Estes Races to FedEx Lead

By Mercer BaggsJune 7, 2001, 4:00 pm
Bob Estes fired a 61 in the first round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Its the first time he has shot 62 or better since doing so in his native Texas, seven years ago.
That turned out pretty well.
Estes went wire-to-wire en route to winning his first - and only - PGA Tour event in the 1994 Texas Open.
Deja vu in Germantown, Tenn.? Estes hopes so.
Estes had 10 birdies in matching the TPC at Southwind course record, set in the final round in 1993.
Tom Byrum was 7-under-par with two holes left when play was suspended by darkness at 8:55 p.m. ET.
Richie Coughlan, Brent Schwarzrock and Tommy Tolles, who were all 6-under, were among the 30 players still on the course when play was stopped.
John Riegger, who spent the past two years on the Buy.Com Tour, matched his best round ever on the PGA Tour with a 65. J.P. Hayes, Chris DiMarco, Paul Goydos, Sean Murphy and Cliff Kresge all had 66s.
Rain forced a two-hour delay before the first group teed off on Thursday. Under lift-clean-and-place rules, Estes birdied four of the first five holes and six of the first eight.
He made the turn with a share of the lead at 6-under and continued his torrid play on the back nine. Estes recorded four more birdies on the outward half to tie the best score of his career, which came in 1991 at the Chattanooga Classic.

It was an all-to-familiar day for Phil Mickelson. The world's No. 2-ranked player was at 3-under and tied for the early lead at the turn when he ran into trouble.
He hit his tee shot into the water on the par-3 11th and then put a wedge into a bunker for a triple-bogey. Mickelson also had trouble off the tee on the par-4 18th, putting his tee shot into the lake down the left side of the fairway. He took a drop and then missed a long putt for par, finishing with a 70.
Full-field Scores from the FedEX St. Jude Classic
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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.