Bickerton Leads Cambo by Two in Paris

By Sports NetworkJune 29, 2006, 4:00 pm
European TourPARIS -- England's John Bickerton parlayed a nearly flawless round Thursday into a two-shot lead at the French Open.
 
Bickerton hit 10 fairways and 15 greens in regulation in the first round to complete a bogey-free 8-under-par 63 -- one shot off the course record at Le Golf National's Albatross Course.
 
New Zealand's Michael Campbell, the 2005 U.S. Open champion, opened with a 6-under 65 and stands alone in second place, one shot ahead of Swede Joakim Backstrom.
 
Backstrom was 8 under through 13 holes -- staring down the course record set by Eduardo Romero last year -- but he bogeyed three of his final four holes to drop to 5 under.
 
Sharing fourth place at minus-4 are Benn Barham, David Carter, Mark Foster and Oliver Whiteley of England; South Africa's Darren Fichardt; Jose Manuel Lara of Spain; and Sweden's Henrik Stenson.
 
Two-time defending champion Jean-Francois Remesy of France, who bested Jean Van de Velde in a playoff last year, leads a group of nine players tied for 11th place at 3 under.
 
Bickerton, last year's Abama Open de Canarias winner, wrestled free of some putting problems with an adjustment he made on the putting green recently.
 
Whatever he did worked on Thursday, as the 36-year-old needed just 25 putts to finish his first round.
 
'You just get a feeling,' said Bickerton, who lost a playoff to Niclas Fasth at the Andalucia Open in April.
 
Bickerton cashed in on that feeling with three birdies on his first nine holes -- the back nine -- and five more after that. He one-putted 11 times and two-putted seven times, finishing without a single three-putt green.
 
'It might be different tomorrow,' Bickerton said of his new putting stroke, 'but it made me feel good today and gave me one thought to work on and that is sometimes the key to playing well -- not having too much on your mind.'
 
Campbell also finished without a three-putt while using a new putter. The putter he ditched -- the one that helped him win at Pinehurst No. 2 -- had been with him for two years.
 
'It wasn't working,' admitted Campbell, who is currently ranked 45th on the Order of Merit. 'It is in my office right now. I'm sure it will be back, but right now it needs to be rested.'
 
Playing with Remesy and 2006 U.S. Open challenger Padraig Harrington, Campbell missed a short par putt at his first hole, the par-4 10th. But it was the only hiccup in an otherwise bogey-free round with his new putter.
 
'Today was a prime example of when the mind is free, things can come to fruition,' Campbell said.
 
Sharing 11th place with Remesy are Markus Brier, Paul Broadhurst, Andrew Coltart, Richard Finch, Peter Gustafsson, Soren Hansen, David Park and Ian Poulter.
 
Harrington and Van de Velde lead a group of 13 players knotted one stroke further back in 20th place at 2-under-par 69.
 
The French Open -- the oldest of the European continental Opens -- is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
 
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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.