Familiar Name with Unfamiliar Face Leads in Penn

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 16, 2000, 4:00 pm
Unless you're a die-hard golf fan, you might not be able to pick out Chris DiMarco on the putting green. He's the guy in the GAP golf shirt, with the unorthodox putting grip and the Florida Gator paraphernalia on his golf bag. Come Sunday night, you just might be able to spot him with a big shiny trophy in his hands.
DiMarco takes a three-shot lead over three others into the final round of the inaugural SEI Pennsylvania Classic at the Waynesborough Country Club in Paoli, Penn.
Saturday, DiMarco fired a 5-under-par 66 to move to 12-under-par through 54 holes, three strokes clear of Loren Roberts, Frank Lickliter and fellow Gator Mark Calcavecchia.
DiMarco began the third round one shot back of Lickliter and Calcavecchia. After a front-nine 2-under-par 33, DiMarco gained his first share of the lead by dropping an eight-foot birdie putt on the par-4 11th.
After two consecutive pars on the 12th and 13th, DiMarco stuck another tee shot to within ten feet at the par-3 14th. The ensuing birdie gave DiMarco the solo lead at 11-under, one shot lower than Lickliter.
Playing in the final group with Calc, Lickliter fell two off the pace by bogeying the 14th, when his tee shot flew the green. It was Lickliter's first bogey of the tournament. But the 31-year-old atoned for his iron mistake by sinking a 30-foot birdie putt at the par-5 15th.
However, as was the case at the par-3 14th, the par-3 17th proved to be a two-shot hole. DiMarco drained a 15-foot birdie putt to move to 12-under, while Lickliter missed a four-footer for par to fall to 9-under.
The two would remain in their respective positions, as each man parred the home hole.
'I've never (had a final-round lead) here on Tour,' said DiMarco. 'Up around it. I've been one back or even, but I've never had a two- or three-shot lead.
'I like it right now. Spot me three tomorrow, I like that.'
DiMarco will be paired with Roberts on Sunday. Roberts tied DiMarco's third-round 66 to earn a spot in the final group.
'I'm just going to go out and start out with the idea that if I can go through the first five holes and be, you know, 1-under for the round, I've got a real shot; I'm right there.'
Lickliter and Calcavecchia each carded rounds of 1-under-par 70 on Saturday. Once again, the two men will be paired together over the final 18 holes.
'I've still got a shot,' said Calcavecchia after birdying the par-5 18th. 'Chris has never won before. I'm sure he'll be a little nervous.
'You know, I've just got to hope things go a little bit better tomorrow. Nothing really good happened to me today. And as you know without a little luck in this game, you can forget it.'
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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.