Irwin Among Hawiian Leaders

By Sports NetworkJanuary 31, 2003, 5:00 pm
KAUPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii -- Hale Irwin, Steven Veriato and Dana Quigley each posted rounds of 6-under-par 66 on Friday to share the first-round lead of the MasterCard Championship.
Larry Nelson and Jay Sigel are tied for fourth place a stroke behind the leaders at 5-under-par 67.
Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino headline a group in sixth place at 4-under-par 68. Both players, who are 63 years old, were invited as sponsor's exemptions.
Tom Kite, the 2002 champion, opened with a 3-under 69 and his first-round playing partner, Arnold Palmer turned in an impressive feat of his own. Palmer matched his age Friday with a 1-over 73. Last year, Palmer matched his age at the Napa Valley Championship in October.
Irwin flew out of the gate Friday with three birdies in his first four holes. He two-putted from 20 feet to secure birdie at the par-5 seventh to make the turn at 4-under 32.
The 2002 Champions Tour money leader and Player of the Year took advantage of his next par-5, the 566-yard 10th. He two-putted there for birdie and also birdied the final par-5, the 14th. Irwin could not reach the green in two at 14, but wedged his third to nine feet to set up his final birdie of the round.
'I played okay today,' said Irwin, who won this event in 1997, 'I hit some loose irons coming in. I'm not quite geared into how far I'm hitting the ball with the new equipment. Everything in the bag is new except the putter.'
Veriato, who grew up in nearby Hilo, three-putted from 10 feet for a bogey at the third but that was his lone mistake of the round. He chipped in for eagle at his next hole, the fourth, and added two birdies on his front nine for a 3-under 33.
He blew an eagle chance at the 10th, but collected a birdie at No. 11 when he drained a 10-footer. Veriato ran home a six-foot birdie putt at the 14th and closed with a 20-foot breaker at the last to polish off his round of 66.
'This is a great spot to be in,' said Veriato. 'This is a big week for me. It's home. If I can shoot for pins, I will.'
Veriato is here on a sponsor's exemption this week as he lost his playing card in 2002. He finished 61st on the money list and lost a spot in Q-School.
'I'll be a qualifier from this point on,' said Veriato, who won the 2001 Novell Utah Showdown. 'I'll try to Monday qualify every other week. I'll be happy if I can get in 12-13 events.'
Quigley, who started his 202nd consecutive event for which he was eligible, holed a 15-foot eagle putt at four and tallied back-to-back birdies at seven and eight.
Quigley carded two birdies in his first five holes on the second nine, but missed a three-footer to save par at the 15th. He rebounded from the miscue at 15 with a 10-foot birdie putt at the last to grab his piece of first place.
'I played great and I have been all winter,' said Quigley. 'I've always played well here. This is my favorite place to play on tour.'
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the MasterCard Championship
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  • Champions Tour Debuts on TGC This Week
  • McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

    When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

    Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

    Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

    While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

    Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

    Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

    Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

    Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    "I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

    But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

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    With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

    Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

    The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

    "I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."

    Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

    A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

    In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

    “I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

    Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.

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    “I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

    Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

    “We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

    How does she feel?

    “I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

    Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

    New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

    Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

    She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

    “I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

    Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.

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    Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

    Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

    Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

    “Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

    Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

    “I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”