Park leads Pettersen at Lorena Ochoa Invitational

By Associated PressNovember 13, 2015, 12:16 am

MEXICO CITY – Inbee Park made a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a 4-under 68 and a one-stroke lead Thursday in the LPGA's Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

The second-ranked Park had seven birdies and three bogeys at tree-lined Club de Golf Mexico. She's making her first start since withdrawing in China two weeks ago because of a cyst on her left middle finger. The South Korean star has four victories this season, winning two of the five majors.

''I was a little bit worried about not practicing for a few days, but I had a good day today, especially the front nine,'' Park said. ''It was a good putting day. ... I felt really good about the putter. I putted really well today it was a good sign.''

Angela Stanford, Suzann Pettersen and Minjee Lee were tied for second.

Stanford is coming off a playoff loss to Sun-Ju Ahn last week in the Asian Swing finale in Japan.

''Tuesday, I felt like I have been hit by a train,'' Stanford said about her flight from Japan. ''It's been getting better each day.''

She won the inaugural tournament in 2008 in Guadalajara.

Pettersen was the only player in the 36-woman field to have a bogey-free round. The Norwegian won in June in Canada for her 15th LPGA victory. She's coming off three straight top-eight finishes in Asia.

''It's just nice to be back in contention and kind of be back where I should be,'' Pettersen said. ''I should be in contention every week when I feel my game is there. It was a good stretch there to give me some confidence and try to finish out strong.''

The 19-year-old Lee, from Australia, won at Kingsmill in May for her first title. She took last week off after playing the first four events in Asia.

''I think I really needed that week off when I was in Asia,'' Lee said. ''I was well-rested and I came in yesterday and did my practice and I was ready to go.''

Mexican amateur Gaby Lopez was tied for fifth at 71 with So Yeon Ryu, Azahara Munoz, Jaye Marie Green, Sydnee Michaels, Pernilla Lindberg and Mariajo Uribe.

Lopez had a hole-in-one on the par-3 fifth hole with a 7-iron.

''I hit a 170-yard shot perfect and it just landed like three paces on and jumped and it just landed just right, right into the cup,'' Lopez said. ''It was just an amazing moment.''

She's a senior at the University of Arkansas and was second this year in the NCAA tournament.

''I'm just trying to enjoy the moment,'' Lopez said. ''It's amazing playing with the top 30 in the world at my home course with my family and the people around me.''

Fourth-ranked Lexi Thompson, the 2013 winner in Guadalajara, had a 73. The winner last month in South Korea for her second victory of the year, Thompson had six birdies, five bogeys and a double bogey.

Defending champion Christina Kim also had a 73.

Top-ranked Lydia Ko is skipping the tournament to rest for her title defense next week in the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla.

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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).

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 phoned 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. 

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.