Tseng flashes old form in taking Safeway lead

By Randall MellSeptember 1, 2013, 12:00 pm

Did Yani Tseng find her mojo again?

The former Rolex world No. 1, such a dominant force in her 109-week run atop the world rankings, burst out of her funk and back into the LPGA’s spotlight Saturday with a 9-under-par 63 to take a three-shot lead going into the final round of the Safeway Classic.

Tseng, 24, seems to have found her form almost overnight with the help of an old swing coach and a new one. Tseng said a return to her Taiwanese golf roots has sparked her game as she bids to end a 17-month winless spell.

Safeway Classic: Articles, videos and photos

After winning 15 times around the world in 15 months, Tseng spiraled into a slump. A two-time Ricoh Women’s British Open champ, Tseng missed the cut in that event at St. Andrews last month, marking her fourth consecutive missed cut. She plummeted to No. 15 in the Rolex Women's World Rankings.

With her management team acknowledging she was searching wide and far for help, Tseng returned to her Taiwanese home for two weeks after leaving St. Andrews. She got back together there with Tony Kao, the coach who helped her develop as a youth. In fact, she brought him back to the United States with her. He’s accompanying her at the Safeway Classic.

“I think that helps a little bit and keeps me relaxed,” Tseng said in her post-round news conference Saturday in Portland. “He teach me since I play golf, ever since I was 5 or 6, until I was 18, when I turned pro, and then he didn’t teach me anymore.” 

Tseng made her rise to No. 1 with Gary Gilchrist as her coach, but she said she’s also working with another new coach in Orlando, Kevin Smeltz. She believes her return to Taiwan helped revitalize her spirit and game.

“I went back to Taiwan for two weeks to play golf with some young LPGA players, and they’re really helping me to be back in this position, to be more excited, to make birdies, to try to beat everybody out here,” Tseng said.

In her first event back from Taiwan, Tseng broke her missed-cut streak, tying for 24th last week at the CN Canadian Women's Open. This week, she has posted three rounds in the 60s at Columbia Edgewater Country Club in Portland.

Tseng believes the difficulties she is working through will help her rebound to be an even better player.

“My swing is much better, my attitude on the course is much better, and I think if one day I come back on top, I’ll be much better than what I used to be,” she said.

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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.