Watson, three more lead Barclays through Round 1

By Nick MentaAugust 27, 2015, 9:24 pm

Bubba Watson, Tony Finau, Spencer Levin and Camilo Villegas share the lead at The Barclays after opening rounds of 5-under 65. Here’s how things look after 18 holes at the tricky, Donald Ross-designed Plainfield Country Club:

Leaderboard: Watson (-5), Finau (-5), Levin (-5), Villegas (-5),

What it means: Watson is in search of his third win this season, while Villegas (No. 117) and Levin (No. 110) are doing their best just to make the top-100 cutoff in order to advance to next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship. Watson would join Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day as the only players to win three or more events on Tour this season. Villegas’ last Tour title came at last year’s Wyndham. Levin, making his 175th career start, remains in search of his first victory. Finau, 39th in the points race coming into the week, has been knocking on the door with five top-10 finishes this season; he would make a strong case for rookie of the year with a playoff win.

Round of the day: Villegas and Levin both carded six birdies against a lone bogey, while Watson added one more of each, and Finau added two more of each. Finau's was the only round of 65 recorded in the tougher afternoon wave.

Best of the rest: Six players - Danny Lee, Jason Dufner, Cameron Tringale, Russell Knox, Paul Casey and Bryce Molder - sit one shot back at 4 under. Of that group, only Lee has won this year. Casey has two runners-up and two thirds.

Biggest disappointment: Defending champion Hunter Mahan is the only player to have played in every playoff event since the postseason’s inception in 2007, but his streak is in jeopardy after an opening 78. He is tied with Ian Poulter, John Huh, Will McGirt and David Lingmerth for last place. Mahan ended the day in a projected position of 97th. The top 100 make the Deutsche, the top 70 make the BMW, and only the top 30 make the Tour Championship. Jordan Spieth, separately, posted his worst score to par in any round this year, a 4-over 74.

Shot of the day: Dustin Johnson drove the green at the 326-yard, par-4 12th and cleaned up an 8-foot putt for eagle en route to an even-par 70.

Quote of the day: “Nothing. Well, the scorecard suited my eye. We'll take the scorecard all day.” – Watson, when asked what about Plainfield suits his eye.

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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.