Rocco Hugs Greensboro

By Rich LernerApril 29, 2002, 4:00 pm
Greensboro loves Rocco, and Rocco loves Greensboro.
 
Its a golfing town in need of some affection, too. The top players, winded after the sprint to The Masters, stayed away. So the fans, considerably fewer than in years past, have embraced the affable Mediate. His easy smile and working mans name stamp him as the regular guy to whom anyone can easily relate. Plus, while many were questioning the strength of the field, Roccos always had nothing but nice things to say about a tournament he first won in 1993.
 
Rocco believes that Greensboros move to a fall date next year, combined with a major purse increase, will strengthen the field as players look to make the top 30 on the money list, thereby earning a spot in the Tour Championship. He also thinks that if a few changes can be made to the greens that Fuzzy Zoeller reworked in the 1990s, then Forest Oaks would be a gem.
 
In the meantime, Rocco shouldnt be discounted for the upcoming U.S. Open at Bethpage. The principal reason is his ability to drive the ball in the fairway, a must at any U.S. Open. And while hed certainly like to put a major on his expanding resume, Rocco doesnt need it to validate his existence. Hes content to leave his legacy on his three boys, who flew in from Ponte Vedra on Saturday night with Roccos wife, Linda.
 
As for his place in the game, Roccos now got five victories and a spot inside the top 20 in the world. Not too bad for the son of a Western Pennsylvania barber. Interestingly, hes had almost two distinct phases of his career ' the one before the 1994 back injury that yielded two wins and the one after, which has now produced three victories. To his credit, Rocco shed nearly 60 pounds since the early '90s. In the last year, he eschewed weightlifting because he always felt sore. Now, he maintains his solid build with rigorous aerobic work and plenty of stretching.

Is Rocco in the same category as Woods and Mickelson and the other glamour names? Hes quick to point out that hes not. But hes damn good, and appreciative of all that hes achieved without being arrogant. Going forward, Greensboro would no doubt be thrilled if some of those bigger names showed up. Even if they do, the truth is that theyll be no one in the field more loved than Rocco Mediate.
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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.