Clarke Shares English Open Lead for Third Straight Day

By Sports NetworkJune 8, 2002, 4:00 pm
WARWICKSHIRE, England -- Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke held his spot atop the leaderboard for a third straight day Saturday, using a 4-under 68 to finish alongside Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin at 13-under-par 203 through 54 holes of the English Open.
 
Denmark's Soren Hansen fired a flawless 8-under 64 - the best round this week at the Marriott Forest of Arden -to rocket into a share of second place at 12-under with Steve Webster of England, who was also bogey-free in shooting a third-round 65.
 
Englishmen Sam Walker (66) and Justin Rose (68), the winner of last week's British Masters, finished together at 11-under 205, while Phillip Price (70) of Wales was alone in seventh at minus 10.
 
Clarke, seeking to win this tournament for the third time in four years, tallied a pair of birdies on the front nine Saturday to get to 11-under. After posting four consecutive pars around the turn Clarke knocked a 5-iron to within four feet at the par-5 12th to set up an easy eagle.
 
He rolled in another four-footer at the 13th for a birdie that gave him the outright lead at 14-under par. But he dropped a shot at the par-5 17th, where he missed the fairway then the green en route to a bogey six.
 
'That was a little bit disappointing because the 17th was the only poor tee shot I had hit all day,' said Clarke, who hit 12 of 14 fairways for the third day in a row.
 
'I have been hitting the ball well for some time now but haven't been able to turn it into the scores. I am now starting to do that, though. Sometimes itcl and running.'
 
The 33-year-old Clarke has five top-five finishes in six English Open starts at the Forest of Arden course, including a win in the 2000 event. He captured his first English Open title the year before at Hanbury Manor.
 
Jacquelin, whose runner-up showing here last year marked his best performance on the European Tour, experienced a roller-coaster third round - most of it up - that produced a 7-under 65, his lowest score on tour this season.
 
He started with five birdies through the first seven holes before collecting two birdies, two bogeys and two pars over the next six. The 28-year-old Frenchman picked up shots on 15, 16 and 18 but mixed a bogey at the 17th.
 
'It was a very strange day because I didn't drive as well as I did on Thursday or Friday,' said Jacquelin, who found the fairway off the tee just eight of 14 times in round three. 'I missed a few fairways but the putter was very hot. I think I made 24 putts which is pretty good putting statistics for me.
 
'It was a bit of fun but that's what we all need out there.'
 
Soren Hansen is in the hunt for his breakthrough win, two weeks after his countryman and namesake Anders Hansen won his first title at the Volvo PGA Championship.
 
'I'm on the right path,' Soren said. 'It is just a matter of time really and I think the more I'm there the sooner it will happen, and then I think it will happen on a regular basis.'
 
He made six birdies and added an eagle at the 12th, where he pitched in from 15 feet off the green. He took only 23 putts on Saturday.
 
European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance shot a 65, his best round since the 2000 Italian Open. The 48-year-old Scot had a chance to post a 64 but took a bogey at the final hole. He finished four shots off the pace with four others, among them two-time major winner Sandy Lyle.
 
A total of 22 players stood within six shots of the lead with one round to play.
 
Clarke's second-round co-leader David Drysdale of Scotland was five strokes back at 8-under. Australian Jarrod Moseley, who shared the opening-round lead with the Ulsterman, slipped back to minus 4.
 
Full-field scores from The Compass Group English Open
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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.