Alfred Dunhill Preview

Alfred Dunhill Preview
The European Tour starts up again this week and Charl Schwartzel defends at the season-opening Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa.
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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.
Dec 2 - 4:59 PM

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.
Dec 2 - 4:50 PM

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.
Dec 2 - 2:32 PM

Keith Horne added to the strong home South African challenge at the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek by tacking on a 6-under-par 31-35=66 to his opening 69 and arriving at 9-under 135 at the midpoint, two back from leader Brandon Stone.

Horne wrote himself into the record books in this event by making hole-in-one at the par-3 12th in consecutive rounds in 2013. He painted nine birdies on his scorecard today although had to settle for par at his favorite hole! Instead, the red numbers came in two big bursts, the first wave comprising five in in first six holes before he connected four more from Nos. 13-16. Horne's hopes of hitting the top of the leaderboard were hit by bogeys at 3, 11 and 17. Still, he's very much part of the conservation heading into the weekend and, at minimum, he'll hope to improve his best finish of T6 in 2008.
Dec 2 - 12:17 PM

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.
Dec 2 - 11:55 AM

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."
Dec 2 - 11:38 AM

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."
Dec 2 - 9:57 AM

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.

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.
Dec 2 - 9:17 AM
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