Clarke Still Smoking at Volvo PGA

By Sports NetworkMay 23, 2003, 4:00 pm
SURREY, England -- Darren Clarke shot a 3-under 69 on Friday and maintained a one-stroke lead after two rounds at the Volvo PGA Championship. Clarke stands at 9-under-par 135, one ahead of Niclas Fasth.
 
Kenneth Ferrie fired a 5-under 67 to climb to 7-under-par 137. He shares third place with Ian Woosnam (69), Robert Rock (68) and Soren Hansen (68).
 
Clarke struggled on the front nine during his round. He bogeyed the par-4 first but recovered that stroke when he birdied the par-5 fourth. However, the Ulsterman dropped another shot when he bogeyed the par-4 seventh.
 
The nine-time winner on the European Tour caught fire on the back side. He notched back-to-back birdies from the par-5 12th and tallied another pair of birdies from the 17th to close at minus-9.
 
'I played well again,' said Clarke. 'I had numerous chances everywhere and I'm pretty pleased with a 69. The wind was gusting and that's a pretty good score. I was hitting the edges of the hole all day and I am certainly playing well enough to be doing well in this tournament.'
 
Through the first two rounds, Clarke is minus-5 on the 17th and 18th holes combined.
 
'My patience is being severely tested at the moment, severely tested,' Clarke said. 'But that's what happens. I have to keep on playing the way I have been and hopefully my scores will get better.'
 
Fasth also opened with a bogey at the first hole on the West Course at the Wentworth Club. He atoned for that mistake with a birdie at the fourth and later rolled in another birdie putt at the par-4 eighth.
 
Around the turn, Fasth continued to play well on the par-5s as he birdied the 12th. The Swede ended his round in fine fashion with birdies on each of the final three holes, two of which were par-5s. Two of those putts came from within three feet of the cup.
 
Fasth credited his par-saving putt on No. 15 as one of the big keys to his round.
 
'Sometimes you feel when a par putt goes in, it's really, really important. I holed a good one on 15, to sort of stay with the pace,' said Fasth. 'That felt really good. I felt that was one of the big moments, just making a simple seven-foot putt.'
 
Ernie Els and Trevor Immelman each shot rounds of 3-under 69 to move into a tie for seventh at 6-under-par 138. Gordon Brand, Jr. and Alastair Forsyth are also at minus-6.
 
Defending champion Anders Hansen is among a large group tied at 2-under-par 142.
 
The cut line fell at minus-1. Among those failing to make the weekend were Retief Goosen and Paul Lawrie, both at even-par 144.
 
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the Volvo PGA Championship
  • Full coverage of the Volvo PGA Championship
  • Getty Images

    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.  

    <
    Getty Images

    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.” 

    Getty Images

    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.”

    Getty Images

    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.