Tseng, Park top LPGA Founders Cup leaderboard

By Associated PressMarch 16, 2012, 1:37 am

PHOENIX ' Top-ranked Yani Tseng of Taiwan made five birdies and an eagle in a seven-hole stretch on the back nine Thursday to finish with a 7-under 65 and a share of the first-round lead with Hee Young Park in the LPGA Founders Cup.

Tseng birdied the 11th, 13th and 14th holes, eagled the par-5 15th and birdied the 16th and 17th. She had a four-foot try for another birdie on 18 but pulled her putt just left.

I tried too hard on the last hole, Tseng said. I think its harder at the end because you are trying, youre saying, Oh, I have three, I have four. And you want to go five, six, seven, and every hole is harder. Youre just trying harder and harder.

Most of the shots were perfect, the South Korean player said.

Jiyai Shin opened with a 66, and second-ranked Na Yeon Choi was another shot back along with Karen Stupples, Pernilla Lindberg and Hee Kyung Seo in the tours first U.S. event of the year after stops in Australia, Thailand and Singapore.

Tseng successfully defended her LPGA Thailand title in February for her 13th LPGA victory. The Taiwanese star led the tour last season with seven victories'including major victories in the LPGA Championship and Womens British Open'and finished the year with 12 worldwide titles.

Playing in perfect conditions at Wildfire Golf Club, Tseng holed a nine-foot putt on the 485-yard 15th after fading her 219-yard approach with a rescue club to the middle pin placement.

It was a little fade, a little cut there, Tseng said. It was just a little crowd, so I didnt know if my ball was close or not. But I had a good shot, and it was like nine feet and a pretty straight putt.

On the par-4 16th, her short iron shot to the elevated green spun back to eight feet to set up a birdie. She then hit to three feet on the par-3 17th for her final birdie.

I just hit it one shot at a time because I dont even know what hole I am on, Tseng said. I just really focus on one shot at a time, try to hit a good drive, get a good second shot and make good putt.

She played the first 10 holes in even par, countering a bogey on the fourth with a birdie on the par-5 fifth.

First nine, I was missing a few putts, Tseng said. But I kept telling myself, Just be patient.

Park won the season-ending Titleholders last year for her first LPGA victory. She birdied all four par-5 holes Thursday and holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-4 eighth'her 17th hole'to get to 7 under.

I played really good on the fairway, Park said. I hit the fairway and then green. Lucky thing was most putts, birdie putts, were uphill. So, thats why I just hit it aggressive.

Shin birdied three of her final five holes in her bogey-free round.

The weather was perfect this morning, no wind, and the greens were soft, Shin said. I know this course is pretty tough. Desert course is always tough because the bounce, and the rough is pretty tough. I just more focus to the accuracy with my shot.

After winning eight LPGA titles in a three-year stretch, Shin failed to win last season. In a bid to shake things up, she has a new blonde hairdo.

A lot of Asian players play here. Theyre black or dark brown, so I wanted to make like fresh, the straight-hitting South Korean said.

Defending champion Karrie Webb of Australia was in a group at 68 that included Kraft Nabisco winner Stacy Lewis, U.S. Womens Open champion So Yeon Ryu, Cristie Kerr and Ai Miyazato.

Lewis birdied the par-5 fifth'her 14th hole'to top the leaderboard at 6 under late in the morning session but had a double-bogey 6 on No. 8.

Stupples had surgery last week to remove an ovarian cyst and polyps. She withdrew from the pro-am Wednesday and was worried about being able to play Thursday.

I went through the warmup, the English player said. Everything felt great on the warmup and I said, Lets give it a go. So, here we are.

She lost 21 pounds (9.5 kilograms) before the start of the season.

It got to the point last year where I was over in Malaysia and really struggling playing in the hot weather, Stupples said. We play so much overseas and a lot of high temperatures, and I really felt like the weight I was at was holding me back from achieving what I wanted to do.

DIVOTS: The winner will receive $225,000 from the $1.5 million purse. Last year in the inaugural RR Donnelley-sponsored event, the players competed for a mock purse and charity donations. Angela Stanford, coming off a playoff victory Feb. 26 in Singapore in the HSBC Womens Champions, opened with a 75. The tour will be in California the next two weeks for the Kia Classic and Kraft Nabisco.

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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.