Morgan Right at Home at Sr PGA

By Sports NetworkMay 25, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Senior PGA ChampionshipEDMOND, Okla. -- Gil Morgan fired a 5-under-par 66 on Thursday and owns a one-shot lead after the first round of the Senior PGA Championship at Oak Tree Golf Course.
Peter Jacobsen, who won last year's Senior Players Championship, posted a 4-under-par 67 and is alone in second place.
Three-time winner this season Loren Roberts carded a 3-under-par 68 and is tied for third place with 2001 champion Tom Watson and two-time winner in 2006 Jay Haas.
Tom Watson is two back after a 3-under 68 Thursday.
There was a lack of wind at Oak Tree on Thursday, but the biggest factor that hurt players was the high temperatures. It reached 99 degrees on the course, a new record high.
Perhaps some local knowledge helped the leader.
Morgan, who lives within a mile of the course, started on the back nine Thursday and immediately broke into red figures. He hit a wedge to 5 feet at 10 to set up his first birdie of the round.
He dropped a shot two holes later when he missed the fairway, then missed the green with his second. Morgan, a 23-time winner on the Champions Tour, parred his next two, but went on a run at the end of his first nine.
At the 15th, Morgan hit an 8-iron to 15 feet and converted the birdie putt. He made it two in a row at the par-5 16th when he missed the green with his second shot, but chipped to 3 feet to set up another birdie.
Morgan closed out his opening nine holes with a 4-foot birdie putt at No. 18.
'Starting out today, I was somewhat apprehensive with my start,' admitted Morgan. 'Made a birdie on my first hole. That kind of eased things up a little bit.'
Morgan parred one and two, but took advantage of the par-5 third. He laid up with an 8-iron, then wedged his third to 2 feet. Morgan kicked in the short birdie putt to reach 4 under par.
Morgan saved a nice par at the sixth hole when his approach skipped through the green. He chipped his third to 10 feet and drained the par putt to stay at minus-4.
He separated himself from the pack at the seventh. He hit a solid drive in the short grass, then Morgan played a gap wedge to 12 feet. Morgan sank the birdie putt to get to 5 under par, but needed one more par save to keep the first-round lead.
At the ninth, Morgan tried to avoid the false front on the green with his approach. His ball sailed well past the flagstick and his long birdie try came up 6 feet short. Morgan rolled in the par putt to stay one clear of his playing partner, Jacobsen.
'It's great to be able to play with great players and when they play well, it kind of spurs you or inspires you to play better,' said Morgan. 'All in all, it was a pretty good round.'
Jacobsen broke into red figures with a birdie at the 12th when he ran home a 15-footer. He dropped a shot at the 14th thanks to a three-putt, but looked poised for an eagle at the 16th. Jacobsen knocked a 5-wood to 15 feet, but his eagle putt hung on the edge. He tapped in for birdie to make the turn at 1-under 34.
Jacobsen, whose only two Champions Tour victories came at major championships, parred his first four holes on the second nine, then went on a birdie run to get within one of Morgan.
At the par-5 fifth, Jacobsen laid up, then hit a wedge to 3 feet and tapped in for birdie. He was inside a foot with his approach at six for another birdie, then he made it three in a row with a 25-footer at the par-4 seventh.
Jacobsen parred the next two to stay in second place.
'I drove the ball well and hit a lot of greens,' said Jacobsen, who won the 2004 U.S. Senior Open and the 2005 Senior Players Championship. 'Overall, I played well.'
Two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange, Jim Thorpe, Craig Stadler, Katsuyoshi Tomori, two-time winner this season Brad Bryant and reigning Champions Tour Player of the Year Dana Quigley are knotted in sixth place at 2-under-par 69.
Defending champion Mike Reid, who defeated Quigley and Jerry Pate in a playoff last year, opened his title defense with an even-par 71. He is part of a group tied for 20th place.
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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.''