Woods Singh Among NEC Leaders

By Sports NetworkAugust 18, 2005, 4:00 pm
AKRON, Ohio -- The top two ranked players in the world were joined in the lead by an unlikely candidate at the World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational.
 
Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who got into the field with a win at last year's The Heritage on the European Tour, all shot matching rounds of 4-under-par 66 on Thursday to share the opening-round lead at Firestone Country Club.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is seeking his fourth career NEC victory at Firestone.
Davis Love III, who played in the final group in the final round of last week's PGA Championship, posted a 3-under 67 and is tied for fourth place with Chris DiMarco and Nick Dougherty.
 
Phil Mickelson kept up his strong play from Monday when he captured his second major title at the PGA Championship. He carded a 1-under 69 and is tied for 10th place.
 
'What I like is I feel very confident with how I'm playing,' said Mickelson. 'I'm trying to take that momentum and carry it over here to Firestone, and the reason I like playing here so much right after last week is it's a very similar setup.'
 
Woods, who won this tournament from its inception in 1999 through 2001, opened on the back nine and collected his first birdie at the par-3 12th. His 7-iron tee ball hit the flag and rolled back 12 feet, where he holed the putt.
 
The No. 1 player in the world parred all of his remaining holes on his first side. Woods returned to red figures at the first when his 9-iron approach stopped 20 feet from the hole. He made it two in a row at the par-5 second. Woods' 3-iron second shot missed the green right, but he chipped to 2 feet and converted the short try.
 
Woods battled some errant drives on the second nine. He saved a pair of nice pars at six and eight, then missed the fairway left at the ninth. Woods knocked a pitching-wedge 15 feet right of the hole and rolled in the birdie putt to grab his piece of the lead.
 
'I played decent today. I hit some good shots and I also hit some bad ones, but my bad ones weren't really that bad,' said Woods, who tied for second last year behind Stewart Cink. 'All in all, I'm very pleased.'
 
Woods also continued his fine form from Baltusrol. He opened with a 5-over 75 last week, but fought back with rounds of 69-66-68 and fell two short of Mickelson.
 
'I felt like I was hitting it well all last week but just didn't putt well,' said Woods. 'I had five three-putts last week, which inevitably ended up costing me probably a chance at winning.'
 
Singh also posted a top-10 at the PGA Championship and, like Woods, began his first round on the back nine at Firestone. He birdied the par-5 16th, but gave the shot back with a bogey at No. 18.
 
From there, he went on a birdie run with three in a row from the first. He matched the lead with an 8-foot, downhill birdie putt at the sixth. Singh saved par from off the green at nine to enjoy his share of first place.
 
'If you drive it good, you can attack the flags,' said Singh. 'I drove it very well on my back nine and hit it close and made the putts.'
 
Stenson, 29, opened at the 10th and was even for the round when he ran home a 12-footer for birdie at 13. He closed his opening nine with two birdies in his last three holes, both from 8 feet.
 
His run of impressive play continued at the first when he hit a knockdown 8-iron to 3 feet to set up birdie. Stenson missed the green with his second at the par-5 second, but chipped to 9 feet and rolled in the birdie putt.
 
At the par-3 fifth, Stenson drained a 65-foot birdie putt and was alone in the lead at 6 under par. He struggled with a bogey at six when he two-putted from 40 feet and fell into a tie for the lead with a bogey at seven after his tee ball found a bunker.
 
'I know I can play a good game of golf, and I'm just going to try and do that for the next three days,' said Stenson. 'I've had some really good tournaments this year. I've been second twice and third twice, as well. I know I can play well, and I'm just looking forward to the rest of the week.'
 
Stenson, who is ranked 58th in the world, has one other victory to go along with last year's title at The Heritage. He won the 2001 Benson and Hedges International Open and is 15th on the 2005 European Tour Order of Merit.
 
Sergio Garcia, Stuart Appleby and Nick O'Hern are knotted in seventh place at 2-under-par 68. Mickelson was joined by Chris Riley and Luke Donald in 10th place at minus-1.
 
Cink struggled to a 2-over 72 in the opening round of his title defense. He is tied for 32nd place.
 
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    Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

    SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

    Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

    Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

    With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

    ''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

    Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    ''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

    Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

    Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

    He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    "I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.