Bryant Still in Command at East Lake

By Sports NetworkNovember 5, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Tour ChampionshipATLANTA -- Bart Bryant holed out from a bunker on his 18th hole Saturday to shoot a 4-under 66 and move three clear after three rounds of the Tour Championship.
 
His 14-under-par-196 total established a new 54-hole record, bettering Tom Lehman's old mark from 1996 by one. It's been a record-setting week for Bryant, who won this year's Memorial. On Thursday, he posted a new course record at East Lake Golf Club with an 8-under 62.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods was once again erratic, but managed to stay in contention.
'I hit the ball solid all day, said Bryant, who has owned at least a piece of the lead after every round. 'I'm a little surprised in my mind, but I'm sure I'm a surprise in a lot of people's minds that I'm leading at this point.'
 
Defending champion and overnight co-leader Retief Goosen managed a 1-under 69 on Saturday and is alone in second place at 11-under-par 199.
 
Tiger Woods, who won this title in 1999, birdied three of his last five holes Saturday, en route to a 67. The reigning Masters and British Open champion is alone in third place at 10-under-par 200.
 
Woods birdied 14 and 15 to get to 9 under par, then rolled in a 5-footer for birdie at the 17th. On the par-3 closing hole, Woods landed in a front bunker, but blasted out to 4 feet. He converted the par putt to get within four of Bryant's lead.
 
'Overall, I felt like I was swinging the club a lot better today,' said Woods, who hit the stick at the par-3 11th, but missed the birdie putt after the ball ran 15 feet from the hole. 'I had better control of my shots.'
 
Woods has not had great control of his drives this week. He leads this elite, 29-man field in driving distance to the tune of 325 yards, but is dead last in accuracy, hitting only 33 percent of the fairways.
 
'I hit some good drives that ended up in tough spots, but I also hit some pretty bad drives,' acknowledged Woods. 'The fairways are a little faster. I am hitting it farther and with less effort, which is nice.'
 
Bryant has certainly had no problems statistically this week. He shares the lead in the tournament in fairways hit and is first in greens in regulation.
 
He flew out of the gate on Saturday with a 5-foot birdie putt at the first, but it was Goosen who took the lead early in the third round. The two-time U.S. Open winner birdied one from 8 feet, then tapped in a short birdie putt at the second. Goosen took a two-shot lead when his 10-foot birdie putt at the sixth disappeared in the cup.
 
Things turned for the first time at the seventh. Goosen found a pair of bunkers on the way to making a bogey. Bryant knocked his approach inside a foot and tapped in for the birdie to tie for the lead.
 
Goosen bogeyed eight to fall one back and both players birdied the par-5 ninth. Bryant gave a shot back at 13 when his drive in the left rough forced him into a difficult stance.
 
Bryant rolled in a 5-foot birdie putt at the 14th to reclaim the top spot on the leaderboard. From there, it was a combination of Goosen mistakes and a clutch bunker shot that gave Bryant his three-stroke cushion.
 
Bryant made a routine par at the 17th, but Goosen hit a mediocre approach to 45 feet. He three-putted for a bogey and was two behind.
 
At the par-3 18th, both players were in the same bunker, and Bryant went first. His bunker shot ultimately fell into the cup and Goosen got up and down from 5 feet for par to remain three off the lead.
 
'I'm going to try to get some good rest tonight and come out tomorrow and stick with the same game plan, try and get it in the fairway,' said Bryant. 'I think if I continue to do that, I have a decent chance to coming out on top,'
 
If Goosen is to become a back-to-back winner, he will have to improve his play at the end of the round.
 
'I'm holing a lot of good par putts, so tomorrow I'm going to have to scramble better or play better, one of the two,' said Goosen. 'I've been up-and-down this year, but I just need to somehow find the fairways. That's the key.'
 
Scott Verplank posted a 1-under 69 and is alone in fourth place at 8-under-par 202. Davis Love III fired a 5-under 65 and has sole possession of fifth place at minus-6.
 
Padraig Harrington (68), Charles Howell III (70) and Ben Crane (72) are knotted in sixth place at 5-under-par 205. Vijay Singh (68), Stuart Appleby (71) and Tim Clark (72) share ninth at minus-4.
 
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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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    McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

    Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

    The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

    McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

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    Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

    Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

    Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

    Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.