To Play or Not to Play in Vegas
Well, there were quite a few players today at the TPC at Summerlin who were more bushy-tailed than bright-eyed and certainly a bit lighter in the wallet. So, despite Mr. Magees lament that the old days are gone on tour, there are still plenty of players who are taking advantage of all Sin City has to offer. Well, maybe not all it has to offer.
But Andrew makes a very good point. This weeks purse for the Las Vegas Invitational is $4 million, with $720,000 going to the winner. Twenty years ago on tour it was rare when a purse was as big as this weeks first-place prize.
Its a shame that money has to take the fun out of being on tour, but this week is all business, Magee explains. You cant afford to come out Sunday afternoon with a hangover and maybe blow a couple hundred thousand dollars or the chance to save your card for next year.
No, the days of PGA Tour players partying all night in Vegas disappeared with the Rat Pack.
That is not to say the boys of the 2003 Tour dont have some serious fun in Las Vegas. Oh, yes, I gambled a bit last night. I played some cards and then went to bed, said Vegas first-timer Thomas Levet. I think if you dont gamble in Vegas, youre not human.
I remember one year, said Steve Flesch, I missed the cut and then stayed up all night gambling at Bellagio. I made enough money that night to make the trip here worth while. All of the above was said through a very broad smile.
No one loves a good time more than John Maginnes. Man, my whole life is a gamble. I figure Ive won big just by the fact that Im here. Las Vegas may be the best city in the world. John likes blackjack and craps. Sometimes.
Las Vegas has changed through the years ' succeeding, to a degree, in making itself more of a family and couples destination. Flesch explains this is a perfect week for him and his wife. We just love to stay on the Strip, where all the action is, he said. My wife and I will take in a show, go to a great restaurant this is the week we leave the kids at home and just enjoy ourselves.
Chris DiMarco says his wife likes to roll the rocks a bit and this is one of the most enjoyable weeks on tour for both of them. Chris is not a big-time gambler, though. I hate to lose and then go to bed mad, he said.
Back to the Magee theory: I dont really like to gamble much, said Jim Furyk. Ive got my whole family with me this week, the parents. We just like to all go out to a nice dinner. Jim says hes usually so tired after a long day in the desert heat that all he wants to do in the evening is wash up and then relax.
Oh, by the way: Jim Furyk has won the Las Vegas Invitational three times. Hmmmm.
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.