After Further Review: Lexi makes a big statement

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2015, 11:55 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on Lexi Thompson's big win in South Korea, Bryson DeChambeau's unfortunate situation and the possibility of a new PGA Tour policy.

Lexi Thompson made quite the statement Sunday beating the best Koreans in the heart of South Korea in front of massive Korean galleries at the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship.

It wasn't a major championship, but it sure felt like it with a star-studded leaderboard and a major atmosphere. Thompson will move to No. 4 in the Rolex world rankings with this victory.

Can she get in the mix for No. 1 next year? With her consistent play over the last three months, she is looking to join Inbee Park, Lydia Ko and Stacy Lewis as one of the best players in the game. There is work to do, but she's doing the work. – Randall Mell


The Bryson DeChambeau situation had a sad but predictable ending. Banned from postseason play because of recruiting violations by his former head coach, the 22-year-old was left with little choice but to withdraw from SMU.

This shouldn't have any impact on his career long term: The reigning NCAA and U.S. Amateur champion will have six full months to prepare for the Masters, after which he is expected to turn pro. Still, this episode was yet another reminder that the NCAA needs a drastic overhaul, that its archaic form of punishment only hurts the group it is supposedly trying to protect, the student-athletes.

Kids getting penalized for the mistakes of adults? Only in college athletics. – Ryan Lavner


Final approval is still far from certain, and the details seem to still be a work in progress, but a PGA Tour proposal that would require players to add an event that they hadn’t played in the last five years is gaining momentum.

Although the Tour has been mulling different ways to increase participation among the game’s top players for years with little success, the new proposal, which will be considered by the policy board in November, has gained momentum in recent months thanks to Tiger Woods’ start at the Wyndham Championship in August and Rory McIlroy’s decision to play this week’s Frys.com Open.

Making the independent contractors do anything has always been difficult, but it’s getting harder not to try. – Rex Hoggard

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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.