Palmer leads Bradley by two at Deutsche Bank

By Will GrayAugust 29, 2014, 10:38 pm

NORTON, Mass. – While TPC Boston is playing firmer and faster than in years past, there were still plenty of birdies to go around during the opening round. Here’s how things look at the Deutsche Bank Championship, where Ryan Palmer leads by two shots:

Leaderboard: Ryan Palmer (-8), Keegan Bradley (-6), Jason Day (-5), Chesson Hadley (-5), Webb Simpson (-5), Ian Poulter, Jordan Spieth among five players at -4

What it means: Palmer contended earlier this month at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth, and the veteran is at it again following an opening 63. Palmer is on the fringe of the discussion for a Ryder Cup selection, while players likely ahead of him in the conversation – Bradley and Simpson – are only a couple shots back after one round.

Round of the day: Palmer hit only 11 of 18 greens in regulation, but he was lights-out with the flat stick. He took only 21 putts to complete his round, capping it with an 18-foot birdie on No. 9, his final hole of the day. Palmer didn’t miss from inside 15 feet, and he now holds the early lead as he looks to win for the first time since 2010.

Best of the rest: Bradley likely needs a strong showing to punch his ticket to Gleneagles, and he got off to an excellent start after a bogey-free 65. A favorite among the partisan New England crowds, Bradley birdied four of his first seven holes before closing with back-to-back circles on Nos. 17 and 18.

Biggest disappointment: Phil Mickelson admitted earlier this week that his game was a “crapshoot,” and it showed on Friday. Mickelson got off to a disastrous start, playing his first seven holes in 5 over, and despite birdies on three of his final four holes, he carded a 3-over 74 that put him well off the pace and outside the projected cut line.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: It remains to be seen how Palmer can handle the pressure of the pole position, but the main focus in the second round will be on Bradley and Simpson, as each vie for one of Tom Watson’s three Ryder Cup selections. While Bradley likely has the inside track at the moment, Simpson could make things interesting if he continues the form that yielded an opening-round 66.

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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.