Anderson Tops Tight Leaderboard

By Sports NetworkApril 21, 2005, 4:00 pm
Canadian Tour-LargeMODESTO, Calif. -- Stuart Anderson of Edmonton fired a 6-under 66 Thursday to grab the early lead at the Canadian Tours Foster Farms California Classic.

The 27-year-old Anderson will try to build on a one-shot edge when he tees it up in the morning wave Friday. Iain Steel of Malaysia and Americans Mike Grob, Josh Habig and Pat McDonald, a former regular on the Champions Tour, are just one back.

Seven others--Alex Rocha, Michael Harris, Rob Johnson,Ryan Miller, Brien Davis, Eugene Smith and Brad Sutterfield--are at minus-4.

McDonald, playing on a sponsors exemption this week, will celebrate his 55th birthday Friday. The oldest player to win a Canadian Tour event is Ray Stewart, who was 45 when he won twice in 1999.

Anderson was even par after six holes before holing out from a greenside bunker on the par-5 7th to get two shots in the red. After turning at 2-under, Anderson reeled off three birdies in four holes to start his back nine. He had the flat stick working on the greens Thursday, a sharp contrast to last weeks event up the road in Stockton when he three-putted three of his final four holes on Friday to miss the cut by one.

That (finish last week) really left a bad taste in my mouth, said Anderson, who switched to a new putter earlier this week. The hole-out really seemed to get the ball rolling today. Ive been hitting it great for the past couple of weeks, it is just a matter of getting more confidence on the green. I felt it was time for a change, so Ive got the new putter. So far, so good.

In 2002, Anderson, one of the longest hitters on Tour, dropped a playoff heartbreaker to fellow Canadian Matt Daniel at the Telus Edmonton Open, with the runner-up finish his best showing on the Canadian Tour. He placed seventh last month at the Barton Creek Austin Canadian Tour Challenge in Texas and feels if he can keep it straight off the tee at Del Rio, he could be in the thick of things come Sunday afternoon.

On the flip side, players who have a tough time hitting the fairway could be on the outside looking in come the weekend.

This is really a ball-striking course, Anderson added. The greens are just fantastic, but you better hit quality shots off the tee and into the green or you are going to get yourself in trouble.

This is great for me to build momentum. To be in this position after day one is where we all want to be.

Beginning his round on the back nine, Habig jarred a 12-footer for birdie on his opening hole of the day and followed that up with a par-saving 50-footer on number 11. The 28-year-old made the turn at 3-under and stayed away from trouble most of the day, thanks in part to birdies on all four par-5 holes at Del Rio.

Finally, I had something going out there, said Habig, a former Academic All-American at Northwestern University. I felt comfortable today and got into a bit of a groove. Anytime you can get a good start you have to be happy. There isnt a player here that would be disappointed with a 67 to start. You just want to be around to give yourself a chance Sunday afternoon.

Now into his third season on the Canadian Tour, Habig is coming off a less than memorable 2004 campaign in which he made seven of 13 cuts and finished 65th on the money list. . In his 2003 rookie season, Habig had five top-20 showings.

I still havent been able to put a full tournament together, added Habig. In my rookie season, I had a few chances to win but just couldnt finish it. Last year, I took a couple of steps backwards. It felt like I was in the dark out there. I just couldnt get any rhythm going. It took a toll on my confidence.

Steel was cruising right along until hitting a wall on the par-4 ninth, his final hole of the day. Hitting a 7-iron into the green, Steels attempt instead found a sand bunker. It took the 33-year-old two attempts to dig himself out and by the time the dust had settled, he had double-bogeyed the hole to fall to 5-under.

It was a good day'at least for 17 holes, said Steel. I fell asleep on the final hole and it cost me. That hole was a nightmare. It made lunch a little bitter.

Steel won the Nationwide Tours Boise Open back in 1997 and still holds status on that circuit. In 2002, he won a thrilling playoff at the Greater Vancouver Classic but hasnt been able to find the winners circle since. Steel says the Del Rio layout suits his iron game and is hoping to build on his start in Modesto.

The greens are perfect here. There are a lot of birdies to be had. I left a few out there, just as you do every round, but a good start is key to get my confidence going. Vancouver was my last win, so I just want to put four good rounds together and see where I am.

Coming off a win at last weeks Northern California Classic, Californian Jim Seki struggled to an opening-round 82.
 
Related Links:
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    McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

    By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

    The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

    McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

    McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

    ''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

    Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

    ''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

    McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

    ''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

    ''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

    The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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    Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

    By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

    If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days engaging pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

    Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

    If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGCC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

    Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

    Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

    I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

    A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

    And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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    Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

    Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

    The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

    Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

    “I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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    Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

    Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.