Lady Vols Win Mercedes-Benz
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - In a sudden death playoff, the University of Tennessee won the 2006 Mercedes-Benz Women's Collegiate Golf Championship title today at Cherokee Country Club in Knoxville. Tennessee and Georgia were knotted at 887 after 54-holes to force the playoff at hole number one, a 386-yard par four. In the first team playoff in the 10-year history of the tournament, the Lady Vols won by two strokes.
'This is a huge win for us. We always invite a really strong field to come play in this tournament, and it's tough to win against such a strong field. I'm so proud of my team today,' said UT head coach Judi Pavon. 'We knew we were within range, and with the greens the way they are, we knew we had a chance if we played well. I'm really, really proud of our team for hanging in there and believing in themselves and then going out in that playoff. 'Georgia is the number one team in the country, so beating them is a tremendous lift for us.'
Freshman Angela Oh, who was leading the Lady Vols coming into day three, birdied the playoff hole (No. 1) to clinch the win for Tennessee. 'It was really a pressure putt,' Oh said. 'I just thought that if I couldn't get it in the hole, I needed to get it close because we still had a chance. But the ball went in the hole so I'm really happy. I just wanted to get off to a good start for the team on the first playoff hole.'
Georgia recorded three pars, but was one-over in the playoff, and finished with runner-up honors. Auburn, after leading the field through the first two rounds, finished third at 889.
Jenny Suh of Alabama claimed medalist honors with a pair of one-under 70s on the last two days after carding a 74 in round one. Her three-day total of 214 goes in the record books as a tie for the fifth-lowest score in the 10-year Mercedes-Benz history. The senior from Fairfax, Va., ended the weekend on a stellar note by making four birdies over the last five holes. Suh had nine birdies during the tournament. 'I'm a little surprised, I didn't expect it,' Suh said of the tournament victory. 'I knew I was four shots back. My putter came through when I really needed it. I wasn't hitting the ball very well at the beginning of the week, but gradually I got better and better. This is a very challenging course so you never know who would win this type of tournament.'
Oh was the Lady Vols' top finisher. She recorded a five-over-par 218 tournament total to put her in a tie for fifth with Michigan's Brianna Broderick and Arkansas' Stacy Lewis. The Maple Shade, N.J., native carded four birdies on the final day and 10 for the tournament.
UT junior standout Marci Turner finished with a 224 to tie for 19th. The 2005 All-America honoree shot a three-over-par 74 in the final round. Freshman Diana Cant shot 225, taking home 21st-place, her highest finish of the season by 16 spots.
Sophomore Nicole Smith battled back from a round-one 80 to a two-under-par 69 on day three, placing her 23rd. The Riverside, Calif., native finished the tournament strong with an eagle on No. 17 and a par on the difficult 18th. Smith's eagle and four birdies led the Lady Vols for the day. Playing in the Mercedes-Benz tournament for the final time, senior Holly Cantwell carded a two-over 74 to bring her total to 229, good enough for a tie for 33rd.
Tennessee's Mercedes-Benz victory was its first in the 10-year history of the event. The Lady Vols previously claimed second in 2004 and 2000.
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.