Duffy Does Disney
Waldorf began the day six shots back of Flesch, but birdied six of his first seven holes on the Magnolia course en route to his career-low round on the PGA Tour, and the lowest final round to win a Tour event since David Duval carded a 59 at the 1999 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
Waldorf finished the tournament at 26-under-par, one shot clear of Flesch, who shot 69 on Sunday. Tiger Woods, who played in the final group with Flesch, also shot 3-under-par 69 to finish in solo third place at 23-under-par.
It appeared as if Sunday's final round would be a two-man race between Flesch and Woods. However, neither man was focused solely on the other. After closing to within two of Flesch following the third round, Woods said he wouldn't be surprised if someone shot a superb sub-par round on Sunday to contend for the title.
'Anyone can shoot 62 out here without batting an eye,' Woods said on Saturday.
He was right.
Playing in the group in front of Woods and Flesch, Waldorf birdied his first three holes, parred the 4th, and then birdied three more holes beginning at the 5th. Duffy went out in 6-under-par 30 to make the turn at 22-under.
Woods and Flesch each played the front-nine steadily, if not spectacularly. Both men carded 1-under-par 35s, with each man posting two birdies and one bogey. Tiger's bogey at the par-3 6th broke a string of 110 consecutive holes at par or better.
A birdie at the par-5 10th gave Duffy a share of the lead with Flesch at 23-under. Woods also birdied the 10th to move to 22-under, one shot off the lead.
For Tiger, it was series of missed opportunities on the back nine. The defending champion recorded only one birdie over his final eight holes to finish the tournament at 23-under, three shots back of the eventual champion.
'It was one of those days where I didn't have much,' Woods said. 'But I hung in there and gave myself a chance.'
Waldorf posted a pair of birdies at the 12th and 15th holes, both par-3s, to move to 25-under, a number that was reached by Flesch following a birdie at the par-4 17th.
With a playoff looming, Waldorf stuck his approach shot on the home hole to 10 feet. Last year, Duffy won twice on the PGA Tour - both coming in sudden death. However, this Sunday, no extra holes were needed. Waldorf converted the birdie putt, his 10th of the day, to enter the clubhouse at 26-under.
Flesch, in search of his first Tour victory, kept his hopes alive by also placing his second shot on the 18th to ten feet. But unlike his 38-year-old predecessor, the 33-year-old left-hander was unable to coax in his birdie effort.
'I knew what I had to do,' Flesch said. 'I just couldn't get it to go. I figured somebody might come from behind because Tiger and I weren't playing that good.'
This is Waldorf's fourth career PGA Tour victory, and his third over the last two seasons. The $540,000 first-place check moved the 14-year Tour veteran to 39th on the money list, not enough to qualify him for next week's Tour Championship, but good enough for a trip to the 2001 season-opening Mercedes Championships.
'Obviously, it's a surprise to me,' Waldorf said of his come-from-behind victory. 'Today, I got everything I could out of the round.'
Chris Perry will be making the northward trek to the East Lake Country Club in Atlanta, Ga., for the $5-million Tour Championship. Perry began the week in 32nd place on the money list, but moved to 30th with a tie for 13th this week. Perry surpassed Rocco Mediate for the final spot in the limited field. Mediate was 30th in earnings as the week began, but missed the cut in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
There are three official tournaments remaining on the 2000 PGA Tour schedule, yet only one of those is a full-field event. Next week's Southern Farm Bureau Classic at the Annandale Golf Club in Madison, Miss., is the final opportunity for players to earn their 2001 PGA Tour playing privileges.
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.