Notes Kresge Inspired Bates Major

By Mercer BaggsAugust 29, 2003, 4:00 pm
NORTON, Mass. -- Cliff Kresge had a share of the first-round lead of the Deutsche Bank Championship until Justin Rose eagled his final hole to push ahead.
 
It would have been the first time that the 34-year-old Floridian would have owned at least a share of the lead at the conclusion of any stage in a PGA Tour event.
 
That would be kind of cool, leading the tournament after the first round, said the Nationwide Tour graduate, who shot 6-under 65. I guess its great to be in the lead, but obviously Sunday is what it most important. I will take any lead I can.
 
Kresge is a two-time winner on the developmental tour. He has recorded three top-10 finishes this season, and has already secured his PGA Tour playing privilege for 2004.
 
That helps me go out and play golf a little more freely and not be so worried about whether or not I am going to have a job next year, said Kresge, who entered this week 76th on the money list.
 
A tie for 10th at the U.S. Open and a tie for sixth at the Western have helped establish that security. Because of his play at the Western, Kresge got an exemption into the Open Championship. His week ended quickly when he missed the cut at Royal St. Georges, but it was the beginning that he remembers fondly.
 
I played a practice round with Ben Curtis out there, so we laughed and talked about how much it was going to take to keep your card and he said that he was playing a little better and blah, blah, blah, and hes still got time, Kresge recalled. And I will be darned, he wins the tournament.
 
I would say the same thing at the PGA. Shaun Micheel, hes been out here for many years, hes a good, solid player, but never really a marquee-type player. When guys do that, that gives people like myself more incentive and more confidence that it could be done.
 
PAT ON THE BACK
 
Dont tell Pat Bates the major season is over.
 
Bates, who was born in St. Louis, Mo., and was a three-time All-America selection at the University of Florida, considers this weeks event very much a homecoming.
 
Bates played the North Atlantic mini-tour following his exodus from Gainesville, Fla., and won the 1993 Massachusetts Open.
 
That was my breakthrough as a professional, he said. Maybe this would be my breakthrough on tour.
 
Bates opened play at the TPC of Boston in 5-under 66. He is three off the 18-hole lead.
 
Bates is in his second consecutive season on the PGA Tour, and third overall. He finished 206th on the 1995 money list and was relegated to the now Nationwide Tour. After five unsuccessful attempts to get back to the big league ' he played in only five events in 1999 due to season-ending neck surgery ' he graduated from the developmental tour when he won three times in 2001.
 
Bates played in 29 events last year, making 17 cuts and squeaking inside the top 125 in earnings at No. 123.
 
He enters this week at 109, having made 14 cuts in 26 starts. And with a lot of the top-ranked players taking time off over the next month, This is a big stretch for me, he said.
 
Bates concluded his first round Friday with a six-foot par putt. He raised his fist in celebration, and was loudly applauded by those around the green. After signing his scorecard, Bates signed several autographs and was treated to, Keep it up, Pat! and Way to go, Pat! as he left the scene.
 
One middle-aged woman even asked for a kiss on the cheek. He graciously obliged.
 
I still know a lot of people from here. This is like home, he said.
 
Ive never played in any majors, he added. This is my major.
 
FAX ON, FAX OFF
 
Brad Faxon has played the TPC of Boston course more than anyone else -- he estimates 10 times since the course opened in June -- in the field, but it didn't help Friday.
 
Faxon opened in 4-over 75.
 
'It was pretty tough,' said Faxon, who played in the afternoon when the winds were considerably stronger. 'Club selection was tough. It was much more difficult than this morning.
 
'I struggled a little bit -- lucky to finish where I am.'
 
As a native Rhode Islander, Faxon is a fan favorite at this event. When he putted out for birdie on the par-5 18th, those left in the greenside bleachers gave him a solid ovation.
 
'It was nice,' he said. 'Hopefully, I'll shoot a low score tomorrow. I certainly don't want to miss this.'
 
One of those following Faxon in the gallery was his 95-year-old paternal grandfather. Faxon said his grandfather got a chance to meet his playing competitor on Friday, British Open champion Ben Curtis.
 
'He said, 'You surprised everyone, Ben,' I think he called him Mr. Curtis,' Faxon said with a smile.
 
SINGH-ING A NEW TUNE
 
Vijay Singh shot 6-under 65 Friday to finish two shots off the lead.
 
Singh, who has won twice this season, made six birdies and no bogeys, and credited a new belly-putter to much of his success.
 
'I changed from Scotty Cameron to Bobby Grace,' said Singh, who had 28 putts in Round 1. 'It should be called 'Amazing Grace.''
 
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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.