Bjorn Faldo Sizzle in Thailand

By Sports NetworkJanuary 29, 2004, 5:00 pm
Bangkok, Thailand -- Thomas Bjorn fired an 8-under-par 64 in sweltering heat Thursday to grab a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Johnnie Walker Classic. Bjorn stands one stroke clear of Nick Faldo, a two-time winner of this event.
 
The Australian duo Scott Gardiner and Jarrod Moseley each carded rounds of 6-under-par 66. That pair shares third place with American Edward Loar and Englishman Ian Poulter.
 
Bjorn's front nine at Alpine Golf and Country Club was nearly as hot as the 90-plus-degree heat players battled throughout the day. The Dane opened with a birdie at the first and followed with another at No. 3.
 
The seven-time winner on the European Tour birdied the par-5 fifth before coming back with a kick-in eagle at the par-5 seventh to get to 5-under. Bjorn wrapped a pair of birdies around the turn, but stumbled to his lone bogey of the day at the par-4 12th to fall back to minus-6.
 
'Very rarely do I play well after a long break,' said Bjorn, who is playing his first event of the 2004 season. 'It normally takes me a little while to get into it but this is only round one. We've got three rounds to go and I will make my judgement on Sunday, not Thursday.'
 
The two-time Ryder Cup performer responded in fine fashion as he converted back-to-back birdies from the 14th to move into the lead. He parred the final three holes to maintain his one-shot cushion.
 
'At the end I hit some loose shots and, at this early stage of the year, it was a case of just getting into the clubhouse and being happy,' Bjorn said. 'It's hard to come out having just hit balls on the range but I did a lot of good work with Pete Cowen in Dubai and this is a wonderful start.'
 
Faldo, who won this event in 1990 and 1993, was in one of the first groups to tee off the 10th tee Thursday morning. He did not get off to a good start though as he dropped a shot at the par-4 11th.
 
He steadied himself with birdies at the 14th and 17th to make the turn at minus-1. Faldo caught fire quickly on the front side.
 
He birdied the par-4 second and made it two straight with a birdie at the next. Faldo was not done there. He converted consecutive birdies from the fourth to cap a run of four straight birdies that got him to 5-under.
 
Faldo took the early lead as he closed his round with back-to-back birdies from the seventh to move to minus-7.
 
'This is great. I just played aggressively and rushed in the putts. I was really pleased,' said Faldo, a six-time major winner. 'I kept myself focused on every single hole. The last two weeks I played nine holes every afternoon. That's been good because I've been playing with some friends who are fairly competitive.'
 
Marcus Fraser and Anders Hansen, who each own one European Tour victory, posted rounds of 5-under-par 67. They share seventh place with Marten Olander, David Smail and Thongchai Jaidee.
 
British Open champion Ben Curtis is one stroke further back at 4-under-par 69. He is joined there by David Lynn, Prom Meesawat, Thawom Wiratchant, Simon Yates, Lian-Wei Zhang, Mike Cunning, Martin Doyle and Soren Kjeldsen.
 
Ernie Els, the 2003 champion, carded six birdies and four bogeys en route to a round of 2-under-par 70.
 
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - Johnnie Walker Classic
  • Full Coverage - Johnnie Walker Classic
  • Simpson WDs from RSM, tweets his father is ill

    By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:45 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Following rounds of 67-68, Webb Simpson was in 12th place entering the weekend at the RSM Classic before he withdrew prior to Saturday’s third round.

    On Saturday afternoon, Simpson tweeted that he withdrew due to an illness in his family.

    “Thanks to [Davis Love III] for being such a great tournament host. I [withdrew] due to my dad being sick and living his last days,” Simpson posted on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.


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    Simpson’s father, Sam, caddied for his son during amateur events, and Webb Simpson started playing golf after following his father to the course on family vacations to North Carolina.

    “My dad is probably the kindest man I know. He’s always been the guy who knew everyone, everyone knew him, everyone wanted to be around him,” Simpson said in a 2015 interview with David Feherty. “He taught me the game. He’s always been one of those dads who loved to be active with their kids.”

    Before play began on Thursday, Luke Donald withdrew after being hospitalized with chest pain. Tests indicated the Englishman’s heart was fine and he returned home to undergo more tests.

    New old putter helps Kirk (64) jump into contention

    By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:43 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Chris Kirk’s ball-striking has been nearly flawless this fall. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for his putting.

    In four events this season, Kirk ranks 143rd in strokes gained: putting, but his fortunes have changed this week, thanks at least in part to a return to something familiar.

    Kirk switched to an older style of putter similar to the one he used on the Web.com Tour in 2010 to earn his PGA Tour card.

    “It's nice to be back in contention again,” said Kirk, who is alone in second place, three strokes behind front-runner Austin Cook. “It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow.”


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    Kirk is 25th in strokes gained: putting this week and has converted several crucial putts, including a 30-footer for birdie at the 17th hole on his way to a third-round 64.

    His putting is similar to 2013 when he won the RSM Classic, and his improved play on the greens has given the 32-year-old confidence going into Sunday’s final round.

    “I'll probably be relatively comfortable in that situation, and thankfully I've been there before,” Kirk said. “It's still not easy by any means, but hopefully I'll be able to group together a bunch of good shots and see what it gives me.”

    Rookie Cook (66) handling RSM like a pro

    By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:24 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Of all the impressive statistics Austin Cook has put up this week at the RSM Classic – he is first in strokes gained: tee to green, strokes gained: approach to the green and scrambling – the one number that stands out is 49.

    That’s how many holes Cook went this week without a bogey or worse, a moment that prompted his caddie, Kip Henley, to joke, “The dream is over.”

    That loss of momentum at the 14th hole didn’t last long, with the PGA Tour rookie making birdie at the next hole on his way to a third-round 66 and a three-stroke lead.

    “Bouncing back from any bogey with a birdie is nice and helps get the number right back. Being my only bogey of the week so far, it was really nice to be able to get that back on the next hole,” said Cook, who leads Chris Kirk at 18 under par. “Going into tomorrow with a three-shot lead instead of a two-shot lead I think is crucial.”


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    Although this is the first time Cook has held a 54-hole lead on the Tour, in fact it’s just his fourth start as a Tour member, he has experienced Sunday pressure before. In 2015, he began the final round at the Shell Houston Open one stroke off the lead held by Jordan Spieth.

    “Back then my game was good as well, but mentally I've grown a lot and matured a lot and been able to kind of just let small things on the golf course roll off my shoulder instead of getting tied up in one little small mistake,” said Cook, who closed with a 75 at the ’15 Shell Houston Open to tie for 11th.

    Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME

    By Nick MentaNovember 18, 2017, 8:47 pm

    Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.

    Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)

    What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.

    Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.

    Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.

    Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.

    Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.

    Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.