English Rookie 36-Hole Leader in Portugal

By Sports NetworkMarch 30, 2007, 4:00 pm
European Tour ESTORIL, Portugal -- English rookie Ross McGowan, who is making only his second start as a professional on the European Tour, managed his second consecutive 3-under 68 and is alone in the lead after two rounds of the Open de Portugal.
 
McGowan stands at 6-under-par 136 and is two clear at Quinta da Marinha Oitavos Golfe.
 
On Friday, McGowan's countryman Nick Dougherty also shot the same number he carded on Thursday, a 2-under 69. That puts him alone in second place at 4-under-par 138.
 
For the second straight round, the wind was the story as tournament officials could not mow the greens out of fear that the balls would not stay on the putting surfaces in the intense gusts.
 
McGowan participated in Qualifying School last year as an amateur, but failed to get his card. He is playing this week on a sponsor's exemption and began his second round on the first tee. The Englishman parred his first five holes to stay at 3 under par for the championship.
 
Due to the demanding conditions, that was enough to keep McGowan in at least a share of the lead. He distanced himself from the field with back-to-back birdies at six and seven and was two clear at minus-5.
 
McGowan birdied the short, par-3 ninth as held a three-stroke lead at 6 under par. Only one other player could muster any kind of challenge and that was Dougherty, who mixed four birdies and two bogeys to get within two of McGowan.
 
At the 13th, McGowan once again built the lead to three, thanks to a 15-foot birdie putt. Dougherty, playing several groups ahead of McGowan, traded a birdie and a bogey the rest of the way to get in at minus-4.
 
Unfortunately for McGowan, he dropped a shot at the par-3 14th to fall back to 6 under par. He recorded four pars in a row to end his round and find himself in unchartered waters.
 
'This is new territory for me, so we will see how it goes,' he said. 'On the amateur scene I had the lead after 36 holes, but it's different with the pros.'
 
Benn Barham (67), Stephen Gallacher (71), Raphael Jacquelin (69), Alexander Noren (68) and Graeme Storm (67) are knotted in third place at 3-under-par 139.
 
Two-time defending champion Paul Broadhurst (71), Richard Bland (69), Luis Claverie (68), Sven Struver (70) and Taichi Teshima (69) shared eighth place at minus-2.
 
Overnight leader Simon Dyson could only manage a 3-over 74 on Friday and dipped down into a tie for 13th place at 1-under-par 141.
 
The 36-hole cut fell at 4-over-par 146 and among the notable players who did not make the weekend were David Frost (148), Notah Begay III (150) and Jean van de Velde (154).
 
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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.