Kuchar leads by one shot at Colonial after Day 3

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2013, 10:34 pm

After closing out the second round early on Saturday morning with the lead, Matt Kuchar lost it in the third round but was able to regain it, finishing with a 1-under 69 at the Crowne Plaza Invitational. Here's how it looks heading into the final round at Colonial Country Club, where Kuchar holds a one-shot lead over four players:

The leaderboard: Kuchar (-11), Matt Every (-10), Chris Stroud (-10), Boo Weekley (-10), Graham DeLaet (-10), Martin Flores (-9), Tim Clark (-9), John Rollins (-9), Steve Flesch (-9). 

What it means: Kuchar is truly the big man on the leaderboard. He hopes to secure his second victory of the year after winning the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February. Several players are looking for their first PGA Tour win, including Every, Stroud and DeLaet. Clark will try to take a week where he was hit with news of the anchoring ban and turn it into a positive. He is seeking his first win on Tour since the 2010 Players Championship.

Round of the day: Clark and Flores surged up the leaderboard, both posting 5-under 65s to climb into contention. Both rattled off six birdies with just one bogey.

Best of the rest: Every birdied the 18th to close out a 4-under 66. He hopes to turn around a disappointing season on Sunday that has seen him record just one top 25 and miss seven cuts. On the other hand, Weekley continues his resurgence this year, looking to post his fourth top 10 of the season. He also fired a 66 to vault into a tie for second.

Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth, the 19-year-old former University of Texas star, is trying to become the fourth teenager to win on Tour and first since Ralph Guldahl in 1931. Spieth, however, lost a lot of ground on Saturday. Following birdies on three of the first five holes, the wheels came off with bogeys on Nos. 6,9, 12 and a double bogey on the par-3 13th after he hit his tee shot in the water. He finished with a 1-over 71 and is T-14.

Main storyline heading into Sunday: There's a ton of scenarios that could play out with 23 players within five shots of Kuchar. DeLaet will shoot for his first Tour win. The 31-year-old Canadian is enjoying the Dallas-Forth Worth area, having finished T-10 last week at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, his third top 10 of the season. Defending champion Zach Johnson is lurking just three shots back after a 2-under 68. Kuchar will try to continue his ascent up the world ranking and sharpen his game in preparation for next month's U.S. Open.

Shot of the day: Kuchar began the day with the lead but stumbled with back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 7 and 8. He steadied himself and then striped a 9-iron on the par-3 16th to 15 feet. He rolled in the birdie putt to get back into red numbers for the day and reclaim the lead by himself.

Quote of the day: Jeff Overton was disqualified for using a putting alignment aid on the practice putting green, while he was waiting to tee off on the 10th hole. Soon after coming off the course, Overton tweeted ''3 group back up at the turn. Rules official tells me we can practice chipping and putting. Disqualified for using my practice putting aid!'' Overton immediately followed that with another tweet, ''Why do rules officials initiate that conversation to begin with. I wouldn't even have gone up there if I had know that. What a joke!''

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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.