Horschel tops Day in deflating Nelson playoff

By Nick MentaMay 21, 2017, 11:17 pm

Billy Horschel made par on the first extra hole Sunday to defeat Jason Day in a playoff and win the AT&T Byron Nelson. Here’s what went down in Las Colinas’ sendoff:

Leaderboard: Horschel (-12), Day (-12), James Hahn (-11), Jason Kokrak (-10), Danny Lee (-8), Sean O’Hair (-8), Ben An (-8), Bud Cauley (-8)

What it means: This is Horschel’s fourth PGA Tour win and his first since taking the Tour Championship and the FedExCup at East Lake in 2014. One back to start the day, Horschel carded five birdies against four bogeys for a 1-under 69 and a 72-hole total of 12-under 268, good enough for a playoff after he and Day both missed birdie putts on the final hole of regulation. On the first extra hole, Horschel left his birdie putt inches short and appeared headed for more free golf before Day pulled his 4-footer for par, handing Horschel the trophy. With the win, Horschel improves to 1-1 in PGA Tour playoffs after losing out on a five-way, Monday morning showdown at the RSM Classic earlier this season. Horschel, who did not compete in this year’s Masters, is now qualified for the U.S. Open (OWGR top 60), The Open (OWGR top 50), and the PGA Championship.

Best of the rest: Two back to the start the day, Day made three birdies against a lone bogey for a round of 2-under 68 and a spot in the playoff. After failing to find the fairway with an iron off the tee on the first playoff hole, he played to the safe side of the green with his approach, leaving himself 50 feet for birdie. The 10-time PGA Tour champion ran his first putt by the hole and then missed the comebacker for the halve, going down in defeat. Day now drops to 1-1 in PGA Tour playoffs, having previously won a four-way playoff at Torrey Pines in 2015 for what was at the time only his third Tour win. The former world No. 1’s winless drought, dating back to last year’s Players Championship, continues.

Round of the day: Canada’s Nick Taylor birdied his first two holes and added three more of his back nine for a bogey-free 5-under 65. Taylor played the weekend at Las Colinas 9 under, securing him a tie for ninth and his second consecutive top-10 finish after a T-8 at the Wells Fargo.

Biggest disappointment: The 54-hole leader, Hahn got off to a sluggish start with a bogey at the second hole and eight other pars to go out in 1 over. He appeared to mounting a charge with back-to-back birdies at 10 and 11 but submarined his chances with three consecutive bogeys at 12, 13 and 14. Two back in the final fairway, Hahn lipped out an approach from 122 yards that, had it dropped for eagle, would have gotten him into the playoff.

Shots of the day: Two of them – one for better and one for worse. First, Horschel’s 60-footer for birdie at the 14th:

And, in finale, Day’s missed par putt in the playoff:

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.