McIlroy shoots 64, grabs solo lead in Dubai Classic

By Associated PressJanuary 30, 2015, 3:08 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Rory McIlroy made an 18-foot birdie putt on his final hole to surge into a one-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Dubai Desert Classic on Friday.

On the Majlis course of Emirates Golf Club, where he recorded his first victory as a professional in 2009, McIlroy enjoyed a superb day of ball-striking as he notched a bogey-free round of 8-under-par 64.

His 14-under-par total after two rounds was one ahead of Scotland's Marc Warren, who continued his remarkable run of form following a second-place finish last week in Doha, with a nine-birdie round of 65.

Graeme McDowell, playing his first tournament of the year, showed no signs of rust as he added a 65 to his opening 67, and was tied for third at 12 under with England's Seve Benson, whose 66 contained a double-bogey 7 on the par-5 18th hole.

Defending champion Stephen Gallacher also made a rare double bogey on the Majlis course, where his last three finishes have been second-first-first, but he made four birdies over the next five holes for a round of 67.


Dubai Desert Classic: Articles, videos and photos


The Scotsman was tied for fifth on 11 under with the Race to Dubai leader Danny Willett (66) of England, overnight leader Bernd Wiesberger (69) of Austria, and the English duo of Lee Westwood (68) and Andy Sullivan (68).

McIlroy sprayed slightly from the tee, finding just seven out of 14 fairways, but that did not deter him from hitting all but one green in regulation. And while a 3-foot birdie putt did horseshoe out on the 12th hole, and he burned the edge in the next two, he was delighted with his round, which gave him the halfway lead in the tournament for the fifth time in eight starts.

''I felt like I played very nicely. Couldn't ask for much more; bogey-free, made birdies, and set myself up for a good run over the next couple of days,'' McIlroy said.

''But there are so many people who are close to the lead, it's so bunched up.''

Warren, who is ranked 56th in the world and needs a good finish this week to crack into the top-50 and earn his first invitation to the Masters in April, made one bogey before and after the turn, and finished on a high by rolling in a 50-foot birdie putt on his final hole, the ninth of the course.

Denmark's Morten Orum Madsen shot the lowest round of the day, a 9-under 63 to improve into a tie for 10th at 10-under par.

The cut was at 2 under, which was missed by Sergio Garcia (71), at 2 over.

Getty Images

Three of world's top 5 MC; not 60-year-old Langer

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 7:04 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three of the top five players in the world missed the cut at The Open.

Bernhard Langer did not.

The 60-year-old, who is in the field via his victory in last year’s Senior Open Championship, shot even-par 71 on Friday. At 2 over through 36 holes, he safely made it under the plus-3 cut line.

"You know, I've played the Masters [this year], made the cut. I'm here and made the cut. I think it is an accomplishment," he said. "There's a lot of great players in the field, and I've beaten a lot of very good players that are a lot younger than me."

Langer had three birdies and three bogeys in the second round and said afterwards that he was “fighting myself” with his swing. He’s spent the last few days on the phone with his swing coach, Willy Hoffman, trying to find some comfort.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Despite his score, and his made cut, Langer the perfectionist wasn’t satisfied with the way he went about achieving his results.

"I wasn't happy with my ball-striking. My putting was good, but I was unlucky. I had like four lip-outs, no lip-ins. That part was good. But the ball-striking, I wasn't really comfortable with my swing," he said. "Just, it's always tough trying stuff in the middle of a round."

Langer, a two-time Masters champion, has never won The Open. He does, however, have six top-3 finishes in 30 prior starts.

As for finishing higher than some of the top-ranked players in the world, the World Golf Hall of Famer is taking it in stride.

"I'm not going to look and say, 'Oh, I beat Justin Rose or beat whatever.' But it just shows it's not easy. When some of the top 10 or top 20 in the world don't make the cut, it just shows that the setup is not easy," Langer said. "So I got the better half of the draw maybe, too, right? It wasn't much fun playing in the rain, I guess, this morning for five hours. I had to practice in the rain, but I think once I teed off, we never used umbrellas. So that was a blessing."

Getty Images

Kisner doubles 18, defends not laying up

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It was only fitting that Jean Van de Velde was there working as an on-course reporter on Friday as Kevin Kisner struggled his way up Carnoustie’s 18th fairway.

Rolling along with a two-stroke lead, Kisner’s 8-iron approach shot from an awkward lie in the rough from 160 yards squirted right and bounced into Barry Burn, the winding creek where Van de Velde’s title chances at the 1999 Open Championship began to erode.

Unlike Van de Velde, who made a triple bogey-7 and lost The Open in a playoff, Kisner’s double bogey only cost him the solo lead and he still has 36 holes to make his closing miscue a distant memory. That’s probably why the 34-year-old seemed at ease with his plight.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It just came out like a high flop shot to the right. It was weird. I don't know if it caught something or what happened,” said Kisner, who was tied with Zach Johnson and Zander Lombard at 6 under par. “You never know out of that grass. It was in a different grass than usual. It was wet, green grass instead of the brown grass. So I hadn't really played from that too much.”

Like most in this week’s field Kisner also understands that rounds on what is widely considered the most difficult major championship venue can quickly unravel even with the most innocent of mistakes.

“To play 35 holes without a double I thought was pretty good,” he said. “I've kept the ball in play, done everything I wanted to do all the way up into that hole. Just one of those things that came out completely different than we expected. I'll live with that more than chipping out and laying up from 20 feet.”

Getty Images

Wind, not rain more a weekend factor at Open

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:39 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – After a half-day of rain in Round 2 of the 147th Open Championship, the weekend offers a much drier forecast.

Saturday at Carnoustie is projected to be mostly cloudy with a high of 62 degrees and only a 20 percent chance of rain.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Sunday calls for much warmer conditions, with temperatures rising upwards of 73 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.

Wind might be the only element the players have to factor in over the final 36 holes. While the winds will be relatively calm on Saturday, expected around 10-15 mph, they could increase to 25 mph in the final round.

Getty Images

Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.

The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.

The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.

After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.

“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”