Cooke leads Sr. PGA Professional National Champ.

By Associated PressApril 16, 2014, 3:00 am

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Stan Cooke shot a 7-under 65 in windy conditions Tuesday to take the first-round lead in the Senior PGA Professional National Championship.

The 53-year-old Cooke, the PGA general manager and director of golf at Ocala (Fla.) National, played the last 10 holes in 7 under on PGA Golf Club's Wanamaker Course. He eagled the par-5 16th, hitting a hybrid to 15 feet, and closed with a birdie.

''I lit up the back nine and I managed the course well,'' Cooke said. ''I hit a few wayward shots that I got away with. Then, the putter started clicking and I got out of the way of myself.''

Originally scheduled for October at Creighton Farms in Virginia, the event was postponed because of rain and flooding.

''It was a long time coming,'' Cooke said. ''I don't believe much in practicing on the range. I try to play my way into being able to hit shots. So, every other day, I schedule 18 holes late in the day somewhere in Ocala trying to see different courses and different shots and visualize those shots.''

The top 35 in the 264-man field will earn spots in the Senior PGA Championship on May 22-25 at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich. The low 70 and ties after the second round will play the final two rounds on the Wanamaker Course.

Frank Esposito and Rob Gibbons were two strokes back at 67. The 50-year-old Esposito, the PGA head professional at Brooklake in Florham Park, N.J., played the Ryder Course. The 57-year-old Gibbons, the PGA head pro at Arrowhead in Molalla, Ore., opened on the Wanamaker.

''It was a little windy and there were some tough pins,'' Esposito said. ''I have played so many times here in the winter that I get used to it. This is normal for Florida. It was firm and fast. I seem to play well on this golf course for some reason.''

Championship rookie Todd McCorkle of Birmingham, Ala., was at 68 along with Gene Fieger of Naples, Fla.; Carl Cooper of Humble, Texas; and Doug Rohrbaugh of Carbondale, Colo. McCorkle and Rohrbaugh played the Wanamaker, and Fieger and Carl Cooper opened on the Ryder.

Rod Nuckolls of Wichita, Kan., had a 69 on the Wanamaker, playing the last four holes in 5 under. He holed out from 67 yards on No. 16 and made three birdies.

Defending Champion Jim Woodward of Edmond, Okla., opened with a 77 on the Ryder.

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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.