Webb Pettersen Continue to Lead at Yarra Yarra
Another Aussie, 22-year-old Tamara Johns, fired a tournament-best 66 at Yarra Yarra Golf Club -- 10 shots better than her score from round two. She vaulted into a tie for fifth place at 1-under 215 with Becky Morgan of Wales, who turned in an even-par 72.
Webb, seeking her second Australian Open title after winning here in 2000, opened a two-shot lead over Pettersen with a 20-foot birdie putt at the 14th hole. She quickly gave the stroke back when she three-putted the 15th for bogey, and Pettersen tied the lead with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 16th.
The pair headed into the final round deadlocked after neither could take advantage of the par-5 closing hole. Pettersen's third shot from a greenside bunker resulted in a two-putt from 30 feet for par. Webb, who was left of the green with her second, chipped to 15 feet before missing her bid for birdie and the outright lead.
'I felt like I hit the ball better today, especially with my irons off the tee,' said Webb, 27, who was denied her fifth straight Australian Ladies Masters title last week after losing in a playoff to the top-ranked Annika Sorenstam. 'On the closing holes, I hit my driver better and got myself on the fairway. All in all I feel pretty good about things.'
The 20-year-old Pettersen was in command of her nerves despite going head-to-head with one of the most successful players in women's golf.
'I'm a little bit excited when I stand on the first tee with all the crowd, but I feel quite comfortable,' said Pettersen, last year's rookie of the year on the Ladies European Tour after capturing her breakthrough win at the 2001 French Open. 'The feelings that come through your head make you feel so strong -- that's why I play golf, it's the feeling I am looking for.'
Pettersen actually had the edge early in the round. She birdied the first hole to get to five-under par, but hit into the trees at the second and posted her lone bogey of the day.
Webb birdied the long par-3 third for the lead at 5-under, only to be joined there when Pettersen sank a birdie putt at the short par-4 fifth.
After holing out from a bunker for birdie at the seventh hole, Webb matched birdies with Pettersen at the par-5 eighth and took one-shot lead into the back nine.
Webb, whose victory at last year's LPGA Championship made her the youngest player and only the fifth woman in history to complete the career Grand Slam, was impressed by her young counterpart in round three.
'[Pettersen] played really well today,' Webb said. 'I'd not seen her hit a ball before, she hits it pretty strong and has a good all around game. She really thought her way around the course -- that is a step in the right direction.'
Crafter, winner of the 1997 Women's Australian Open, negated an eagle at the par-4 fourth with a double-bogey at the par-three 11th en route to a 2-under 70.
Gustafson carded a 5-under 67 that included eight birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey, also at the 11th.
DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi
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).
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.”
Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi
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.
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.”
Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder
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:
Filling in tomorrow for Corey Pavin that WD today @cbgolfchallenge I do things like this a lot to help events and asking for sponsors exemptions here but didn't get any help.— Ken Duke (@DukePGA) January 18, 2018
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.
Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
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.