Finau, Cauley share Texas Open lead

By Associated PressApril 22, 2017, 1:30 am

SAN ANTONIO - Tony Finau arrived at the 18th tee with a chance at a course record, but his approach splashed in the water and his bogey dropped him into a second-round tie for the lead with Bud Cauley at the Valero Texas Open on Friday.

A birdie at the par-5 final hole would have given Finau a share of the course record, but he settled for a 7-under 65 and is tied with Cauley at 8 under through 36 holes at TPC San Antonio.

Ian Poulter, Europe's Ryder Cup star, missed the cut and lost his fully exempt status on the PGA Tour. He fell about $30,000 short of the required earnings to keep his status through a medical exemption because of a foot injury last year.

Cauley, a former NCAA standout at Alabama who's yet to win through six seasons as a pro, had a lead at the halfway point after his 66 in the morning.

Cauley and Finau, winner last year at the Puerto Rico Open, both lead by one over 23-year-old Australian Cameron Smith, Kevin Chappell, Robby Shelton and veteran 1994 Texas Open winner Bob Estes.

Smith shared low round with Finau at 65, Chappell shot 68, Shelton had a 69, and 51-year-old Estes had a 69.

John Huh is 6 under after a 71, and he's joined by Kevin Tway (68) and Jonathan Randolph (70).

There are seven players at 5 under, including first-round leader Branden Grace (73) and former Texas Open champs Jimmy Walker (69) and Martin Laird (67).

Walker, winner of the PGA Championship last summer, said he'll start treatment for Lyme disease after this event. It may keep him from playing at New Orleans next week.


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Finau holed a wedge shot from 105 yards for eagle on No. 11. A 22-foot birdie putt at 16 and a tap-in birdie on the next hole had him looking at tying the course record.

After his approach landed in shallow water in the creek fronting the 18th green, Finau played it out and chipped it past the green, rather than take the penalty drop.

''I did the same thing yesterday after going for the green (in two),'' Finau said. ''About half of the ball was out of the water. I got up and down yesterday. I know lightning doesn't always strike twice.''

After a par at the first, Cauley's early birdie streak included a 38-foot putt at 2. He avoided bogey all day, including a near three-putt by sinking a 12-footer at No. 17.

''Putting saved me a lot today,'' Cauley said, ''and the putt (to save par) at 17 was huge. It was windy, and I knew I was going to miss some greens. When I did, I was able to leave it in a relatively easy spot and get up and down.''

Cauley is coming off his second top 10 of the year, a ninth place at RBC Heritage after a first-round 63 at Hilton Head.

After opening the tournament with even-par 72 Thursday, Smith jumped 68 spots on the leaderboard and finished with eagle-birdie. The eagle was a 90-yard blast from a bunker. He also chipped in from off the green for three birdies.

''Everything I hit, whether it was a rubbish shot or a good shot, kind of went close to the hole,'' Smith said.

Cauley played through a medical exemption to keep his Tour card last year after shoulder surgery. It didn't work for Poulter, the Englishman who's played in five memorable Ryder Cup events for Europe.

''I'm healthy,'' Poulter said. ''I'm still going to be able to play golf. It doesn't mean to say that the clubs are going to go away and you're never going to see me again.''

Besides Poulter, notables missing the cut included U.S. Amateur champ Curtis Luck (73-72 in his pro debut), Billy Horschel (73-74), Luke Donald (76-72), Zach Johnson (74-74) and Keegan Bradley (77-74).

Defending champion Charley Hoffman, who shared the lead at the halfway point of the Masters this month, birdied his 17th hole to get to 1 under for the tournament and one shot inside the cut number.

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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.