Langer leads by eight at Senior Players Championship

By Associated PressJune 13, 2015, 11:17 pm

BELMONT, Mass. - Bernhard Langer has an eight-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Senior Players Championship, and that doesn't leave much hope for the golfers chasing him.

The defending champion shot a 4-under 67 in the third round on Saturday and is 16 under in the third senior tour major of the year. Langer has never shot worse than 70 in the final round of the Senior Players.

At the Senior British Open last year, he led by eight strokes after 54 holes and won by 13 - the largest margin of victory in Champions Tour history.

''My goal is to shoot under par. And, if I can do that, it will be very difficult for anyone to catch me,'' said Langer, who is trying to become the first repeat winner at the event since Arnold Palmer in 1984-85. ''I'm eager to put a 'W' behind my name. But I'm not saying I'm there yet.''

Russ Cochran was even for the day and in second place at the 6,812-yard, par-71 Belmont Country Club.

''He's a heck of a player and you expect him to take care of his business,'' said Cochran, who hasn't won on the Champions Tour since 2013. ''I'm hoping to use this as a building block. ... You never know, a victory down the line might start right here.''

Scott Verplank shot a 66 in the third round to move into a four-way tie for third with Colin Montgomerie, Jeff Hart and Guy Boros. Billy Andrade started the day at 1 under and birdied three of the first four holes. He eagled the par-4 eighth hole and finished at 6 under, tied for seventh.

''I knew I needed to shoot a couple of 65s and maybe Bernhard would relax over the weekend,'' said Andrade, who is from Bristol, Rhode Island. ''But he's playing so good I don't know if anyone has a chance.''

After matching 65s in the first two rounds, Langer had a pair of birdies on the front nine and two more on the back in his second straight bogey-free round. He is seeking his 24th victory on the Champions Tour, tying him with Miller Barber for fourth on the career list.

His eight-stroke lead after 54 holes is tied for the largest in the tour's history. He was ahead by eight after three rounds at Royal Porthcawl last year, matching Jack Nicklaus' lead in the 1991 Senior PGA Championship.

''Whenever you have a lead on a very good field it takes some really good play,'' Langer said. ''There are some great champions out there.''

Hale Irwin, who turned 70 on June 3, shot 70 on Saturday. It's the 18th time he has matched or bettered his age on the Champions Tour.

Montgomerie and Boros each threatened Cochran for second place, improving to 8 under before bogeying the 17th hole. When Langer came around to the 501-yard, par-5, he chipped to six feet to set up another birdie.

''We all kind of marvel at his clarity. He stands over it and he performs,'' said Cochran, who will be in the final group with Langer again on Sunday. ''So that's what I take from the day: just how he goes about his business and what a great performer he is.''

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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.