Hot-lanta Bryant on Fire at East Lake

By Sports NetworkNovember 3, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Tour ChampionshipATLANTA -- Bart Bryant, who won this year's Memorial, established a new course record at East Lake Golf Club Thursday with an 8-under-par 62, en route to the first-round lead at the Tour Championship.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods posted 10 3s on his card in Round 1.
Bryant's 62 topped Vijay Singh's old record of 63 at East Lake. Singh posted that number in 1998, and Bryant was not aware that he was chasing down history.
'I had no idea what the course record was,' acknowledged Bryant. 'I was just trying to get a three on the last hole. I had no idea that putt was for the course record.'
This is the final event on the 2005 PGA Tour season and is reserved for the top-30 players on the money list. Phil Mickelson, third on the money list, is the only eligible player not in attendance.
Defending champion Retief Goosen is alone in second place after a 6-under-par 64. Kenny Perry three-putted the last hole for a bogey, but is in third at minus-5.
Tiger Woods struggled to find fairways on Thursday, but still managed a 4-under-par 66. He is tied for fourth place with Sergio Garcia, but the No. 1 player in the world looked like he was going to fire a low round early Thursday.
Woods birdied three of his first four holes, all from inside 10 feet, then tallied back-to-back birdies at seven and eight, both from 5 feet or less.
Things went downhill from there for Woods and it all stemmed from poor bunker play. At the par-5 ninth, he knocked his second into a greenside trap and did not get up and down for the birdie, instead making par.
One hole later, Woods found another bunker, but could not save par. He fell to 4 under for the championship and with one birdie and one bogey the rest of the way, got into the clubhouse in decent shape.
'If I get those two simple up-and-downs out of the bunker ... that took the momentum out of the round,' said Woods. 'I got off to a great start. It wasn't that bad.'
Woods' round was not bad, but it was not 'Bart Bryant' good.
Bryant was 3 under par on his round as he came to the par-5 ninth. He missed an 8-footer for birdie at that hole, but got to 4 under, which gave him the lead, with a 24-foot birdie putt at the 11th.
The 42-year-old birdied the 12th to move to minus-5, then rolled in a 5-footer for birdie at No. 13. Bryant collected three birdies in a row, got to 6 under and actually grabbed a three-shot lead in the tournament.
Bryant narrowly missed a 30-foot birdie try at the 14th, but hit the shot of the round on Thursday at the par-5 15th. His hybrid-club approach stopped 7 feet from the hole and the winner of this year's Memorial rolled in the eagle putt to reach 8 under par.
'At that point, I was feeling awfully good,' admitted Bryant.
Unfortunately for him, it did not translate into any more birdies. At the 16th, Bryant nearly holed a 36-foot birdie putt, but ultimately tapped in for par.
On the 17th fairway, Bryant had a 9-iron in his hands, but pulled his approach slightly in the left rough. He had a difficult stance on a steep hill, but that hardly mattered. Bryant almost holed the chip, but settled for a par with the difficult, par-3 18th to go.
Bryant used the same hybrid club that worked so well on 15 at the 235-yard, par-3. He missed a 30-footer, holed out from 3 feet, then walked off with a course record and the first-round lead.
'I wasn't expecting to shoot 8 under, and I don't think anybody really expects to shoot 8 under ever on a tour quality golf course,' said Bryant. 'It just sort of happens when you're out there. Somebody was going to go low today. Luckily it was me.'
Goosen got out of the gate on Thursday with a pair of pars, but picked up momentum with a 25-foot birdie putt at the third. He made an even longer birdie try at four and polished off his third straight birdie with an 8-footer at five.
The two-time U.S. Open champion mixed three birdies and two bogeys over his next five holes. Goosen rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt at the 13th and a 9-footer at 14 to get closest to Bryant's lead.
'I hit it pretty well out there today,' said Goosen, who overcame a four-shot deficit on Sunday last year to win. 'I was always up there putting for birdie, which was nice. Obviously, I have a good feel for the greens around here.'
Charles Howell III, Scott Verplank and Tim Clark all posted rounds of 3-under-par 67 on Thursday and are tied for sixth place. Ben Crane and Davis Love III are knotted in ninth place at minus-2.
Singh, the No. 2 player in the world, and Chris DiMarco are the only other players under par. The pair shares 11th place at 1-under-par 69.
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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

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    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

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    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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    McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

    Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

    The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

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    McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

    McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

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    Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

    Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

    Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

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    Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

    Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.