Quinney Moves Out Front at FBR Open

By Sports NetworkFebruary 2, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007 FBR OpenSCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Former U.S. Amateur Champion Jeff Quinney fired an 8-under 63 on Friday to move to the top of the leaderboard during the suspended second round of the FBR Open. He stands at 13-under-par 129 and is three ahead at the TPC of Scottsdale.
 
The second round was suspended due to darkness Friday with 18 players remaining on the course. A 40-minute frost delay to start the second round pushed play back and now the six groups will return to the course at 9:40 a.m. (ET) Saturday morning to complete round two.
 
David Toms
David Toms stands five back of the lead heading into the weekend. (Wire Images)
Local favorite Billy Mayfair, who missed time last year due to testicular cancer, and Brad Bryant, who won the Tour Championship in 2005, both posted matching rounds of 5-under 66 on Friday. The pair is knotted in second place at minus-10.
 
John Rollins, who lost a playoff to Charley Hoffman two weeks ago at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, shot a 3-under 68 in the second round. He is tied for fourth place with Bubba Watson (67) and Robert Garrigus (67) at 9-under-par 133.
 
Charles Howell III, the current leader in FedEx Cup points race, is 5 under par in his second round. He is at 9 under par for the championship with two holes to play in round two.
 
Two players in danger of missing the 36-hole cut are two-time winner and reigning Masters champion Phil Mickelson and defending champion J.B. Holmes. Both players are tied at 1-under-par 141, which is one stroke below the current cut line.
 
'It's not the start that I want to the year,' admitted Mickelson, who has not done better than a tie for 45th in three starts this season. 'I'm going to go work on it this weekend and see if I can get the putter working.'
 
One player who doesn't need to get the putter working is Quinney.
 
Quinney, who defeated James Driscoll to win the 2000 U.S. Amateur title, began his second round on the back nine and wasted little time in breaking into red figures. He knocked his approach to 'gimmie range' to set up birdie at the 10th, then rolled in a 15-footer for birdie at 11.
 
At the par-4 14th, Quinney hit a 7-iron to 15 feet and converted the birdie putt. His last birdie of his opening nine came at the 16th when he hit a poor 8-iron that came to rest 35 feet from the hole. Quinney made that birdie putt to reach 9 under par for the championship.
 
Quinney parred the first hole, then caught fire. At the par-4 second, Quinney wedged his approach to 8 feet and holed the putt. He made it two in a row with an up-and-down birdie from a bunker at the par-5 second, then polished off three in a row when his 8-iron tee ball at four stopped 8 feet from the stick.
 
Quinney was now in the lead at minus-12, but was not yet done. Once again, Quinney did not flush his 8-iron second shot, but the ball rolled to 2 feet, where he tapped in his birdie effort.
 
For the first time during the tournament, Quinney ran into serious trouble at the par-3 seventh. He admitted he was between clubs and played his tee ball into a bunker. Quinney blasted out to 10 feet, but failed to convert the par save.
 
He dropped back to 12 under par for the tournament, but reclaimed the lost stroke. At the eighth, Quinney hit a 6-iron to 15 feet and sank the birdie try. He stayed at minus-13 when he two-putted for par from 40 feet at the ninth.
 
'Just got off to a good start, got comfortable a little early,' said Quinney. 'I was able to feel real good over the ball. Really seeing the lines and the putts well. It was one of those days where you get in the zone and you feel like nothing can go wrong.'
 
Nothing much has gone wrong for Quinney so far in 2007.
 
One year removed from finishing sixth on the Nationwide Tour money list, Quinney has flown out of the gate in his rookie year. He tied for fourth at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and shared fourth last week at the Buick Invitational. Quinney is ranked 10th in FedEx Cup points and 11th on the PGA TOUR money list.
 
'I'm surprised obviously, but you shouldn't be in a way,' said Quinney. 'This is why you play the game, to contend and to compete. You just don't go out there to finish 30th place and kind of squeak by. This is where I want to be. I want to be in contention and in front of the lights.'
 
David Toms, the 2001 PGA Champion, carded a 2-under 69 and is tied for eighth place with Vaughn Taylor and Brett Quigley, both of whom shot 67s on Friday. The trio is knotted at minus-8.
 
First-round leader Dudley Hart only managed an even-par 71 and is part of a group tied for 11th place at 7-under-par 135.
 
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  • Photo by Enrique Berardi/LAAC

    Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

    By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

    Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

    The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from what would be a return trip to Augusta National but his first Masters.

    "The truth is that I crossed off on my bucket list playing Augusta [National], because I happened to play there," Rivarola said. "I've played every year with my university. But playing in the Masters is a completely different thing. I have been to the Masters, and I've watched the players play during the practice rounds. But [competing would be] a completely different thing."

    He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).


    Click here for full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


    Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Web.com Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

    “Today, I had a completely different mentality, and that's usually what happens in my case," Niemann said. "When I shoot a bad round, the following day I have extra motivation. I realize and I feel that I have to play my best golf. The key to being a good golfer is to find those thoughts and to transfer them into good golf."

    Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

    Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Web.com Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

    Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

    The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

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    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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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.