Donald Maintains Slim Lead in Dallas

By Associated PressApril 28, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 EDS Byron Nelson ChampionshipIRVING, Texas -- Luke Donald barely held onto the lead at the Byron Nelson Championship.
After a bogey at No. 17, Donald made a par-saving putt on the closing hole Saturday to finish his 11th straight under-par round in the Nelson, a 3-under 67 that put him at 10-under 200 with a one-stroke lead over Scott Verplank going into the final round.
Donald, finally leading the Nelson after all his subpar rounds in the event, had consecutive bogeys early to fall behind by two strokes. The Englishman recovered with five birdies in a 10-hole stretch that were enough to put him back ahead.
Verplank (66) grew up in the Dallas area and first met Byron Nelson as a teenager. Now in his 21st Nelson, the 43-year-old Verplank will play in the final group Sunday with a chance to finally win it -- in the first Nelson tournament played without its namesake.
Play was stopped midway through the round for a moment of silence in honor of Nelson that was followed by a flyover by a squadron of fighter jets. It was the first time the PGA Tour ever had such a stoppage during a tournament.
Nelson, who in 1968 became the first golfer to have a PGA TOUR event named after him, died Sept. 26. He was 94.
Donald had never finished a round leading the Nelson before this year, but has now led two in a row -- even after his tee shot at the 196-yard 17th hole wound up in the bunker fronting the pin and his approach at the closing hole ended up more than 50 feet from the pin before a 5-foot par putt.
If Donald can make it three rounds in a row with the lead, he will have his third PGA TOUR victory.
Michael Allen, the 48-year-old journeyman who got into the Nelson by surviving a playoff in a qualifying event Monday, was alone in third at 8 under after his bogey-free 64. Ian Poulter (65) was 6 under.
Phil Mickelson (66) and Vijay Singh (69), the only top-10 players in the world playing this week, were in a group at 5 under with Ken Duke (64), Ryuji Imada (67) and Fredrik Jacobson (71).
Donald, No. 11 in the world, has finished 17 of his 21 career rounds at the Nelson over the last six tournaments under par.
There was a quick birdie Saturday, hitting his approach at the 490-yard third hole within 5 feet, before Donald suddenly got in trouble and was over par for his round.
After missing the green at the 425-yard No. 4, Donald two-putted from 7 feet for bogey. Then at the elongated green on the 181-yard fifth, he three-putted from 57 feet to go to 7 under -- and was two strokes behind Verplank.
Donald got a stroke back with a birdie at the 533-yard seventh hole, then had four birdies in seven holes after making the turn. He hit his approach to 6 feet for birdie at No. 10, then slid a 10-foot birdie attempt past the hole at No. 11. Consecutive birdies at Nos. 13 and 14 got him to 10 under, and he had another at the 554-yard 16th -- the easiest hole on the course.
Verplank was bogey free until he got to No. 13, the par 3 where he didn't get on the green until his third shot. He missed the fairway at No. 15, then couldn't reach the green with his second shot.
But he had a nice finish with a nifty approach at No. 18 that set up a 4-foot birdie putt.
The closest Verplank came to a Nelson title was in 2001 when he lost in a four-hole playoff to Robert Damron.
Defending champion Brett Wetterich, the last Nelson winner to get a personal congratulation from Nelson at No. 18, twice had consecutive bogeys in a round of 72 that dropped him to 4 under and six strokes off the lead.
Beside the moment of silence Saturday, officials unveiled the design of the Congressional Gold Medal that will be presented posthumously to Nelson. The medal includes two images of Nelson, one a profile shot in his traditional fedora hat and the other is of a younger Nelson swinging a club and surrounded by the words 'Player, Teacher, Humanitarian, Champion.'
Donald's three-round total of 200 is the highest for a leader at the Nelson since 2000. The last time it was higher was in 1986, when Andy Bean had a 201 total through 54 holes on way to winning. ... Duke, the 38-year-old coming off his career-best runner-up finish last weekend in New Orleans, had a bogey-free 64 in the second group of the day. 'Don't wake me up here,' Duke joked. ... SMU golfer Colt Knost, the first amateur since Justin Leonard in 1993 to make the cut at the Nelson, followed his second-round 64 with a 74 on Saturday.
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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.