Home Away from Home

By Golf Channel NewsroomMay 23, 2002, 4:00 pm
Dejected? Perhaps. Ailing? Definitely. But theres very little that can come between the relationship Colin Montgomerie shares with the Wentworth Club.
Montgomerie, coming off a bitter defeat days ago and battling a back injury, fired an 8-under-par 64 Thursday to take the first-round lead in the Volvo PGA Championship.
Its nice to get my name up there early, said Montgomerie, who tied the course record. That was as good a round as my other two 64s I have shot here. I am glad to get that under my belt. I had the opportunities to score well today, took them, and that is very important.
Fellow Scot Andrew Coltart, Zimbabwean Mark McNulty, Argentine Eduardo Romero and Dane Steen Tinning are tied for second place at 5-under. Several players are four back, including defending champion Andrew Oldcorn and American Tom Gillis.
Normally, its a forgone conclusion that Montgomerie will contend for the Volvo PGA title ' he won this tournament from 1998-2000. But this year, there was a great deal of uncertainty as to whether or not he would even make a start.
Back pains almost forced him to withdraw from the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open, which ended Monday with Tiger Woods defeating Montgomerie on the third hole of sudden death.
Because four prolapsed discs are leaking fluid, he needs two hours to warm up before he is able to play.
The pains continued as the 38-year-old Scot traveled from Germany to Surrey, England, allowing him only five practice holes prior to teeing off Thursday.
But when youre this familiar with a layout ' he also won the 1999 Cisco World Match Play Championship at the Wentworth Club ' experience outweighs preparation.
Montgomerie recorded one eagle, nine birdies and three bogeys in the first round. After making the turn in 3-under 33, he started his back nine birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie. He bogeyed the par-4 15th, but birdied both of the par-5 finishing holes.
One of the best shots I hit today was a 5-iron on the fifth. The reason I say that is because I normally hit a 6-iron there but I cant come through the ball properly and it is amazing how much more control I seem to have on the ball. I hit it to ten feet there and holed it,' he said.
'That is what I am doing right now, just playing within myself and trying to get round, use my new technique putting to its best effect and it seems to be working well.
Full-field scores from the Volvo PGA Championship
Getty Images

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.  

Getty Images

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.” 

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.