Grace on cusp of OWGR top 10 after Heritage win

By Will GrayApril 18, 2016, 12:31 pm

Branden Grace's two-shot victory at the RBC Heritage was his first on the PGA Tour, and it also took the South African to within one spot of his career high in the world rankings.

Grace jumped three spots to No. 11 in the world after donning the tartan jacket. It equals his highest standing outside of a two-week stretch earlier this year when he was ranked No. 10 following his victory at the Qatar Masters.

While Grace made the most notable jump near the top of the standings, plenty of other players parlayed a big weekend into a rise in the Official World Golf Ranking. That list was headlined by former world No. 1 Luke Donald, who had fallen to No. 95 in the world last week. After a T-2 finish at Harbour Town, though, the Englishman is back up to No. 68.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


Bryson DeChambeau made the most of his pro debut, finishing T-4 in Hilton Head after leading the field for the week in strokes gained tee-to-green. He jumped 144 spots to No. 205, just behind former major champs Ernie Els and Stewart Cink. Russell Knox also made a move this week, as his T-2 finish at Harbour Town helped him move up 11 spots to No. 29 in the world and within two spots of his career best.

Andrew "Beef" Johnston's victory amid difficult conditions at the Open de Espana brought with it an OWGR reward, as the Englishman surged 108 spots to No. 125 in the latest rankings. Runner-up Joost Luiten rose 18 spots to No. 64, while Sergio Garcia's third-place finish in his national Open moved him up one spot to No. 15.

There was no change among the OWGR top 10, as Jason Day maintained his lead over Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler. The second half of the top 10 includes Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson, Danny Willett and Justin Rose.

Out since August with a back injury, Tiger Woods fell 11 more spots to No. 486 in the world.

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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.