Singh on song to set the pace with 63
US TOUR:Vijay Singh charged into an early one-shot lead with a blistering finish to yesterday’s opening round of the Greenbrier Classic at White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia as Tiger Woods made an erratic start.
Seeking his first PGA Tour victory since the 2008 Deutsche Bank Championship, Fijian Singh birdied the last four holes on the Old White TPC Course to card a superb seven-under-par 63.
The smooth-swinging former world number one covered the back nine in a sizzling six-under 30 to shoot his lowest round on the US circuit in four years. “It’s my first good round of the year that I would say I’m probably comfortable with,” said Singh (49) after mixing eight birdies with a lone bogey. “And it’s a good way to start a tournament.”
Tour veteran Jeff Maggert opened with a six-birdie 64 to end the day level with fellow American Martin Flores, a stroke in front of compatriots JB Holmes and US Open champion Webb Simpson, plus Argentina’s Andres Romero.
Woods, the hottest player on the PGA Tour with three victories this season and bidding this week for a second consecutive win, returned a roller-coaster 71 that included a double-bogey seven at the 17th. “Most of the day I was slightly off and I definitely struggled with my green speeds,” said Woods after racking up 31 putts in the opening round. “My last three tournaments were awfully quick and I just didn’t have the right speed out there.”
Woods, who overtook Jack Nicklaus in second place on the all-time list of PGA Tour winners with his two-shot triumph at the ATT National on Sunday, is competing in the Greenbrier Classic for the first time.
Four-times major winner Phil Mickelson and fellow American Scott Stallings, who claimed last year’s title at the Greenbrier resort in a three-way play-off, were among the late starters in the opening round.
WOMEN’S US OPEN:Spaniard Beatriz Recari, Japan’s Ai Miyazato and American Lexi Thompson were the early clubhouse leaders on two-under par after shooting opening 70s at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisconsin yesterday. They were one shot clear of Korea’s Meena Lee. Cheyenne Woods, a cousin of Tiger, shot an opening 75 while 14-year-old Hannah O’Sullivan, an American of Irish decent, shot a four over par 76. Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow was one of the later starters and was two over par after four holes of her round.
SENIOR WOMEN:Helen Jones yesterday completed a hat-trick of major successes for members of Royal Portrush when she lifted the Irish Senior Women’s Senior Close title to add to the British triumphs of Alan Dunbar and Stephanie Meadow.
The 53-year-old hails from Strabane but has been a Portrush member for 25 years. “I put my Portrush tee-shirt on today and it seemed to work,” she smiled after her victory.
Having required three extra holes to dispose of fellow international Pat Doran in the semi-finals, Jones overcame Belvoir Park’s Violet McBride 4 and 2 in the title decider.
She established an early two-hole advantage and turned for home two up and was still two in front with four to play following a succession of halves.
McBride who earlier defeated Suzanne Corcoran at the 19th went into the water at the 15th but still got up and down forcing Jones to make a two-putt par to go three ahead. Jones closed out the match at the 16th with a well-executed par.
A delighted two-handicapper Jones, the 2010 Irish Open strokeplay champion, said afterwards: “I feel that seniors golf has given me a new lease of life.”
SENIOR MEN: A thick sea fog blowing in off the Irish Sea forced the cancellation of the second round of the Irish Senior Men’s Championship at Clandeboye yesterday and caused the event to be cut from 54 to 36 holes.
Due to the weather forecast for today predicting more adverse conditions it was decided to make the cut based on first-round scores. Former Amateur champion and the defending seniors champion Garth McGimpsey goes into today’s round with a one-stroke lead over Birr’s Billy Donlon with recently-crowned Irish Open and European seniors champion Adrian Morrow just behind.