Golf Secondary to Fun This Week

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2006, 4:00 pm
2005 Funai Classic at the Walt Disney World ResortLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- J.J. Henry finished his practice round Wednesday, then headed across the street to the Magic Kingdom to join his wife and 2-year-old son.
It's a much different itinerary than he would have at any other PGA TOUR event.
Sure, birdies and eagles remain the main goal, but Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck may be equally important animals this week at the Funai Classic at Disney.
'It is a vacation,' Henry said. 'For as much as we travel and as much as we play golf week-in and week-out, everybody asks, 'What do you do when you go on vacation?' Well, most of the time I go home. That's just the way it is. You travel 30 weeks a year and you just want to go home. This week is different.'
Golfers and their families stay at Disney World hotels, a short monorail ride from numerous theme parks. Some consider it a distraction. Others view it as a welcome retreat.
'It's a much different feel than what we're used to on a regular tour event,' Trevor Immelman said. 'I think the guys welcome that this time of year.'
With two weeks remaining until the season-ending TOUR Championship in Atlanta, some guys also need to play well to stay in -- or move into -- the top 30 on the money list and earn a spot in the field.
Henry falls into that category, sitting 28th and two spots ahead of the cutoff point.
'I feel like I have something to play for the next couple of weeks,' said Henry, who won his first PGA TOUR event at the Buick Championship in July and made the U.S. Ryder Cup team. 'It's important to me. There's no question it's a big goal of mine to go out and play well the next couple of weeks.
'I've done a little money list watching, there's no doubt, the last month or so. But at the same time, I can't worry about that. I can only control what I can do -- go out and play well these next two weeks and hopefully lock up that spot.'
Even though he wants to play well at Disney, Henry still brought along a good friend to work as his caddy this week. Why?
'He has three little girls,' he said.
'It's a fun week,' Henry added. 'It's a very laid-back week in a lot of ways. ... As much as you want to play good golf, you want to have fun, too.'
So golfers bring spouses, children, parents, aunts, uncles, friends and others along for the week. The tournament format adds to the relaxed environment.
Golfers play Thursday and Friday in a pro-am format, pairing each professional with an amateur for the first 36 holes. One round is played on the beefed-up Magnolia Course, and the other is played on the considerably easier Palm Course.
Things might be different had Tiger Woods opted to play. But he decided to skip Disney, where he missed the cut a year ago, and put his consecutive PGA TOUR wins streak on hold.
Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson and Geoff Ogilvy also chose not to make the trip, leaving Vijay Singh as the only golfer in the top five on the money list to play at Disney.
The field also includes Stuart Appleby, David Love III, Chris DiMarco -- and plenty of golfers planning their week around trips to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, MGM Studios and Animal Kingdom.
'It's always fun to come here, whether you're 2 like my son or 58 like my dad,' Henry said. 'From a young kid to a grandparent, it seems like there's always neat things to do here.'
Related Links:
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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.