Stock Watch: Tiger's old coach; Tiger's next coach

By Ryan LavnerAugust 26, 2014, 2:35 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Hunter Mahan (+7%): Well, at least somebody has contracted FedEx Cup fever. The only player to compete in all 29 playoff events, he’s now in line for the biggest payday of his career.

U.S. Ryder Cup drama (+5%): With Mahan now a virtual lock, it looks like six players are vying for two spots. Keegan Bradley and Brandt Snedeker would seem the most likely to be selected, but Bill Haas, Ryan Moore, Webb Simpson or Brendon Todd could flip the script with a big week in Beantown.  

Carlos Ortiz (+4%): This rookie season may have exceeded the 23-year-old’s wildest expectations, but the trifecta was no fluke. He represents the new breed of long-hitting, hard-swinging, fearless young players who are flooding the big leagues.   

Jamie Donaldson (+3%): On a squad littered with bright stars and big personalities, the 38-year-old Welshman earned a spot on his first European Ryder Cup team the hard way, traveling all the way to Prague to get the necessary W.

Sean Foley (+2%): Sure, he might forever be known as the swing coach who couldn’t push Tiger to 15 majors and beyond, but he’s a smart guy doing fine work with Justin Rose (two wins last month) and Mahan (Barclays). At least now he can go about his business without the nagging criticism.   


FALLING

Jim Furyk (-1%): It’s abundantly clear that his next victory will have to come from behind, not from the pole position. That said, Furyk has handled this four-year oh-fer with class, facing the music (and the microphones) after every disappointment. Respect.

Deutsche Bank (-2%): The early WDs (so far) include Sergio, J-Rose, G-Mac and Duf, and frankly we’re surprised there aren’t more. With the short week between Boston and Denver, this is the event to skip, which is a shame, because the tournament is always good, clean, holiday fun.

Tiger’s next swing coach (-3%): Job candidates must be: a.) thick-skinned, with all of the armchair instructors; b.) cautious, in dealing with an oft-injured player; and c.) ambitious, because here is an opportunity to resurrect the career of a soon-to-be 39-year-old stuck on 14 majors and in the final act of his career. That gig isn’t for everyone.

Reset Cup (-4%): Nice hot streak, Rory – you’re now Nos. 2 in the FedEx Cup. Mahan’s Barclays victory was an annual reminder that playoff events shouldn’t be worth five times the usual points.

Euro Ryder Cup drama (-5%): Does anyone actually think that Paul McGinley will NOT select Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald? The Europeans are huge favors on paper, but that’s no reason to get cute with the picks. (Sorry, Miggy.)

Chella Choi (-8%): Even the visually impaired could see that her infraction was egregious. That Choi “did not agree” with the ruling, per an LPGA official, makes the shady situation even worse.

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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.