English leads as Mickelson heads home after MC

By Doug FergusonFebruary 7, 2015, 12:12 am

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods is gone from Torrey Pines, and Phil Mickelson joined him Friday by missing the cut.

In a tournament that quickly lost a big chunk of its star power, Harris English played another bogey-free round for a 6-under 66 on the North Course to build a two-shot lead Friday in the Farmers Insurance Open.

Mickelson, who worked hard to get into shape in the offseason and was as optimistic as ever, was done in by his short game. The best he could managed was a 72 on the North Course, and he missed the cut by two shots. It was the first time since 2002 that Mickelson missed the cut in back-to-back weeks on the PGA Tour.

Woods withdrew after 11 holes Thursday, citing tightness in his lower back. For the first time, Woods and Mickelson failed to make the cut in the same tournament in consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour.

''My putting is beyond pathetic,'' Mickelson said. ''And if I can't get back to the levels of 2013, I'm not sure what I'm going to do. Because this is very frustrating.''

Mickelson is not playing the last two weeks of the West Coast Swing because his kids are on spring break.

He was in good company leaving early.


Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, videos and photos


Justin Rose, at No. 5 the highest-ranked player at Torrey Pines, also shot 70 on the North and missed the cut. So did Hideki Matsuyama, who three-putted for par on the closing hole on the South Course to miss by one shot; Jordan Spieth, who needed an eagle on the 18th on the South to make the cut and hit it in the water; and Dustin Johnson, playing for the first time since a six-month break to get professional help for ''personal challenges.''

''The last two days, I think normally I probably would be at least 5 or 6 under right now instead of even par,'' Johnson said. ''But I'm happy with where it's at. Just a little rusty, that's all.''

Even those who are still around had a tough time, particularly Phoenix Open winner Brooks Koepka.

He reached the par-5 18th in two on the South Course and a two-putt birdie would have put him three shots out of the lead. Koepka missed his 6-foot birdie attempt, and then missed a pair of 2 1/2-foot putts and wound up five-putting for double bogey. That gave him a 74 and he was six shots behind.

English was at 10-under 134, two shots ahead of Nick Watney (65), Jhonattan Vegas (69) and Martin Laird, who had another 68. Laird was tied for the lead with two holes to play in Phoenix last week until a bogey-double bogey finish.

Most pleasing to English was a clean card going into the weekend. He was on the ropes early on Thursday he chipped through the green on the par-3 11th hole on the South and was facing certain bogey. But he chipped in for par, and he has only had a few close calls with bogey ever since.

English kept it simple on the North by making three birdies on the par 5s. He two-putted twice, got up-and-down with a simple chip on the ninth hole and was poised to add another birdie on the par-5 18th until his 6-iron went long and into a tough lie. He chipped to 20 feet and two-putted for par.

Even so, it was another solid start to a tournament this year after going through some choppy play in 2014 that eventually led him to change swing coaches. English tied for third in the Sony Open, well behind a runaway by Jimmy Walker.

''When you start struggling, it's easy to try to find stuff that's wrong with your game, wrong with your swing,'' he said. ''I definitely was more swing-oriented than playing golf. That's not me. That's not how I grew up playing the game. You're standing over shots thinking about swing positions instead of trying to see your ball flight and trying to play golf. That's what I was doing the latter half of the year, it was really frustrating.''

Walker (66), Jason Day (65) and Ian Poulter (71) led a large group at 6-under 138. The cut was at 1-under 143.

Still, nothing summed up the day - the entire week - than when Mickelson finished his round. A stream of fans four-wide stretched for 100 yards on the path toward the exit, dozens of them wearing blue-sleeved shirts that read, ''Team Phil.''

Mickelson tied for 24th in his season debut at the Humana Challenge before missing the cut at Phoenix and Torrey Pines. He said he spent so much time on his long game that he didn't put as much work in on his putting because he didn't feel he needed it.

That's no longer the case.

''It was one of the worst putting performances, and the first few weeks really have been the same way,'' Mickelson said. ''And you simply can't compete at this level putting like that.''

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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).

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 phoned 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. 

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.