink missed six weeks last year to be with his wife, Lisa, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and understandably struggled for much of 2016. But if sentimentality doesn’t make fans for Cink, his perspective after two decades on Tour surely counts for style points.

“It's exciting to get a chance,” he said of his Sunday outlook. “I think in your career out here, season after season, you give yourself five or six chances to win, being in the mix on Sunday, and of one of those times it might happen; maybe more.”

Jenkins may also point out it hasn’t been a great week for chalk, with the week’s top-ranked players struggling with the wind and heat.

Jordan Spieth, whose caddie succumbed to heat exhaustion and had to be replaced midway through the round, avoided the type of early lapse that defined his first two rounds at Colonial, but failed to make up any ground on the lead with a 2-under 68 that left him tied for eighth place, five shots back.

Phil Mickelson rebounded on Saturday with a 69, but his 5-over card on Friday means he’ll start the final lap in the middle of the pack; and Jenkins may have appreciated Sergio Garcia’s purple pants, TCU’s colors, if not his 1-over card or the 29 putts he needed to finish his Saturday.

But most of all, Jenkins would point out the brilliance of Colonial, which is something of a museum piece on the modern Tour at just over 7,200 yards, but has once again produced a crowded and compelling leaderboard.

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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.