Swedens Pettersson Leads in South Africa

By Sports NetworkJanuary 10, 2002, 5:00 pm
Sweden's Carl Pettersson turned in a bogey-free 8-under-par 64 Thursday to lead by two strokes after the first round of the South African Open at Durban Country Club.
Alastair Forsyth of Scotland and England's Andrew Butterfield each shot 66 to join the South African quartet of Tim Clark, Ashley Roestoff, James Kingston and Des Terblanche in second place at 6-under.
Retief Goosen, whose U.S. Open victory helped him to the European Tour's Order of Merit (money) title last year, also finished the first 18 holes without a bogey. The South African carded a 67 for a share of eighth place with Zimbabwe's Marc Cayeux and Simon Dyson of England.
Goosen captured the South African Open at Randpark Golf Club in 1995.
Pettersson, the 2000 European Amateur champion and a four-time All-American at North Carolina State, notched five birdies on his front side - the back nine at Durban - then pushed into the lead with three birdies over his final five holes.
'I had four weeks off and didn't play much golf, so I was pleasantly surprised,' he said.
The 24-year-old Swede is off to a sizzling start on the 2002 European Tour schedule, which actually began in late November 2001. After tying for fourth place at the BMW Asian Open in Taiwan, he moved on to the Omega Hong Kong Open, where he finished solo fifth.
'I was quite pleased finishing 61st on the Volvo Order of Merit last season but I had a good amateur record and set high goals for myself,' said Pettersson, whose best finish in his rookie year of 2001 was second at the Argentina Open. 'I want to win and take it from there.'
Pettersson, currently third on the 2002 Order of Merit, is looking to become the second Swede in three years to win this title. His countryman, Mathias Gronberg, triumphed at Randpark in 2000.
Clark, who by coincidence was Pettersson's roommate for a year at N.C. State, has fought back after missing almost all of last year with a wrist injury that required surgery. The Durban native earned a spot on last year's PGA Tour in the U.S. by finishing third on the Buy.Com Tour money list in 2000.
'It doesn't hurt now, but it's not 100 percent right,' Clark said of his wrist. 'I've got a medical exemption for this year and will go back to the States later this month to play in the AT&T (Pebble Beach National Pro-Am).'
Clark posted seven birdies Thursday and his lone bogey came at the 17th, his eighth hole of the day. His 66 matched the score he shot to finish first in Tuesday's qualifying round.
The 1999 British Open champ, Paul Lawrie, whose latest win came with a dramatic 40-foot birdie putt from the Valley of Sin at St. Andrews in the Dunhill Links Championship in October, was part of an eight-way tie at 4-under 68.
Three-time South African Open winner Ernie Els (1992, '96, '98) was shaky with two birdies and three bogeys Thursday. He finished nine shots off the pace, in a big group that included defending champion Mark McNulty.
Full-Field Scores from the Bell's South African Open
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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.