Woods Feeling Better Ready for Pro-Am
Game times always a different story, Woods said after his practice round at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Hopefully, I can feel good enough to where I can have enough energy for all 18 holes and all six-hours-plus of it.
Woods battled a 103-degree fever in playing only nine holes at Spyglass Hill Tuesday. He was supposed to receive his Player of the Year award at the California Golf Writers Association dinner Tuesday night, but stayed home instead. He did, however, collect the PGA Tours 2001 Player of the Year award Wednesday night.
Woods remained in bed throughout Wednesday morning. Even if he had been feeling up to par, he would not have made his scheduled tee time. For the second straight day, frost delayed the start of practice rounds by over two hours.
This could prove to be a huge problem, should it persist - and frost is in the forecast Thursday morning. The Pro-Am features 180 professionals and 180 amateurs. To make the situation more problematic, three courses are in rotation.
Woods is scheduled to tee off in Thursdays first round at 9:10 a.m. PT at Poppy Hills. Woods is partnered with good friend and former college roommate Jerry Chang. The two shared the title for low pro-am team a year ago.
This year, though, Chang is playing to a different handicap.
I think we got gypped this year, we only got two shots. Last year it was three, that was perfect, Woods joked.
Also in the group is five-time Pebble Beach champion Mark OMeara. OMeara is teamed with Irish businessman Dermott Desmond. Desmond made headlines when he paid nearly $1.5 million for a flag from the 18th hole of the 2000 U.S. Open, which was won by Woods at Pebble Beach.
One group behind them will be the foursome of Scott Simpson and Bill Murray, and Jeff Sluman and Mark Grace.
Woods, a native of Southern California who attended nearby Stanford, has an impressive track record at this event. Apart from his pair of triumphs at Pebble Beach (the AT&T and the U.S. Open) in 2000, Woods has also finished second in 1997.
Anytime you come to the peninsula, you always feel pretty good, he said. I used to come down here in college and play the state amateur here. Ive played a lot of golf on this peninsula, and I enjoy coming here every single year.
Not everythings been good on the peninsula, however. He missed the cut in 1998, when he failed to show for the final round, which wasnt completed until the day after the PGA Championship in August due to a washout in February. He tied for 53rd in the rain-shortened event in 1999. And last year, he stepped on the ankle of an overzealous autograph seeker, hyper-extending his knee in the process. He went on to tie for 13th.
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.