Tom Watson Hale Irwin among field in Walmart First Tee

By Associated PressSeptember 3, 2009, 4:00 pm
Champions TourPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Tom Watson, the British Open runner-up, Hale Irwin, the all-time Champions Tour money leader, and defending champion Jeff Sluman are among the pro field of 78 competing beginning Friday in the Walmart First Tee Open.

The 54-hole tournament, the only Champions Tour event played on two courses, will be held at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Del Monte Golf Course.

The sixth-annual event is also unique because each pro is paired with a junior player (ages 14-18) selected from regional chapters of the national First Tee program.

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Player: Tom Watson
  • Player: Hale Irwin
  • Player: Jeff Sluman
  • Event: Wal-Mart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach
  • Tour: Champions Tour

“At first, they (the juniors) are intimidated, afraid to show their personality,” said Sluman, who shot a final-round 67 last year en route to a 14-under 202 total and a victory in the event.

A six-time PGA Tour winner, Sluman has five top-10 finishes in 18 events, including second at the Legends of Golf in April. But Sluman, who’s 15th on the Champions Tour money list, hasn’t won this season.

Sluman is expected to play with comedian-actor Bill Murray, with fellow comedian-actor George Lopez also in the 156-player amateur field.

The pro field will include all former tournament winners as well as Jay Haas, Tom Kite, Nick Price, Gary Player, Fuzzy Zoeller and first-time entrants Tom Lehman and Greg Norman.

Watson finished tied for 30th last year in the First Tee Open.

“It’s not just about playing the game,” said Watson, an eight-time major tournament champion. “It’s about character. That’s the most important part of it.”

The field will alternate courses during the two rounds, with the final round Sunday at Pebble Beach including all pros, the top 22 juniors and top 10 amateurs teams advancing.

The pro winner will earn $315,000 of the $2.1 million purse.

Bernard Langer, who has four victories this season and leads the Champions Tour money list with $1,776,386 in 16 events, is not entered.


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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.