Romero Still Leads Price Haas Close

By Associated PressMay 25, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 Senior PGA ChampionshipKIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- Eduardo Romero took the sting out of The Ocean Course for a second straight day, grabbing a two-stroke lead at the Senior PGA Championship.
 
Romero, the first-round leader after a 4-under 68 in strong wind, shot a 70 in calmer conditions Friday to move to 6 under.
 
And the Argentine star has dealt with few of the problems many others in the 50-and-over field have had over Pete Dye's seaside layout.
 
Maybe it was Romero's caution and concern that kept him trouble free so far.
 
'I told my caddie, 'We have to be very careful because double bogey and triple bogey are waiting for us,'' Romero said.
 
Instead, Romero used some big, accurate drives -- he said his tee shot went about 380 yards on the par-5 seventh -- to keep out front.
 
Naomichi 'Joe' Ozaki (71) remained second at 4 under. Nick Price, who won PGA Championships in 1992 and 1994, was next at 3 under after a 70.
 
But it was Romero's unwavering steadiness that led the way. He birdied two of his first three holes to extend his lead. When he slipped with bogeys on the back nine's two difficult par threes, Nos. 14 and 17, he quickly regained his form.
 
Romero's final birdie came at No. 7, giving last year's Champions Tour rookie of the year his cushion over the field.
 
'I cross my fingers for the conditions to remain like this,' Romero said, grinning.
 
The howling Atlantic wind Romero savors wasn't nearly as bothersome Friday with gusts falling off to 10 to 15 mph -- about half their first-round strength.
 
'I hesitate to say it was easier than yesterday, but the wind certainly was down,' said defending champion Jay Haas, five shots behind Romero.
 
Still, there were other obstacles. The biggest was the par-3 17th, a treacherous hole that sliced up competitors during the 1991 Ryder Cup -- and maintained its ferocious reputation Thursday and Friday.
 
The horror stories rivaled anything from 16 years earlier.
 
Ben Crenshaw stepped the tee a shot off the lead and left with a triple-bogey 6. He hit into a bunker left of the green, then chipped into the water when with his approach.
 
'There's no sand in that bunker,' said Fuzzy Zoeller, who played with Crenshaw. 'That's harder than the ... road we drove in on.'
 
David Ishii made par there the first round, but on Friday put three balls in the water on the way to a 10.
 
Tateo 'Jet' Ozaki's early run up the leaderboard was stopped cold by a triple on No. 5. Denis Watson was a shot from the lead before his double-bogey 5.
 
Haas' only back-nine bogey came at, you guessed it, No. 17.
 
There's not much for organizers to do. The hole, originally listed at 197 yards, was shortened to 178 for the opening round. On Friday, it was shrunk even more to 164 -- a simple wedge for some players.
 
Just like the opening round, officials used several forward tee placements that took about 180 yards off the scorecard yardage of 7,201.
 
Crenshaw said players had their hands full figuring out Dye's magnificent, maddening design. 'This was meant to be a punishing golf course,' Crenshaw said. 'And Pete Dye attempted (it) and brought it off.'
 
Irwin, part of the winning U.S. Ryder Cup team here 16 years ago, followed his opening 78 with a nifty 70. But afterward said, 'I'm still wondering what's going on.'
 
Zoeller, not out of it at 1 over, might have summed it up best: 'I'm going to have a vodka tonic.'
 
DIVOTS
Talk about a birthday present. D.A. Weibring, who turned 54 Friday, shot a 2-under 70, 10 strokes better than his opening round score. ... Haas is attempting to become the event's first repeat winner since Irwin won three straight from 1996-98. ... It looked as if Mike Reid would have to tee off by himself. Both his partners, John Mahaffey and Bill Rogers, withdrew during the first round. Officials paired Reid, a former Senior PGA winner, with California pro Ric Burgess on Friday. ... Ishii's 10 wasn't the only double-digit performance. Reed Hughes had a 10 on the par-5 16th.
 
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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.