Harrington Trails by One in Taiwan

By Sports NetworkNovember 23, 2002, 5:00 pm
TA SHEE, Taiwan -- Maarten Lafeber managed a 1-under 71 on Saturday but still held the top spot after three rounds of the Asian Open at Ta Shee Golf & Country Club. He stands at 13-under-par 203 and owns a one-shot lead over Irishman Padraig Harrington and South African Trevor Immelman.
John Daly, a two-time major winner, continued to play Saturday, just a few days after his mother's death. He shot a third-round, 2-under-par 70 and is tied for 30th at minus-2.
Lafeber, who opened the third round with a four-shot lead, had it on cruise control Saturday with a pair of birdies at two and three. He dropped a shot at the fourth but reclaimed the lost stroke with a birdie at seven. Lafeber dropped another shot at nine but was still in command, extending his lead at one point to five shots.
Harrington failed to make a move because of spotty play on the front nine. He bogeyed the fourth when he went into water, three-putted the sixth for par and three-putted the ninth for a bogey.
Lafeber birdied 11 to stay well ahead but never got anything going on the back nine after that birdie. He parred the next five holes before a bogey at 17, a hole he birdied the previous two days. Lafeber's lack of birdies on the back nine left the door open for Harrington and Immelman.
Harrington, who finished second on the Order of Merit race for the second consecutive year in 2002, mounted his charge on the second nine with a birdie at No. 10. He birdied 14 and 15 after making solid par saves at the 12th and 13th holes.
'I played quite nicely through the back nine. There were a couple of wayward shots that were recovered,' said Harrington, who shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday. 'Sometimes it's nice when you miss a few greens and you're getting it up and down because when you get your birdie chances, you also take them and get them in.'
Immelman, who recorded a pair of runner-up finishes in 2002, collected back-to-back birdies three times on Saturday, including birdies at 14 and 15 to polish of his round of 68.
American Andrew Pitts is alone in fourth place at 10-under par, followed by Ian Woosnam and Thongchai Jaidee, who share fifth place at 8-under-par 208.
For Woosnam, who served as Sam Torrance's vice-captain at The Ryder Cup in September, his 4-under-par 68 puts him in a position for his first official victory on the European Tour since the 1997 Volvo PGA Championship.
'If I'm five behind, I still have a chance to win because I think this is the sort of course that I think you can score low on if you play really well,' Woosnam said. 'I think the pin positions could get even trickier tomorrow.'
Soren Hansen (70), James Kingston (71), Henrik Nystrom (67) and Simon Yates (71) share seventh place at 7-under-par 203.
Jarmo Sandelin, the 2001 Asian Open champion, is part of a group at 5-under par, while Torrance is a shot further back at minus-4.
This event kicks off the 2003 European Tour schedule and is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the Asian PGA Tour or Davidoff Tour.
Full-field scores from BMW Asian Open
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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.