Notes Webb Ready Celeb Beats Pro at Pebble
The last shot of the 2006 season was worth $1 million to Julieta Granada, who captured the ADT Championship in Florida. Most eyes at the SBS Open in Hawaii on Thursday will be on Lorena Ochoa, coming off a six-victory season that allowed her to supplant Annika Sorenstam as LPGA player of the year.
But one player already brings a load of momentum to Turtle Bay.
Karrie Webb became almost an afterthought at the end of last season because of the Ochoa-Sorenstam dynamics. But the 32-year-old Australian had a year to remember -- five victories and her seventh career major when she won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in a playoff with Ochoa. Webb lost another major in a playoff, and she went over $2 million in earnings.
She arrived on Oahu with two victories already this year, winning the Australian Women's Open by six shots and the Australian Ladies Masters by two shots, despite finishing with back-to-back bogeys.
'I take a lot of positives, a lot of confidence into the next two weeks in Hawaii,' she said.
Sorenstam, meanwhile, is taking the first two weeks off, and the only question is whether she remains atop the women's world ranking when she makes her debut in Mexico on March 9.
She had a comfortable margin over Ochoa at the end of last season, but now leads by only 2.6 points, with Webb 2.8 points behind.
Based on his performance at Pebble Beach, one suspects Tom Watson could hang with the PGA TOUR and do just fine. Watson's name was near the top of the leaderboard on the weekend, and he wound up tied for 19th.
The 57-year-old Watson extended his streak on the PGA TOUR to 36 years making at least one cut. That dates to 1971, the year he turned pro. It also was the 20th time he has finished in the top 25 at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Still, Watson likely will play only one more PGA TOUR event at the Masters in April. He is exempt for life, but listening to him talk about the oversized Augusta National course, he might not be there much longer.
Watson also is exempt to the British Open until he is 65, but he won't be back this summer at Carnoustie.
He won the first of his eight majors -- and five claret jugs -- at Carnoustie in 1975, but he has a conflict that will keep him away. His daughter, Meg, is to be married on Saturday of the Open. Watson will be walking her down the aisle.
'I will be thinking a little bit about it,' Watson said. 'I won't tell her that, though.'
In this era of technology, Jim Furyk would have thought it would be no problem to replace a broken driver. It's been since November, and he's still waiting.
Furyk split the face of his driver during the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai at the end of last year and hasn't found a suitable replacement. Despite his dissatisfaction, he won the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa, was 18th at the Mercedes-Benz Championship and tied for fourth at the Sony Open.
'I just had a hard time matching it up with the rest of my set,' he said.
Furyk tried a new driver at Pebble Beach, and played well until catching the worst of the weather at Pebble, the toughest course in windy weather. He finished tied for sixth.
How long the driver stays in the bag is another matter.
It's the second time in the last two years that Furyk has cracked the face of a driver, but he says that's nothing new on tour. Most of the big hitters do it all the time, although Furyk hardly falls into that category.
'Little pea shooters like me wear that like a badge of honor,' he said.
BEATING THE PRO:
Comedian Tom Dreesen chipped in twice and holed a 45-foot putt on his last three holes at Pebble Beach in the first round, and was pleased to add up his score and realize he shot 78. He wound up beating his pro, Robert Gamez, by one shot, although Dreesen played a forward set of tees.
It reminded him of the time he played with Steve Pate in the Bob Hope Classic one year. Pate played poorly in the first round in 1989, shooting an 81, and Dreesen had a 77. He ran into Pate's wife the next day, who told him of a bizarre night.
'She sensed this shadow moving through their room at 3 o'clock in the morning,' Dreesen said. 'She looks up and there's Pate, just pacing back and forth in the hotel room. She says, 'Steve, what's wrong?'
'He says, 'A comedian. I got beat by a comedian.''
Not to worry. The next day, Pate shot 62.
Ernie Els will receive the Gold Tee Award from the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association at the annual dinner June 18 in Rye, N.Y., near Westchester Country Club, where Els won in consecutive years. ... Cristie Kerr recently raised $140,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., during a one-night function that included 200 guests playing Texas Hold 'Em poker. ... David Feherty got his exercise last week at Pebble Beach by riding a bicycle on 17-Mile Drive in the morning. Sweat pouring off his face, the Irish funny man said, 'I found out it's actually 28 miles.' ... Phil Mickelson now has won four PGA TOUR events at least three times -- the Pebble Beach National Pro-am (1998, 2005, 2007), the BellSouth Classic (2000, 2005-06), the Buick Invitational (1993, 2000-01) and the Chrysler Classic of Tucson (1991, 1995-96). ... China will have international standard Rules of Golf officials within 12 months under an agreement signed Tuesday by the R&A and the China Golf Association.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
The wind blew 20 mph from the south in the third round, and the average score on No. 9 at Pebble Beach was 4.97. There was only a breeze from the north in the final round, and the average score was 3.98.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake
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.<
DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi
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.”
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.”
Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi
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.
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.”
Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder
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:
Filling in tomorrow for Corey Pavin that WD today @cbgolfchallenge I do things like this a lot to help events and asking for sponsors exemptions here but didn't get any help.— Ken Duke (@DukePGA) January 18, 2018
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.