Stars Trail Kaymer at Abu Dhabi

By Sports NetworkJanuary 17, 2008, 5:00 pm
European TourABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- Martin Kaymer birdied three of his last five holes Thursday en route to a 6-under-par 66 and a one-stroke lead at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.
 
Henrik Stenson, who has finished second and eighth here the last two years, is alone in second place at minus-5.
 
Adam Scott, the eighth ranked player in the world, opened with a 4-under-par 68 and shares third with Robert Karlsson. Lee Westwood, Ignacio Garrido and Peter Hedblom are one stroke further back at minus-3.
 
Kaymer started his round on the 10th tee at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. He got off to a hot start as he eagled the par-5.
 
After four straight pars, Kaymer tripped to a bogey on the par-3 15th. The German recovered that lost stroke with a birdie on the par-5 18th.
 
'I had a really good start. I started out with a nice eagle and was 2 under after the first nine holes,' Kaymer stated.
 
Around the turn, Kaymer moved to 3 under with a birdie on the par-5 second.
 
Kaymer birdied the fifth and seventh to join Stenson atop the leaderboard at minus-5. However, Kaymer grabbed the lead by himself as he birdied the par-4 ninth, his last.
 
'It was a really nice round. It was a nice start to the season,' said Kaymer, who last played at the World Cup in late November. 'When you play a lot of tournaments in a row, you don't feel the nerves, but since I haven't played in a few weeks, I felt them on the first tee today.'
 
Stenson, who teed off in the morning wave, also started on the back nine. He opened with three straight pars and followed with three consecutive birdies to fly up the leaderboard.
 
The 31-year-old birdied the 18th to make the turn at minus-4, but trouble loomed. Stenson bogeyed the first, but atoned for that error with a birdie on the par-3 fourth.
 
Stenson, who set the course record of 62 here in 2006, dropped another shot at five, but bounced back to birdie the sixth to get back to 4 under. He closed his round with a birdie on the ninth to end one back.
 
'It is definitely one of my goals for the future to win this tournament and if it is in the very near future, then no one would be happier than me,' said Stenson, who now lives in nearby Dubai. 'I made a great putt on the last to go to 5 under and I'm delighted with the start.'
 
A group of 13 players is tied for eighth place at 2-under-par 70. Among those are Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Paul Lawrie and Ian Poulter.
 
There is another large group of players at minus-1 and among that group is Luke Donald, Ricardo Gonzalez and Thongchai Jaidee.
 
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    McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

    By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

    The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

    McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

    McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

    ''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

    Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

    ''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

    McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

    ''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

    ''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

    The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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    Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

    By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

    If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

    Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

    If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

    Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

    Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

    I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

    A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

    And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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    Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

    Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

    The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

    Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

    “I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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    Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

    Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.