Mayakoba rolls out red carpet for PGA Tour

By Mike BaileyFebruary 23, 2011, 7:33 pm

mayakoba mexico golf

                 The par-3 7th at El Camaleon Golf Club (Fairmont Resorts)

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – While much of the golf world this week is focused on the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship near Tucson, Ariz., the rest of the PGA Tour isn't taking the week off. But they're not exactly toiling either at the Mayakoba Golf Classic on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

The ordinary guys – like rookie sensation Jhonattan Vegas and last week's Northern Trust winner, Aaron Baddeley – get a pretty good deal this week, spending it basking in the Caribbean sun on the Riviera Maya about 40 minutes south of Cancun. They're playing a pretty fair golf course, the five-year-old paspalum-grassed El Camaleon Golf Club, a Greg Norman design that winds its way through natural mangroves with a couple of stops along the ocean.

But more importantly, perhaps, the tournament affords the field an opportunity to bring their families or girlfriends down for a super relaxing vacation.

This 240-acre nature preserve, set among the territory of the ancient Mayan people, is one of a kind. Throughout the Mayakoba Resort (pronounced Myah'kobah locally) are miles of man-made canals, which were dug through the limestone to reveal crystal clear water that harbors a unique ecosystem.

Guests of the Fairmont Mayakoba can take a guided cruise around the resort on beautiful mahogany boats, getting a close-up view of the hundreds of species of birds, fish and iguanas that make their home here. They can also get around the resort riding $1,800 BMW bicycles, which are parked throughout the property for everybody's use, or simply walk along the miles of white sandy beaches.

The Fairmont Mayakoba, where 80 percent of the tour players are staying this week, pampers as well as any stop on the PGA Tour. The staff members, not surprisingly, are eager to please. Accommodations range from luxurious to super luxurious, offering rooms and suites along the lagoons as well as the golf course, with some overlooking the beach, complete with rooftop dip pools. There's a wonderful full-service spa, state-of-the-art fitness center, countless swimming pools, and four exceptional restaurants.

And speaking of dining, tour players and their guests will have to look far and wide to find another resort that matches the AAA five-star Fairmont Mayakoba's culinary delights. With the ocean at its back door, guests can enjoy a variety of fresh ceviches, game fish and tuna, but it doesn't end there. There's New Latin cuisine, outstanding steaks and short ribs, an awesome breakfast buffet featuring fresh tropical fruits and juices, and one of the best clubhouse menus you'll find anywhere at the El Camaleon Golf Club.

In short, missing out on the WGC-Accenture Match Play isn't such a bad deal if you're settling for the Mayakoba Golf Classic and Fairmont Mayakoba Resort. After all, it’s the only PGA Tour event in Mexico, so it’s no surprise they did it up right.

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.