Notes Durant Wins Fall Finish

By Associated PressNovember 5, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA -- Joe Durant walked away from East Lake Golf Club lugging a giant crystal vase and an extra half-million dollars.
 
Quite a change from where he was a few months ago.
 
Once faced with the possibility of losing his PGA TOUR card, Durant closed out a stunning turnaround by finishing third Sunday in the season-ending TOUR Championship.
 
He was no lower than sixth over his last five tournaments, holding off Jim Furyk to win the 11-tourney Fall Finish and its $500,000 bonus. Troy Matteson, who didn't qualify for the elite field in Atlanta, wound up third.
 
'It just kind of came out of the blue, to be honest with you,' Durant said. 'I've just played very well the last month and a half, two months. I made a lot of putts and seemed to not get in my way a lot, which is a pleasant change.'
 
He missed the cut in five of his first 19 tournaments this year, with only one finish higher than 36th. Adding to the misery, a thief snatched his briefcase, laptop and other electronic items from his hotel room in Milwaukee.
 
The following week, Durant got things rolling with a third-place finish in the Buick Open. He won at Disney two weeks ago to crack the top 30 on the money list, and made sure he kept his spot in the TOUR Championship by tying for fourth at Innisbrook last weekend.
 
'I'm pretty tired right now,' Durant said. 'I hate to see it end, but hopefully I can kind of pick up (in 2007) where I'm leaving off.'
 
He closed with a 3-under 67 at East Lake, four strokes behind winner Adam Scott. Durant finished 13th on the money list with more than $2.8 million, the best year of his career. In 2001, Durant was No. 14 with earnings of just under $2.4 million.
 
'I hate to see the year end, but I'm looking forward to next year,' he said. 'I kind of need to stay on top of things a little bit and just keep working.'
 
CRAZY FINISH
Stuart Appleby experienced a wide range of emotions Sunday -- and that was just on the final three holes.
 
Appleby nearly holed out a long birdie at No. 16, which was followed by a drive that came close to providing another item for sale in the merchandise tent along the 17th fairway. Finally, he sank a testy par-saver at the devilish final hole after two poor shots.
 
Whew!
 
Appleby thought he had a birdie at 16, raising his putter in the air as the 45-foot putt approach the cup. But it curled around the right side and spun out, leaving him with a tap-in for par.
 
The Aussie tossed away his putter in disgust and held his hands on his head for several seconds, as if he couldn't believe the ball didn't go in. He was still muttering to his caddie as he walked to the next hole.
 
'It looked perfect,' Appleby said, shaking his head.
 
Maybe that was still on his mind when he pushed his drive far right of the fairway at No. 17. The ball wound up next to a wooden ramp leading to a side-by-side merchandise shop and concession stand, which allowed Appleby to take relief.
 
He tried to drop the ball in a beaten-down spot of grass, but it hopped into the rough. The gallery groaned. After getting some fans to move the table they were sitting at, Appleby launched a shot that cleared a batch of trees and a corporate chalet, landing in a bunker right of the green.
 
He blasted to about 9 feet but failed to make the putt, taking bogey.
 
'I deserved to make a birdie at 16,' Appleby said. 'I guess I didn't deserve to make a par at 17.'
 
Appleby's final tee shot wound up left of the green on the par-3 18th, an uphill, 239-yard hole. His chip came up about 19 feet short, but he rolled in the putt to save par.
 
'That is one tough hole,' he said. 'One of the toughest we play.'
 
WRAPPING UP
Tiger Woods wasn't at East Lake, but he already had more than enough money to wrap up the Arnold Palmer Award as the leading money-winner on the PGA TOUR.
 
Woods finished with $9,941,563 in official earnings, more than $2.7 million ahead of runner-up Jim Furyk. It was the second straight money title for Woods and the seventh of his 11-year pro career.
 
Furyk's second-place showing was the best of his career, and he also claimed the Vardon Trophy for the best adjusted scoring average at 68.86. He edged out Adam Scott (68.95).
 
Woods finished with an average of 68.11, but he didn't play the minimum 60 TOUR rounds that are required to qualify for the Vardon award. He did win the Byron Nelson Award, given by the TOUR for the best adjusted average with a minimum of 50 rounds.
 
Meanwhile, 11 players locked up their exemption into the 2007 British Open by finishing in the top 20 on the money list. They were Trevor Immelman (seventh), Stuart Appleby (eighth), Brett Wetterich (10th), David Toms (11th), Rory Sabbatini (12th), Joe Durant (13th), Chad Campbell (14th), Stewart Cink (15th), Davis Love III (16th), Rod Pampling (17th) and Brett Quigley (20th).
 
DIVOTS
There hasn't been a final-day birdie at East Lake's 18th hole since Shigeki Maruyama in 2002. ... Adam Scott finished a career-best third on the money list with just under $5 million in earnings, bolstered by the $1,170,000 paycheck for winning the TOUR Championship. ... Scott's win was the eighth by an Australian this year. Stuart Appleby and Geoff Ogilivy had two apiece.
 
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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.