Patient Lingmerth has best round (65) of season

By Nick MentaJune 1, 2017, 6:46 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – David Lingmerth on Thursday fired his best round of the season, a 7-under 65 that once again has him atop the leaderboard at Muirfield Village.

A bogey-free 5 under at the turn, Lingmerth went bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie on Nos. 10-13 and reached the uphill par-5 15th still minus-5 on his day.

After finding the fairway, he pulled a 3-wood from 236 yards yards and left himself just an 8-foot putt for eagle, which he went on to hole.

From there, he’d trade a birdie at 17 with another bogey at 18 to take the early lead at the end of the morning wave.

“I was rolling it good all day,” said Lingmerth, who needed just 24 putts. “Got off to a nice start and then tried to plug away. Had three bogeys on the back nine, but with that eagle and a couple more birdies, I managed to scrape around for a pretty good 7 under.”

His round of 65 was particularly impressive considering he hit just 7 of 14 fairways. Muirfield Village – with its lush, healthy rough and smaller, tilted greens – is not typically a course that rewards wayward drives, but Lingmerth certainly got away with some shaky tee shots in Round 1.

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“I managed to get some decent lies out of the ones that missed the fairway,” Lingmerth said before he headed back to the practice range. “And that’s the thing, I usually rely a lot on my driving, hitting fairways.

“So that’s something I’m going to go work on now. But every other facet of my game feels good. Hopefully I can improve on that.”

Lingmerth picked up his lone Tour win here in 2015, winning a playoff over Justin Rose. Off to a slow start this season, he missed five of his first 10 cuts, but has picked up his play over the last month, with a  T-18 at the Wells Fargo and T-12 at last week’s Dean & DeLuca.

“Golf is a funny game,” he said. “It’s very humbling. I’ve been working hard all year and never really found my groove I guess. But [I’ve been] sticking to it, and all along I knew that this stretch was coming up here, and I really like it. Colonial last week, and I love this week, obviously.

“I just kind of try to stay patient all year knowing that it will probably start turning around eventually. I feel like my game has been trending in the right direction. I’ve got some stuff I need to work on but it’s getting there.”

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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.