Nationwide Tour Tees It Up Down Under

By Sports NetworkFebruary 12, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007 Jacobs Creek Open ChampionshipADELAIDE, South Australia - Continuing its world travels to open the season, the Nationwide Tour heads down under for the Jacob's Creek Open Championship.
As is usually the case, Paul Sheehan, the defending champion, is not in the field. Sheehan managed just a bogey on the second playoff hole last year, but it was good enough to best Michael Sim for the crown.
Sim is also on the PGA TOUR, but has yet to play this year. Sheehan meanwhile has teed it up three times on the PGA Tour this season, but has yet to make a cut.
The 156-player field is split between 78 Nationwide Tour players, 73 from the PGA TOUR of Australasia and five invitations.
A very busy Golf Channel will have coverage of all four rounds beginning Thursday at 10:30 a.m. ET.
The Nationwide Tour shifts to New Zealand next week for the HSBC New Zealand PGA Championship, where Jim Rutledge won last year.
Nationwide Tour Notes
  • TOUR HEADS DOWN UNDER FOR TWO WEEKS -- For the sixth year in a row, the Nationwide Tour travels to Australia and New Zealand to play two events that are co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour of Australasia. The fields are split evenly with 78 players from both tours. They are official events on both circuits.
  • DAY AND FLANAGAN -- YOUNG AUSTRALIAN TALENT TO KEEP AN EYE ON -- Among the many Australians in this week's event are Jason Day of Queensland and Nick Flanagan of New South Wales. Day, who turned 19 in November, is the youngest member of the Nationwide Tour. He is already very well-known in his homeland having won the 2006 Australian Amateur Stroke Play Championship and other select national junior titles. He is making his first start on this tour. Flanagan, 22, defeated Casey Wittenburg on the 37th hole to win the 2003 U.S. Amateur at Oakmont CC. He begins his second full year on the Nationwide Tour having finished 32nd last year in 24 starts.
  • AUSTRALIA WELL REPRESENTED -- This week's host country, Australia, has the largest contingent of members from one country on Tour other than the U.S. again this year with 16. Canada is next with nine. The 2007 Nationwide Tour Media Guide lists 54 players representing 21 countries outside the U.S.
  • 200th WIN MILESTONE / UPDATE -- The Nationwide Tour will have to wait at least one more week to capture its 200th PGA TOUR win. Aaron Baddeley's victory at the recent FBR Open was No. 199. Six of the top 10 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am were Nationwide Tour alums, including runner-up Kevin Sutherland and third-place finisher John Mallinger.
  • BATES NEEDS JUST ONE MORE -- Nationwide Tour veteran Ben Bates needs just one more weekend appearance to surpass Steve Haskins for the most made cuts in Tour history. The two players are deadlocked with 192 each. Bates, a 45-year-old native of Quincy, FL, has played on Tour every year since its inception in 1990, with the exception of the 1998-2000 seasons when he was a member of the PGA TOUR. Haskins leads the Tour with 370 career starts. Bates has 329.
  • KOOYONGA TURNS BACK THE CLOCK TO 1965 -- Gary Player won the 1965 Australian Open at Kooyonga. He had two rounds of 62 and tournament director Bob Tuohy marked his card for one of them. The story is told that Jack Nicklaus was walking out of the scorer's hut as Player was going in. Player asked him how he played and Nicklaus smiled and said 63. Player replied, Ive got you by one, Jack.
  • TOUR CARDS ISSUED INCREASES FROM 20 TO 25 -- A reminder....beginning in 2007, there will be an increase from 20 to 25 in the number of PGA TOUR cards that are awarded to Nationwide Tour players for 2008 based on the final 2007 money list. The decision was made due to the level of success Nationwide Tour players have had on the PGA TOUR.
  • DID YOU KNOW? Last year, 321 players cashed checks on the Nationwide Tour and a record 62 players earned $100,000 or more.
    Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Jacob's Creek Open Championship
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.''

    Getty Images

    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. 

    Getty Images

    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.