Lin wins thrilling playoff over McIllroy

By Sports NetworkNovember 23, 2008, 5:00 pm
2009 European TourHONG KONG ' Wen-Tang Lin prevailed in a thrilling three-way playoff at the Hong Kong Open on Sunday to claim his first European Tour win.
The 34-year-old from Chinese Taipei tapped in a 1-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole to knock off Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy for the victory.
Francesco Molinari of Italy was ousted on the first playoff hole.
Lin, already a winner on the Asian Tour, shot a 3-under 67 in the final round to tie McIlroy and Molinari at 15-under-par 265 and force the three-way playoff.
He endured a missed birdie putt at the 18th hole in regulation that would have given him the win outright, then an errant drive on the first extra hole that looked like it would knock him out of the playoff.
Lin recovered, however, with a spectacular approach shot to 6 feet ' he took a mighty whack from behind a tree ' to set up a birdie putt that was interrupted momentarily by a shouting fan.
McIlroy, who closed with a 5-under 65 in the final round, matched Lin's birdie effort on the first extra hole with an approach to 3 feet from the middle of the fairway.
Molinari, after also making it into the playoff with a 65, found the rough off the tee and missed a 15-foot birdie putt to get knocked from the extra session.
Back at No. 18 for the third straight time, it was McIlroy's turn to send his drive into the trees on the left side of the fairway, while Lin split the middle with his.
But ' like Lin had done moments earlier ' McIlroy took his own mighty hack from behind a tree, sending a swinging hook shot to the back of the green to preserve a birdie opportunity.
The great shot mattered little.
Lin stepped to his ball at the bottom of the fairway and calmly sent a wedge shot towards the hole. It stopped just a foot from the cup, and Lin threw his right fist in the air.
When McIlroy missed his long birdie effort on the left side of the hole, all Lin needed to do was tap in his short putt for the win.
'This is my first European Tour win and my feelings cannot be described,' Lin said through an interpreter. 'With this win I can reassure myself that what I am doing is right.'
The three-way playoff ended a tight final round at Hong Kong Golf Club that also saw third-round leader Oliver Wilson and Hall of Famer Bernhard Langer, among others, jockey for the win.
Meanwhile, Wilson (71) made three consecutive bogeys late in the round to fall into a five-way tie for sixth place at 12-under 268 ' despite sharing the lead with four holes left.
Langer (69) went bogey-birdie-bogey on his last three holes to join Wilson, David Gleeson (66), Iain Steel (66) and Richard Sterne (66) in a share of sixth.
The round ended as it should have, the playoff seeming all but inevitable as the final round wore on and no clear favorite emerged.
Lin, for his part, joined a four-way tie for the lead with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 12th hole. He preserved his share of that lead with another birdie at the 13th, but missed a 6-foot birdie putt at the 18th with a chance to win in regulation.
McIlroy, the 19-year-old rising star who is still seeking his first win, drained a 20-foot birdie putt at the 15th hole that gave him a share of the lead. But it was his only birdie in the final nine holes of regulation.
'It was not meant to be, but it still has been a great week for me,' said McIlroy. 'I couldn't have done much more.'
Molinari eagled the 13th and birdied the 14th to soar up the leaderboard and take the lead by himself, but he bogeyed the 15th. Another birdie at the 17th kept him in it, and he was the first player in the clubhouse at 15 under after coming within inches of a closing birdie at the 18th.
'I think that the pity is just the putt on the 72nd hole that went really, really close to going in,' said Molinari, 'but it's all right.'
Colin Montgomerie and John Daly also had good showings at the second event on the European Tour's 2009 schedule.
Monty closed with a 69 and tied for 15th place at 10-under 270, while Daly scorched the course for a 62 on Sunday that earned him a share of 17th at 9 under.
The last time Daly came close to a number that low was his 63 in the second round of the 2007 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.