Davies of Old Topping Augusta Field

By Martha BrendleMay 16, 2002, 4:00 pm
Big hitter Laura Davies looked like her old self during the first round of the Asahi Ryokuken International Championship. The Coventry native recorded back-to-back birdies right out of the gate and went on to make eagle on the par-5 16th en route to a 5-under 67.
With her ball resting on the apron at No. 16, Davies placed all bets on her putter and soundly moved to 4-under par, establishing herself as the leader of this second-year event by two strokes.
Hit a good drive, had like 218 to the pin, but it was uphill into the wind and hit a 3-iron, just managed to get it to the front edge and had about an 80-foot impossible snaking putt and knocked it in,' Davies said. 'Enjoyed that one. That was fun.'
Treacherous holes lurked just around the corner at Mount Vintage and Davies found out just how true that statement was when she faltered on the very next hole, dropping back to 3-under as she made the turn.
Another bogey, on the par-4 second, left her floundering amid a pack of players tied at 2-under. Birdie on the par-4 fifth was sweet redemption for the former Player of the Year (1996), moving her back to 3-under and as the established leader once again. The Englishwoman then broadened her lead with two more birdies during her round to finish at minus 5.
'You can see that people are 1- and 2-under, which is unusual,' Davies said of the difficult conditions.
'If you're not 5-under day 1, you're out of the top 10. So it's understandable because these greens are very demanding. You hear that they're hard, and hitting into them is the hardest thing. You can't fire at the pin.'
Grace Park made the turn Thursday in 34 strokes with one bogey and three birdies under her belt. Park finished the day two strokes off the lead with her opening-round 69. 'I shot 69 last week and I wasn't even top 15,' Park said. 'And this week I'm second. So, you know, it says a lot about this course and the toughness of it.'
Despite solid play which has netted her $259,953 and six top-10 finishes in eight starts, Park is still winless this season.
A foursome is tied for third. Janice Moodie, Dawn Coe-Jones, Carin Koch and Jeong Jang all opened with 2-under-par 70.
Only 15 competitors managed to break par in round one, and Davies and Park were the only two to break 70. Some less fortunate had a very rough go of it.
Defending champion Tina Fischer had gotten off to a great start before falling apart with a round that consisted of five bogeys and two birdies and left her in the back of the bus with amateur players Shinobu Moromizato and Hawaiis Michelle Wie, both of whom are four or more strokes over par. Fischer faired only slightly better than the amateurs recording 3-over 75.
Moromizato, the 15-year-old Japanese amateur, played safe golf after recording three bogeys during her first five holes of the day. She would go on to make seven pars before incurring yet another bogey on the par-4 fourth. Moromizato was 5-over through 14 holes.
Wie, unlike Moromizato, recorded a lone birdie during her round. The 12-year-old was in 125th position, at 7-over, through the 13th. She made two more bogeys, and then had a moment of relief on the par-5 16th where she recorded birdie.
As a testament to just how difficult the course was playing Carmen Hajjar recorded 12-over 84 in the opening round of her fourth LPGA Tour tournament of the season. The 35-year-old Ausie bogeyed or double-bogeyed all but two holes on the front nine. It had to be a disappointing day Hajjar who holds exempt status on the LPGA Tour. Julie Piers, a ten-year veteran on the LPGA, matched Hajjars high score.
Full-field scores from the Asahi Ryokuken International
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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.