US Curtis Cup Team Named
The other members of the squad selected by the USGA Womens Committee are: Amanda Blumenherst, 19, of Scottsdale, Ariz.; Jennie Lee, 19, of Henderson, Nev.; Taylor Leon, 19, of Dallas, Texas; Paige Mackenzie, 23, of Yakima, Wash.; Amanda McCurdy, 22, of El Dorado, Ark.; and Jenny Suh, 20, of Fairfax, Va.
The 2006 USA team will be captained by seven-time USGA champion Carol Semple Thompson, 57, of Sewickley, Pa. Thompson, who counts the 1973 U.S. Womens Amateur among her USGA titles, became the first person to compete in 100 USGA championships when she played in the 2005 U.S. Womens Amateur.
The Curtis Cup Match, scheduled every other year, consists of 12 singles and six foursomes (alternate shot) matches. The USA team has won the last four Matches, in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2004. The USA leads the series, begun in 1932, by a 24-6-3 margin.
Grimes, 42, of Meridian, Miss., has played on two victorious Curtis Cup teams, in 1998 and 2000. She was the 1998 U.S. Womens Mid-Amateur champion and the runner-up in 2004. She is a two-time South Atlantic Womens Amateur champion, in 1998 and 2006, and has won two Womens Southern Amateurs (1987 and 1996). In addition, she was a member of the Alabama team that won the USGA Womens State Team Championship in 1997. Grimes, a 1987 graduate of Auburn University, was elected to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.
Park, 19, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., won the 2004 U.S. Womens Amateur. She was the runner-up at the 2003 Womens Amateur and 2004 U.S. Girls Junior. Park, who just finished her freshman year at UCLA during which she earned first-team National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) and Pac-10 Conference honors, was on the victorious USA Curtis Cup team in 2004. She has played in the last three U.S. Womens Opens and finished tied for 30th at the 2003 championship, and made the cut in the 2004 and 2005 LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championships. Park also helped the USA to a second-place finish at the 2004 Womens World Amateur Team Championships.
Blumenherst just finished her freshman year at Duke University, during which she earned NGCA and Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors. She was also named the Edith Cummings Munson Golf Award winner, given to the All-America and Scholar All-America with the highest grade-point average in Division I womens golf. She won the 2006 Atlantic Coast Conference Championship, finished second at the NCAA Division I Central Regional and tied for ninth at the NCAA Division I Womens Championship. She had two other wins during her freshman campaign ' the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational and the Mason Rudolph Womens, her first collegiate event. She had top-10 finishes in all 11 events she played as a freshman. Blumenherst was also the 2005 Womens Western Amateur medalist.
Lee also just finished her freshman year at Duke, highlighted by a second-place finish at the NCAA Division I Championship. She earned honorable mention NGCA All-America and first-team ACC honors for 2005-06. She made the cut at the 2004 U.S. Womens Open and made it to the quarterfinals of the 2005 U.S. Womens Amateur before falling to eventual champion Morgan Pressel. Lee won six AJGA events during her junior years and also played on two Canon Cup teams.
Leon just finished her freshman year at the University of Georgia, during which she earned second-team NGCA All-America and SEC first-team and Freshman of the Year honors. She had six top-10 finishes during her freshman campaign, including a victory at the 2006 Bryan National Collegiate, and finished tied for 16th at the 2006 Division I NCAA Championship. Leon was the 2005 Ione Jones-Doherty champion, defeating Pressel. She also won the 2005 Pacific Northwest Golf Association Womens Amateur and was the runner-up at the 2005 South Atlantic Womens Amateur. In addition, she has played in the 2004 and 2005 U.S. Womens Opens.
Mackenzie, who just completed her senior year at the University of Washington, finished tied for 13th at the 2005 U.S. Womens Open. She earned NGCA second-team All-America honors in 2005-06 after finishing eighth at the 2006 NCAA Division I Championship. She won the 2006 NCAA West Regional by eight strokes and the 2006 Pac-10 Championship by four strokes. Mackenzie, the 2005 Pacific Northwest Golf Association Player of the Year, also won the 2005 Womens Trans-National and was a semifinalist at the 2005 North & South Womens Amateur.
McCurdy was the runner-up at the 2004 U.S. Womens Amateur. She made the cut at the 2005 U.S. Womens Open, finishing tied for 38th. She earned first-team All-SEC and honorable-mention NGCA All-America honors following the 2005-06 season, during which she had two victories ' the 2005 Mercedes Benz and the 2006 Lady Puerto Rico Classic. She is a two-time champion of both the Arkansas Womens Stroke Play and Arkansas Womens Match Play Championships. McCurdy also teamed with Mackenzie to represent the USA at the 2005 Spirit International Amateur Championship, where they finished fifth.
Suh earned first-team NGCA All-America and first-team All-SEC honors for 2005-06, her junior year at the University of Alabama. She had top-nine finishes in 10 of the 11 events she played during the season, including a victory at the 2005 ACC/SEC Challenge and runner-up finishes at The Derby and the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic. She won the 2005 Southern Conference and the 2005 Lady Gamecock during her sophomore year at Furman, and finished second at the 2005 NCAA East Regional. While at Furman, she earned second-team NCGA All-America honors as a sophomore and was named the conferences Freshman of the Year in 2003-04.
The alternates for the team, in rank order, are Irene Cho, 21, of La Habra, Calif.; Mina Harigae, 16, of Monterey, Calif.; and Jane Rah, 15, of Torrance, Calif.
The GB&I team will be named June 17.
Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead
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."
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.
Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore
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.''
13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest
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.
McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi
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.
“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.