Monty Still the Man at Harding Park

By Sports NetworkOctober 7, 2005, 4:00 pm
SAN FRANCISCO -- Colin Montgomerie is playing with confidence, and it shows.
 
Montgomerie managed just a 1-under 69 on Friday, but it was good enough to hold the lead midway through the WGC-American Express Championship, where he stands one stroke clear of the field with a two-day total of 7-under-par 133.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods had one eagle, four birdies and four bogeys Friday.
Fresh off a comeback victory at the European Tour's dunhill links championship last weekend, the Scotsman stumbled to a bogey at the 18th that ruined his chances of a two-shot lead.
 
But Montgomerie likes the way he's playing, and he was happy with his score on a day when every player on the leaderboard's top-10 also fired rounds in red numbers.
 
'Anything in the 60s is a reasonable effort, and I'm glad to be in at 69,' said Montgomerie, who finished second at this year's British Open. 'My game's in good shape, but my confidence is high and that's what keeps me in good shape.'
 
Montgomerie has had a Hall of Fame career on the European Tour, capped by seven consecutive Order of Merit titles and seven straight Ryder Cups. But there are two glaring omissions on his golf resume: a major championship and an official win in the United States.
 
The latter could be taken care of this weekend if he can put together two more solid rounds at Harding Park Golf Club.
 
Montgomerie showed flashes of toughness with three birdies Friday, including two on par-3s. But two bogeys on the back-nine were unfortunate, especially with names like Tiger Woods, John Daly, Sergio Garcia, Angel Cabrera and Vijay Singh all within four strokes.
 
Still, Montgomerie probably likes his chances.
 
'Confidence ... comes in good shots and good putts, and that's what I've got right now,' he said.
 
Daly and David Howell shot matching 67s and trail Montgomerie by one stroke at 6-under-par 134. Howell came up short on a 6-foot par putt at 18 that would have given him a share of the lead.
 
'I'm obviously happy with my position, but I didn't swing the club particularly well today,' Howell acknowledged.
 
Woods, who eagled the par-4 seventh after knocking his tee shot within 6 feet, shot a 68 and leads a group of six players tied for fourth place at minus-5.
 
Cabrera is also there after a second-round 66, and so is Mark Calcavecchia (68), Jim Furyk (67), Fred Funk (68) and Sean O'Hair (67).
 
Garcia shot a 69 and is tied for 10th place with Stephen Ames (64), Billy Mayfair (67), Stuart Appleby (65) and David Toms (68). That group is in at 4 under.
 
Singh managed just an even-par 70 in his second round and is tied with five others for 15th place at minus-3.
 
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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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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.