Mickelson, McIlroy, Moore grouped at Masters

By Will GrayApril 7, 2015, 4:45 pm

Tee times are out for the Masters. Here are five groups to keep an eye on during the first two rounds at Augusta National (all times EDT). Click here for full-field tee times:

Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Gunn Yang (a): 9:24 a.m. Thursday, 12:42 p.m. Friday

Watson enters as the defending champ, eyeing a third green jacket in the last four years. He'll play with Yang in a traditional tee time grouping the previous year's winner with the reigning U.S. Amateur champ, while the three-ball will also include Rose, who has finished inside the top 25 at Augusta National each of the last four years.

Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Ryan Moore: 10:41 a.m. Thursday, 1:48 p.m. Friday

McIlroy headlines this group, as the world No. 1 goes for his third major in a row and the final leg of the career Grand Slam in an event where he squandered a late lead in 2011. Mickelson is looking for his fourth green jacket but enters without a top-10 finish to his credit for the second year in a row, while Moore won low amateur honors in 2005 and has missed the cut only once in six appearances.

Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Billy Horschel: 1:15 p.m. Thursday, 9:57 a.m. Friday

Spieth is one of the pre-tournament favorites, with three top-two finishes in his last three starts capped by a playoff loss last week in Houston. He finished T-2 in his Masters debut last year, nearly becoming the second player to win in his maiden appearance in the modern era. He'll play with each of the last two FedEx Cup champs, including Stenson who finished second at Bay Hill in his most recent start.

Tiger Woods, Jimmy Walker, Jamie Donaldson: 1:48 p.m. Thursday, 10:41 a.m. Friday

Woods makes his highly-anticipated return to action this week, his first competitive start since early February. He'll play the first two rounds with Walker, who has won five times since October 2013 and cruised to victory in San Antonio two weeks ago, and Donaldson, the Welshman who clinched the winning point at the Ryder Cup for the Europeans last year at Gleneagles.

Sergio Garcia, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler: 1:59 p.m. Thursday, 10:52 a.m. Friday

The opening round concludes with a strong trio of potential contenders, with all three ranked inside the top 15 in the world. The group is led by Day, No. 5 in the rankings who finished second at Augusta National in 2011 and followed with a third-place finish in 2013. Fowler finished T-5 here last year to spark a run of four straight top-five finishes in majors, while Garcia has three top-10 finishes at the Masters, most recently in 2013.

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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.