Spieth energetic at Memorial despite long stretch

By Will GrayJune 3, 2015, 8:19 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – Jordan Spieth could hang up his clubs for the rest of the year and still look back on a season that most players would covet: two wins, one major, three runner-ups and $5.7 million in the bank.

But Spieth isn’t resting on those laurels – far from it, actually.

Spieth is in the field this week at the Memorial after a fortnight of de facto hometown events in Texas. This will mark his third straight start, his fifth event in the last six weeks and his ninth since the Valero Texas Open in late March.

Put another way, Spieth has already crammed as many competitive rounds into the last 10 weeks (29) as Tiger Woods has played in the last 15 months.

So does all of that competition lead to fatigue? Not when you’re 21 years old with a green jacket hanging in your closet.

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“I have no problem with it; I felt great this year. Only a couple of times have I felt a little worn out,” Spieth said. “This week, the first couple of days I was a little worn out just off of purely long weeks last week. But I’ve gotten back and ready to play this week, and my game felt great yesterday. It felt great today.”

Spieth was a runner-up two weeks ago at the Crowne Plaza Invitational, and his missed cut at The Players Championship is the only time he has finished outside the top 30 during his torrid spring stretch. With the results still piling up, Spieth has no intention of tweaking his busy schedule.

“I’m striking the ball better than I did the last two weeks,” he said. “So I don’t see much of an issue with it. I’m young, don’t have my own family obligations. And I love to play the game. So I don’t see that necessarily changing anytime soon.”

After a stretch that might send some players looking for a place to rest and recharge, Spieth displayed an attitude that belies his age.

“I enjoy working at something that is impossible to conquer,” he said. “I enjoy that challenge, because each time you get closer and closer to conquering it, you get those rounds that you’re in the zone and you’re firing on all cylinders and in contention, and you feel your blood going like you’re skydiving.

“I live for the thrill of it. That’s the fun part, to see how you can react in those situations, how you can control your heart rate and produce even better shots than when it wasn’t there.”

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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).

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 phoned 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. 

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.