Goose Swoops for Share of Lead
World No. 9 Goosen was one of several players to make the most of moving day, making light of the tough pin positions and gusting southeast wind.
Goosen finished level on 14-under-par with second round leader Alan McLean, who carded an erratic but courageous 70, while 1999 champion Nic Henning equaled the course record set on Friday by McLean, his 64 good enough to put him on his own in third-place at 12-under.
Callie Swart, Omar Sandys, Des Terblanche, Daren Fichardt, Bradford Vaughan and Irishman Stephen Browne are all a shot further back at 11-under-par. Defending champion Trevor Immelman is at 9-under after a third successive 69, one stroke ahead of Ernie Els who carded a 70.
'The course played a lot tougher today,' Goosen said afterwards. 'The wind is coming back and its getting stronger and stronger. The flags are tucked away as well, and some downwind holes its becoming very difficult to stop the ball.
'It looked as though the field were getting away from us but the holes into the wind on the back nine are playing quite tough and even the last two holes playing downwind are not easy. So Im quite surprised to be tied for the lead ' I thought Id be a couple of shots behind.
'Im looking forward to tomorrow ' its going to be a very exciting day. I would love to win this. Ive won in a few countries this year so it would be great to pull it off.'
McLeans round was a real curates egg, including an eagle and four birdies, as well as four bogeys.
'I putted really well and chipped really well ' I felt like Seve out there,' McLean said. 'I wasnt trying to protect my position ' I went out there and had fun. There were a few tingly nerves at the beginning, but with another 18 holes to play after today there was nothing really to protect.
'My driving definitely didnt go to plan. Im off now to go and try and find a tee swing for tomorrow.'
Henning meanwhile has suffered something of a dip in form since claiming the Players Championship two years ago, losing his card on the European Tour and generally feeling frustrated with a season of putts that would not drop. Coming to Cape Town is clearly a far more pleasant experience.
'Coming down here is amazing ' its such a nice part of the world,' Henning said afterwards. 'The greens have been completely changed since I won here but the holes are still there so enjoy coming down here.'
'Ive played nicely this year but achieved nothing, but Im in position here and if Im within two or three shots of the lead I think I can give myself a good chance tomorrow.'
Fancourt professional Chris Davison opened a few eyes early in the third round, requiring just 30 strokes to play the front nine. However, any thoughts of a new course record were shattered coming home, Davison putting in a real Jekyll-and-Hyde performance with four bogeys and a double bogey to post a 72 and stand at 1-under.
Full Field Scores from the Vodacom Players Championship
DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi
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.”
Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi
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.
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.”
Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder
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:
Filling in tomorrow for Corey Pavin that WD today @cbgolfchallenge I do things like this a lot to help events and asking for sponsors exemptions here but didn't get any help.— Ken Duke (@DukePGA) January 18, 2018
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.
Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
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.