LPGA Bahamas scheduled for 12 holes in Round 1

By Randall MellMay 23, 2013, 11:37 pm

Plans for the inaugural Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic were revised yet again Thursday with portions of the golf course still under water from the heavy rains earlier in the week on the Ocean Club Course at Atlantis on Paradise Island.

After Thursday’s first round was canceled and the event shortened to 54 holes, the LPGA had to re-group yet again, gathering players at the clubhouse at approximately 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

Players were informed by LPGA staff that a new plan tentatively calls for 12 holes to be played Friday with the possibility of as many as 13 to 15 holes being played Saturday and, hopefully, an 18-hole finale on Sunday.

With four to five holes still under water, the plans depend on how quickly course conditions improve and how much more rain may fall. The new plan allows for the possibility of between 43 and 46 holes to be played with no cut and the top 70 and ties getting paid.

“We put our heads together and thought this was the best alternative to deal with a difficult situation,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a tournament release. “We think we have at least 12 holes that are playable and in this way we are putting on a golf tournament [without a cut] and playing enough holes for the money to count as being official. We think this is the best solution, and it still delivers a great event for our sponsors and fans.”

The course is being re-routed Friday around unplayable holes. The first round will start at No. 10 with players taking detours to 6-7-4-5-11-12-13-14-2-3 and 8. Some of the pars and yardages may be adjusted. Play will begin at 7:15 a.m. and run through 3:35 p.m.

Almost 12 inches of rain fell late Tuesday afternoon through Tuesday night. The ninth hole and Nos. 15-18 remain the most unplayable, with course maintenance trying to pump water off those holes.

“The damage to the golf course and structures caused by Tuesday’s heavy rain and winds was extensive,” tournament director Matt Truax said in a release. “But, we think we can still present a first-class event for the LPGA, Pure Silk and the people of the Bahamas.”

The LPGA is aiming to play a minimum of 12 holes per day to get to the 36 holes required for an official event.

“There is good and bad to the situation and you have to decide if your glass is half full or half empty,” Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis said. “At the end of the day, we’ll all play the same holes, the same course and be scored the same way. That’s a golf tournament.

“It’s all about your perspective on it. If you go into it thinking, ‘this is dumb’ or ‘we shouldn’t play’ then you probably won’t play very well. I think, for the sponsors, we need to play. It’s a first-year event and we need to get out there.”

This won’t mark the first time the LPGA will play fewer than 18 holes in a round. At the 1989 Kemper Open, Betsy King and Jody Rosenthal each shot 2-under-par 63 on a 16-hole layout in the first round because heavy rains made two holes unplayable. King won what turned out to be a 52-hole event.

Since 1963, LPGA events have been shortened to 36 holes 15 times. The most recent was the Hana Bank Kolon Championship in 2007. Sunday’s final round was wiped out by high winds with Suzann Pettersen declared the 36-hole champion.

Getty Images

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.  

Getty Images

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.” 

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.