Wiebes Woes Make Leonard a Winner

By George WhiteMay 30, 2003, 4:00 pm
It was, perhaps, the biggest blow-up in anyones memory. Mark Wiebe was cruising, playing the 71st hole of the 1997 Kemper Open. Just a short putt on 17, then par in on No. 18, and the tournament would be over.
Justin Leonard had signed his scorecard and was about to clean out his locker and leave the course. But oh, what a startling series of developments was about to occur.
Wiebe was five strokes clear of Leonard when Sunday had begun. But suddenly, he was lipping out a two-foot putt, making bogey on the 17th.
Someone told Leonard and he suddenly begin fishing around the locker for a sleeve of balls. It looked like a playoff was going to ensue. What Leonard didnt know was that Wiebe had been having a terrible time with his putter of late, three-putting three of the last 10 holes, all of the misses coming from inside five feet.
Now to 18, where Wiebe hit a perfect drive, then caught a 9-iron solidly. By the time Leonard could get back to the course with the new ammo, Wiebe was on the green in two, only 20 feet above the hole.
But wait! Wiebes first putt was off-line from the get-go. Id been overplaying the break all week, he said. I wish I had overplayed that one because it broke twice as much as I thought.
Still, it wasnt a bad leave, only three feet away. Wiebe lined it up while Leonard waited to go to the first playoff hole. Then ' Wiebe missed! Leonard had won!
Im speechless. I dont know what to say, said Wiebe, who had now three-putted four times in the last 11 holes.
I didnt know which side my ball lipped out on (at the 17th hole), he said. I must have had my head down all the way.
Wiebe hadnt won since the Hardees Golf Classic 11 years in 1986. This could have been his special week, but it was not to be.
Leonard, on the other, would go on to win the British Open that summer, as well as four others for a total of seven.
Im not going to put an asterisk next to this tournament because of what happened on the last hole, he said. I went out there five strokes behind ' and won the golf tournament.
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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.