Chamblee, Nobilo preview PGA Championship

By Randall MellAugust 3, 2012, 9:55 pm

The stage may be set for somebody to have his heart broken in a major collapse at next week’s PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.

Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee can foresee a nightmarish finish lying in wait for the leaders come Sunday on Pete Dye’s demanding design.

Chamblee has played the course, though not in the kind of major championship condition it will be set up next week.

“I'm not as familiar with it as some of the other major championship venues, but what I remember is typical of a Pete Dye golf course, very intimidating,” Chamblee said Friday in a special Golf Channel media teleconference in advance of the PGA Championship. “And, it is, towards the finish, extremely difficult.”

Chamblee believes all the trouble designed into the Dye course could combine with major championship pressure and difficult seaside weather to create some player’s ruin.

“You put all of that together, and there's a likelihood, not to bring up a sore spot for Mark Calcavecchia, but there's a likelihood that we are going to see a meltdown similar to what we saw in the 1991 Ryder Cup,” Chamblee said. “Throughout his career, Mark Calcavecchia was known as a player who could close the deal, who could shoot some unbelievably low scores.”

Four up with four holes to play in Sunday singles of the 1991 Ryder Cup, the American Calcavecchia collapsed, halving his match to Colin Montgomerie. Calcavecchia stumbled down to the beach afterward and wept. The Americans did ultimately win, however.

“Talked to Lanny Wadkins this morning,” Chamblee said. “Lanny is a guy who could close the deal and was known for his mental strength. He said after a couple of days at The Ryder Cup, he had never felt so mentally exhausted as he felt that week.”

Golf Channel analyst Frank Nobilo took a scouting trip to Kiawah Island on Monday and Tuesday for the network’s advance coverage.

If the winds blow hard and steady, Nobilo was asked, could golf be looking at something like the “Massacre at Winged Foot?” In 1974, Hale Irwin won the U.S. Open at Winged Foot with a 7- over-par total.

“You could get on a bogey train there with a 30 mile-per-hour wind that you'll never get off, and then you still have to finish out the golf course with 17 and 18,” Nobilo said. “I know Johnny [Miller] was saying, with the wind blowing, this could be the hardest course in America. You might say that's a little hyperbole there, but when the wind blows on an American coastal course, when you can't go to the ground [with golf shots], it's very difficult.”

Chamblee believes the PGA’s setup is important.

“I was fearful of the same thing Johnny Miller was, that if the wind blows, we are going to see carnage,” Chamblee said. “But then, I arrest those thoughts with the thought that the PGA of America is running it, and I think they will do a great job. It already sounds like, per Frank's descriptions, that they have given up generous landing areas so that if guys get a little off kilter, they have got some recovery room.”

Nobilo believes the PGA will be wise in its setup.

“This is not their first rodeo,” Nobilo said. “So they are aware of what's happened there in the past events that they have run . . .

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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.