Birdies aplenty in first round of the Bob Hope Classic

By Associated PressJanuary 22, 2009, 5:00 pm
50th Bob Hope Chrylser ClassicLA QUINTA, Calif. ' On a day when just six of the 128 players in the field were over par, its little wonder Pat Perez wasnt overly impressed by his 61.
 
Because the number is 30 under, 30 plus. You dont try to get there too fast, you try to get there over five days, Perez said Wednesday after his opening 11-under at the Palmer Course at PGA West was good for only a one-shot lead in the ultra low-scoring Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
 
When conditions for the Hope remain perfect like they were for the first round, it takes something in the 30-under range to win. The record for the 90-hole tournament is 36-under by Joe Durant in 2001.
 
The opening day featured a binge of 706 birdies'an average of 5.5 per player.
 
Putting his 61 into perspective, Perez said, So yeah, its nice, its a good round, the conditions are perfect. Thats all.
 
He acknowledged, though, that after a 28 on his front nine, he thought he had a good shot at the PGA Tour record of 59, last matched by David Duval on the same Palmer Course when he wrapped up the 1999 Hope title.
 
I was thinking 58 for sure, Perez said. I cant believe it. Its the second year now Ive been right there and I havent been able to do it.
 
Perez, who holds a one-shot lead over 2003 champion Mike Weir and Bubba Watson, shot a first-round 60 three years ago in the desert tournament, then struggled the rest of the way and wound up 73rd. He had a second-round 61 in 2003, when he finished in a sixth-place tie.
 
Briny Baird, Ben Crane, Jason Dufner, Richard Johnson, Taylor Vaughn and David Berganio Jr. shot 63s. Chris DiMarco was in a three-way tie for 10th at 8-under. Defending champion D.J. Trahan and Steve Stricker, whose No. 16 world ranking makes him the highest-ranked player in the field, were in a group tied for 13th at 7-under.
 
The 32-year-old Perez, still looking for his first PGA Tour win, has a spotty history at the Hope, with the tie for sixth his best showing in five previous appearances. He missed the cut in 2002 and 2004, and skipped the event the past two years.
 
He said he was back because The Classic Club, a course a few miles from La Quinta in an area where the wind can be brutal, was dropped from the Hope rotation after being used for three years.
 
In 2006, Perez followed his first-round 60 at PGA West with a wind-swept 73 at The Classic Club, then shot a 78 on a chilly, gusty day there in the final round.
 
I shot 60 that year and I had the first tee time the next morning and it was blowing a hundred, Perez said. I said, `How the heck can you put a golf course where a thousand windmills are? I hit the first ball in the water and almost got in the car and drove home.
 
He said he wasnt even trying to score well during the final round at the Classic Club that year.
 
I actually was going to try and be the first guy ever in a tournament to shoot 60, 70 and 80, right on the button, Perez quipped. (But) I actually hit a good shot finally in the middle of the green and made a birdie and shot 78.
 
I just wanted to get out of there.
 
Weir and Watson also played this years opening round at the Palmer Course, one of four used for the pro-am portion of the tournament the first four days. The players rotate among the courses, and the low-scoring 70 pros and ties play Sundays final round on the Palmer Course.
 
Weir called his own 10-under round solid, then stood corrected.
 
Maybe that wasnt the best word to use, he said with a grin. It was a great round. But I played solidly.
 
When the field was backed up at the turn and he had to wait some 40 minutes, Weir took it in stride, going to the clubhouse to relax before he teed off again.
 
Asked if the wait was frustrating, he shook his head.
 
No. I made six more birdies. I just relaxed and had a sandwich and salad and it was all right, he said.
 
Durant got off to a considerably slower start than the year he won, with his 1-over 73 leaving him in a tie for 123rd. The other five over par during the first round were Lee Janzen, Kelly Troy, James Nitties and Peter Tomasulo at 1-over, and Brad Faxon at 5 over.
 

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.