Bogey-free 63 Lifts Sluman to Lead

By Sports NetworkMay 15, 2003, 4:00 pm
IRVING, Texas -- Jeff Sluman fired a round of 7-under-par 63 on Thursday to grab the opening-round lead of the Byron Nelson Championship. Jim Furyk, Billy Andrade and Kevin Sutherland share second place at 6-under-par 64.
 
Play rotates over the TPC at Las Colinas and Cottonwood Valley Golf Club for the first two rounds before Las Colinas takes over the final two rounds.
 
Sluman played his first round at Cottonwood and tallied a birdie at the par-3 second hole. He collected three birdies in his last four holes on the front side to make the turn at 4-under 30.
 
Sluman, the 1988 PGA Championship winner, notched six consecutive pars to begin his second nine but caught fire at the close of his round.
 
He reached the par-5 16th green in two with a 5-wood then nearly holed a 55-footer for eagle on the difficult green. He settled for birdie but it set off a spectacular finish for the 45-year-old.
 
At the par-3 17th, Sluman knocked a 6-iron to 12 feet to set up birdie and at the finishing hole he ran home an eight-footer to take the first-round lead in a PGA Tour event for the first time since last year's Walt Disney event. He also became the seventh player in nine years to take the first-round lead after opening on the Cottonwood course.
 
'I just didn't get out there, aimlessly launch the driver with any disregard for anything because the rough is actually a little bit of a penalty this year versus other years,' said Sluman, who missed the Wachovia Championship last week to be his father, who had kidney transplant surgery. 'I mean there is still going to be low scores because of the conditions right now and there is very little wind that didn't come up like I thought it would.'
 
Sluman was not happy with the way he was putting in 2003 so he consulted former PGA Tour player Stan Utley for some advice over the phone the night before the start of the New Orleans tournament two weeks ago.
 
'I feel like I have played well all year for the most part but as always for most pros when they are not playing well it is usually putting, and I haven't putted that well,' said Sluman, who has four top-15s in 13 starts this season. 'I haven't made the putts that you need to make to keep rounds going or to get that one really low round in there.
 
'I had some inherent flaws in my putting stroke, and they need to get out. Right now I'm on the infant stages of this. I certainly like the results so far.'
 
Furyk, who played the TPC course on Thursday, mixed eight birdies and two bogeys in the first round. He missed the cut last week in North Carolina and immediately sought out his father's help.
 
'I tried to work some kinks out,' said Furyk. 'I had a couple of weeks off so I was rusty last week, and I spent a lot of time out here practicing on Tuesday and Wednesday. It paid off and I have to keep plugging away. I saw a few things I want to work on but I'm happy with the round.'
 
Andrade was tied with Sluman but ran into trouble at the 18th. His approach spun back off the green and he played to five feet, where he missed the par-saving putt.
 
'I hit a pretty good shot in there and it spun off to the front edge,' said Andrade. 'It was one of those putts where it looked like it was really slow and I knocked it by four and a half feet. I had a tough putt, it could have broken either way. I wasn't happy with the finish, but other than that I made seven birdies.'
 
Sutherland overcame a bogey at the first at Cottonwood to record seven birdies the rest of the way for his 64.
 
Phil Mickelson, Jerry Kelly, Duffy Waldorf, Briny Baird, Jim Carter, Tim Petrovic, Spike McRoy, Tommy Armour III, Jonathan Kaye, Mark Walker and Vijay Singh shot rounds of 5-under 65 to share fifth place.
 
Singh has been in the middle of controversy all week after his stance on Annika Sorenstam's playing in next week's Colonial. It did not seem to matter on Thursday as his 65 matched his best round on tour this season.
 
'I was just focused on my game,' Singh said. 'I don't read much of the papers. I was focused to play this week, and I want to do well.'
 
Shigeki Maruyama, the 2002 champion who has struggled with neck injuries since the win last year, opened his title defense with a 2-over 72. Among other players tied with Maruyama in 124th are Sergio Garcia, Jesper Parnevik and John Daly.
 
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the EDS Byron Nelson Classic
  • Full coverage of the EDS Byron Nelson Classic
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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.