New Zealand Prepares for Woods

By Golf Channel NewsroomJanuary 8, 2002, 5:00 pm
New Zealand braces itself for excitement and controversy all in one this week as the planets No. 1 golfer, Tiger Woods, crosses the pond to compete in the countrys premier event, the Telstra Hyundai New Zealand Open Championship.
The reason for the excitement? Simple, Tiger Woods.
The reason for the controversy? Simple, again ' Tiger Woods.
The American phenom originally committed to the tournament in April 2001 at the urging of his caddie, Steve Williams (who hails from New Zealand), as well as prominent New Zealand golfer Michael Campbell.
He also collected his per-usual $2 million appearance fee from tournament organizer Promoter 2000 Ltd.
However, this action seemed to have a backlash effect on the events fan base.
Weeklong ticket prices for the Open immediately jumped from $22 last year to $198 this time around, upsetting patrons and causing a potential boycott.
Campbell and several other players were also incensed over the price hikes and threatened not to play, but the problems were seemingly put to rest after organizers allowed for children under the age of 16 to enter free of cost.
However, new problems have arisen as of late.
A mysterious letter containing threatening remarks and cyanide arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Wellington over the weekend, which ' while not directly aimed at Woods ' were clearly due to the fact that Woods was to play, according to Assistant Police Commissioner Jon White.
It was clear the threats had been made because Woods, the worlds No. 1 golfer, was playing, White told the Associated Press.
In any case, Woods has remained steadfast for the tournament.
After being assured from tournament officials that security measures would be extremely tight, Woods confirmed his arrival.
Things like this do happen, he said after finishing the Mercedes Championships in a tie for 10th place. You have to go on living your life. Its unfortunate that people have these types of views and do these types of acts.
While chances are good that no acts of ill will will occur, chances are also good that Woods should win the tournament.
Besides Campbell, the only other players of worldwide stature included in the field are Craig Parry, Nick OHern, Brett Ogle, Lucas Parsons, Brett Rumford and defending champion David Smail.
Smail won the event last year with a 7-under-par 273 total score at The Grange Country Club.
However, Woods caddie Williams calls this years host course at Paraparaumu Beach his home track, and figuring Woods ended his fourth round at Hawaii in 65, his game looks to be coming around.
Of the situation at hand, he commented: The tournament officials have done a wonderful job of organizing the event. They assured me that everything is going to be safe and theyll do the best they can, not only for myself but for the rest of the players and all the people that come out to the tournament.
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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.  

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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).

“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.” 

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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 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.