After Further Review: Was it worth it, Jordan?

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 1, 2016, 12:53 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Jordan Spieth's trip to Singapore ...

The question we’d love to ask Jordan Spieth right now: Was it worth it? 

The kid is incredible, and he turns in a strong performance seemingly every week, but his trip to Singapore – for an Asian Tour event with a $1 million purse – turned into a headache. The heat and humidity were brutal, multiple delays led to early mornings and long days, and he wasn’t able to finish Sunday, the horn sounding before he could brush in his 5-footer on the last hole. Sure, it was just one more day, but last week Spieth said he was fatigued and now this means less time that he can recover at home before his busy early-season stretch continues with trips to Monterey, L.A., Miami, Tampa, Austin and Houston.

If there is a silver lining in his runner-up showing, it is this: At least he doesn’t have to defend next year. – Ryan Lavner  

On Stacy Lewis' runner-up penchant ...

Stacy Lewis remains on one of the most extraordinary runs in golf today. Whether it’s extraordinarily maddening is something only she really knows, because she has played a lot of good golf for the last 18 months with no trophies to show for it.

With another near miss Sunday at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic, Lewis recorded her ninth second-place finish since her last victory in June 2014. If Lewis had never won before, there would be questions about her ability to close, but she has won 11 career titles, two of them majors.

Her effort closing out her victory in the Women’s British Open at St. Andrews was historically clutch, with her Sunday birdie at the Road Hole coming after one of the best shots under pressure you’ll ever see.

You can’t reasonably question Lewis’ heart with what she has already proven in the game. But you can wonder how she’s wrapping her head around all these second-place finishes, because it has to feel like purgatory to a proud champion wanting to hoist a trophy. - Randall Mell

On 'the best player without a major' ...

Rickie Fowler may be the consensus best player without a major, an argument bolstered by his victory last week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, but Branden Grace deserves a seat at that dubious table after another solid week.

Grace won the Qatar Masters on Sunday by two strokes for his seventh victory on the European Tour and his sixth consecutive top-10 finish.

The South African already established himself as a Grand Slam contender with his tie for fourth at last year’s U.S. Open and a third-place finish at the PGA Championship, but his play the last two months establishes him, alongside Fowler, as the best player without a major. - Rex Hoggard

On Dustin Johnson's tumble down the leaderboard ...

It may have gotten swept away in the winds and rain Sunday at Torrey Pines, but Dustin Johnson added to his recent stockpile of weekend scar tissue.

Johnson remains one of the most accomplished winners on Tour, but since he walked off the 72nd green at Chambers Bay, things have not quite been the same for him coming down the stretch. Much was written about his Open Championship collapse, when he faded from the lead with weekend rounds of 75-75 at St. Andrews. Less was written weeks later when he backpedaled with rounds of 75-76 at Firestone.

This time, DJ entered the weekend within a shot of the lead at the Farmers Insurance Open on a burly course that seems ideally suited for his game. But he dropped back with a third-round 74, then bogeyed nine of his first 12 holes Sunday amid terrible conditions.

This particular high score was somewhat understandable given the weather, but it underscores a troubling trend for Johnson as he continues to look for his first win since letting the U.S. Open sliip away. - Will Gray

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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.