No Rest for Solheim Competitors

By Tom AbbottSeptember 4, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editors Note: Tom Abbott is the host of Golf Central UK. He will be filing a bi-weekly column on with news, opinions and his inside knowledge of the European Tour.
Get Ready Its Solheim Time:
What a way to head into a Solheim Cup. With just one week to go before attention turns to Halmstad in Sweden for the 10th playing of the matches, it seems those players involved are in fine form. Hosting the LPGA golf on Sunday I was routed to my seat as Sherri Steinhauer holed from off the green for a par at the last and a one-shot victory at the State Farm Classic. Not to be forgotten, on the other side of the Atlantic, Germanys Bettina Hauert survived making an 8 on her first hole to come through and win the Finnair Masters on the LET. Hauert is one of three rookies for the Europeans and with her second win of the season she moved into the No. 1 position on the New Star Money List in Europe.
The top 10 at the State Farm Classic contained five Solheim Cup players, three Americans and two Europeans. Six Europeans are scheduled to play this week, two in the United States and the rest at the Nykredit Masters on the LET; however, nine US players will tee-it up at the NW Arkansas Championship, a decision I dont wholly agree with. It seems to me with such an important week ahead, players would be better served resting rather than playing and flying across to Europe immediately after.
And then theres the Christina Kim saga. Kim missed automatic qualification despite finishing as a runner-up at the last counting event. Many believed shed be a captains pick, but Betsy King chose Nicole Castrale and Laura Diaz. Kim then went on finish just one shot shy of Steinhauer last week. Kim told the GOLF CHANNEL, I respect Betsys choice but Im still not happy with it; pointing out, though, that she (Kim) really only has herself to blame. Its a very difficult situation; on one hand Kim is a fiery competitor whos obviously showing good form, but Castrale is a winner in 2007, something Kim is not, and I think more importantly, Castrale fits in with the King mentally. Betsy is a complete opposite from Christina Kim and I think that played a huge factor in her omission from the side.
2014 Ryder Cup Frustration:
In 2014 the Ryder Cup visits Gleneagles, site of last weeks Johnnie Walker Championship. But instead of being played on the historic Kings and Queens layouts itll be played on the PGA Centenary Course. This decision is already causing quite a stir. Earlier this week Darren Clarke made some comments expressing his disappointment that the matches will be played on the Centenary Course rather than one of Scotlands many other historic venues, saying it was beyond (his) comprehension.
Having played the PGA Centenary Course myself, I must say I agree with Clarke. Scotland has such a rich history in our game and to choose a venue which really doesnt come close to matching the great links and inland venues the country has to offer is very disappointing for golf fans especially in Scotland. It is, of course, down to one thing: money. In years past, clubs would actually receive money for hosting the matches, but now thats not the case; a Ryder Cup will cost you, a lot. Money and commerce is a huge factor in where a venue will go, and in a competition that doesnt pay any prize money I think its sad that such a magnificent sporting spectacle has in many respects sold itself out, to its detriment.
Tom Abbott will host live coverage of the LPGA NW Arkansas Championship on Sky Digital Channel 423, beginning on Friday at 5:30pm UK time.
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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.