McKenzie Sutterfield On Top After Opening Day
Both players opened with a 6-under 65 at Pine Ridge GC, one shot better than Bobby Kalinowski of Scottsdale, AZ. Six others, including Kent Fukushima (Grande Prairie, AB), Chad Belbin (Kamloops, BC), Todd Doohan (Sarnia, ON) and Winnipegs Dean North, are at 4-under 67 after one day.
Sitting at 5-under playing his 16th hole Thursday, McKenzie made a clutch up-and-down for par before draining a birdie putt on his final hole to wind up tied atop the leaderboard.
I didnt really hit it into trouble all day, and that gave me a chance for birdie on a lot of holes, said McKenzie. The conditions were ideal out there- if you didnt get to 4 or 5-under, you knew you left some shots on the course. So Im happy with the start. Why go chasing someone when you can be standing with them?
McKenzie is hoping to follow in the recent footsteps of fellow Australian Ben Ferguson. In 2000, after spending the year before on the Buy.com Tour, Ferguson not only won the MTS Classic, but also went on to get his PGA Tour a few months later. McKenzie played the Buy.com Tour a year ago, and is poised to be around come Sunday afternoon.
If you look at what Ben did, hopefully it will all be a good omen, added McKenzie, who is looking to for his first Tour win after five top-ten showings this year. It seems like every time I am in the hunt, guys keep beating me or I beat myself. But if I can keep getting into the top five often enough, eventually Ill get there.
Sutterfield, who played on the PGA Tour back in 1997, ran into a little good fortune on the par-4 11th. After hitting left into the trees, the 33-year-old hit a provisional ball before beginning the search for his original tee shot. Just as the five-minute search time limit was about to wind up, Sutterfield was getting set to hit his provisional when a spotter found his ball in the rough. He then chipped out and saved par.
I got a big break there, I went from possibly making triple-bogey to par, he added. I seemed to get more relaxed after that. I was actually wondering if it was possible to get a flight out of Winnipeg Friday night. It was frustrating when I hit that shot, and the way it has gone for me the last few weeks, those things can snowball.
Playing in the lead group of the day, Kalinowski got off to a quick start with 4-under 32 on the front nine, including a birdie on the par-3 ninth. Playing 232 yards onto a dome-shaped green, most golfers are more than satisfied with par on Pine Ridges signature hole- in fact, in the 90-year history of the course, there have been just ten holes-in-one on number nine. A plaque hanging in a hallway at Pine Ridge reads the hole is nationally recognized as one Canadas 18 most difficult holes.
On any Tour Ive played, that is without question the toughest par-3 I have ever seen, said Kalinowski, whose other stints have included time on the Asian PGA and Buy.com Tours. So a birdie there gave me a big lift heading to the back nine. A quick start is key with these guys. If you have a rough start, youll be out of the golf tournament in a hurry.
Full field scores from the MTS Classic
Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake
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.<
DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi
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.”
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.”
Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi
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.
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.”
Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder
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:
Filling in tomorrow for Corey Pavin that WD today @cbgolfchallenge I do things like this a lot to help events and asking for sponsors exemptions here but didn't get any help.— Ken Duke (@DukePGA) January 18, 2018
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.