Ahern Eagles Way to Solo Lead

By Sports NetworkSeptember 20, 2003, 4:00 pm
CARY, N.C. -- Jim Ahern eagled the 17th hole Saturday en route to a 5-under 67 and the second-round lead of the SAS Championship. He finished 36 holes at 12-under-par 132 and owns a three-shot lead over Walter Hall and Bobby Wadkins.
David Eger fired a 65 on Saturday and shares fourth place with Bruce Fleisher, who carded a 3-under 69 in the second round. The pair stands at 8-under-par 136.
Ahern shared the lead with D.A. Weibring after Friday's first round and the two battled for top spot on the leaderboard through most of Saturday's round. Each player was 1 under par on their round until Weibring drained a 20-foot birdie putt at the seventh to take a one-shot lead at 9 under par.
Ahern knotted the two in the lead at the 13th when he sank a 10-footer for birdie. He pulled one clear of Weibring at the 15th when Ahern rolled home another 10-footer to get to minus-10.
From this point, things fell apart quickly for Weibring and it was not all golf-related. He is already battling a neck injury and flu symptoms but on the 15th tee, Weibring appeared to have tweaked a rib injury.
'I'm a mess,' said Weibring.
Both players found the fairway at the reachable, par-5 17th at Prestonwood Country Club. Weibring over-cut his approach and wound up in the rough on the right side of the green. Ahern hit a spectacular 5-wood second shot that stopped eight feet from the stick.
Weibring bladed his chip from a bad lie and went through the green with his third shot. His fourth came out softer than Weibring thought it would and stopped 35 feet short of the hole. Weibring missed the putt short and tapped in for bogey.
Ahern's eagle putt fell into the hole and now he owned a three-shot lead over Hall and Wadkins, who were in the clubhouse. Weibring fell four off the pace and with a bogey at the 18th, he finished five behind Ahern after an even-par 72.
'It's important to get the ball in the fairway and make an aggressive shot into the green,' said Ahern, as play has been contested in lift, clean and place after Hurricane Isabel rolled through on Thursday. 'The course is still wet.'
Ahern will be in search of his second win of 2003 after he titled at the Music City Championship in Nashville in early May. He could join Tom Watson and Bruce Lietzke as the only multiple champions of the year.
'You have to keep an aggressive mindset,' said Ahern, who held the 54-hole lead of the final Champions Tour major, last month's Tradition. 'I was leading at Nashville and stayed aggressive. If I had a 10-shot lead, I might play safe.'
Hall birdied three holes in a row from the second and all from inside 12 feet. He added two more birdies around the turn but pulled a 6-iron at the 11th and made bogey.
Hall ran home a 20-foot birdie putt at the 15th and two-putted for birdie from the back fringe at 17 to polish off a round of 6-under 66.
'I played really good today,' said Hall, a North Carolina native and resident. 'It's nice to be playing good in the Carolinas. I try to play one shot at a time and one hole at a time. That's what I'll try to do tomorrow.'
Wadkins parred his first 11 holes before back-to-back birdies at 12 and 13. He parred the next three holes but got back into contention with his play down the stretch.
At the par-5 17th, Wadkins' 4-wood second shot found a greenside bunker, but he blasted out to two feet and kicked in the birdie putt. Wadkins knocked a 9-iron to 15 feet to set up birdie at the last and give the 52-year-old a round of 68.
'I like watching the scoreboard and seeing where I stand all times,' said Wadkins. 'Should be fun tomorrow. I like this course, it fits my eye and it's close to home.'
Weibring is tied with Wayne Levi (69) and Doug Tewell (69) at minus-7, followed by Allen Doyle (65), Andy Bean (66) and Tom Jenkins, who are tied for ninth place at 6-under-par 138.
Two-time defending champion Bruce Lietzke shot a second-round, 1-over 73 and is part of a group for 42nd place at even-par 144.
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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.