Norman Makes Field for Bethpage
The charismatic Australian shot 68-71 on Tuesday for a 5-under-par total of 139 to join John Huston and amateur Kevin Warrick as the sectional qualifiers from Old Memorial Golf Club in Tampa, Fla.
Norman captured a pair of British Open titles but fell short in the other majors despite putting himself in position to win on a number of occasions. Although he may be best remembered for his final-round collapse at the 1996 Masters, Norman also suffered heartbreaking losses in past U.S. Opens.
In 1984, Norman lost to Fuzzy Zoeller in a 18-hole playoff at Winged Foot, with Zoeller shooting a 67 in the extra round to Norman's 75. Two years later at Shinnecock Hills, Norman took the lead into the final round but closed with a 75 to tie for 12th. He was also a 54-hole leader at Shinnecock Hills in 1995 but carded 73 on Sunday to finish second.
Norman missed the U.S. Open cut in 1997, 1999 and 2000 and didn't qualify for the championship in 1998 and 2001.
See who earned a spot through Sectional Qualifying
Jean Van de Velde, who surrendered a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole of the 1999 British Open then lost to Paul Lawrie in a four-hole playoff, was among 22 players who qualified in Purchase, N.Y.
The Frenchman finished two shots back of Tom Byrum, who at five-under 138 was the medalist in Purchase. Others who made it through the 36-hole qualifier in New York were Jeff Maggert, Jay Haas, Paul Stankowski, Craig Stadler, Bob Tway, David Frost, Scott Dunlap and K.J. Choi, whose victory at last month's Compaq Classic made him the first South Korean to win on the PGA Tour.
Wayne Grady, Harrison Frazar and Per-Ulrik Johansson needed extra holes to earn their spots in New York, where the qualifying shifted between Brae Burn and Century Country Clubs.
Two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange, 1995 PGA Championship winner Steve Elkington and 2000 U.S. Amateur runner-up James Driscoll failed to qualify in Purchase.
A 12-man playoff for one spot took place Tuesday morning at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md., with Michael Muehr emerging as the qualifier. David Peoples and 1998 U.S. Amateur champion Hank Kuehne earned alternate status while such notables as Duffy Waldorf, Dennis Paulson, Cameron Beckman and Bob May failed to qualify.
May is remembered for giving Tiger Woods all he could handle at the 2000 PGA Championship before losing to the superstar in a playoff.
Trevor Dodds, who has posted victories on the PGA, Buy.Com and Canadian Tours, qualified alongside Bill Lunde and Canadian Tour winner Mario Tiziani at Boone Valley Golf Club in St. Louis. Jeff Julian, who is suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, opened with a 78 then withdrew after nine holes of the second round.
Charles Raulerson, Jr., was the lone player to advance from Westmoreland Country Club in Export, Pa. Jimmy Walker and Andy Sanders were the two qualifiers from Shadow Hawk Club in Houston, while European Tour winner Thomas Levet was one of three who moved on from Ansley Golf Club in Atlanta.
Heavy rains forced the suspension of sectional qualifying at Biltmore Country Club in North Barrington, Ill., for a second day. The first round is scheduled to resume at 9:30 AM ET with the second round set to begin at 10:00 AM.
Full coverage of the 102nd U.S. Open
Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead
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."
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.
Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore
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.''
13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest
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.
McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi
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.
“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.