Relaxed Taylor Leads Heritage

By Associated PressApril 13, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Verizon HeritageHILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Feeling less pressure the week after The Masters, Vaughn Taylor fired an 8-under-par 63 on Thursday to take a one-shot lead at the Verizon Heritage.
Playing in front of a home crowd, Taylor missed the cut by one shot at Augusta last week. On Thursday, he peppered the Harbor Town Golf Links with nine birdies during a 13-hole stretch on the way to the third first-round lead of his career.
Ernie Els
Ernie Els is eight back after an even-par 71 in the first round.
'Last week was very nerve wracking...playing in front of the home crowd,' said Taylor, who moved to Augusta as an infant and still lives there. 'I came in this week and it just feels easy. I was really looking forward to The Masters, but I'm glad it's finally over. This week I feel very relaxed.'
Taylor is one shot ahead of Jim Furyk, who opened with a 7-under 64.
Duffy Waldorf, Billy Mayfair and Tom Pernice, Jr. share third place at minus-6. Chris Riley, Brian Gay, Geoff Ogilvy and Aaron Baddeley are all one shot further back in a tie for sixth.
There are 79 players even-par or better after the first round, and 22 are within five shots of the lead.
They are all looking up at Taylor, who began his round on the back nine with five straight pars before collecting four consecutive birdies to make the turn at 4 under.
His first birdie came on a 3-foot putt at the par-5 15th. The next three were all from distances of 15 feet or more, including a 20-footer at the par-4 18th.
Taylor ranked first in putts Thursday, needing only 21 to finish his round.
'It was good to get on a birdie train for a while,' said Taylor, who carded rounds of 75 and 74 at The Masters. 'It was a lot of fun.'
After an errant drive led to a bogey at the par-4 first, Taylor moved back to minus-4 when he made birdie from a bunker at the par-5 second.
It was all pars and birdies for the 30 year old after that, with two of his last four birdies coming on 15-foot putts.
The last time Taylor held a first-round lead he parlayed it into a second straight victory at the Reno-Taho Open. Those two wins stand as his only on the PGA TOUR. He knows he will have to continue shooting low to win here.
'The greens are pretty soft. With no wind, if you're hitting it straight you have a lot of short irons and wedges,' Taylor said. 'You can definitely score if you're hitting the ball well.'
Furyk, after polishing off a bogey-free round, agreed.
'Conditions were good for scoring,' he said.
Two more players who scored well: 50-year-old Loren Roberts, a three-time winner on the Champions Tour this season, fired a 3-under 68; and five-time Heritage winner David Love III, who opened with a 2-under 69.
Defending champion Peter Lonard stumbled to a pair of bogeys on his second nine and ended at even-par 71.
Related Links:
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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.