Romero almost perfect

By Brian HewittAugust 9, 2008, 4:00 pm
Follow the 90th PGA Championship all week on GOLF CHANNEL. Click for our TV schedule!
 
2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' There is the tee shot at the 12th hole at Augusta National on Masters Sunday in a capricious wind. There is the tee shot at the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass in a howling wind. There is the chip from behind the green at the 18th hole on a firm fast day at Interlachen Country Club near Minneapolis.
 
These are just three of the more notorious pucker-up shots in championship golf ' shots that make the inside of your mouth feel like youve been sucking on a lemon.
 
This, in a roundabout way, brings us to an explosive 27-year-old Argentine named Andres Romero.
 
When I ran into Pat Croswell, the director of golf at Oakland Hills, Saturday morning, I asked him if there was a pucker-up shot on his golf course.
 
Croswell didnt hesitate. The second shot at 16, he said. Especially when the wind blows like it was Friday and is today.
 
Friday at Oakland Hills in the second round of the 90th PGA Championship Andres Romero made a quadruple bogey 8 at the 406-yard 16th when he hit two balls in the water that jealously and zealously guards the front and right sides of the green.
 
If Romero had made par there Friday, he would be leading the championship right now. And thats because he followed a second round 78 with a blistering Saturday 65 at Oakland Hills that he signed for before the rains came and shut everything down for the rest of the day.
 
More on the 65, which matched the competitive course record at Oakland Hills, shortly.
 
First, here are Romeros words, through an interpreter, on the snowman at 16 Friday: I played a great first shot, then a perfect 9-iron from 140 yards. It bounced in the front of the green, but like the wind blows just in the moment and it went down to the water.
 
Then again I had tried to make a good shot, but again a lot of backspin, again to the water. And after that I got mad and I played very disconcentrated, not very concentrated the whole rest of the round.
 
Romero had opened with a highly-respectable Thursday 69. But the quad at 16, his seventh hole of the day, sent him reeling. For a while, he said, I was fighting for the lead of the tournament. Then I was just trying to make the cut.
 
Romero first burst onto the international golf scene at the 2007 Open Championship staged at dreaded Carnoustie in Scotland. On Sunday Romero lit the place up with 10 birdies and missed the Padraig Harrington-Sergio Garcia playoff by a shot only because he finished double bogey, bogey.
 
It was a wild final round ride for Romero. It included just four pars, the last of which came on the seventh hole. But when it was over, Romeros talent was no longer a secret.
 
He went on to win the Deutsche Bank Players Championship of Europe soon thereafter and saw his world ranking rocket from 129 to 14 in two short weeks. Earlier this year, he captured the Zurich Classic in New Orleans for his first win in the U.S.
 
And now he finds himself sitting pretty in another major. I have a chance tomorrow and, well, I have to wait, he said. But its great to be here.
 
Especially great because he only has 18 holes left. J.B. Holmes, the 36-hole leader at Oakland Hills, hadnt even teed off before weather prevented the championship from resuming Saturday.
 
Romeros Saturday round included two bogeys and seven birdies, the sweetest of which had to be at 16. This time he didnt pucker up. Instead, he drilled an 8-iron to six feet and converted the birdie.
 
So suddenly Romero finds himself in fast company. Previously, eight other players, including Jack Nicklaus, Chi Chi Rodriguez and Tom Lehman shared the competitive course record.
 
To be sure, Romero is 2-over and still three shots back of Holmes. But, to repeat, he has one more completed round under his golfing belt. And at Oakland Hills this week thats hard currency.
 
Plus, with the exception of one hole Friday, he appears to have solved Oakland Hills, to the extent that the monster can be solved. Its difficult to know the strategy, former PGA champion Paul Azinger explained. I dont know if its to bomb it as far as you can or get it in the fairway. I dont know.
 
Andres Romero, right now, does appear to know. I played an excellent round, Romero said afterward. Almost perfect.
 
And never once did he look like he a man who had just gargled lemon juice.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - PGA Championship
  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
  • 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.