Taylor edges Mickelson to win Pebble Beach Pro-Am

By Nick MentaFebruary 14, 2016, 11:25 pm

Vaughn Taylor shot 7-under 65 Sunday to charge from six shots back and win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Here’s what happened Sunday on the scenic Monterrey Peninsula, where Phil Mickelson missed a 5-foot putt to lose by one:

Leaderboard: Taylor (-17), Mickelson (-16), Jonas Blixt (-15), Hiroshi Iwata (-14), Freddie Jacobson (-14)

What it means: This is Taylor’s third PGA Tour win and first since 2005, when he won his second consecutive Reno-Tahoe Open. Ranked 447th in the world coming into the week, Taylor got into this event as an alternate and has been making limited starts on past-champion status; he had only teed up in 17 other Tour events in the last three seasons. But this win changes things in a big way for the 39-year-old, who earns a two-year PGA Tour exemption with his victory. The Augusta, Ga. native is now also qualified for the Masters and the PGA Championship.

Biggest disappointment: Mickelson started the day with a two-shot lead but made a bogey for each one of his four birdies to shoot even-par 72 and finish one shot out of a potential playoff. After a birdie on the par-3 17th cut his deficit to just one, Mickelson had a 5-footer for birdie on the 72nd hole that would have tied him with Taylor, but his ball lipped out on the left side of the cup. Mickelson was 23 for 23 on putts inside of 6 feet this week. That last one was the only one that didn’t fall. Mickelson remains winless since his victory at the 2013 Open Championship.

Round of the day: Taylor made nine total birdies in the final round, including four in a row on Nos. 13-16. After making the turn in 2 under, Taylor shot a bogey-free 31 on the back nine to overtake Mickelson, Iwata and Blixt, who all held or shared the lead at different points throughout the day. After narrowly missing a birdie attempt on his final hole, Taylor sat, waited and finally watched Mickelson miss by fractions of inch. Patrick Reed also posted 65 Sunday to vault himself into a tie for sixth at 12 under.

Best of the rest: After surviving the cut on the number and starting his final round on the back nine, world No. 1 Jordan Spieth turned in a bogey-free 6-under 66, moving up 33 spots into a tie for 21st in his first PGA Tour start since his win at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Shot of the day: Taylor’s final birdie on the day came at the par-4 16th, when he drained a left-to-right 28-footer to take the outright lead.

Quote of the day: "It's been a long time. I didn't think it was going to happen. I've worked so hard. I just kept getting knocked down and knocked down. I can't believe it actually happened again." - Taylor

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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.