Spieth leads Rose by four at Masters

By Ryan Reiterman April 11, 2015, 11:22 pm

Jordan Spieth had a seven-shot lead during the third round at the Masters and looked to be unstoppable, but the 21-year-old stumbled coming home and now we have plenty of spice heading into the final round at Augusta.

Leaderboard: Jordan Spieth (-16), Justin Rose (-12), Phil Mickelson (-11), Charley Hoffman (-10), Dustin Johnson (-6), Rory McIlroy (-6), Tiger Woods (-6), Kevin Streelman (-6), Kevin Na (-6)

What it means: Spieth nearly put this tournament out of reach, but a sloppy double bogey on 17 gave new life to the rest of the contenders. He still made history by shooting the lowest 54-hole score in Masters history, but now two major champions go to bed knowing they still have a chance at the green jacket. Rose closed with five birdies in the last six holes to knock Mickelson out of the final pairing. That's significant since 20 of the last 24 Masters winners have come out of the final tee time. Spieth walked off 18 with some momentum, however, after a gutsy up-and-down for par. Hoffman also closed strong with birdie on 18 to stay in the hunt.

Round of the day: Rose, Mickelson and Ian Poulter tied for the low round of the day with 5-under 67s. Lefty made seven birdies against two bogeys, and he was able to briefly cut Spieth's lead to four with a 41-foot birdie on the par-3 16th that curled into the back of the hole. Spieth increased his lead again with birdies on 15 and 16, but a double bogey on 17, and Rose's 20-foot birdie putt on 18, cut it back to four strokes.

Best of the rest: Woods and McIlroy are 10 strokes back and likely out of it, but it's a testament to both that they're currently tied for fifth. McIlroy was fighting to make the cut on the back nine Friday, but the world No. 1 made an eagle and four birdies to easily make the weekend, and he tied Woods with a 4-under 68 in Round 3. Woods continued to show incredible improvement Saturday with six birdies and two bogeys. They will be paired in the final round.

Biggest disappointment: A day after making three eagles, Dustin Johnson came undone on the back nine for a 1-over 73. He chunked a pitch shot into the front bunker on the par-3 12th, which led to a double bogey, and closed with bogeys on 17 and 18.

Main storyline heading into Sunday: Spieth is still in control of the tournament, but he's got a bigger task on his hands. Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champion, won't go down quietly, and Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion, will be flag hunting all day. But every time Spieth has made a mistake this week, he's bounced right back. After finishing T-2 last year at Augusta, Spieth said he learned all about being patient. He's proven that through three rounds. On Sunday he will once again be put to the test.

Getty Images

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.  

Getty Images

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.” 

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.