McDowell gets back to work after birth of daughter

By Randall MellSeptember 3, 2014, 2:26 am

CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. – Graeme McDowell arrives for the BMW Championship off some sleepless nights.

No, he hasn’t been fretting about trying to make it to the Tour Championship for the first time in his career. He has been busy helping his wife with the couple’s newborn daughter.

“I think most parents in the room can imagine what I’ve been up to,” McDowell said. “Not sleeping much, changing a lot of nappies.”

McDowell took off last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship to be with his wife, Kristin, for the birth of Vale Esme. She was born on Aug. 25.

“The week couldn’t have been more perfect from a physical and health point of view,” McDowell said. “Certainly, emotionally, it was a pretty amazing week. It’s still kind of all sinking in, and it’s very, very special times.”

This is McDowell’s fourth FedEx Cup run since joining the PGA Tour. He probably needs a top-5 finish to assure advancing to the Tour Championship for the first time.

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“My previous three FedEx Cup playoffs have been fairly disappointing, shall we say,” McDowell said. “I felt like mentally and physically, I wasn’t up for them.

“I still struggle with this sort of switch off that I have after the last major championship of the year. I feel like that run from the U.S. Open through to the PGA Championship takes a lot out of me, both physically and mentally, from a schedule point of view, from a building up point of view. It's the real core of the season. When I come out the other end of it, I have a tough time packing my bag to go to New Jersey. I have the last four years running now. Obviously, this is a unique setup for me this year, not playing Boston for the right reasons, being at home last week.”

McDowell is 53rd in FedEx Cup points. He needs to crack the top 30 to make it to the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta. His best FedEx Cup finish is 42nd.

“It's left kind of a sour taste the last few years for me, simply because I haven't played well,” McDowell said. “I would love to get to the Tour Championship and give myself a chance to win what is the biggest prize in golf. It’s a very, very special event, from my point of view, and like I say, just haven't managed to get my head around it all. But I will, eventually, hopefully this week.”

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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.