Tiger Woods

By Brian HewittJanuary 1, 2012, 5:30 am
Phil Mickelson flashes across golfs sky once again like a meteor. And we pay strict attention.
 
But Mickelson is not the story of the day in his sport.
 
Lefty conducts a four-day clinic at the BellSouth in Atlanta: Off the charts statistics; 28 under par; 28th PGA Tour victory; and two drivers in the bag simultaneously, an equipment choice he promises to continue at this weeks Masters in Augusta.
 
And the ladies in the California desert upstage him.
 
Karrie Webb returns from a forgotten place and holes a wedge that disappears into the 72d hole from more than a 100 yards away moments after we hear her caddie, in a half whisper, pray for it to be the right club today.
 
Then Michelle Wie, Lorena Ochoa and Natalie Gulbis'playing in the same group, stir us with their attempts to join Webb in a playoff at the LPGAs first major of the year.
 
Wie, 16, and Gulbis, 23, both fall one shot short. Both are still looking for their first LPGA victory. We will be watching closely. How can we not?
 
Ochoa, 24, stripes a 5-wood from 223 yards away that stops 12 feet from the hole. She drains the eagle putt and instantly exorcises the demons that invaded her psyche last year, most notably at the U.S. Womenss Open.
 
Webb birdies the first playoff hole and makes us wonder where she had been. She had been written off by harsher critics. She is only 53 weeks older than Tiger Woods. And isnt his career just coming into full flower?
 
To be sure, whats coming into full flower, in case you hadnt noticed, is the bud that is womens golf. Annika Sorenstam, the best female player in the world, wasnt a factor Sunday in California and the Kraft Nabisco still gave us high drama, high quality golf and high network visibility.
 
We even got yet another great call from CBS announcer Verne Lundquist, who, it seems, manages to be on the mike whenever anything great happens in golf. How Do You Do, he shouted at precisely the right volume at precisely the right time after Webbs eagle wedge found the hole.
 
How do you do?
 
The LPGA does quite nicely for itself these days, thank you very much.
 
Even better for womens golf, their Sunday-beautiful-Sunday came the week after the men commanded golfs theater at The Players Championship and the week before the men demanded that same theater at this weeks Masters. It came in between the two biggest days of the year in college basketball. It was serendipitous.
 
And already there is a buzz in anticipation of the McDonalds LPGA in June followed, weeks later, by the U.S. Womens Open.
 
Will it be Wies time? Is all that quality range time Gulbis has been spending with Butch Harmon about to pay off in spades? Will Annika come roaring back? How much will all of this push Paula Creamer? Can Webb win another major (shes only two behind Sorenstam now with seven)?
 
These are just a few of the questions we are now asking about womens golf.
 
It wasnt all that long ago we were asking what was wrong with the LPGA.
 
Karrie Webb won the tournament Sunday in California.
 
Womens golf won the day.
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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.