Bubble Boy Leads Tour Championship

By Sports NetworkOctober 24, 2002, 4:00 pm
PRATTVILE, Ala. -- Todd Barranger fired a 7-under 65 Thursday to take the first-round lead at the Buy.Com Tour Championship. Barranger is two strokes ahead of Mike Heinen, Eric Meeks and Jason Gore.
Barranger, who currently stands 15th on the Buy.Com money list, is hoping for a big week that will secure his spot in the top 15. The top 15 players on the money list after the Tour Championship receive full exemptions to the PGA Tour for the 2003 campaign.
'I'm not battling the nerves like I was last year - the what-ifs, the who's doing this and who's doing that,' said Barranger, who improved his first-round score from a year ago by 20 strokes. 'I'm just focused on what I'm doing. Last year was a huge learning experience for me.'
Barranger started his round with a birdie at the second. He later birdied the seventh and eighth to move to 3-under, as he and the rest of the field battled light, but steady rain throughout the day.
The 2001 Buy.Com Dayton Open winner notched birdies on back-to-back holes twice on the back nine. He moved to 4-under with a birdie on 12 and followed that with a birdie at the par-3 13th.
Barranger later birdied the par-3 16th and the par-5 17th to cap his bogey-free round of 65.
'I'm very happy with the way the day went,' Barranger said. 'It's kind of weird because this golf course will not let you be aggressive. But the wind forced me to hit driver out there today because I didn't want to have 240 yards into each green.'
Gore is one of four men at this event looking for his third win of the season. Gore, Cliff Kresge, Patrick Moore and Arron Oberholser are the two-time winners on the Buy.Com Tour this season. If one of these four were to win this event, they would gain the automatic 'Battlefield Promotion' to the PGA Tour.
Gore started his round on fire. He birdied one, three and four to quickly get to 3-under. After a pair of pars, Gore birdied the final three holes on the front side to make the turn at minus 6.
Gore, who won the Oregon Classic and the Boise Open this year, dropped a shot at the 11th. He later recovered with a birdie at 17, but faltered at the last with another bogey to end a 5-under.
'I made every putt I looked at on the front side,' said Gore. 'Then I just held on the rest of the round.'
Roland Thatcher and Aaron Baddeley are three strokes off the pace at minus 4. Jeff Klauk, Keoke Cotner, Jason Caron and Charles Warren are one behind that pair at 3-under-par.
Andy Sanders, Charles Raulerson, John Maginnes, Barry Cheesman, Gavin Coles, Tag Ridings, Doug Barron and Oberholser, who claimed the Samsung Canadian PGA Championship and the Utah Classic, all stand at minus 2.
Moore, who won the Richmond Open and the Lake Erie Charity Classic, leads a group of seven players at 1-under.
Kresge opened with a 3-over 75 on Thursday.
David Morland IV, who won the weather-shortened Southern Open last week to get into the Tour Championship, leads a group of five players at even par.
Full-field scores from the Buy.Com Tour Championship
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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).

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 phoned 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. 

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.