Byrd Soars to the Top at BC Open

By Sports NetworkJuly 16, 2004, 4:00 pm
ENDICOTT, N.Y. -- Jonathan Byrd posted a 7-under 65 on Friday to take the lead midway through the B.C. Open. He stands at 12-under-par 132 and owns a one-shot lead at En-Joie Golf Club.
John E. Morgan, who lost a playoff last week that cost him a chance to play in the British Open, shot a 4-under 68 and is tied for second with Daniel Chopra, who carded a 65. The duo is knotted at 11-under-par 133.
Todd Fischer (69), Chris Smith (65), Roland Thatcher (68) and Neal Lancaster (67) share fourth place at minus-10.
Byrd opened on the back nine Friday and rolled home a 25-foot birdie putt at his first hole. He tallied back-to-back birdies from the 12th, but found trouble at 15. Byrd's approach plugged in a bunker and he left with a bogey.
The 2002 Buick Challenge winner once again reeled off two birdies in a row, this time from the 16th and opened his second nine with a 15-footer for birdie.
Byrd got up-and-down for birdie from behind the green at the par-5 third. He took sole possession of the lead with a 15-foot birdie putt at the sixth, but trouble loomed.
He three-putted for bogey at the par-3 seventh, but once again got up-and-down for birdie from behind the green, this time at the eighth. That birdie gave Byrd the lead at the 36-hole mark for the first time in his PGA Tour career.
Byrd has struggled so far this year, but he has a good excuse. He had hip surgery in February to repair two tears and the return has been a slow process.
'My swing got better from surgery,' said Byrd. 'I was sliding in my backswing. The year has been a struggle. I've felt good the last few weeks. I'm a better player than last year.'
Morgan did not look like he would pick up his first birdie when he did. He missed the green at the par-5 fifth and duffed his first chip. Morgan then chipped-in for a birdie to get into red figures.
The young Englishman tallied a tap-in birdie at the ninth and ran home an 8-foot birdie putt at the 12th. Morgan went for the green off the tee at the 321-yard, par-4 16th. He came up short, but chipped on and made the birdie putt to polish off his bogey-free round.
Morgan lost a playoff to Mark Hensby last week at the John Deere Classic. He mistakenly thought that gave him an spot in the field for the British Open because Hensby turned down the invitation.
The spot did not fall to Morgan after Hensby passed, but Morgan is continuing his strong play.
'Something has been brewing for a couple of months,' said Morgan. 'Something is clicking and we'll see what happens. I'm very patient out there and staying with the game plan.'
Chopra began on the back nine and knocked a 7-iron to 12 feet to set up birdie at the 12th. He nearly holed his tee ball at 17, but settled for a tap-in par. Chopra hit a sand-wedge to three feet for a birdie at No. 18 to make the turn at 3-under 32.
Chopra, a two-time winner on the Nationwide Tour this season, missed a pair of birdie putts inside 10 feet at the opening two holes of his back nine. He two-putted from 45 feet for birdie at the par-5 third, then rolled in a 3-footer for eagle at the par-5 fifth.
He took advantage of the third par-5 on the front side at En-Joie. Chopra reached the front edge of the green with his second, then chipped on and made birdie.
'I saw the course for the first time on Thursday,' said Chopra. 'It was a lot calmer conditions today. I played well yesterday too, it was just tougher conditions.'
Notah Begay III fired a 10-under 62 on Friday and is part of a large group tied for eighth at 9-under-par 135. Kevin Stadler, a two-time winner so far on the Nationwide Tour this year, is also at minus-9 after a second-round 70.
Kevin's father Craig Stadler, who is the defending champion, shot a 3-under 69 and is tied for 16th at minus-8. Robert Gamez matched the course record Friday with an 11-under 61 and is part of the group four shots behind Byrd.
The 36-hole cut fell at 2-under-par 142 and Fred Funk, who passed on a spot in the British Open to play this week, made the cut on the number.
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    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.''

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    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 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. 

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    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.

    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. 

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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."