M. Miyazato leads Lewis in Arkansas after Day 1

By Associated PressJune 22, 2013, 12:58 am

ROGERS, Ark. – Mika Miyazato changed putters following a missed cut at a tournament in Texas in April, hoping to put a quick end to what had been a disappointing season so far.

Miyazato's move has paid off in the form of her top three finishes of the year – including her best round of the year on Friday.

The Japanese golfer birdied six of 10 holes in the middle of her round to shoot a 6-under 65 and earn the first-round lead at the LPGA Tour's NW Arkansas Championship. The round was only Miyazato's second in the 60s this year, topping the 69 she opened her year with in Thailand in February.

Miyazato finished in a tie for second at the event last year, missing a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole to finish a stroke back of winner Ai Miyazato. The Japanese golfer hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation on Friday to finish a shot ahead of So Yeon Ryu and Angela Stanford at 5 under.

''Well, I was disappointed last year, but I was very good friends with Ai, like (an) older sister (to) Ai,'' Mika Miyazato said. ''It was a good experience last year.''

Ten golfers are two shots back of Miyazato at 4 under, including local favorite Stacy Lewis, who played collegiately at the nearby University of Arkansas.

World No. 1 Inbee Park is four shots off the lead after shooting a 2-under 69.

It was Miyazato, however, who bested the rest of the star-packed field on Friday – a group that included 97 of the top 100 on the money list heading into next week's U.S. Open.

She did so despite a disappointing year so far, one that had her enter this week 46th on the money list and 77th in scoring average. Still 15th in the world rankings, Miyazato had struggled mightily with her putting – ranking 133rd on the tour.

She looked comfortable from Tee to Green on Friday, hitting 16 greens in regulation and making several key putts. That included a 10-footer to save par on No. 16, on that followed her final birdie of the day on the par-3 15th.

Miyazato was heartbroken after last year's close call at the tournament, which would have been her first victory on the tour. She went on to win her first LPGA event later last year at the Safeway Classic, and she'd like nothing better than to add to that total this weekend.

''I think (the) second win is more difficult than the first win,'' Miyazato said.

While Miyazato posted the lowest score of the day during her morning round, Lewis enjoyed the largest gallery during the afternoon in front of her Arkansas fans – who serenaded her with a call of ''Woo Pig Sooey'' after she hit the green on No. 17.

The Texas native missed her birdie putt on the hole, but she closed out her round with an up-and-down birdie out of the greenside bunker on the par-5 18th.

The world No. 2 earned an unofficial win at the rain-shortened event as an amateur in 2007, but she hasn't finished higher than eighth since. She had no such problems on Friday, hitting 13 of 13 fairways and closing with four birdies on the back nine.

''I got off to a little bit of a slow start, just wasn't really making any putts on the front and then kind of relaxed there on the back, made a few putts,'' Lewis said. ''... I was feeling good. Even when I was even par, I was feeling good about my game.''

The course at Pinnacle Country Club played slow and soft earlier this week following heaving rains in recent months. However, hot and humid conditions throughout the week began to speed things up on Friday – which was just to the liking of many of the golfers.

Miyazato took the early lead with her morning birdie binge, and her 65 held off a group of 12 golfers who are within two shots of the lead. Ryu posted her 66 while playing with Miyazato in the morning, while Stanford's 5 under came in the afternoon in Lewis' group.

The group at 4 under includes Lewis, Chie Arimura, Danielle Kang, Azahara Munoz, Beatriz Recari, Lisa McCloskey, Mina Harigae, Suzann Pettersen, Christel Boeljon and Sarah Kemp.




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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.