Garcia Avoids Penalty Stays on Top

By Sports NetworkOctober 29, 2004, 4:00 pm
SOTOGRANDE, Spain -- Spain's Sergio Garcia overcame three lost strokes over his first three holes to post a 2-under 69 on Friday and take the 36-hole lead at the Volvo Masters Andalucia. He stands at 6-under-par 136 and leads by one over Scotland's Alastair Forsyth at Valderrama Golf Club.
 
Forsyth bogeyed the last to shoot a 2-under 69. Ian Poulter fired a 4-under 67 for third place at 4-under-par 138.
 
Valderrama Golf Club played more difficultly on Friday with intermittent rain and swirling winds. The toughness of the course was no more obvious than Darren Clarke's play on the famous, par-5 17th.
 
He owned the lead at 3 under par, but laid up short of the green with his third into a fairway bunker. Clarke knocked his fourth into the pond guarding the green and when he walked off the putting surface he left with an 11. Clarke still managed a 1-over 72, but is tied for 25th place at plus-3.
 
This event is reserved for the top-60 on the European Tour Order of Merit, but several players, including top money leaders Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, along with world No. 1 Vijay Singh, elected to skip the event.
 
Garcia came to Valderrama and shared the first-round lead with fellow countryman Jose Manuel Lara. Garcia did not look good out of the gate with a bogey at the first and a double bogey at No. 3.
 
At the third, Garcia thought he lost his first ball so he hit a provisional. His first ball was found, but no one notified Garcia and he missed his 12-foot bogey putt, which was the result of the second ball.
 
Garcia did not realize that rules officials were looking at the incident to see if there might be a possible problem. If Garcia knew his first ball was playable and he played his second ball, he could have been disqualified.
 
'It's not nice when you finish and you see an official waiting for you,' admitted Garcia. 'I didn't even know it was for me because I never felt like I did anything wrong.'
 
Rules officials agreed that no infraction was made.
 
'Nobody actually came to tell him that a ball had been found and it could have been his original ball,' said John Paramor, the European Tour Chief Referee. 'So he went ahead and played his provisional ball and in these circumstances the score with the provisional ball counts.'
 
Garcia calmed down after the hiccup at the third with six consecutive pars to close his front nine. He ran home a swinging, 35-foot birdie putt at No. 10, then made it two in a row with a birdie at the 11th.
 
The 24-year-old, who is ranked 10th in the world, birdied the 14th to reach 4 under par for the championship.
 
Garcia hit the shot of the tournament at the diabolical 17th. He found the fairway off the tee, then landed on the green with his second shot, some 20 feet right of the cup. Garcia's eagle bid came up short, but he tapped in for birdie to get within one of Forsyth's lead. Forsyth bogeyed 18, so the door was open for Garcia.
 
He took advantage as his drive settled in the left side of the short grass. Garcia hit his approach 10 feet right of the hole and drained the birdie putt to get the lead midway through the season-ending event.
 
'It's a shame that it started a bit shaky,' said Garcia, who won his last start on the European Tour at the Mallorca Classic. 'I finally got some putts going on the back nine with some nice birdies.'
 
Forsyth bogeyed the third, but tallied back-to-back birdies from the eighth, including a 4-footer at the ninth to take the lead at 4 under par. He parred the 10th, but once again reeled off two consecutive birdies from the 11th.
 
At the 14th, Forsyth landed in the first cut on the left side, then dumped his approach in a greenside bunker. He had a downhill lie and blasted his third 30 feet past the pin. Forsyth's par try rolled 5 feet past the hole, but he made the comeback putt to save bogey.
 
He rebounded with a birdie at the 15th, but found trouble off the tee at the 18th. Forsyth's drive landed in the trees and he was forced to pitch into the fairway. His third came up 10 feet short of the cup, but his par putt missed left. That cost Forsyth the second-round lead, but insured his spot in the final group on Sunday.
 
'To be 5 under after two rounds, I must be playing well,' said Forsyth. 'I'm driving it well, finding a lot of greens and any time I'm missing the greens, I'm staying out of trouble and putting well and just have to keep going as well as I can.'
 
Angel Cabrera fired the lowest round on Friday with a 5-under 66. He is tied for fourth place with Christian Cevaer (70) at 3-under-par 139, one stroke better than Peter Hanson, who shot his second 1-under 70 in as many days.
 
Brian Davis (73), Jonathan Lomas (72) and Peter O'Malley (72) share seventh at 1-under-par 141. European Ryder Cuppers Padraig Harrington (70), Paul Casey (70) and David Howell (69) joined Terry Price (71) in a tie for 10th place at even-par 142.
 
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    McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

    By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

    The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

    McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

    McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

    ''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

    Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

    ''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

    McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

    ''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

    ''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

    The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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    Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

    By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

    If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

    Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

    If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

    Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

    Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

    I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

    A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

    And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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    Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

    Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

    The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

    Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

    “I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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    Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

    Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.