Strange on Cusp of First Champions Victory

By Sports NetworkAugust 5, 2006, 4:00 pm
2005 3M ChampionshipBLAINE, Minn. -- Curtis Strange posted a 6-under 66 on Saturday to grab the second-round lead of the 3M Championship. He stands at 10-under- par 134 and is three ahead in his quest for a first Champions Tour title.
 
Strange is winless since joining the elder circuit at the beginning of last year. In fact, he has not won an official event since his second U.S. Open victory in a row in 1989.
 
'It's the same old same old - you go play golf,' said Strange. 'I'm afforded the opportunity to make a mistake or two because I have the lead. I don't want to do that.'
 
Champions Tour rookie David Edwards shot a 4-under 68 and is alone in second place at 7-under-par 137. He is also in search of his maiden win on the 50-and-over tour.
 
Morris Hatalsky fired a 6-under 66 on Saturday and is tied for third place with Craig Stadler, who carded a 5-under 67 in round two. The pair is knotted at minus-6.
 
Strange wasted little time in breaking into red figures as he birdied the first. He recorded another birdie at four, but dropped a shot at the par-3 eighth.
 
The two-time U.S. Open winner holed a tricky 5-footer for par on the 10th. He rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt at the 11th, then hit a spectacular approach at the 14th when his 9-iron stopped 2 feet from the stick. He kicked that birdie putt in to tie for the lead at minus-7.
 
He narrowly missed a 20-foot birdie try at No. 15, then caught fire.
 
Strange found the fairway at the 16th and hit his approach to 5 feet. He converted that birdie putt to grab the lead, then padded his advantage with 25-foot birdie putt at the par-3 17th.
 
At the par-5 closing hole, Strange found the fairway off the tee, then reached the green in two. He hit a poor putt from 60 feet that left him with 7 feet for birdie. He drained that putt and now has a three-shot lead with one round to go, an unfamiliar spot as Strange has never owned the lead with one round to play.
 
'I'm playing well and making a few putts,' acknowledged Strange. 'There's no tricks to it. I'm going to try to play as aggressively as I can play.'
 
Former Major League Baseball pitcher Rick Rhoden fired a 5-under 67 on Saturday. He is tied for fifth place with D.A. Weibring (69), Bruce Fleisher (69), Hale Irwin (70), two-time winner this season Brad Bryant (70) and leading money winner and last week's Senior British Open champion Loren Roberts (71). That group is knotted at 5-under-par 139.
 
Overnight leader Andy Bean struggled in the second round. He only managed a one-over 73 and is now in a group tied for 11th place at 4-under-par 140.
 
Defending champion Tom Purtzer, who was one shot off the lead at the start of round, played poorly on Saturday. He carded a 2-over-par 74 and is tied for 24th at minus-2.
 
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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).


    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 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.