Stock Watch: Ko, Wie headed in different directions

By Ryan LavnerMarch 31, 2015, 12:54 pm

Each week on, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Jimmy Walker (+8%): The only thing missing from his résumé is a big-time title. Considering he top-10’d in three majors last year in what was essentially his first go-around, it wouldn’t surprise if his time came soon … like … in nine days.

Jordan Spieth (+6%): He’s up to No. 4 in the world after a run of six top-5s in 10 worldwide starts. How can you not love the way this kid brings it every single week?      

Tiger Watch (+5%): The speculation about his Masters status has become as much a tradition as the azaleas and pimento cheese. It’s a tired song and dance, but it still beats breaking down the early FedEx Cup race.  

Lydia Ko (+4%): Aren’t 17-year-olds prone to erratic behavior? Not this stud. She’s not only a monster favorite at the year’s first major, but in perfect desert conditions she’s also a lock to break Annika’s mind-blowing LPGA record (29 consecutive under-par rounds).

DJ (+3%): On the course, at least, Johnson is showing a discipline that has lacked in recent years. His gritty T-6 after an opening 78 was the latest example of his newfound maturity.   

Badds (+2%): Well, Shot of the Year is wrapped up: That 336-yard hole-out after a reload will be tough to top.


Henrik Stenson (-1%): OK, so there’s no good time to come down with the flu. The week before the biggest event of the year is one of the worst.

Martin Kaymer (-2%): Geoff Ogilvy advised Kaymer to play the Texas Open for the first time because he enjoys a tough test. Well, not this tough – Kaymer was blown away with back-to-back rounds in the 80s. He can repay Ogilvy by spiking his coffee with Ex-Lax.

Michelle Wie (-3%): Heading into the year’s first major, the Big Wiesy has been dogged by injuries and illness and poor form. In six starts, she’s still looking for her first top 20. Oy.

Zach Johnson (-4%): Never thought we’d see the day that he led the field in strokes gained-tee to green but was nearly DFL in putting.

Matteo Manassero (-5%): All of this talk about Spieth has turned the spotlight away from another 21-year-old phenom. Manny has four Euro Tour victories, but it’s not a good sign when he makes his first cut of the season on March 29. Less than two years after reaching No. 25 in the world, he’s now outside the top 230. Which brings us to …

Tiger’s world ranking (-7%): Can’t take credit for unearthing this gem, but consider the song that was No. 1 on the charts the last time Woods was ranked outside the top 100: “Macarena”.  So, yeah, it’s been a while.  

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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).

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.