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By Josh WarthenOctober 2, 2007, 4:00 pm
Big Break: MesquiteIs this for real? Am I really flying out to Mesquite to be on the Big Break? These were the thoughts of disbelief that went through my head while boarding my flight. Having the opportunity to compete in this unique competition is priceless.
 
Before anything else I realize how fortunate I am to be a part of this show. Out of about 5,000 applicants to be one of the twelve competitors chosen is a complete honor.
 
Going into the first day of competition I am feeling very excited, anxious, and most of all straight pumped! After a day of practice it is evident that each and every one of these guys on the show can play. Any mistake could have me packing my bags quick.
 
The first challenge of the Big Break Mesquite was a doozy. Something like 265 yards, a little up hill through a canyon. In a regular tournament scenario I would be expecting to make a three. In this situation, however, Im walking about 75 yards in complete silence with cameras staring at me from every angle before I have one shot to hit it as close as I can to the pin.
 
Wow! I feel like puking.
 
At the same time, I feel like I am going to show everyone what J-Dubb is all about. Not! I hit a low screaming cut that went about 200 yards straight right up onto the side of the canyon. What a way to start. However, for some strange reason Im not too bummed about it.
 
So, Im in the bottom four going into the second challenge of the day. The second challenge was pretty cool. Pick your yardage and hit it into the circle. I pick a yardage around 165. Im feeling like I need to do something quick to get some points up on the board and possibly avoid elimination. I make a solid swing with a 9 iron and actually its flying a bit higher than I want and it needs to sit. Sure enough, it lands inside the circle and bounces barely out. Zero points. Im not felling bad because I made a good swing and Id normally be putting from inside 20 feet.
 
The third competition of the day is the classic flop over the wall. While Im not the best at flops, Im not bad. I hit it up and over but way too far. At least I got a couple points on the board I guess. My grip was too tight and I didnt have nearly enough touch. Oh well, headed to elimination.
 
Im facing Roger in the first part of the up and down Elimination Challenge. My short game is what wins me tournaments so I am feeling confident that I can survive. I hit one really good chip, tapped in and survived. I didnt feel like I would be the first one eliminated but I didnt think I would come that close either. At this point I am feeling very fortunate to still be in the game and I am now more prepared for the next episode. See you there.
 
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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.