UBS Warburg Matches Are Intriguing

By George WhiteOctober 17, 2001, 4:00 pm
Intriguing is the word which best describes the competition in the UBS Warburg Cup. Intriguing because the format, all over-40 players, has never been tried before; and intriguing because of the possible match-ups for captains Arnold Palmer of the United States and Gary Player for the Internationals.
 
First, in the seniors matches, the U.S. has the edge in major championships won. But that isnt really meaningful when players like Allen Doyle, Bruce Fleisher and Jim Thorpe -none of whom are on the American team ' have been so successful. Who knows how effective Jack Nicklaus will still be? Raymond Floyd? Palmer? Floyd, though, would have won at the TransAmerica at age 59 were it not for some late heroics by Sammy Rachels.
 
Two of the over-50s from the International team will come from the top of the European Senior Tour. They have current experience. So does Stewart Ginn, also widely unrecognized inside the U.S. Jose Maria Canizares and Isao Aoki are solid players, if no longer the stalwarts they once were.
 
America has Hale Irwin, Larry Nelson and Tom Watson, still genuine superstars. Irwin is better than any of the Internationals. Nelson has the potential to be, and so does Watson, if he is putting like he once did.
 
The 12 players who are ages 40-49 (six on each side) also appear to be just about even. Ryder Cup players Scott Hoch and Mark Calcavecchia are the anchors of the U.S. squad. Hoch has won twice on the PGA Tour this year, although he is still recovering from a wrist ailment. Calcavecchia set a Tour record at Phoenix with a score of 28 under-par, even though his recent record has been spotty.
 
Countering those two will be Internationals Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam. European Ryder Cupper Langer is high on both the U.S. and Europe in money won and has won twice in Europe. Woosnam very nearly won the British Open, where he received a two-shot penalty for having an extra driver in his golf bag. He broke through with a victory in the Cisco World Match Play Championship, nosing out Padraig Harrington in the final match.
 
Mark OMeara and Ryder Cup captain Curtis Strange are struggling a bit playing against the younger set in America, as are Internationals Nick Faldo and Frank Nobilo and European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance. Loren Roberts and John Cook of the U.S. have occasionally had success. Cook recently won the Reno-Tahoe Open.
 
Who will win? Thats a good question. It should be close. One big factor is that the majority of the International players have homes in the U.S., which is a big plus. The inaugural UBS Warburg Cup is certainly an idea whose time has come, matching the older generation.
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.