Nicklaus Playing Days on US Soil Complete

By Associated PressJune 13, 2005, 4:00 pm
Loud applause rolled out of the gallery like rumbling thunder. Jack Nicklaus was slowly walking down the fairway of what might turn out to be the last hole of tournament golf he ever plays on American soil.
People sensed this could be history. So did his buddy and playing partner, Tom Watson. As the applause lengthened, Watson came to a respectful stop on the fairway and let Nicklaus walk onto the green all by himself, making sure the moment belonged entirely to the Golden Bear.
Will Jack ever be back? Or did the man many consider the greatest golfer ever play his last American tournament in the Champion Tour's Bayer Advantage Classic?
He said all week that he would retire after next month's British Open, but also held out the possibility of competing again in the Memorial, the tournament he hosts each year in Dublin, Ohio.
Nevertheless, after shooting a second straight 73 on the Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate, the winner of six Masters, five PGAs, four U.S. Opens and three British Opens looked tired.
'I want to end as a golfer, not as a worn-out celebrity. And that's the way I'm ending it, and I don't like that,' he said. 'I want to end it as a golfer, to play my best.'
The gallery was not alone in feeling a nostalgic tug.
'As I walked to the 18th hole, as I hit my tee shot, I thought, `Yeah, this is probably going to be the last tournament round of golf I play here in the United States,'' he said.
The man whose golf has brought so much pleasure to so many millions no longer enjoys the game himself.
When his final round was suspended by rain on Sunday, he was 3 under - and excited. His goal was to shoot 65 - his age.
'I'd like to have people see me play my best, or at least reasonable,' he said. 'But I managed to go out and three-putt, and make bogey, then three-putted the third hole and three-putted the sixth hole and played my way off into oblivion. It's not a whole lot of fun to do that.'
It's not as though he feels he must win every time.
'I don't have to win the golf tournament, but just to play halfway decent so I can enjoy it and they can enjoy seeing part of me that's still there,' he said.
'I think it's very sad watching old boxers getting blown around in the ring and things like that. That's why I'm wanting to quit while I still have the semblance of a golf game.
'I just wish I'd used it. I'm a lot better golfer than I played today, or this week.'
There is no possibility, he said with a laugh, of somehow recapturing that old magic and deciding to return to tournament golf.
'No,' he said. 'I'm going to win the British Open and then retire.'
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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.