Ahern Birdies 18 for Lead

By Sports NetworkMay 30, 2003, 4:00 pm
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Jim Ahern birdied the 18th hole on Friday to polish off a round of 8-under-par 64 and take the first-round lead of the Music City Championship.
Doug Tewell is alone in second place at 7-under par, followed by Pat McDonald, Tom Jenkins, Rodger Davis, J.C. Snead and Vicente Fernandez, who share third place at minus-5.
Ahern wasted little time in breaking into red figures on Friday. He two-putted the first hole, a 530-yard par-5, for birdie but cashed in at the next par-5 hole.
At No. 6, Ahern knocked a 5-wood into a greenside bunker with his second shot but the 54-year-old holed out from 75 feet out of the trap.
'Someone was looking out for me,' said Ahern, referring to his unlikely eagle at the sixth.
Ahern cooled on the front side with three pars to close but he quickly returned to his birdie ways. He reached the putting surface in two at the next par-5, the 10th, and his 83-foot eagle putt left him with 16 feet for birdie. He rolled that putt home for birdie to reach 4-under par for the round.
Ahern continued his impressive form on the par-5 at 12. He two-putted for birdie from close to 20 feet, then birdied No. 13 to make it two in a row. Ahern drained a seven-foot birdie putt at the 15th to match Tewell at 7-under par, but Ahern had one more birdie left in his bag.
At the 18th, Ahern hit a 9-iron from 141 yards out to 30 feet. He sank the putt to take the first-round lead in a Champions Tour event for the second time this season.
'The putt on No. 18 was a good way to finish,' said Ahern, who also held a piece of the first-round lead at the Toshiba Senior Classic in March. 'It's just the first round and there is a lot of golf left to play.
'I made some nice putts today. If you're not making any putts out here, you're not going to score. If I could putt like that every day, I'd be a happy camper.'
Tewell started slowly with two birdies on his front side, but around the turn he went on a run of fabulous golf. He knocked a 3-iron onto the green at the par-5 10th and holed the 20-foot eagle putt.
At the 11th, Tewell sank a 15-foot birdie putt and one hole later he added an eight-foot birdie to get to 6-under par. Tewell ran home a 12-foot birdie putt at No. 16 to take the clubhouse lead with his 7-under-par 65.
'I really played well last week and felt I should have won,' said Tewell, who tied for third last week at the Columbus Southern Open. 'I just couldn't make some putts. The putter felt good in my hands today.'
Morris Hatalsky shot a 4-under 68 and made it through Friday's round without any bogeys, running his streak to 97 consecutive holes without a bogey. That matched the Champions Tour record set in 1994 by the late Jack Kiefer.
'The streak is a reflection of your overall game,' said Hatalsky, who won last week's Columbus Southern Open. 'My ball striking and short game have been good lately and I have a good rhythm going now.'
Hatalsky shares eighth place with eight other players including Hale Irwin, Bob Gilder and Jose Maria Canizares, whose son Alejandro, a freshman at Arizona State University, won the NCAA Men's Individual Golf Championship on Friday.
Gil Morgan, the 2002 champion, is part of a logjam at 3-under-par 69.
Related Links
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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).

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    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

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    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:

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    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.