Thompson co-leads Texas through 54 holes

By Associated PressMay 2, 2015, 9:29 pm

IRVING, Texas - Long-hitting Lexi Thompson was going for the green in two with her approach on the 18th hole. She got there with a fortunate ricochet, and grabbed a share of the lead in the LPGA's North Texas Shootout.

Thompson hit a screamer well left of the green on the closing par 5 in the third round Saturday. The ball struck the front facing of a grandstand and ricocheted onto the green, skimming just over the top of a bunker.

"I wouldn't say I was trying to nail that grandstand," Thompson said with a chuckle after the long two-putt birdie to close a round of 3-under 68.

Thompson shared the lead at 9-under 204 with 2013 North Texas winner Inbee Park, who finished a round of 69 with a more conventional birdie at No. 18. Park hit her third-shot approach inside a foot.

"It's always good momentum going into tomorrow when you finish with a birdie, and obviously all day today I hit good shots, but inside 10 feet it wasn't going in," Park said. "I had to hit it closer."

Brooke Henderson, the 17-year-old Canadian who had the second-round lead, shot an even-par 71 to drop into a tie for third at 8 under with 40-year-old Karrie Webb (64) and Fort Worth resident Angela Stanford (67).

"Playing rounds like that is fun. I would have told you on Thursday that I wasn't a big fan of golf at the time," Webb said, referring to her opening 2-over 73. "Now two days later, everything feels good."

Webb was the youngest player on the LPGA Tour when as a 21-year-old rookie in 1996 she won four times and was the first player to win $1 million in a season. Now the Australian with 41 career wins is competing with players even younger than that with a focus on being part of the Olympics when golf returns next year in Brazil.

"I think that's really keeping me out here, keeping me working hard," she said. "That's something at the start of my career I never envisioned, being part of the Olympics."

The 20-year-old Thompson, who turned pro five years ago, was about 220 yards out at the 518-yard 18th when she crushed a 3-wood.

Without the assist from the stands, she might have been set up for only her second bogey of the day - or even worse. She burst out laughing in the fairway after watching what happened with her ball.

"It was kind of pushing my hybrid to carry over on the right," Thompson said. "I was just trying to cut a 3-wood, and it was really solid. I'm just happy it hit that grandstand and not somebody else out there."

Cristie Kerr, who missed a short birdie try on her final hole, shot 69 and was tied for sixth with Hee Young Park (70) at 7 under.

Defending champion Stacy Lewis had a 66 to move into a tie for eighth place at 5 under, after starting the weekend even and tied for 47th. Lewis and 54-year-old Juli Inkster (73) were in a group of eight players five strokes off the lead.

"It's awesome, everybody knows Karrie has so much game still. It's ridiculous how talented she is," Thompson said. "Juli Inkster is in the mix, too, which is awesome to see. Fans love that. It's all ages, and it's great to see in golf."

Lydia Ko, the 18-year-old from New Zealand who is the No. 1 player in the world and won in California last week, shot a 70 to get even for the week. She had to make three birdies over her last eight holes Friday just to avoid missing the cut for the first time in her 51 career starts.

Just like Friday, Ko was right on the number for the secondary cut, among the 51 players advancing to the final round at even or better. When the initial cut was made at 1 over after the second round, 70 of the original 144-player field made it.

"Really, I think over the last two days, I'm realizing that one shot, one little putt, can make a huge difference," said Ko, who will keep her No. 1 ranking after this week. "Luckily I'm playing four days, and after the first day, you know, I didn't know if I was going to play through."

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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.