Thatcher Continuing Fine Form

By Sports NetworkJuly 5, 2007, 4:00 pm
Nationwide TourHIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Roland Thatcher, who won last week, posted a 6-under-par 65 Thursday to grab a piece of the lead after the opening round of the Legend Financial Group Classic.
 
Thatcher was joined atop the leaderboard by James Driscoll and Richard Swift at StoneWater Golf Club.
 
Kyle Thompson, who won The Rex Hospital Open earlier this year, posted a 5- under 66. He shares third place with Scott Gardiner, Willie Wood, David McKenzie, Matt Hansen and Kenneth Staton.
 
Thatcher, who claimed his second tour win last week at the Peek'n Peak Classic, tripped to a bogey on the second. He came right back with a 30-foot birdie putt on the third.
 
The 30-year-old made it two straight with a two-putt birdie on four before getting to minus-2 with a 10-foot birdie effort at the fifth.
 
Thatcher, who has three straight top-10 finishes and top-25s in nine of his last 10 starts, kept rolling with 8-foot birdie putts on the seventh, ninth and 12th.
 
At the long par-5 13th, he knocked a wedge to 12 feet to set up birdie. Thatcher sank another 8-footer for birdie at 14 to get to 7-under. He slipped back into a share of the lead with a bogey on the 17th.
 
'I played a really good round of golf today,' Thatcher stated. 'The wind came up and scores were going to be tough to come by, so to finish up with 6-under is a good start to the week.'
 
Driscoll, who collected his lone tour win in 2004, started on the back nine. He birdied four of five holes from the 14th, but dropped a shot at the first. Driscoll came back with birdies on three and four. He grabbed a share of the lead thanks to a birdie at the par-4 eighth.
 
'My iron play was really solid, but I drove it all over the place,' admitted Driscoll. 'Obviously, I putted well, but I've got some work to do off the tee. I'm finally making some putts and playing some clean rounds.'
 
Swift also started on the back nine. He flew up the leaderboard with three straight birdies from the 10th. Swift stumbled to a bogey at the 17th, but rebounded with a birdie on No. 1. He birdied three of four holes from the fifth to grab a piece of the first-round lead.
 
'I said to myself at the beginning of the week that I was going to make it two seasons,' said Swift, who missed has nine of 10 cuts and withdrew from another event so far this season. 'The first one is over, thankfully, and the new season starts in July. I typically play better towards the end of the year anyway.'
 
Nicholas Thompson, who won earlier this year in New Zealand, opened with a 4-under-par 67. He is tied for 10th with Joe Daley, Jimmy Walker, Erik Compton, Curtis Malm, Tee McCabe, D.A. Points, Hunter Haas, Dave Rummells and Martin Laird.
 
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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.