McGladrey host Love III grouped with Kuchar, English

By Will GrayNovember 5, 2013, 8:08 pm

Several notable pairings will have a distinctly Southern appeal to them this week at The McGladrey Classic, as the PGA Tour conducts its final event of the calendar year in the U.S. Here are a few groups to keep an eye on at Sea Island, including a trio of players with longstanding ties to the Peach State that includes the tournament host (all times ET):

7:20 a.m. (No. 10 tee): Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Boo Weekley

Johnson is one of the most notable golf residents of the Sea Island/St. Simon's Island area, while Simpson was a runner-up here in 2011 in his most recent appearance, losing in a playoff to Ben Crane. They'll play together Thursday and Friday alongside Boo Weekley, who won earlier this year at Colonial and has experienced success previously in the Southeast, winning the RBC Heritage in nearby Hilton Head in 2007 and 2008.

7:40 a.m. (No. 10 tee): Y.E. Yang, Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh

This trio boasts a total of six major titles between them, although Yang's triumph at Hazeltine during the 2009 PGA Championship serves as the most recent of those six marquee victories. Goosen is looking to rebound after a 2013 season largely plagued by injury, while Singh has played well in both starts so far in 2013-14, finishing second at the Open and tying for 23rd the following week in Las Vegas.

Noon (No. 1 tee): Harris English, Matt Kuchar, Davis Love III

A longtime resident of Sea Island, Love III is serving two roles this week as both player and tournament host. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Kuchar, a Georgia Tech alum who also has ties to this week's venue, as well as English, a former University of Georgia standout who recorded his first career PGA Tour win this summer at the Fedex St. Jude Classic.

12:10 p.m. (No. 1 tee): Tommy Gainey, Kevin Na, Charley Hoffman

Gainey is back at Sea Island this week as the event's defending champion, having rallied with a closing 60 a year ago to win his maiden Tour title. He'll be joined in the early rounds by Na, who tied for third at CordeValle last month as he looks to rebound from injury, and Hoffman, who finished fourth the following week at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

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.