Small Numbers in a Small World

By Mercer BaggsOctober 17, 2002, 4:00 pm
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Without making ridiculous references to his surname, Bob Burns had one heck of round Thursday in earning a share of the lead in the Disney Golf Classic.
Burns fired a career-best 9-under-par 63 under the rules of lift, clean and place. He played the soggy Palm Course to the tune of nine birdies without a bogey.
Incidentally, his wife of less than two months, Jayme, decided to sleep in this morning, as Burns was in the first group out at 7:30 AM ET.
Some support, huh? he joked.
Burns low score wasnt enough to distance himself from anyone, as Hidemichi Tanaka and Jeff Sluman also shot 63s.
'We get out hands on the ball at the Palm, and you darn well better not go out and fire a 74, or you're going to have some park time on the weekend,' said Sluman.
Tanaka made 10 birdies and a lone bogey at the host Magnolia Course, where they did not clean and replace. The diminutive Japanese player also established a new career-best on tour, after shooting 64 in each of his last two events.
'During the practice round I figured out that there is really no very tricky holes here, no big hazards of any kind. So I felt comfortable going into this tournament during the practice rounds,' Tanaka said through an interpreter.
Scott Hoch, an Orlando resident, birdied five of his final seven holes at the Palm in carding an 8-under 64.
He is tied for fourth place with Chad Campbell, Rookie of the Year candidate Peter Lonard, Chris DiMarco and Joe Durant, who played alongside Sluman.
'I didn't get the honors today until the 13th tee,' Sluman said. 'We both birdied 2. We both birdied 6. We both birdied 7. We both birdied 8, and then we both birdied 10. What do you got to go to get the honors? We fed off of each other.'
Birdies were flying in high numbers Thursday. There were 112 players who broke par in the first round.
Also playing the Palm, Tiger Woods shook off the 'rust' accumulated from a two-week break for a 6-under 66.
The two-time Disney champion was 3-under through his first seven holes before blocking his tee shot right on the par-4 17th, and taking bogey.
I dont think Ive ever hit a ball that far right. If it was with a iron, I would have shanked it, Woods said.
Tiger recovered on the front side ' his back 9 ' by birdieing holes 2 and 3, and 5-7. He concluded his day, however, with a bogey at the ninth.
There are days when you just slap it around and get it in the hole somehow, and other parts of the game are going to be better than others. Today was a perfect example of that, said Woods, who hit eight of 14 fairways and took 27 putts.
I really putted well. I made a lot of putts today. And thats what you have to do out here, you know its going to be a birdie-fest.'
While Woods has already secured his fourth consecutive money title, Burns is just trying to secure his spot on the tour for next season.
The 34-year-old, who lists beer brewing as one of his special interests, is currently 118th on the money list. And even with this being one of only three full-field tournaments remaining on the 2002 schedule, he still feels hes on shaky ground.
Its kind of scary how high its going to be to keep your card. I think Im right on the number at the end of the year, 530 (thousand), maybe something like that to keep your card, said Burns, who has made $533,802 thus far.
Burns could have locked up his card earlier in the season, but was burned at the Kemper Open. After acing the par-3 11th to take a two-shot lead on the field in the final round, he made double bogey at the par-4 16th when his approach shot ' which should have finished some 15 feet from the hole ' bounded off the dried out greens and into a trough.
He finished tied for third, a result that was two-pronged. For one, it was a bitter defeat for a man who entered this weeks event 0-for-172 on the PGA Tour. But on the flipside, that $208,800 payday is the primary reason he is currently stationed inside the top 125 on the money list.
I got a break when I made the hole-in-one at Kemper to put me in position to win. And I got a pretty bad break on 16. But I hit the shot I was trying to hit in the fairway, Burns said.
Youre not going to see a bounce like that on this golf course. So hopefully, Im right there again with three holes to play, you know, and Ill be able to pull off the shot that I want to.
Full-field scores from the Disney Golf 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.