Friday, December 2nd, 2016
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D. Johnson shares the 36-hole lead at the Her 12-02-2016
Dustin Johnson
World No. 3 Dustin Johnson pieced together a 6-under-par 33-33=66 during round two of Hero World Challenge, giving him a share of the lead heading into the weekend on 12-under 132. DJ struggled last year in his debut at Albany in The Bahamas, posting a disappointing 15th-place finish. It's a perfect fit on paper with generous fairways and a five-pack of par 5s for the bomber to take advantage of. That's exactly what he's doing so far this week, circling a pair of eagles and four birdies to play the par 5s at 9-under through two days. Even with the great start, Johnson is not out of the woods just yet. Last year he found himself just four strokes off the pace heading into the weekend before recording eight bogeys over the weekend to end up 17 strokes behind the champion Bubba Watson.
Matsuyama co-leads HWC at the midpoint 12-02-2016
Hideki Matsuyama
Hideki Matsuyama fired a 5-under-par 34-33=67 during the second round of the Hero World Challenge, posting a halftime score of 12-under 132 to grab a share of the 36-hole lead with Dustin Johnson. Matsuyama arrived with a co-last-place finish on his Albany record, but he also entered with the best form in the entire field, winning three of his last four individual starts worldwide. The 24-year-old has maintained that stellar form through two days of play in the Bahamas, trading 13 birdies and an eagle with just one bogey and one double bogey. Both of the blemishes have come on par 3s but he's played the par 5s at 9-under to make up the difference. Going from last-to-first in one year at this course would be quite the feat, but there are still 36 holes to play and with five par 5s on the layout, he can't afford to take his foot off the gas now.
Tiger Woods flawless in Round 2 of the Hero 12-02-2016
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods looked to be in full form today, styling a bogey-free, 7-under-par 33-32=65 during round two of the Hero World Challenge, raising seven spots up to T10 on the live leaderboard with play still in progress. Woods looked good in his opening round, but a double-par-double finish ruined the sparkle of the round. That placed him in 17th place (of 18) after day one. With Justin Rose withdrawing before the round, Woods went out solo today and completed his round in just under three hours. He found 15 greens in regulation, but he really kept the momentum rolling with key par-savers throughout the round, making good use of the Scotty Cameron that is back in his bag. At 898th in the Official World Golf Rankings, the 40-year-old will be skyrocketing up the rankings if this round is any indication of the Woods we will see in 2017. This blemish-free navigation of Albany will have his stock symbol pointing upwards regardless of how he finishes out the week.
Hanson 1 back after 36 holes at Leopard Creek 12-02-2016
Chris Hanson
Chris Hanson torched Leopard Creek for a 7-under-par 31-34=65 in Friday's second round at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa, reaching 10-under 134 through 36 holes and starting the weekend in a tie for second spot. That's just a single swing behind leader Brandon Stone. The Englishman opened his birdie account at 2 and then put eight '3's on his card over the next 10 holes. Five of those (3, 6, 9, 10 and 11) were par breakers. He added another at 14 to join the lead but then posted his only bogey of the round and just second of the week with a square at the par-5 15th. A closing birdie took him back to 10-under, just a shot off the pace. Hanson, who was T44 in this event last year, just managed to hold onto his European Tour card after finishing 109th on the 2016 Race to Dubai.
Stone surges to Dunhill lead with hot finish 12-02-2016
Brandon Stone
With an eagle-3 at Leopard Creek's 18th hole, local man Brandon Stone completed a 6-under-par 33-33=66 in round two of the Alfred Dunhill Championship and jumped into a one-shot lead after 36 holes.
That big finish saw Stone land at 11-under 133 and took the young South African one in front of defending champion Charl Schwartzel and England's Chris Hanson. It's a further stroke back to compatriots George Coetzee and Keith Horne so home players occupy four of the top five slots. Stone kicked off his afternoon lap with a pair of opening birdies and wiped out a bogey at 4 with a circle at 6. He made further gains at 10 and 12 and didn't let a bogey-6 at 13 disrupt his concentration. Instead, Stone birdied 15 and then produced his grandstand finish at 18. One concern going into the weekend is a back problem. "I woke up this morning and the back was feeling a little bit sore. During the course of the day it progressively got worse and then I had to hit one out of the deep jungle on the right of number eight and really tweaked it. I got some really good physio with my trainer on the ninth. I got the back sorted for a few holes there and it held its nerve for the back nine."
George Coetzee back in 29; 1 off Dunhill pace 12-02-2016
George Coetzee thrashed a 7-under-par 36-29=65 in his second round at the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek, posting 9-under 143 at the midpoint to sit one shot behind clubhouse leader Charl Schwartzel.
The South African has plenty of good form in his home event with a third place in 2011 and T10 the following year after a closing 65, a personal best lap of the track he matched today. Such a score didn't look likely when he wiped out early gains at 12 and 13 with a double bogey-6 at 17. But from that point Coetzee played his final 10 holes in 7-under via red at 18, 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 9. After finishing off with a 20 footer for birdie, the big Springbok reflected: "I made the putts that you're supposed to make and I made a couple of extra ones as well, which is always quite nice. You've got to hit good tee shots in these winds and if you do that you've got a pretty good chance of making birdies."
J. Rose (back) WDs from Hero World Challenge 12-02-2016
Justin Rose
Scheduled to go off at 11:12 a.m. ET with Tiger Woods, Justin Rose has instead backed out of this week's Hero World Challenge due to a back injury.

Mike Antolini (Twitter)
Rose posted a 2-over-par 36-38=74 during the opening round to find himself in last place of the 18-man field. He was 10 stokes off the early pace set by J.B. Holmes. The Englishman was returning from an eight-week absence, a planned leave to rest and recover from this very issue. There is no word on the severity of the injury, but this does put in question his availability for next week's UBS Hong Kong Open where he is set to play the role of defending champion.
Schwartzel puts up halfway target at Dunhill 12-02-2016
Charl Schwartzel
Charl Schwartzel continued his bid to win the Alfred Dunhill Championship for a fifth time with a 4-under-par 34-34=68 in Friday's second round, his 36-hole total of 10-under 134 giving him a one-shot clubhouse lead. The joint leader with Paul Dunne after an opening 66, the Leopard Creek specialist looked set to add another after making six birdies in his first 14 holes today. He registered circles at 12, 13 and 18 on the back nine after starting at 10 and, after another gain at 1, the home hero drained a bomb at 4 and followed it with a 20-footer for another at 5. But just when it seemed as if Schwartzel would build a healthy lead he swallowed a double bogey-5 at 7. Two closing pars meant his lead was restricted to a shot over fellow South African George Coetzee. It's worth noting that he held the halfway lead when winning this title in 2012, 2013 and 2015 so, right now, he's following the same path to victory. Can anyone stop him this weekend?
Varner grinding down under; T5 at Aussie PGA 12-02-2016
Harold Varner
Harold Varner III withstood a horror spell early in his round to card level-par 38-34=72 and hit the halfway mark of the Australian PGA Championship on 7-under 137, five back of the leader Andrew Dodt.
The 26-year-old from Ohio made the play-off in this event 12 months ago and he's certainly backing that up this year. He also arrives fresh from T11 in the Dunlop Phoenix Tournament in Japan, highlighting that he is a good traveler. After completing a first round 65 first thing in the morning (his opening lap had been delayed by thunderstorms), Varner II hit the back nine and continued where he had left off, with more red at No. 12. But when a double bogey-7 at 15 was followed by a double bogey-5 at 16 much of the good work was undone. He birdied 18 for the second time in the week, but gave the shot back at the 2nd. Redemption came with ticked numbers at 5, 6 and 9, giving him the chance to contend again. "I've played it well," he said. "I just want to keep doing that. There's a lot of golf left."
Scott makes a back nine move at Aussie PGA 12-02-2016
Adam Scott
Adam Scott is in position to pounce at the Australian PGA Championship after a second round 4-under-par 36-32=68 left T3 him on 8-under 136, four shots behind the halfway leader Andrew Dodt and two adrift of second placed Ashley Hall. The 2013 Masters champion is continuing to prove that he has a fondness for the RAVC Royal Pines Resort. The winner there in 2013, and only defeated by an inspired Greg Chalmers 12 months later, he can now plot a weekend chase of a third strong finish. Early on Friday he had his feet stuck in clay, as he carded one bogey (at No. 2) and seven pars through the first eight holes. But he made a move around the turn, with birdies at 9 and 10, added another at the 12th, and confirmed his presence near the top of the leaderboard with back-to-back red at 15 and 16. He is the only player in the current top 20 ranked inside the world's top 100; he is 7th, next best Ryan Fox is 131st.
Hall continues the fine form at Royal Pines 12-02-2016
Ashley Hall overcame a potentially ruinous triple bogey to card 3-under-par 33-36=69 and reach the halfway mark of the Australian PGA Championship on 10-under 134, solo second, two behind the leader Andrew Dodt and two clear of the chasing pack. The 33-year-old is well-traveled around the world, having tried his hand on the Asian, OneAsia and Tours, but finding the W on all of them elusive. This season he has concentrated on his home tour and the victory finally came in February's Victorian PGA Championship. Clearly a level or two below European Tour standard, it was still a springboard and he used it to finish T2 in last month's Australian Open, the standout result of his career. He has good course vibes having been T6 in 2013 and T3 after 18 holes this time last year - and he's ridden the wave this week. Starting from the 10th, he notched a hat-trick of red at 13, 14 and 15, but the trio of holes that caught the eye on the front nine were very different: birdie-triple bogey-birdie at 3 through 5. But another par breaker at 8 retrieved the dropped shots and he's in a strong position for the weekend.
Dodt claims halfway lead at Australian PGA 12-02-2016
Andrew Dodt fired a superb 5-under-par 33-34=67 to take a two shot advantage into the weekend at the Australian PGA Championship; his 12-under 132 total leads Ashley Hall with Ryan Fox and Adam Scott four back after 36 holes.
Dodt, a New South Wales native who is making his debut on the Royal Pines layout, was a winner of the 2014 Queensland Open so may have fond memories of the region. He ticked red three times on both nines: at 3, 8 and 9 going out, then 14, 15 and 17 on returning to the clubhouse. His only error came at the final hole, where he made a bogey-5. "The first nine holes were really solid," he said, "and then the back nine was as good as it gets, really. I hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens and holed some putts. I'll take it one shot at a time, one hole at a time. I'm really happy with where I'm at mentally, I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing." Earlier this year he led the Mauritius Open by three at halfway, only to card a disastrous 77-76 over the closing 36 holes, falling back to T5 in the process. He'll be hoping to use that experience positively rather than let it loom over his shoulder.