Jones Alone in First

By Sports NetworkMay 9, 2003, 4:00 pm
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Rosie Jones posted a 4-under 68 on Friday to take first place at the Asahi Ryokuken International Championship. She stands at 10-under-par 134 and owns a one-shot lead over Wendy Ward.
Marcy Hart (66), Laura Diaz (68) and Pat Hurst (69) share third place at 8-under-par 136.
That makes five Americans holding the top five positions on the leaderboard through 36 holes. No American player has won on the LPGA Tour since Meg Mallon took home the Canadian Women's Open trophy last August.
'Everybody thinks it is a great story, but we really are a world tour,' said Jones, whose last win at the Kathy Ireland event in 2001 snapped an 0-10 start for Americans that year. 'Our international players are 80-90 deep. That leaves only 50 people from America to play in the events. The ratio is changing.'
'I don't think any of us would have realized that Meg was the last one. When I read it in a paper or saw it on TV or something it never dawned on me because our tour is about half and half,' said Ward, who represented the United States in last year's Solheim Cup. 'It seems like it gets written that the American players are struggling.'
Jones, who shared the lead with Sophie Gustafson after Thursday's opening round, started out with a five-foot birdie at the third but the best was yet to come for Jones on the front nine.
At the par-5 sixth hole, Jones holed a sand-wedge from 75 yards out for an eagle-3.
She knocked her approach onto the fringe at the eighth and sank the 25-footer for birdie. Jones gave the stroke back at the next hole when she landed on some pine chips and failed to hole an eight-footer for par.
Jones parred the first seven holes on her second nine but got into the red at the par-4 17th. She played a 7-wood to two feet to set up birdie then nearly holed a 60-footer for birdie at the last but the putt lipped out after hitting the cup's back edge.
'I was already to do a little lap around the green,' said Jones, referring to her putt at 18. 'It looked like it was going in to me and the way my caddy was reacting I really thought it was going in. It was one of those hard lip outs and I have had a few of those.
'I have been playing really well. I haven't been putting well. I have been playing good but not scoring, so as long as I keep my feel. If I feel good then I know I have the shots to play this golf course.'
Ward had an adventurous front nine, the back side at Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Course. She parred 10 but birdied 11 and 12 from seven and three feet, respectively. Ward dropped a shot at 13 when she drove into the rough but she tallied three birdies in a row from the 14th.
At the 17th, Ward once again found the right rough and once again carded a bogey. That meant Ward recorded five birdies, two pars and two bogeys.
'My driver let me down on 13 and 17. Those were my only two bogeys,' said Ward. 'Otherwise I hit it pretty solid and gave myself a lot of good birdie opportunities. It was the same thing on the second nine too; I played solid and had a couple of birdies in there.'
Ward hit an 8-iron to nine feet to set up birdie at three and she added a 10-foot birdie at the sixth to polish off a round of 5-under-par 67.
Defending champion Janice Moodie (69), Hee-Won Han (68), Tracy Hanson (68) and Giulia Sergas (70) share sixth at minus-6. Gustafson and Lorena Ochoa are knotted in 10th at 5-under-par 139.
The 36-hole cut fell at 3-over-par 147 and 79 players advanced to the weekend.
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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.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    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.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    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.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    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.

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    Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

    SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

    Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

    Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

    With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

    ''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

    Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.

    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

    ''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

    Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

    Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

    He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    "I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''