Tiger Daly Chasing Singh

By Sports NetworkJuly 31, 2004, 4:00 pm
GRAND BLANC, Mich. -- Vijay Singh fired a 7-under 65 on Saturday to take the 54-hole lead of the Buick Open. He stands at 18-under-par 198 and is two ahead of John Daly.
Tiger Woods, the 2002 champion, posted a 6-under 66 and is in the hunt for his first stroke-play title since the World Golf Championships - American Express Championship last year.
He is at 15-under-par 201 and is tied with last week's U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee winner Carlos Franco, who bogeyed the 18th at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club to shoot a 67.
'You can't afford to make any bogeys,' said Woods, who has tallied only one through three rounds. 'To have one is pretty good. I'm starting to play a little better now.'
Singh has tried to supplant Woods atop the world rankings and last year topped Woods on the PGA Tour money list. However, on Sunday, it will be Woods chasing Singh.
Singh shared the 36-hole lead with defending champion Jim Furyk and Billy Andrade, but broke out of the pack with back-to-back birdies at two and three. Singh two-putted for birdie at the seventh, then sank a 20-footer for birdie at eight to go to 15 under par.
But Daly hung tough. Daly hit a spectacular punch shot from the trees at the ninth. His ball stopped 15 feet from the hole and he drained the birdie putt to get to minus-14. Daly, who won this year's Buick Invitational, rolled home an 8-foot birdie putt at the 10th to draw even with Singh.
Singh pulled ahead with a 4-foot birdie putt at 10. He added another at the par-5 13th although he looked to be in trouble when his second landed in the back bunker. Singh blasted his long, downhill bunker shot 8 feet past the hole, but ran home the birdie putt to go to 17 under and two clear of Daly.
Daly did well enough to stay in the hunt. At the driveable par-4 14th, Daly landed in a bunker in the fifth fairway. Faced with trees in front of him, Daly chipped to the rough, then pitched to 3 feet. Daly tapped in the par save, then holed a tough 8-footer for par at the next after his approach nicked a tree.
Singh was up two, but Woods and Franco charged up the leaderboard. Woods drained a 30-footer for birdie at 13 and made it two in a row at the 14th. The No. 1 player in the world drove into the right rough then hit a huge hook into the left trees. Woods hit a low chip 5 feet from the stick and converted the birdie try.
Franco flew up the board with four birdies in a row from the 11th, but made a mess of the par-5 16th. He was forced to lay up short of the putting surface, then sailed over the green with his third. Franco chipped on, but two-putted for a bogey.
Singh, playing with Franco, two-putted from 55 feet for birdie at the 16th, but Daly got within two while Singh was on 16. Daly knocked his approach inside 4 feet at the last and made the birdie putt to stay within two.
Singh had an easy chance to extend the lead at the last. His second stopped inside of where Daly hit his, but Singh badly pulled his birdie putt. Singh settled for par and the 54-hole lead, which has been a good landmark for the 1997 champion.
The last six times Singh has held the 54-hole lead, he has gone on to visit the winner's circle.
'I played nicely,' said Singh, a three-time winner this season. 'I'm very happy with my golf swing. I'm happy with my performance now and I'm really happy with putter.'
Singh returned to a conventional putter after more than two years with the belly putter. He needed 27 putts on Saturday and has averaged slightly over 28 putts for the week.
'I played like this the first two days as well, but made a few more putts today and the first day,' said Singh, who took 26 swipes with the flat stick en route to a 63 on Thursday. 'I feel like I got some touch back.'
Daly shot a 6-under 66 on Saturday.
With three tournaments remaining before the American Ryder Cup team is finalized, Daly is not in the top-25, but if he can overcome Singh on Sunday, he will be in the mix and potentially a pick for captain Hal Sutton.
'Whatever Hal does, I'm for him,' said Daly, who has never played in a Ryder Cup, despite winning two majors. 'If I get in, I get in. At least I'm trying and that's all you can do.'
Daniel Chopra carded a 6-under 66 and is alone in fifth place at 14-under-par 202.
Furyk managed a 2-under 70 and is knotted in sixth with Olin Browne, who shot a 69 on Saturday. The duo is tied at 13-under-par 203.
Matt Gogel (68) and Stewart Cink (70) are tied for eighth at minus-12, while Jeff Sluman has sole possession of 10th place after a third-round 68. Sluman is at 11-under-par 205.
Andrade struggled to a 1-over 73 and is part of a group in 11th at minus-10.
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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 right 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.

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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.