Spieth the center of attention at Heritage

By Associated PressApril 16, 2014, 8:44 pm

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. - Get ready, Augusta National. Jordan Spieth can't wait for another chance at that green jacket.

The 20-year-old is in the field at the RBC Heritage that starts Thursday at Harbour Town Golf Links. He gave no thought to withdrawing after the grind of the Masters, instead feeling energized by his runner-up finish to Bubba Watson.

''It definitely left me hungry and ready to play golf again,'' he said. ''And ready to eventually get back there again, which is, I think, the only way to kind of redeem myself.''

In the fans' view during his pro-am round Wednesday, no redemption was necessary. Spieth was repeatedly stopped by spectators, players, caddies and others, who patted him on the back or shook his hand.

Spieth's caddie, Michael Greller, told him, ''Man, I've never seen somebody get so many congratulations for losing.''

''And he's right,'' Spieth said.


RBC Heritage: Articles, photos and videos

Photos: Jordan Spieth through the years


Spieth rose to No. 9 in the world this week, the youngest American to make the top 10, and he plans for another big week at Harbour Town. He tied for ninth here a year ago, his first time playing the treacherously tight Pete Dye layout. This time, he's got a bit of a job audition, too, paired the next two days with past and present U.S. Ryder Cup captains in Davis Love III and Tom Watson.

''A huge goal of mine has always been, my whole life, to make a Ryder Cup team,'' Spieth said. ''So playing with the captain, I'm sure there will be some extra nerves there trying to impress him.''

Watson's already impressed. He says Spieth showed poise and passion in the final pairing Sunday, qualities the captain covets as he prepares an American team for the Ryder Cup matches at Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland this September.

''He's very mature and he has a good sense of who he is,'' Watson said. ''I like that about him.''

Bubba Watson is taking this week off, something every Masters champion has done since Zach Johnson followed a victory at Augusta National in 2007 by playing here a few days later.

Seven of the world's top 25 players are in the field. Matt Kuchar, who tied for fifth at the Masters, is the top-ranked player at No. 6. Fifth-ranked Jason Day was scheduled to play but withdrew earlier this week with a thumb injury.

Others here include Johnson (12th) and defending champion Graeme McDowell (14th).

Tom Watson is playing Harbour Town for the first time since 2001. This is mostly a fact-finding mission to meet and talk with players who might end up as captain's picks when his selections are revealed after the PGA Championship.

CBS Sports analyst and six-time major champion Nick Faldo is also making a rare PGA Tour appearance, teeing it up at Harbour Town for the first time since 2006. Does he have a TV substitute lined up should he get in contention on the course where he won his first U.S. tournament 30 years ago?

''Well, Jim (Nantz) likes talking,'' Faldo said with a grin.

The likelihood is whoever's in the booth will be talking about Spieth.

He said as he did at Augusta that he expected to contend for the title and wasn't surprised when he held that two-shot lead on Sunday's front nine. He wished he had the water ball back on his tee shot on the par-3 12th, but pledged to use those errors the next time he's in position to strike.

''There's nothing that's haunting me from last week,'' he said. ''I feel like I played really well to not shoot an over-par round on that course and not make more than a bogey for four days the way that course was playing.''

Spieth had an eventful pro-am round, getting hit on the back of the knee by a wayward wedge shot from a member of his group on the 18th hole. He went to the ground, but quickly got up and doesn't expect to feel any effects this week as he counts down to his next time at Augusta.

''I truly believe that I'll be back,'' he said.

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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.