Back-Nine Flurry Gives Morgan Lead

By Sports NetworkJuly 10, 2003, 4:00 pm
DEARBORN, Mich. -- Gil Morgan used a late run Thursday to shoot an 8-under-par 64 and take a two-shot lead after the first round of the Senior Players Championship.
 
Allen Doyle, who has top-10 finishes in each of the season's first two majors, carded a 6-under-par 66 and shares second place with Fred Gibson, Tom Kite, Mike McCullough and Doug Tewell.
 
Morgan got going with a birdie on the par-5 third at the TPC of Michigan when he dropped a sand-wedge within 10 feet of the cup. He stumbled to a bogey at the next when his second missed the green left in a bunker.
 
Morgan, who won this event in 1998, hit a pitching-wedge to 15 feet on No. 6 to set up his next birdie. He made the turn at 2-under when he rolled in a birdie putt from the fringe on the ninth.
 
'Well, I just kind of got off to a regular start,' said Morgan. 'Obviously I didn't anticipate this type of round at that point. I just kind of kept going. Really didn't shoot -- a couple under on the front maybe, and then kind of got started on the back.'
 
Around the turn, Morgan notched back-to-back birdies from the 11th to begin his move up the leaderboard.
 
Morgan, a doctor of Optometry, jumped into the lead with a strong late stretch. At the par-4 16th, he dropped a 9-iron within five feet for birdie.
 
Morgan knocked a 7-wood within 15 feet at the par-5 17th. He rolled in that eagle putt and then sank another 15-footer for birdie at the last to grab a two-stroke advantage after one round.
 
'I think as a player you kind of watch the scoreboard to kind of give you an idea of how receptive the golf course is,' Morgan said. 'So if you see some numbers up there, you just feel like maybe if I can play well, I can get in that same category and that's what happened.
 
'So I think it was something that sort of pushed me forward to try to keep doing better and actually it just happened coming down the stretch.'
 
The opening-round 64 tied the first-round record set last year by Hale Irwin. Morgan credited a new driver for his solid round.
 
'I changed drivers for the Senior Open but I just didn't play it very much,' said Morgan. 'I was hoping that maybe it would help my confidence and I seemed to drive it a little better today. You have to drive it in the fairway pretty much to do well.'
 
Doyle, the 2001 Senior Players winner, mixed three birdies and two bogeys over his first nine holes.
 
'Just one of those things, I felt I hit the ball very good on the front,' Doyle said. 'I kept putting myself in good spots. It seemed maybe just the way you hit certain shots.'
 
On the back side, he ran off back-to-back birdies from the 10th and again from the 16. He snuck a birdie in at the par-4 14th as well to grab a share of second.
 
'It seems we need to tighten things up, and make a determination that if someone shoots 4- or 5-under this week, they will win the tournament,' said Doyle. 'If you look at the PGA Senior, they had narrow, narrow fairways, but never got their green speeds up, because of all the rain. Then the Senior Open was a classic where the speed of the greens were probably running two feet more than these.'
 
Tewell ran off three straight birdies from the fifth, then notched three more birdies on the back side.
 
McCullough notched two birdies on the front nine before moving to minus-3 with a birdie on No. 12. He joined the tie for second by birdieing the final three holes of his round.
 
Kite used a strong back nine to shoot 66. He birdied the third, then made back-to-back birdies from the 10th. He eagled No. 13 to get to minus-5 then climbed to 6-under with a birdie at the 16th.
 
Gibson birdied the second then made it two straight with a birdie at the next. He dropped a shot at the sixth, but again made back-to-back birdies from the seventh to make the turn at 3-under.
 
The 55-year-old ran off four birdies in a row from the 14th to get to 7-under. He held first place by himself at the time, but dropped a shot at the last to fall into a share of second.
 
Fuzzy Zoeller, who has finished in the top 5 of the first two majors this season, fired a 5-under-par 67. He shares seventh place with television broadcaster Andy North, Tom Purtzer, Dana Quigley and Champions Tour rookie Craig Stadler.
 
Defending champion Stewart Ginn struggled to a 1-over-par 73. He is tied for 46th with nine other players.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Ford Senior Players Championship
  • Ford Senior Players Championship Leaderboard
  • 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 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.

    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.