Villegas leads as Rollins rises with 64

By Associated PressFebruary 6, 2009, 5:00 pm
2006 Buick InvitationalSAN DIEGO ' Camilo Villegas accomplished his goal Friday in the Buick Invitational, keeping it around par and keeping the lead while playing the tough South Course in all the elements a golfer dreads, from the rain to the wind to the cold.
 
John Rollins was one shot behind, and achieved more than anyone imagined.
 
On a tough day for scoring, Rollins holed out a 9-iron for eagle and made six birdies on his way to an 8-under 64 that at least gave Villegas some company heading into the weekend.
 
Villegas teed off in a steady rain, and when he reached the exposed holes along the Pacific bluffs, more rain arrived equipped with gusts up to 25 mph that made the San Diego weather feel more like Sun Valley. But he scrambled for pars, took advantage of a few par 5s and wound up with a 70 that put him at 11-under 133.
 
I looked at my caddie walking down the 10th fairway ' it was just pouring ' and I told him, Listen, lets find a way to keep it around par and maybe get it in the red numbers, Villegas said. I scrambled pretty good and 2 under, Im happy with it.
 
Villegas was among the early starters, and his solid round looked like this Buick Invitational might turn into a runaway. That changed when Rollins played the front nine (he started on No. 10) in 31.
 
When I saw he was at 11 (under), I was just trying to get in position to be in the last couple of groups, just staying in the mix, Rollins said. It just so happened things started going in.
 
He caught Villegas at 11 under with a birdie on the par-3 eighth and had a chance to match the South Course record since 2002 ' when Rees Jones first began to lengthen the course for the U.S. Open ' until a bogey on the par-5 ninth.
 
It wasnt his best round on Tour, but it felt like it.
 
Charley Hoffman, who grew up in San Diego and is coming off a playoff loss last week at the FBR Open, shot a 66 on the easier North Course and was at 7-under 137. The group at 138 included Paul Goydos, who wasnt planning to play the Buick Invitational.
 
Goydos learned two weeks ago that his ex-wife had died, and he said he would take a break from the PGA Tour to be with his two daughters, for whom he had full custody. He said he did not want to talk about his family yet, preferring to answer questions only about his golf and his chances on the weekend.
 
Im not overly excited about playing long ball with Camilo on the South Course the next two days. Theres really not much advantage for me there, he said. But Im just happy to be playing well, and happy to be playing on the weekend.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard ' Buick Invitational
  • Full Coverage ' Buick Invitational
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • 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.