Olazabal: Kaymer is 'determined to give his best'

By Ryan LavnerAugust 27, 2012, 2:02 pm

Captain Jose Maria Olazabal remains confident that Martin Kaymer will be ready for next month’s Ryder Cup at Medinah – even if some already have speculated that the 2010 PGA champion could forfeit his spot on the European team due to poor play.

Kaymer, the former No. 1 player in the world, has not recorded a top-10 finish since April, skidding to No. 27 in the world and barely holding on to the 10th and final qualifying spot on the World Points list. Nicolas Colsaerts, who on Monday was chosen as one of two captain’s picks for the European team, had a chance to earn an automatic spot and knock Kaymer out of the top 10 with a high finish last week at Gleneagles, but eventually finished T-19.

In a statement Sunday, Kaymer said, “I am obviously very happy to be on the team. A little relieved, yes, but overall it is just a great feeling. … I really feel inspired to get my game ready and to work as hard as I have to to be ready.”

Kaymer added that he’s been working on his game with his coach, Gunther Kessler, and plans to play the KLM Open and BMW Italian Open before heading to Medinah.

According to a report Sunday in The Sun newspaper in London, however, Kaymer has privately considered turning down a spot if his game doesn’t improve.  

The Sun quoted one anonymous player who said, “The word on the range is that Martin is seriously considering whether he will be able to do himself justice. There was a feeling he would not have minded being overtaken by Nicolas, because at least it would have taken the decision out of his hands.”  

Only Sandy Lyle, in 1989, has turned down a spot on the Ryder Cup team because of poor performance.

When asked about Kaymer during Monday’s news conference to announce his two captain’s picks, Olazabal remained steadfast in his support for the German.

“I talked to Martin yesterday, had a little chat on the phone, and he’s been working really hard the past two weeks after the PGA and is really happy with the results that he’s seeing,” Olazabal said. “Don’t get it wrong – he wants to be a part of that team and is determined to give it his best. He made that point very clear to me yesterday, and I don’t think I’ll have any issues with Martin.” 

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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.