Monty Charges to the Top at AmEx

By Sports NetworkOctober 6, 2005, 4:00 pm
SAN FRANCISCO -- Scotland's Colin Montgomerie fired a 6-under-par 64 on Thursday to grab the opening-round lead of the WGC -American Express Championship at Harding Park Golf Club.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods had four birdies and one bogey Thursday.
This first-round lead came on the heels of Montgomerie's comeback victory last week at the dunhill links championship on the European Tour. That was a boost to Montgomerie's confidence and the Ryder Cup star knows without that trip back to the winner's circle, he wouldn't have posted the round he did on Thursday.
 
'Ninety percent of it is carryover from Sunday,' admitted Montgomerie, who finished second at this year's British Open. 'If I finished third or fourth on Sunday I wouldn't have shot 64 today. Simple as that.'
 
Montgomerie has built a three-shot lead after round one, but no fewer than 11 players are right behind him, including the top-two players in the world rankings.
 
Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh headline the group in second place at 3-under-par 67. Sergio Garcia, Chad Campbell, Rod Pampling, John Daly, David Howell, Ian Poulter, Deutsche Bank Championship winner Olin Browne, Canadian Open titlist Mark Calcavecchia and Players champion Fred Funk joined Woods and Singh.
 
Woods only netted two birdies on his front nine, but got to 3 under for the championship with a 6-foot birdie putt at the first hole. He reached 4 under with a birdie two holes later, but things fell apart down the stretch.
 
He was not able to give himself many good looks at birdie on his second nine and missed a short par putt at the eighth. Woods parred his last and is in position for his fourth win at this event.
 
'If I shot something between two- and 4 under par, I thought it would be pretty good,' said Woods, who had several of his former Stanford Cardinal teammates in the gallery on Thursday. 'Especially looking at the pin locations and how tucked they were, I thought that would be a pretty good score.'
 
Singh collected three birdies over his first 12 holes, then could not buy another birdie. He was in trouble at the very difficult par-4 ninth, but holed a nice par save to stay in a tie for second.
 
'You can score very low here. Well, you think you can score very low here, but the greens are so hard to read. They're really tough,' said Singh.
 
Both players, and the remainder of the field, are staring up at Monty, who posted a bogey-free round on Thursday.
 
Montgomerie began on the back nine at Harding Park on Thursday and promptly birdied the par-5 10th from 4 feet. He rolled in a 25-footer for birdie at the 12th hole, but ascended into first with his play at the end of his opening nine.
 
The Scotsman closed his first nine with three birdies in a row, all from inside a few feet. Montgomerie lipped out birdie putts at three and four, then held on to the lead when one of his Ryder Cup teammates charged up the leaderboard.
 
Montgomerie drained a 10-footer for par at the sixth to hold off Garcia, one of his playing partners. The Spaniard birdied six to get to 4 under, and Montgomerie sank that clutch par save to stay one ahead.
 
The short, par-4 seventh was a big hole for Montgomerie as Garcia once again looked to be in great shape for a birdie as his approach landed 3 feet from the stick. Monty hit his second to a foot for the guaranteed birdie, then watched Garcia miss, giving him the clear advantage after only 18 holes.
 
'I hit most of the fairways and if I hit the fairways I can hit the greens and then I can score,' said Montgomerie. 'The round was made on 16, 17, 18. Especially 18, that's the toughest hole on the course, and it was nice to birdie that and it got me really going at 5 under.'
 
Montgomerie has had a Hall of Fame career capped by seven consecutive Order of Merit titles and seven straight Ryder Cups. There are two glaring omissions on his golf resume - a major championship and an official win in the United States.
 
'There's no secret that I would love to win an event over in America before I finish,' said Montgomerie. 'Whether that happens or not, it won't change my life either way. I'm not suddenly going to change my lifestyle because I've won, but I would love to win over here.'
 
David Toms, Jim Furyk and Zach Johnson, who will be representing the United States in the WGC-World Cup with Stewart Cink, are part of a group tied for 13th at minus-2.
 
Reigning PGA champion Phil Mickelson shot a 1-over 71 and is tied for 36th place.
 
Ernie Els, the 2004 winner, is not defending because of his knee injury and fellow countryman Retief Goosen is also out this week because of a groin injury.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - WGC-American Express Championship
  • Full Coverage - WGC-American Express Championship
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    McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

    By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

    The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

    McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

    McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

    ''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

    Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

    ''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

    McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

    ''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

    ''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

    The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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    Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

    By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

    If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days engaging pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

    Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

    If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGCC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

    Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

    Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

    I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

    A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

    And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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    Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

    Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

    The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

    Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

    “I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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    Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

    Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.