Lietzke Races to Audi Victory

By Sports NetworkFebruary 24, 2002, 5:00 pm
Bruce Lietzke came from five shots down on Sunday to shoot a bogey-free 67 and win the Audi Senior Classic, his third title in 14 starts on the Senior Tour. His 8-under-par 208 was good enough for a one-shot win over Hale Irwin and Gary McCord, who in the end, was the only player who could catch Lietzke.
 
The swing took place when Lietzke was at 17 and with McCord playing the 16th in the group behind. Lietzke knocked his tee shot 12 feet from the hole at the par-3 17th and watched his ball drop into the left side of the cup to make birdie and match McCord at 8-under-par.

McCord, who took the one-shot lead with a 10-foot birdie putt from the fringe at the 15th, drove into the right rough at 16. His second shot missed the green short and right and his chip on to the green was less than spectacular, stopping 15 feet from the hole. McCord missed the par save left to fall one behind Lietzke with two holes to play.
 
Lietzke nearly dropped his swinging 20-foot birdie try in the side of the cup at 18, but settled for par and a one-shot clubhouse lead. McCord stiffed his tee ball seven feet from the stick at No. 17 but his bid to tie Lietzke for the lead fell one foot short of the hole.
 
McCord, making his first start of the season after weeks of broadcasting for CBS, nailed a 3-wood down the fairway at 18 but he left himself with a length to the hole that was in between clubs. He went with the less-lofted club and it did not work out, pushing his approach 65 feet right of the hole.

McCord gave it a run but missed short, giving Lietzke his first title of 2002.

'It was a great weekend,' said Lietzke, who finished 66-67. 'The golf course played into my hands when the wind quit blowing this weekend. I started hitting it close and made some putts. It worked on the weekend.'

Ed Dougherty and Bruce Fleisher occupied the top spots on the leaderboard heading into the final round but back-nine bogeys cost them dearly.

Dougherty, the overnight leader, dropped shots at 12 and 13 to fall out of contention while Fleisher was in position to capture the title until bogeys at the Club de Golf Chapultepec's final two par-3s, the 13th and 17th, also cost Fleisher a chance at his 15th Senior Tour victory.
 
McCord grabbed the lead around the turn thanks to a 60-foot, left-to-right eagle putt at No. 8. He added birdies at nine and 11 to extend the lead but he let the field back in the tournament at 12 when he missed a seven-foot par save.
 
Lietzke started to claw into the tournament on the front nine with birdies at four and eight but he drew within one of McCord with a 12-foot birdie putt at the 11th. He played a gorgeous iron shot into the 12th green that stopped two feet from the hole and when McCord bogeyed the 12th, Lietzke was tied for the lead.

Lietzke has his opportunities to pull away from McCord, first at the 13th when his tee shot landed 10 feet short of the hole. His birdie try targeted the hole but turned right at the last second, costing Lietzke a birdie and a one-shot lead.

At 15, Lietzke hit a beautiful pitch over trees for his third from the right rough that came to rest six feet from the hole. Once again failed to capitalize, leaving the green with a five but he remained tied for the lead in the championship after the unlikely par.
 
'I couldn't have made a par going low,' said Lietzke, referring to his options from the rough at 15. 'All of a sudden there was an opening real high that I didn't see the first time. I was trying to get it 15 feet, but I hit it six feet.
 
'Maybe the moral there is to take a little extra time and check all of your options. I found the option there that allowed me to make a par and keep my momentum.'
 
It was his birdie at 17, coupled with McCord's mistake at 16 that gave Lietzke his third title on the Senior Tour and the $255,000 first-prize check.
 
McCord finished with a 69 in his bid for his third Senior Tour title and his first since the 1999 Senior Tour Championship.
 
Irwin once again snuck up on the field on Sunday. He reached 5-under-par before he dropped a shot at the par-3 13th but rebounded with back-to-back birdies at 14 and 15.

Irwin missed an eight-foot birdie putt that would have tied him for the lead at 16 but after Lietzke went to 8-under, Irwin could not get closer. He ran home a 10-foot birdie at 17 and had a final chance at reaching 8-under on the 18th.
 
The three-time U.S. Open champion left himself only six feet but his putt missed right at the end and instead gave Irwin his second runner-up finish this season.

'I'm not getting off to that good start and I just put myself in such a position to crawl back so far,' said Irwin, who lost by one stroke to Doug Tewell last week at the Verizon Classic. 'I hit a good putt at the last hole. That's the nature of the game.'
 
Irwin finished with a five-under 67.
 
Full-field scores from the Audi Senior Classic
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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.