Spittle takes lead at Dick's Sporting Goods Open

By Associated PressAugust 30, 2015, 1:33 am

ENDICOTT, N.Y. - For Canadian Rod Spittle, just playing on the Champions Tour at age 60 is old hat that never gets old. Now, he finds himself in a most unusual place - alone in the lead for the first time heading to Sunday.

Spittle shot a 6-under 66 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead over tour newcomer Scott McCarron (64) and John Huston (68) after the second round of the Dick's Sporting Goods Open. Spittle was at 10-under 134.

Huston, the 2011 champion, is trying to become the first two-time winner in the event that started in 2007.

Jeff Maggert (68), Stephen Ames (64), Ian Woosnam (69) and first-round co-leader Paul Goydos (70) were tied for fourth at 8 under, with Corey Pavin (66) and Willie Wood (69) another shot behind.

Spittle, a star at Ohio State in the late 1970s with Joey Sindelar and John Cook, turned pro at age 49 after working as a corporate insurance executive for 25 years. He won the 2010 AT&T Championship, 106 starts ago.

''I was home being a husband and a dad,'' said Spittle, who wanted to watch his three children grow up instead of traveling and living out of a suitcase. ''We've won all of one time out here. It's very fun to have a chance to win. The reason I still play is I think I can win again.''

Spittle, who had a 68 on the opening round, had four birdies and a bogey on the front nine, barely missing a fifth birdie when his putt at the par-3 seventh hole stopped at the lip and didn't drop. He had two more birdies and another bogey over the first five holes on the back side, then vaulted into the lead with an eagle at the par-4 No. 16, his chip from 65 yards bouncing twice on the green before hitting the flag and dropping in the hole.

''Folks started jumping up and down, so we guessed right,'' Spittle said with a chuckle. ''I've played very solid this summer, been very consistent the last five or six weeks. We'll see if we can have some more fun tomorrow.''

Right behind was McCarron, playing just his fourth event on the Champions Tour since turning 50 in July. He made up considerable ground on the leaderboard as he chases his first victory and said playing in the final group with Schwab Cup points leader Colin Montgomerie at the Shaw Charity Classic at Calgary, Alberta in early August did wonders for his game.

''It's been a long time,'' said McCarron, who had three PGA Tour victories, the last at the 2001 BellSouth Classic. ''I learned a lot just being in the final group with Colin on Saturday. When you don't get in tournaments on the PGA Tour, you play once a month, once every two months, and you miss every cut by a shot, that's not a lot of fun.

''Being out here, knowing there's no cut, I'm having fun playing golf again,'' said McCarron, who has overcome surgery for a bone spur and torn ligaments in his left thumb in 2012 and right elbow surgery in 2006. ''I'm healthy, I'm happy and I'm in better shape now than I've ever been.''

Montgomerie is not playing for a second straight week because of commitments in Europe, giving Maggert and Bernhard Langer a chance to take over the top spot. Montgomerie has 2,873 points, Maggert 2,707 and Langer 2,604 in what has become a three-way competition with four more events until the Schwab Cup Championship in November.

Langer, who won here last year, plummeted with three bogeys in the last six holes Saturday to finish with his second straight 71 and at 2 under is likely out of contention for a top-10 finish and a chance to gain in the points race.

Maggert isn't

''I need to be a little more aggressive on the front nine tomorrow, make four or five birdies if I can, and set myself up for a good finish,'' said Maggert, who birdied the three par-5s on the front side but also had a pair of bogeys.

A bogey on his final hole after seven birdies put a frown on Pavin's face. Still, he was just three shots behind and playing well.

''Tomorrow, I've got to go out and probably shoot another score like that to have a chance,'' said the 55-year-old Pavin, who has 15 PGA Tour wins but just one on the senior tour, three years ago. ''We'll just see. I'm in a position where I can make a run, hopefully.''

Just like the opening round, conditions on the narrow, tree-lined 6,974-yard En-Joie Golf Club course were ideal, with partly cloudy skies, temperatures around 80, and just the hint of a breeze.

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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).

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.