Furyk shoots 68, takes 54-hole lead at PGA

By Will GrayAugust 10, 2013, 11:02 pm

With sunny skies finally opening in Rochester, Oak Hill Country Club turned into the difficult test that many anticipated heading into this week. Here's how things shape up heading into the final round of the PGA Championship, where Jim Furyk holds a 54-hole lead in search of his second career major title:

Leaderboard: Jim Furyk (-9), Jason Dufner (-8), Henrik Stenson (-7), Jonas Blixt (-6), Adam Scott (-5), Steve Stricker (-5), Rory McIlroy (-3), Lee Westwood (-3)

What it means: After Dufner briefly built a three-shot lead early in the afternoon, a double bogey from the overnight leader at the fifth hole let a host of players back into the mix. The leaderboard shifted constantly down the stretch Saturday among Dufner, Furyk, Scott and Stenson, but it was Furyk who emerged thanks to a birdie at the 17th hole. A lengthy par save at the home hole ensured that the 2003 U.S. Open champ will take the lead into Sunday, in search of his first major title since his triumph at Olympia Fields a decade ago.

Round of the day: Playing hours before the leaders teed off, Dustin Johnson surged into contention thanks to a 5-under 65 in the third round. A winner earlier this year at Kapalua, Johnson made the turn in 1-under 34 before adding birdies at Nos. 10, 13, 14 and 16. The effort moved him from 3 over for the week to 2 under, a jump of 51 spots on the leaderboard as he will now start the final round tied for ninth.

Best of the rest: Though he already has two PGA Tour wins under his belt, Blixt is playing in just his second career major championship. You wouldn’t know it Saturday, though, as the young Swede made it around Oak Hill without dropping a shot, carding a 4-under 66. In addition to bookend birdies at the first and 18th holes, Blixt added red figures at holes 5 and 9, and as a result will begin Sunday firmly in contention, just three shots off the pace.

Biggest disappointment: In completing his second round Friday, U.S. Open champion Justin Rose played the front nine at Oak Hill in just 29 strokes, He needed 13 more to play the same stretch Saturday, as an outward 42 doomed any chances the Englishman had of contending. Rose played holes 2-5 in 6 over to begin his third round, taking double bogeys at both the third and fifth holes, and didn’t record his first birdie until the 12th hole. After a 7-over 77 Saturday, Rose tumbled out of the top 10 and will head into the final round 10 shots behind Furyk.

Main storyline heading into Sunday: After blowing several Sunday leads last year, notably at the U.S. Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Furyk has a chance for redemption this time around at Oak Hill. The group chasing him is no less motivated, though, as Dufner looks to avenge his near-miss at Atlanta Athletic Club two years ago while Stenson and Blixt both hope to become the first Swede to capture one of the four major championships in men's golf.

Shot of the day: Though he appeared destined for a missed cut midway through his round Friday, defending champion Rory McIlroy needed an up and down from behind the 18th green to finish the first 54 holes at 2 under. Instead, the Ulsterman’s chip shot rolled gently down the hill and dropped for an improbable birdie, giving McIlroy a 3-under 67 Saturday and endless momentum heading into the final round, where he is suddenly once again in contention for back-to-back titles.

Quote of the day: 'There's a crowded leaderboard, so I want to go out there and fire a good number.' - Furyk, on his approach to the final round

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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.