Webb loves "history" of five-year-old JTBC Founders

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2015, 9:51 pm

PHOENIX – Karrie Webb feels the weight of history this week in an LPGA event that’s still actually in its infancy.

Webb is the defending champ at the JTBC Founders Cup and a two-time winner of the five-year-old event.

“I feel like this tournament has more history than years we’ve played it,” Webb said at Marriott’s Wildfire Golf Club.

Webb’s comment goes to the heart of the Founders Cup, a tournament commissioner Mike Whan created to honor the LPGA’s 13 founders and its early pioneers. Judy Rankin, Donna Caponi and Sandra Palmer are this year’s special honorees. The trio combined to win 69 LPGA titles, most of them in the ‘70s.

“I think this is great for the younger players,” Webb said. “I started 20 years ago, and a lot more of the founders were still alive and a lot more active, out on tour a little bit more. So, I got to know them a little better than some of the younger girls.”

The LPGA sets up a stage aside the 18th green here, where the honorees can sit and watch the action. Players make a point of greeting the honorees as they leave the green.

“I think it’s great for the younger girls,” Webb said. “I think it’s great for them to be able to put faces to names and possibly sit down and hear some of the stories.”

The LPGA hosts the Pioneer Awards Dinner Friday at the Marriott hotel on tournament grounds. The special honorees will be joined by some of the game’s greats, including two of the three living founders, Shirley Spork and Marilynn Smith. The other living founder, Louise Suggs, wasn’t well enough to travel.

Webb was the ideal winner of the inaugural event in 2011, with her reverence for LPGA history. She won that first event in dramatic fashion, coming from six shots behind in the final round. She won the same way last year, also coming from six shots back in the final round. It was Webb’s 38th and 41st LPGA titles. She donated $25,000 last year to the Founders Film, a project devoted to telling the story of the LPGA founders.

At No. 9 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, Webb continues to be a large factor in LPGA events. She just turned 40 and reiterated comments this week that she made a month ago in Australia, that she’s highly motivated still, with a desire to compete in the Olympics next year in Rio de Janeiro.

“I think the Olympics is pretty much why I’m still playing full time,” Webb said. “That’s a pretty big driving factor for me, to be working as hard as I am.”

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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).

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 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.