Good Finish on Tap at Schwab Cup

By Associated PressOctober 27, 2007, 4:00 pm
  SONOMA, Calif. -- Sitting out most of last season while recovering from surgery on his right shoulder taught Denis Watson to appreciate the little things.
 
Even after struggling through the third round Saturday at the Champion Tour's season-ending Charles Schwab Championship, he isn't complaining.
 
Watson shot a 4-under 68 to take a one-stroke lead over defending champion Jim Thorpe and Brad Bryant into the final round at the Sonoma Golf Club.
 
'This is great. I haven't been in it for a while, I've been kind of fighting it a little bit,' said Watson, who has sporadically struggled with his game ever since winning the Boeing Classic in late August. 'It's what you live for. You gotta love it.'
 
Watson, who also won the Senior PGA Championship in May, had five birdies but fought his game all day. He trailed by two strokes after 13 holes and went into No. 18 a shot behind Thorpe, the 2003 and 2006 winner. But Thorpe made a double bogey on the 412-yard, par-4 final hole to finish with a 69.
 
Watson had a 15-under 201 total.
 
'I really scrapped it out,' said Watson, from Zimbabwe. 'I was kind of fighting with my swing a little bit until the back nine.'
 
Thorpe had been in command most of the afternoon after cutting a half inch off his driver following Friday's second round. He played bogey free through the first 17 holes Saturday and was seemingly in good shape before falling apart on No. 18.
 
Thorpe pulled his tee shot into the rough then opted to lay up with his second shot rather than going for the green in two. His third shot landed 10 feet away from the pin but spun backward and rolled off the green onto the fringe. A chip and two putts later, Thorpe's lead was gone.
 
'If I had taken another look at that pin I wouldn't have laid it up,' said Thorpe, who threw his ball away in disgust after walking off the 18th green. 'It was kind of cool and I wasn't quite sure if I could carry the bunkers if I didn't hit it perfect.'
 
Bryant, one of four players in contention for the Charles Schwab Cup race for a $1 million annuity, matched his best round of the tournament, a 67 to close the gap behind Watson. Bryant, who trails Loren Roberts in the Cup race by 697 points, can become just the second player to win both the season-finale and the Cup championship in the same season and needs to win on Sunday to have a chance.
 
'I've got more to play for than anybody in the world tomorrow,' Bryant said. 'At this point, the best possible thing that could happen to me is to go out there tomorrow and just not think about anything. So hopefully we will not be worried about scenarios or anything else, just try to go play.'
 
Bryant will need some help in his quest for the Cup.
 
After struggling through the first two rounds and beginning Saturday with three bogeys in four holes to fall to 1 under, Roberts rebounded on the back nine with five birdies for a 69. At 6-under 210, Roberts was tied for 18th place.
 
'I was able to get up to where I at least can see some daylight now,' said Roberts after carding his best round of the tournament. 'I just hope I can play tomorrow as I did on the back nine today. That's my only defense.'
 
Jay Haas, 165 points behind Roberts, shot a 71 to reach 7 under. Tom Watson, the fourth player in contention for the Cup, was tied for 25th at 1 under.
 
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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.