Kite Holds On for Napa Valley Win

By Sports NetworkOctober 13, 2002, 4:00 pm
NAPA, Calif. -- Tom Kite shot an even-par 72 and held on to win the Napa Valley Championship. Kite ended at 12-under 204, one shot ahead of Fred Gibson and Bruce Fleisher.
Kite won his third title this season and sixth on the Senior Tour. He was the 36-hole leader, which means the 36-hole leader has won this event four straight years and eight of the previous 14 times.
'Sometimes you take some pride in gutting one out,' said Kite, who earned $195,000 with the win. 'I hit the ball quite nicely, but struggled with my putting stroke today.'
Jim Thorpe finished two shots off the pace at 10-under 206. He was followed by Hubert Green, who had the low round of the day (64), Jay Overton, Tom Purtzer and Bob Gilder, who were 9-under and tied for fifth place.
Kite opened by sinking a 10-foot birdie putt at the first. Unfortunately, he couldn't keep that momentum as he bogeyed the next after hitting his tee ball into a bunker.
He got back into red figures with a 10-foot birdie putt at the fourth. Kite again would give the shot back with a bogey at 6. There, he hit his second over the green and was unable to get up-and-down.
'The course definitely played harder today,' Kite said. 'I just tried to finish out and not make any mistakes. It was hard to get it close to the hole today.'
Kite hit a sand wedge to four feet for birdie on 10 to get to 13-under. He carded his final bogey at the 13th where he three-putted from eight feet. Kite could have dropped another shot to the field after driving into the trees on 14, but he made an excellent up-and-down to save par.
'I am proud of my save at No. 14,' said Kite. 'That was really a hiccup at 13. From that point on, every golf shot was a quality shot. I was proud of that under pressure.'
Kite was fortunate that he had history on his side. He had played six rounds at this course in 1972 during Qualifying School.
'This win was special today because this is where it all began for me,' said Kite. 'I had some of the same feeling today that I had at the Qualifying School 30 years ago.'
Gibson made a strong run at the lead after bogeying the first hole. He got his round rolling with consecutive birdies starting at the fifth. After a birdie at the eighth got him to 2-under for his round, Gibson vaulted up the leaderboard over the next two holes.
He hit a 5-iron to within seven feet of the hole on the par-5 ninth to set up eagle. Then he holed out from 125 yards away on 10 for his second straight eagle.
'I haven't done that (holed out) since Tanglewood a few years ago,' said Gibson. 'It's good to finish with something positive.'
Gibson would give two shots back with bogeys at 11 and 12. He did, however, birdie 14 from eight feet and 18 from three feet to close out his round of 66.
'Those two bogeys probably cost me the tournament,' said Gibson, who was the first alternate entering the tournament. 'I never really thought I had a chance to win. I tried to stay in the moment and focus.'
Final results from the Napa Valley Championship
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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.