Defending Champion Back on Top

By Sports NetworkDecember 12, 2003, 5:00 pm
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Padraig Harrington, the defending champion, fired the lowest round of the tournament Friday, a 5-under 67, to storm into the lead after the second round of the Target World Challenge. The Irishman stands at 3-under-par 141 amid windy conditions at Sherwood Country Club.
Tiger Woods, the tournament host and winner in 2001, birdied the final hole to shoot his second 1-under 71 in as many days. He is at 2-under-par 142 and is tied for second place with 2000 champion and first-round leader Davis Love III (72) and Chris DiMarco (68).
'Considering the mistakes I've made the last two days, if you take those away, I'm well ahead,' admitted Woods. 'I'm surprised that no one else has run away with it. I'm very fortunate to be in there.'
Harrington caught fire quickly into Friday's round with three birdies in his first four holes. He struggled on the par-5 fifth and made bogey, but the winner of last week's Hong Kong Open on the European Tour waited until the back nine to ascend into the lead.
At the par-4 10th, Harrington rolled home a 25-footer for birdie to reach 1 under par, but the Irishman dropped the stroke with a bogey at the difficult, par-3 12th. He birdied the par-5 13th but once again dropped a stroke quickly after a birdie, this time at the 14th.
Harrington missed the green with his tee ball at the par-3 15th, but bladed a sand-wedge and rolled in a chip from 20 feet. He sank a seven-footer for birdie at the 16th from the fringe, then chipped in again from 10 feet at the 17th to reach 3 under for the tournament.
He missed his approach short on the lower tier of the 18th green. Harrington's 35-foot birdie try just missed, but the top-ranked European player in the world still held the 36-hole lead and is in position to become the first player to successfully defend his title at this event.
'I thought it would vault me into contention, but I'm surprised to be leading, to be honest,' said Harrington, who won this tournament at 20 under par last year. 'I like the golf course. It asks a lot. You can take it on.'
Woods found trouble very early in his round Friday at the par-5 second hole. His second went left into a hazard, then after a drop, his fourth hit the green, but spun back into another hazard. He walked off with a triple-bogey 8.
The No. 1 player in the world rebounded the rest of the way with six birdies and two bogeys to get into second place.
Love was in first place until some miscues off the tee on a pair of par-3s. At the 12th, Love missed the green and left his second in the rough. His third flew 15 feet past the hole and Love missed the putt for a double bogey.
He birdied 13 from 12 feet but his tee ball at No. 15 came up short, hit a rock and landed in water. His pitch stopped 10 feet from the hole and he rolled home the putt to save bogey. Love holed a two-footer for birdie at 16 to earn his piece of second.
DiMarco was 3 under on his round and one behind Harrington when he played the par-3 17th. His claw-handed putting stroke ran home a 35-footer for birdie and got him into Saturday's final pairing.
Robert Allenby (71), K.J. Choi (71), Justin Leonard (72), Nick Price (69), Masters champion Mike Weir (68) and 2003 PGA Tour's leading money winner Vijay Singh (69) share fifth place at 1-under-par 143.
Fred Couples shot an even-par 72 and is tied for 11th with reigning PGA Champion Shaun Micheel at plus-1. Micheel posted a 3-under-par 69 on Friday.
Kenny Perry, who shared second place at 1-under 71 after Thursday's opening round, struggled to a 5-over 77 and shares 13th with Jay Haas. The 49-year-old Haas shot a 72 in the second round and joined Perry at 1-over-par 148.
British Open winner Ben Curtis carded a 2-over 74 and is in 15th at plus-8, followed by Darren Clarke, who posted a second-round 73 to finish in 16th at plus-10.
Related Links:
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  • Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee:

    Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

    Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

    ''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''

    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

    Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

    ''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

    Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

    ''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

    Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

    Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.