Goosen Waltzes Into Winners Circle

By Sports NetworkJanuary 27, 2002, 5:00 pm
Retief Goosen captured the Johnnie Walker Classic Sunday, posting an impressive eight-shot victory at Lake Karrinyup Country Club in Western Australia. The 32-year-old South African turned in a 1-over 73 in the final round to win his eighth career European Tour title with a 14-under-par 274 total.
 
Goosen's victory, his first Down Under, was worth $210,408 and moved him from ninth to first-place on the 2002 European money list. He finished on top of the Order of Merit(money list) last season on the strength of two wins in Europe and his breakthrough major triumph in the U.S. Open in 2001 at Southern Hills.
 
Sweden's Pierre Fulke, the runner-up in last year's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Melbourne, carded the day's best round of 66. His bogey-free effort lifted him into sole possession of second place at 6-under-par, one shot ahead of world No. 4 Sergio Garcia, the highest-ranked player in the field this week.
 
Garcia, who won his third U.S. PGA Tour title at the winners-only Mercedes Championships earlier this month, closed with a 3-under 69.
 
Goosen took a one-shot lead with a 68 in Friday's second round, then distanced himself from the field Saturday with a sizzling 63. The 9-under-par score was good for a course record at the difficult Lake Karrinyup layout, and his 13-shot lead after 54 holes set a European Tour record.
 
'It felt funny having such a big lead,' said Goosen, who was ranked ninth in the world heading into this event. 'In a way it made things more difficult.'
 
Nothing less than the collapse of the century could produce a tight race in the final round, but Goosen made it interesting by taking a double-bogey 6 at the par-4 opening hole.
 
Goosen would need to suffer a lot more of the same to slip back to the pack, however, and he managed to settle down with 11 pars and two birdies before his next mistake - a bogey that was the result of hitting his second shot into the water at the par-5 15th.
 
Although his tee shot found the rough at the 16th, Goosen showed that he still had some magic left over from the day before. His next shot finished five feet from the hole and he made the birdie putt to return to 15-under.
 
'After the first hole I thought if things kept going wrong, I was going to have a big problem,' he said. 'However, I got there and by the 17th I was able to relax.'
 
A wayward drive off the 18th tee led to a closing bogey, but the fact was Goosen had wrapped up the victory more than 24 hours before.
 
'It was a big problem starting out because everybody was expecting me to win,' admitted Goosen. 'I managed to hang in there somehow and it was nice to pull it off.'
 
He kept up a tradition of success for major champions in this tournament. Nine of the 11 Johnnie Walker Classics have been captured by majors winners, including Nick Faldo (1990, '93), Greg Norman (1994), Fred Couples (1995), Ian Woosnam (1996), Ernie Els (1997) and Tiger Woods (1998, 2001).
 
Goosen joined Ian Palmer (1992) and Els as South African winners of this event.
 
Besides finishing fifth, second and first in his three starts on the European Tour this year, Goosen has tallied 13 top-10s - including four wins - over his last 17 starts dating back to last year's English Open, which was held the week before the U.S. Open.
 
Els, who began the day tied for second with Garcia at 2-under, remained there with an even-par 72. A near ace at the par-3 17th almost earned the two-time U.S. Open winner his weight in the sponsor's whiskey.
 
Raphael Jacquelin (68) of France tied for fifth place with Englishmen Simon Dyson (72) and Anthony Wall (72) at 1-under 287, rounding out a total of only seven players to finish the tournament under par.
 
Full-field scores from the Johnnie Walker Classic
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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.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm