Westwood among four co-leaders in Dubai

By Sports NetworkFebruary 6, 2010, 6:43 pm

2009 European TourDUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Reigning European Tour No. 1 Lee Westwood shot a 4-under 68 and was among four co-leaders Saturday after the third round of the Dubai Desert Classic.

Alvaro Quiros (67), Miguel Angel Jimenez (68) and Thongchai Jaidee (69) joined Westwood at 11-under 205 after three trips around the Emirates course.

Defending champion Rory McIlroy (69) is two shots off their lead and alone in fifth place at 9-under 207.

Rory McIlroy
Defending champion Rory McIlroy sits two back. (Getty Images)
Edoardo Molinari (70) and Marcus Fraser (70) are tied at 8-under 208 and Abu Dhabi winner Martin Kaymer (68) is at 7-under 209.

The four co-leaders have 42 combined European Tour wins between them.

Westwood is tops among them with 20 victories, including last year's Dubai World Championship, which clinched the year-long Race to Dubai title for the 36-year-old Englishman as the season's top money winner.

He earned his share of the lead after making four birdies on the back nine Saturday, including one at the 18th hole. Westwood collected five birdies and a single bogey during the round.

Jimenez, with 15 career wins, also made a strong run on the back side of the course. He posted four birdies during a seven-hole stretch ending at the 17th to reach 11 under. The 46-year-old Spaniard is the eldest of the co-leaders and is seeking his first victory in two years.

Jaidee, 40, made three birdies on the front nine as he fought to protect his third-round lead. But the former Thai Army ranger, a four-time winner on tour, finished the round with nine consecutive pars to join the other co-leaders.

Quiros, an emerging star who has captured a victory in each of the last three seasons, carded five birdies in a spotless round. The 27-year-old Spaniard made back-to-back birdies at his last two holes and was the first player in the clubhouse at 205. Quiros took second place last week in Qatar.

NOTES: Sixty-year-old Tom Watson shot a 71 and is nine shots off the lead...Watson is playing his first European Tour event (not counting the four majors) since 1993.


Getty Images

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.  

Getty Images

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.” 

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.