Choi Leads Stadler at Johnnie Walker

By Sports NetworkFebruary 10, 2006, 5:00 pm
PERTH, Australia -- K.J. Choi fired a 6-under 66 Friday to move two strokes clear of the field after two rounds of the Johnnie Walker Classic. Choi completed the opening 36 holes at 13-under-par 131.
Kevin Stadler, who shared the first-round lead with Adam Scott, posted a 3-under 69 to take second place at 11-under-par 133.
Scott, the defending champion, is two strokes further back at minus-nine after a 71. He was joined in a tie for third place by fellow Australians, Tony Carolan and Richard Green, who each shot 69 on Friday.
Choi started his second round on the back nine at The Vines Resort & Country Club. He posted his first birdie on the par-4 12th to move to 8-under. He then birdied the 14th for the second straight round.
The Korean climbed to 10-under as he birdied the par-3 16th. Choi posted the fourth birdie of his opening nine holes at the 18th, to make the turn at minus-11.
Choi dropped in a birdie effort on the second. He came right back with a birdie on the par-5 third. The 35-year-old parred his final six holes to close at 13-under.
'My focus today was my iron shots and my putting,' Choi said. 'The greens are fast here, which is good because I usually like fast greens. I've been feeling good with my putter and I haven't missed many shots. I'm just playing good and making birdies.'
Stadler, who is playing this week on a sponsor's exemption, got his round going with a birdie on No. 10. He cruised to seven consecutive pars from there.
The 26-year-old eagled the par-5 18th to make the turn at 11-under. Stadler stumbled to just his second bogey of the event at the par-4 fifth. He got that stroke back when he birdied the ninth, his last.
'It was tough out there in the heat, but I hit it pretty well without making as many putts as yesterday,' said Stadler, who with the field battled temperatures that soared into the 100s. 'I still feel positive about things.'
Scott, who won this event last year when it was played at Pine Valley Golf Resort and Country Club in Beijing, China, stumbled to back-to-back bogeys from the 11th. He got those strokes back at consecutive birdies from the 17th. Scott birdied the par-4 second to go with eight pars on his second nine.
'I had heaps of chances -- probably more than Thursday -- but hardly made any putts,' Scott said. 'All things considered, I am still in a pretty good position. I just need to hole a few putts Saturday to get myself right into contention.'
Australian Gavin Flint fired an 8-under 64 to jump into a tie for sixth place at 8-under-par 136. He was joined there by Francesco Molinari (65), Stephen Leaney (66), Ian Poulter (66), Peter Senior (68), Ross Fisher (67) and Scott Gardiner (66). Robert Allenby, Paul Casey and Stephen Gallacher are one stroke further back at minus-seven.
The round of the day was posted by Australian Gary Simpson. He carded a course-record tying 9-under 63. He notched eight birdies, a bogey and an eagle in his round. That 63 helped him jump from a tie for 130th place into a share of 16th.
Fred Couples, the 1995 champion, posted a 5-under 67. He is one of seven players that stand alongside Simpson at minus-six.
The cut line fell at two-under-par 142 with 65 players advancing to the final two rounds. Several big-name players will not be around for the weekend.
Among those missing the cut were - two-time U.S. Open champion and 2002 Johnnie Walker winner Retief Goosen (even-par 144), 1993 runner-up Colin Montgomerie (144), European Ryder Cup captain and 1996 winner of this event Ian Woosnam (145) and reigning U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell (146).
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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 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. 

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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, 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. 

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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."