Thorpe Watson Charity All Winners

By Sports NetworkOctober 26, 2003, 5:00 pm
SONOMA, Calif. -- Jim Thorpe eagled the 16th hole and birdied the 17th Sunday to hold off Tom Watson and win the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
Thorpe closed with a 4-under 68 to complete the event with a 72-hole record score of 20-under-par 268. Watson posted a 5-under 67 to finish second at 17-under-par 271.
'I think this week I probably pushed myself to the absolute limit,' said Thorpe, who earned $440,000 for the win. 'I don't think I could play any harder.'
Tom Kite, one of many who made a run at the leaders during the final round, finished alone in third place at 15-under-par 273 after closing with a 67.
Thorpe and Watson were close throughout the round. Watson, the 2002 champion, birdied the first and eighth to get within two of the leader, as Thorpe bogeyed No. 7 before birdieing the eighth at Sonoma Golf Club.
Thorpe, who also won the Long Island Classic earlier in the season, moved three clear of Watson with a birdie at the 11th. At the par-3 12th, Watson dropped his tee shot within a foot of the cup for a kick-in birdie to get back within two of Thorpe.
While those two were battling amongst themselves, Tom Jenkins and Gil Morgan quietly climbed to 14-under. However, neither of them would get any closer.
Watson lost his drive left off the 13th tee, but was able to find the front right corner of the green with his second to the par-5 hole. Thorpe laid his second shot up in the rough and only managed a par. Watson two-putted for birdie to get within one stroke.
Each man two-putted for par on Nos. 14 and 15 to remain at 17-under and 16- under respectively. Kite, meanwhile, ran home a lengthy eagle putt on the 16th to get to minus-15. He could only par in though.
The turning point came at the 16th. Watson and Thorpe both missed the green short. Watson's pitch from the rough ran past the hole. Thorpe stepped up and rolled in an eagle putt from over 65 feet out to jump to 19-under.
'No. 16 was a turning point,' said Thorpe, who hit all 18 greens in regulation on Sunday. 'I finally hit the fairway, but I didn't catch the drive solid. Now I know I can't get it home and I need to keep it left. I hit a 3-wood about a yard short of the green.
'Jenkins was in the left rough and Watson was just behind me in the left rough, so I got two nice reads from their chip shots. Putting like that, you want to lag it up. I hit a putt there, perfect line, perfect speed, and it went in.'
Watson, who won two majors this season, answered by converting his birdie putt, but still trailed by two strokes with two holes to play.
On the par-4 17th, Watson's birdie try went halfway down and popped out of the hole. He tapped in for par, but it was not enough. Thorpe converted a 12-foot birdie putt on the same hole to move three shots in front of Watson.
The duo both two-putted for par on the closing hole, giving Thorpe the winning score, 20 under, that he predicted earlier in the week.
'We talk about it all the time. You guys think we don't get nervous out there,' Thorpe said. 'You can feel it out there, believe me. To be playing with a guy like Tom Watson, I played the second shot on 18, I waited for him to walk up together, he said 'Thorpe you hung in there, the balls didn't fall early for you, but you made it when you had to and it was a great plan.'
'Coming from a player that's won 39 times on the PGA Tour, and eight majors and six times on the Champions Tour, and two majors this year, that's pretty good advice. He didn't have to say that.'
With the victory, Thorpe climbed to No. 2 on the Champions Tour money list and also finished second in the race for the Charles Schwab Cup.
Watson, who won the JELD-WEN Tradition and Senior British Open earlier in the year, claimed both the money title and the $1,000,000 annuity that comes with the Charles Schwab Cup.
'It looked as if Thorpe was going to leave the door open all day until he holed that putt on 16,' Watson said. 'He deserved to win because of the way he played today. He didn't putt very well, but they went in when it mattered.'
After the round, Watson gave out more than compliments to his fellow golfers.
He announced that the bulk of the annuity, which will be paid out over the next 10 years, will be donated to ALS research and patient services. Watson's longtime caddie, Bruce Edwards, is battling ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
'We're going to use it for ALS and the other charities I give to every year will also benefit, but we going to concentrate on finding a cure for this damn disease, and we're going to make it,' said Watson as he acknowledged Edwards.
'It basically shows how big Tom Watson's heart is,' said Thorpe of the classy gesture by Watson. 'I think we knew it was coming. Tom and Bruce are very, very close. Hopefully they can find some type of cure so Bruce can be with us for many, many more years to come. Sometimes a three-putt on a green, a bad shot just isn't the worst thing in the world.'
Jenkins, Hale Irwin and Morgan shared fourth place at 14-under-par 274. Larry Nelson and Tom Purtzer were one stroke farther back at minus-13.

Related Links:
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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.

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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.