Spieth goes birdie-birdie-birdie to win at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 29, 2016, 9:53 pm

Jordan Spieth finished birdie-birdie-birdie on Sunday to shoot 5-under 65 and win the Dean & DeLuca Invitational by three shots over Harris English. Here’s how the world No. 2 marched to victory at Colonial:

Leaderboard: Spieth (-17), English (-14), Ryan Palmer (-13), Webb Simpson (-13), Kyle Reifers (-12)

What it means: This is Spieth’s eighth PGA Tour win, his second this season, and his first in his home state of Texas. Up one to start the day, Spieth actually fell two shots back after opening with nine straight pars of varying difficulty. But the world No. 2 caught fire at the turn, carding three straight birdies at Nos. 10-12 before a bogey at 13, his only dropped shot of the day. Tied at 14 under through 15 holes, Spieth took the lead with a bending 20-foot birdie putt on 16, went up two with a pitch-in for birdie from over the back of the green at 17 and put the tournament away with a 34-foot make on 18 for a back-nine 30. With the win, Spieth passes Tiger Woods for wins by a player before the age of 23 and now trails only Horton Smith (14). More importantly, the top three players in the world – Jason Day, Spieth and Rory McIlroy – will enter next week’s event, the Memorial, coming off a victory in their last start.

Best of the rest: English (66) opened with an eagle and played his first eight holes in 4 under before finding the water and settling for bogey at the par-4 ninth. Unfazed, he bounced right back with birdies at 10 and 11 but made another bogey at 12. From there, he’d par his way into the clubhouse, falling short as Spieth charged home. 

Biggest disappointments: Playing in the final group with Spieth, Webb Simpson (68) and Ryan Palmer (68) finished tied for third at 13 under but never challenged for the lead. Simpson started bogey-birdie, went out in 1-over 36, and three back-nine birdies weren't enough to get him back in the hunt. Palmer played the front nine 2 under but made seven pars and a bogey on the back before a closing birdie at 18. Reifers (68) birdied each hole of the Horrible Horseshoe and added another circle at 10 but made seven straight pars and a bogey on 18 to finish.

Round of the day: Chad Campbell jumped 29 spots and into a tie for 10th with a 7-under 63, Sunday’s low score by two shots. Starting on the back nine, Campbell made four birdies on each nine, including four in his first five holes, and dropped his only shot of his final hole of the day, the par-4 ninth.

Shots of the day: Three of them. Spieth’s bending 20-footer for birdie on 16, his pitch-in for birdie from over the back on 17, and his 34-footer for birdie on 18.

Quote of the day: "As much as you play it off, that's a tough hump to get over, coming back from Augusta." - Spieth

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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.