Stock Watch: Lewis hot; Ice bucket challenge cold

By Ryan LavnerJuly 1, 2014, 1:15 pm

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

RISING

Stacy Lewis (+9%): There are many complicated explanations for what the world No. 1 has done this season (three wins, one finish outside the top 12), but here is the simplest: She really doesn’t like to lose.

Justin Rose (+6%): The ball-striking whiz continued to pad his résumé with another big-time victory on a big-boy venue, but we’re still not sold that this W bolsters his Open chances. The guy has played in the Open a dozen times and finished in the top 10 only once – when he was 17!

Michelle Wie (4%): Forget her final-round fade in Arkansas. It was a testament to her current form that she was even in position to win again, despite the most exhausting week of her life. Loving her game for Birkdale, and beyond.

Henrik Stenson (+3%): OK, so he couldn’t beat world No. 305 Fabrizio Zanotti head-to-head for the title in Germany, but you can’t ignore the way he’s trending upward (six top-7s in seven starts) with Hoylake just a few weeks away.

Congressional (+2%): They might as well change the name to the “Black and Blue” Course, because the Bethesda brute beat up some of the world’s best last week – just as it has done every year since the Open was held there in 2011. It may not produce the most excitement, but these all-out grinds are a nice change of pace from the week-in, week-out putting contests.

Ben Martin (+1%): His 71st-hole bunker hole-out loomed rather large Sunday, when the late birdie turned out to be the shot that sent him to his first major as a pro.


FALLING

Tiger (-2%): If he’s healthy (and he says he is), how does he not knock off the rust, get more reps and add the Scottish Open to his schedule? Don’t even bother with the he-doesn’t-like-to-play-a-week-bef0re-a-major argument either – he does that very thing with the Bridgestone-PGA back-to-back.  

Shawn Stefani (-3%): Look, it’s hard to knock a guy who just cashed the biggest check of his life ($702,000), but the journeyman made an avert-your-eyes double in the playoff – left trees, hooked iron into the drink, clanky pitch. Oy.  

Andres Echavarria (-5%): The former Florida standout wrote the manual for how not to close out a tournament: order up a double-double on 17 and 18 to go from one ahead to three back at the Web.com event.

U.S. Palmer Cup team (-7%): Granted, the Americans were weaker after a few players turned pro post-NCAAs, but they were steamrolled, 8-2, in Sunday singles. Hey, at least the U.S. still has the Walker Cup!

P-Reed (-8%): Vying for his fourth win in the past 10 1/2 months, he managed only five pars during a never-dull 77. Love him or hate him, there’s no denying the kid is an immense talent and, ultimately, is great for golf if not barroom talk.

Seung-yul Noh (-9%): Overlooked in Sunday’s meltdown: the Zurich Classic winner shot 43 (!) on the back nine to plummet out of the top 5 … the top 10 … the top 20 … and into a share of 30th.

Ice Bucket Challenge (-10%): SO over it, already. 

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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.