Five most interesting celebs to watch this week

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 5, 2014, 4:41 pm

The PGA Tour returns this week to Pebble Beach, which represents the one time a year that the brightest stars from big business, politics, sports and entertainment will be humbled on national television. 

There is no Bill Murray this week, so another celeb will have to hog CBS’ primetime slot. Good thing there are many suitable replacements.

Here are the five most interesting celebrities to watch on the Monterey Peninsula: 

1. Peyton Manning (7 handicap)

The last-minute addition to the field is just three days removed from an embarrassing loss to the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. (Just don’t mention that to him.) The 37-year-old’s 12 postseason losses are the most by any quarterback in NFL history, and in the past 10 years, only the indomitable Rex Grossman had a worse quarterback rating in the Big Game. Lauded for his mental strength and quick adjustments, Peyton will need to rely on those skills this week when a camera undoubtedly will be fixed on him for all 54, or 72, holes. If he hooks a drive, fans an approach, flubs a chip or whiffs a short putt, prepare for an onslaught of Manning Face GIFs.

2. Kid Rock (16)

It’s not just that the “Bawitdaba”, um, crooner is in this week’s event. It’s that he’s playing with John Daly, which makes him one half of the most combustible team in Pebble Beach history. GolfWRX snapped a few photos of Mr. Rock, and he has a pretty nice action. He also has a pretty unkempt goatee and ponytail, and on this particular occasion he was wearing a hat that read, in big white letters, “Made in DETROIT.” Yes, our expectations are decidedly low.

3. Wayne Gretzky (11)

The Great One is back at Pebble and in the same group once again with Dustin Johnson, who is now his future son-in-law. (Last year, in their first official event together, Johnson missed the 54-hole cut.) DJ is a two-time winner of this event, and he also kicked away a chance to win the 2010 U.S. Open here. Surely they won’t discuss that mishap, though – not with a fall wedding on the horizon and plans to be made. They’re in the same foursome as JD and Kid Rock, so their chances are pretty much shot.

4. Tom Brady/Bill Belichick (8 and 14, respectively)

Naturally, the two Patriots are in the same group, because, well, quarterback and coach, they’re inextricably linked for eternity. Unlike in recent years, when they’ve come to Pebble straight after a deflating Super Bowl loss, they’ve had a few more weeks to digest their abbreviated playoff run and work on their games. OK, but seriously, let’s also hope they act like professionals and don’t spend all 54 holes giggling about Peyton’s Big Game clunker.  

5. Condoleezza Rice (18)

This year, the former Secretary of State trades Jason Bohn for D.A. Points, who summoned his best golf in 2011 to win the event despite having Bill Murray in his ear for four days. Last year, Rice, who became a member at Augusta National in 2012, played a casual round with Phil Mickelson at the Masters venue, and Lefty will be in her foursome this week as well, along with Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson. 

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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.