Three Share Lead at Chick-fil-A Charity Championship

By Sports NetworkMay 6, 2001, 4:00 pm
Defending champion Sophie Gustafson fired a 7-under 65 on Saturday to join Heather Daly-Donofrio and Beth Daniel at the top of the leaderboard after two rounds of the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship. The trio finished at 9-under 135 and has a one-shot lead over Catriona Matthew and Annika Sorenstam.
Nancy Scranton and Heather Bowie share sixth place at minus-seven.
Gustafson started strong in round two with an eagle-three at the par 5 3rd. She nailed a 7-iron to 12 feet and converted the eagle effort. She took advantage of the next par-6, the 6th, when she played a four-iron to 15 feet and once again ran home the eagle putt.
The Swede added two more birdies on her front nine, thanks to a pair of 25-footers at the seventh and eighth holes. Gustafson carded a 6-under 30 on her opening nine.
Gustafson parred the next eight holes on the back but left the course with a birdie at the par-5 closing hole when she chipped close on her third shot.
'I knew I left a few shots out there yesterday,' said Gustafson. 'I have a lot of good memories here and I am just trying to build on that.'
Daly-Donofrio mixed nine birdies and three bogeys on Saturday for a 66. She has yet to win in four years on the tour and only once was she ever in contention. That came at the 1998 Friendly's Classic where she finished fifth.
'I'm sure I will be nervous,' Daly-Donofrio said. 'I'm not going to deny it. But it's going to a great experience.'
Daniel, a member of the LPGA Hall of Fame with 32 career victories, did not start well with a bogey at the second hole when she mishit a flop shot. She took a bogey but rebounded with a two-putt birdie at the next hole.
At the sixth, Daniel hit a five-wood to the fringe and then chipped to three feet where she made birdie. She added another with a 15-foot birdie at the eighth but dropped a shot at No. 9.
Daniel made back-to-back birdies at Nos. 13 and 14 and then joined the group at the top with a 12-foot birdie at the last.
'I scored about as well as could be expected with the way I hit the ball,' said Daniel, who last won in 1995.
Sorenstam climbed up the leaderboard with three front-nine birdies but got within one when she two-putted for birdie at the 18th.
Sorenstam became the first woman golfer in 32 years to come out on top in four consecutive events when she won the Office Depot in early April. Mickey Wright achieved the feat in both 1962 and '63, while fellow Hall of Famer Kathy Whitworth reeled off four straight triumphs in 1969.
'I have a shot at it,' said Sorenstam, who also has two runner-up finishes in 2001. 'That's all you want.'
Dottie Pepper and Sara Sanders, the co-leaders after the first round, struggled on Saturday. Sanders carded a 1-over 73 while Pepper made it around in 74. Sanders is tied for 12th at five-under while Pepper is tied for 19th at minus-four.
Full-field scores from the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship
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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.

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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.''

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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. 

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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.