Poulter Hangs on For Victory

By Golf Channel NewsroomApril 15, 2001, 4:00 pm
Englands Ian Poulter held on Sunday with a final round of 70 to successfully win the Moroccan Open by two strokes at 15-under-par 277.
Free Video - Registration Required Poulter talks about his win
The victory marks his second in six months on the European Tour, and has the 25-year-old now thinking in terms of a Ryder Cup future.
The Ryder Cup is the overall picture Im looking at, claimed the ambitious Poulter. After winning last year I said I wanted to win twice this year and give myself a chance for the team.
Now Ive got one of the wins. Its going to need a huge points total, so theres a long way to go, but its nice to be playing well with the really big-money events coming up now.
Poulter made last seasons Italian Open his inaugural win on tour, and he would go on to record a second-place finish at this very same event at Moroccos Royal Golf Dar-es-Salams Red Course.
As a result of his performances last season, he was named the 2000 Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year.
As a result of his play this week, Poulter suddenly finds himself approximately $95,000 richer and in 12th place on the Ryder Cup standings.
Its fantastic, he exclaimed. The hard work over the past few weeks has paid off. That was probably as good as I have putted. I had to to stay ahead.
Indeed he did. For not far behind him all day charged David Lynn, who closed his last round with a score of 67 to finish on 13-under-par. Australias Peter Lonard finished three off the winning pace at minus-12 with a closing round of 68, while Stephen Gallacher and Thomas Levet ended at 10-under.
Poulter began his day with a four-shot lead, quickly picked up a biridie at the 2nd, but then failed to make any kind of a significant move over the next several holes, and watched as the field began eating into his comfortable lead.
This all changed at the par-5 10th, however, when Poulter stuck and 8-iron second shot to three feet for an easy eagle and a solid lead again.
I thought we might put some pressure on Ian but then he got to 15-under and it was effectively all over from there, claimed Lonard. But it has been a good week. I've had four weeks off and this was probably better than I expected.
The week was also very pleasing for Hank Kuehne, as the young American closed with a birdie on the 18th for a final round of 71 to finish at 8-under 284.
The eighth-place finish was good enough to earn the 1998 U.S. Amateur champion a spot in next weeks Spanish Open, without utilizing the sixth of his seven maximum exemptions.
Full-Field Scores from The Moroccan Open
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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.