Donald Moves into Top Spot

By Sports NetworkOctober 9, 2004, 4:00 pm
2004 Dunhill Links ChampionshipST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Luke Donald shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday to move into the lead after the third round of the dunhill links championship. Donald finished 54 holes at 17-under-par 199 for a two-shot edge over a trio of players.
Graeme McDowell, the leader after round one, and David Howell, who held the top spot through 36 holes, joined Ian Poulter in a tie for second at 15-under-par 201. Scotland's own Stephen Gallacher was one shot further back at 14-under-par 202.
Donald, who has been one of the hottest players on the European Tour with a pair of victories since rejoining the circuit earlier this year, got a chance at Carnoustie, one of the three courses used over the first three rounds. He jumped out of the gate with a birdie at the first and added a birdie at the fourth to take the lead at 15 under.
'You really have to think your way around here, especially this course,' said Donald. 'I think it's the toughest one of the three.'
The 26-year-old holed a crucial putt to save par at the sixth but found trouble a couple of holes later with a bogey at the par-4 ninth.
Donald recovered on the inward half and hit his approach to 20 feet for a birdie at the par-4 10th. Donald then drained a 12-footer for a birdie at the 12th and tallied another birdie at the 14th to extend his advantage.
'It's been unbelievable to come over here and win twice,' said Donald. 'When you're swinging well you don't see trouble. So far so good.'
McDowell played Kingsbarns on Saturday and took advantage early with a birdie at the opening hole after his second shot stopped within 6 feet of the cup. The Ulsterman then converted an 8-foot putt for a birdie at the third and landed his approach inside 5 feet for a birdie at the fourth.
The Ulsterman struggled to a bogey at the eighth but he countered with a birdie at the very next hole. McDowell found trouble again with a bogey at the 13th, but he was not ready to let Donald distance himself completely.
McDowell birdied three in a row from the 14th for a round of 67 in search of his second victory of the season.
'Today was back to business as usual,' said McDowell. 'I've been holing putts all week and making a lot of birdies which is a lot of fun.'
Howell grabbed the second-round lead with back-to-back 65s, but Carnoustie was not as kind to the Englishman on Saturday.
He stumbled to a bogey at the third, but recovered momentarily with a 25-foot birdie at the fourth. Howell found trouble again with a double bogey at the fifth, but he fought hard to stay in control at the sixth and hit out of a bunker to 6 feet for his second birdie of the day.
Howell was also unwilling to let Donald pull away and collected a pair of birdies on the back side for a round of 71.
'I'm delighted and I'm looking forward to tomorrow,' said Howell. 'I'm hitting the ball well.'
Poulter, who teamed with Donald and Howell on the victorious European Ryder Cup team at Oakland Hills last month, mixed three birdies with a bogey over his first nine holes.
The Englishman then torched the back nine with five birdies for a 65.
Gallacher shot a 66 at St. Andrews, where the final round will be contested on Sunday, to finish three shots back.
World No. 2 Ernie Els carded his third straight round of 68 to join Angel Cabrera, John Bickerton and Marcus Fraser in a tie for sixth at 12-under-par 204.
Defending champion Lee Westwood was one shot further back at 11-under-par 205 along with Ian Woosnam, Peter Senior, Fred Couples, Rolf Muntz and Mark Foster.
Vijay Singh, the top-ranked player in the world, posted a 69 to finish in a group at 9-under-par 207.
The 54-hole cut fell at 4-under-par 212 with 73 players surviving for the final round. Among the unfortunate were Padraig Harrington and Paul Lawrie, both former champions of this event.
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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.