Crouching Tiger Woods Two Back of Rookies

By Sports NetworkJanuary 27, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007 Buick InvitationalSAN DIEGO -- Tiger Woods came within one shot of playing in the final threesome with a pair of rookies at the Buick Invitational.
Not that the youngsters would have minded.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is looking for his fifth career win at the Buick Invitational.
Nationwide Tour grads Brandt Snedeker and Andrew Buckle are the surprise leaders heading into the final round at Torrey Pines, where the only star near the top of the leaderboard just happens to be the world's best player.
Snedeker, who has led since his first-round 61 tied the North Course record, sputtered to a 2-over 74 playing with the rest of the field at the tougher South Course on Saturday.
Buckle fired a 4-under 68 to join Snedeker at 11-under-par 205.
The only thing keeping Woods out of the final group was a 3-foot birdie putt by Kevin Sutherland at No. 18, which gave Sutherland a 70 and moved him within a shot of the leaders.
Snedeker and Buckle, apparently unaware that Sutherland -- not Woods -- would be joining them, gave giddy interviews behind the 18th green.
'I don't think there will be many people watching us,' Buckle joked.
Later Snedeker added: 'I'm just going to enjoy every minute of it.'
For his part, Woods missed a lot of fairways and greens, but still managed a 3-under 69. He is two shots back, tied for fourth place with three others at 9-under 207.
'Things have gotten better each day and I've put myself in contention,' Woods said.
Woods is playing for his third straight Buick Invitational win and fifth overall. He has won six straight PGA TOUR starts dating back to last year's British Open.
Saturday, all three of his birdies came on the front nine at Nos. 4, 6 and 7. His real work came on the back, though, as he scrambled from bunkers to save par at 11, 15 and 16 to remain in the hunt.
If not for a pair of near misses -- a long birdie try at 13 hung on the edge and a 6-footer at 18 drifted left -- Woods would be right there with the rookies.
As it is, he's still only two shots off the lead.
'I had a couple opportunities to make a few more coming in, but I didn't do that,' Woods conceded. 'But I did make some good pars.'
Woods was joined at 9 under by Troy Matteson (69), Charles Howell III (73) and Bill Haas (72).
The top seven players on the leaderboard share 57 PGA TOUR wins: Woods has 54 of them; Sutherland, Howell and Matteson own one apiece. Howell and Matteson will play with Woods in the second-to-last threesome.
'It's like everyone imagines. If you can get in the group with Tiger, that's great because you know you're doing well,' Matteson said. 'But it will be different than the final rounds of other tournaments that I've been in. It will definitely be a different atmosphere.'
Snedeker, 26, made the PGA TOUR by finishing ninth on the Nationwide Tour money list last season despite missing five starts with a broken collarbone suffered when he tripped over a tree root.
He continued to lead without the luxury of playing from the fairways, which he missed 57 percent of the time Saturday. Snedeker hit just a quarter of Torrey Pines' fairways through the first two rounds.
'I tried to avoid all trees,' he joked, 'but I did seem to hit a few wayward drives.'
Snedeker made four bogeys and just two birdies over his first eight holes and watched a three-shot lead dwindle to a tie with Howell, who joined him in the lead when Snedeker missed an eight-foot par putt at No. 8.
At No. 9, Snedeker bounced back into the lead with a long birdie putt. But it would be a dog fight the rest of the way: three more bogeys and a round-saving 17-foot birdie putt at the 17th.
Buckle was steadier, posting seven birdies and three bogeys. He was alone in the lead following consecutive birdies at 12 and 13, but let it slip away with bogeys at 14 and 16.
He made a 14-foot putt at the 18th to get himself into the final group.
'When I got to 14 I couldn't find the green and I got anxious a few times, but it was nice to get that one on the last,' said Buckle, who was 13th on the Nationwide Tour money list last year.
Not out of the picture are former major winners Mark Calcavecchia (68) and Rich Beem (73), who are tied with five others at 8-under 208 -- just three shots back.
Phil Mickelson remained a non-factor, tied for 40th place at 213 following a 73. Vijay Singh (74) is two shots further back.
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    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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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.