Course-record 64 puts Fisher in tie atop Dubai leader board
Ross Fisher led an English run up a star-studded leader board Friday at the Dubai World Championship in the United Arab Emirates, matching a course record with an 8-under 64 to tie Ian Poulter at 9 under for the second-round lead.
Lee Westwood tightened his grip on the No. 1 ranking by moving into third with a 5-under 69 at the European Tour's season-ending, $7.5 million tournament in Dubai. He stood at 8 under, one shot ahead of European money leader and third-ranked Martin Kaymer, who could overtake Westwood only with a top-two finish and the Englishman falling out of the top 27.
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Kaymer, though, has all but ended the battle for the Order of Merit after he finished eight shots ahead of his only challenger, Graeme McDowell, who had another frustrating day to finish with a 1-over 73 and is tied for 42nd at 1 over for the tournament.
Fisher, who was tied for seventh after the first round, surged into the lead with eight birdies on his way to his stellar 64, including a string of three in a row on the back nine and one on the 18th to close out the round.
"You know, just a very good day. I played pretty flawless golf," Fisher said. "Drove the ball lovely. Didn't miss many fairways, and I don't know how many greens I missed, if I did at all," he added. "Just feel a lot more comfortable this year on the greens. I feel like I'm reading them a lot better and I've got my line and pace very well. Obviously today's 64 kind of proved that."
Poulter, who is coming off a victory at last week's Hong Kong Open, said he felt that momentum carried into this week and showed up especially on the greens, where he made clutch birdie putts on the 15th and 17th holes — the last one putting him into a tie for the lead.
"Yeah, very, very pleased. Obviously carrying some form from last week, driving the ball in the fairway an awful lot," Poulter said. "I think I missed one fairway today by a couple of inches. That was on the last hole. So I'm giving myself plenty of chances and I'm not really making any mistakes and that's obviously key to shooting a decent score."
Poulter and his playing partner, Westwood, were neck and neck for most of the day, until Westwood chunked a wedge on the edge of the green at the 14th that led to a bogey and then missed a birdie putt on the next hole.
Westwood said he "played quite nicely" but conceded he was still showing signs of rust from the lengthy layoff because of a leg injury. "Made a couple of mistakes out there, probably through not having played a lot recently," he said.
Nadal, Djokovic reach ATP semifinals
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic completed the semifinals lineup at the ATP World Tour Finals with straight-set victories Friday in London. Nadal beat Tomas Berdych 7-6 (3), 6-1 in an early match. That left Djokovic needing only one set to finish second in Group A and the third-seeded Serb defeated a listless Andy Roddick 6-2, 6-3.
Nadal will meet Andy Murray in Saturday's first semifinals as he bids for his first title at the season-ending tournament. Djokovic will play Roger Federer.
Roddick began his match against Djokovic with an outside chance of reaching the semifinals but the eighth-ranked American was never in contention and was broken three times in a 65-minute loss.
Nadal finished Group A with a 3-0 record and appears finally comfortable on the surface at O2 Arena, having lost all three matches on the same court last year.
Dodgers sign Garland to one-year deal
The Los Angeles Dodgers completed their starting rotation for 2011 by agreeing to a deal with right-hander Jon Garland. The $5 million, one-year contract includes a club option and could be worth $16 million over two seasons. Garland joins Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda and Ted Lilly to give Los Angeles one of the deepest sets of starters in the major leagues. Garland went 14-12 with a 3.47 ERA in 200 innings for the San Diego Padres in 2010. He is 131-114 with a 4.32 ERA in his 11-season career.
"I can't recall having five that would have the ability to make 30-plus starts and throw as many innings as they do," General Manager Ned Colletti said Friday. "I felt we needed to shore up our pitching as best we could and to do it with five starters."
■ The Minnesota Twins have 30 days to sign Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka after submitting the highest bid for his negotiating rights. The 26-year-old Nishioka led the Pacific League with a .346 batting average this season and had 206 hits, becoming the league's first player to get 200 hits since Ichiro Suzuki.
Spacy Tracy takes feature at Aqueduct
Spacy Tracy rallied to beat Out Khrysty by three-quarters of a length in the $150,000 Top Flight Handicap for fillies and mares at Aqueduct in New York. Jeremy Rose tried to send Spacy Tracy between rivals at the top of the lane but could not find a clear opening. Changing course, Rose angled the 5-year-old to the far outside, where she rapidly accelerated to extend her winning streak to three with her sixth victory in 10 starts.
Moye to begin rehab after stroke
Former Indiana basketball player A.J. Moye will begin rehabilitation next week after suffering a stroke following a collision with a teammate in practice in Frankfurt, Germany. In a video message released by his German club, Deutsche Bank Skyliners, Moye said he is "fine." The 28-year-old former Hoosiers guard collided head-on with a teammate in practice last week and was later diagnosed with a stroke.
The last word
The showdown is set, and Coach Rex Ryan and the Jets are ready. Immediately after New York topped Cincinnati 26-10 on Thursday night — with no overtime or last-minute heroics needed this time — the Jets turned their attention to their next opponent. Yep, those pesky New England Patriots. Said Ryan:
"It's the marquee game of the year. ... I know we're confident going anywhere to play. They're certainly confident playing at home in particular, but, hey, it's going to be, in my opinion, the best two teams in football squaring off against each other and we'll see what happens on the field."