Australian Kulacz fires 63 owns lead at Abu Dhabi
That gave the 24-year-old Perth native, starting his rookie year with a European Tour card, a one-stroke advantage over a trio of players in second place that includes Sergio Garcia.
Kulacz shot 11 birdies and two bogeys and fell one shot short of equaling the Abu Dhabi Golf Club course record set by the Swedish Ryder Cup player Henrik Stenson four years ago.
Kulacz played late on the second day after a strong lunchtime breeze that had been blowing in off the Arabian Gulf subsided.
The late calm confirmed the view of Garcia, who also played in mild early morning conditions, that the shifting local weather could have an impact on who eventually wins the $390,000 winner's check.
Garcia who shot a 67 said it was no coincidence that he, Ireland?s Shane Lowry and Sweden’s Peter Hanson, who all reached 11 under, did so after receiving early morning start times.
Players blown into the thick rough at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club by the wind were also trying to cope with new clubs that comply with the recent groove regulation changes of both the European and PGA Tours.
“The weather really helped me because in the morning it was pretty calm. And playing on firm greens it is pretty hard getting fliers out of the rough with new grooves.”
Garcia still feels pain from a right hand injury sustained at the Dubai World Championship in November and receives daily ultrasound treatment.
“With the hand problem and bad weather at home I have not been able to practice as much as I would have liked, so getting into the lead has exceeded my expectations here,” said the Spaniard before Kulacz overtook him at the top of the leaderboard.
“I feel I have played nicely but there were shots where I could have been a bit more positive. But when you have been unable to practice as much as you want doubts do creep in.”
The injury did not prevent Garcia from making six birdies and only one bogey in his round, while Lowry had seven birdies in his.
Until Kulacz made his late run playing in the second last group of the day, Lowry was enjoying his first appearance at the top of a European leaderboard since turning professional after his victory, as an amateur, in the Irish Open last May.
The highest-profile victim of the windy conditions – and the new groove regulations – was England?s Lee Westwood, who on his last visit to the Arabian desert won the Dubai World Championship to reach the No. 4 ranking.
He missed the cut after shooting a 78 for 3 over and complained about having to start the year using new clubs.
“What a time to have to change your clubs when you are playing your best golf ,” he said. “I need to do some work with my irons. I don?t know whether they have put the wrong shafts in them or whatever. They just don?t feel right, they don?t feel the same. They feel like fishing rods.”
One of the three first-round leaders, England’s Ian Poulter, was unable to repeat his 7 under start. He had a round of 70 and was three shots off the lead.
Italy’s Francesco Molinari had a hole-in-one at the 174-yard fourth hole with his 7-iron tee shot.
Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia
Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.
Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.
Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.
Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.
It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.
The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.
Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son
ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.
Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.
''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''
They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.
''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''
Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.
''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''
Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.
Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.
Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.
Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.
Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.