Two albatrosses, eight co-leaders at Senior Open

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2015, 7:43 pm

SUNNINGDALE, England – Two albatross twos were recorded on the same hole on a memorable opening day at the Senior Open Championship, where defending champion Bernhard Langer finished in an eight-way tie for the lead at 5-under-par 65 on Thursday.

Langer tops the leaderboard alongside Michael Allen, Bart Bryant, Marco Dawson, Jeff Sluman and Lee Janzen, Miguel Angel Jimenez, and Lianwei Zhang, playing in only his third senior tournament after turning 50 in May.

The albatrosses at the opening hole, a first time in senior tour history, were by Barry Lane and Steve Jones.

Lane holed his 4-iron second from 218 yards on the 492-yard par-5 and, a couple of hours later, Jones did the same with a 6-iron from 179 yards.

Langer birdied the first, dropped a shot at the sixth, but birdied eight and nine to be out in 33, before picking up further birdies at 11, 14 and 16 to be back in 32.

''I didn't feel totally comfortable with my swing, but my putting was very good and I didn't make any major mistakes,'' said Langer, the winner a year ago by a massive 13 strokes at Royal Porthcawl in south Wales.

Bryant, out in the fourth group at 7:30 a.m., was the first man to post 65, picking up six birdies and dropping just one shot.

Full-field scores for the Senior Open Championship

''The course was probably in the most scorable condition it will be all week,'' Bryant said. ''We had no wind through the first 13 or 14 holes, and the greens were soft.''

Sluman was next in with a 65. He started with an eagle and two birdies to go 4 under after three, but had two bogeys before getting to 5 under with three more birdies.

Jimenez, who played with Langer, birdied only once, on the ninth, before the turn, then came back in 31 with birdies at 10, 11, 14 and 16.

Dawson birdied three of the first four holes, then at 12, 13, and 14 to go 6 under. He dropped a shot at the 16th.

Allen got his round going with a first-up eagle, while Janzen, despite sharing the lead, was disappointed with his putting.

''I missed more than half from four to 10 feet,'' he said.

Lianwei also eagled the first, and was out in 29. He dropped two strokes at the 12th when he found trouble off the tee, then birdied the 14th, and parred home to be back in 36.

Mark Mouland led the home charge on 66 alongside Brian Henninger and Cesar Monasterio, while Colin Montgomerie was in a group of eight on 67 with playing partner Tom Watson.

Fred Couples, the 2012 champ, was in another large group on 68, while Jeff Maggert, twice a major winner on the senior tour this year, managed only a 1-one 71.

Getty Images

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.  

Getty Images

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.” 

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.