Up by 4, Kirk takes aim at 72-hole LPGA record

By Associated PressJuly 9, 2017, 1:23 am

ONEIDA, Wis. - Katherine Kirk shot a 7-under 65 on Saturday to open a four-stroke lead in the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic, and move into position to challenge the tour's 72-hole record.

Coming off a career-best 63 on Friday, the 35-year-old Australian reached 20-under 196 in the first year event at Thornberry Creek - the Oneida Nation-owned resort near Green Bay.

''I've been playing pretty well lately, trending at least in the right direction,'' Kirk said. ''I like this golf course. It suits my eye, and I think it's going to take another low one tomorrow. You saw some really good scores out there today. It's not over until it's over, right?''

The LPGA record for 72 holes is 27 under, set by Annika Sorenstam in the 2001 Standard Register Ping in Phoenix and matched by Sei Young Kim last year in the Founders Cup, also in Phoenix. Sorenstam shot a record 59 in the second round.

Kirk played the first five holes in 1 over with a birdie on No. 1 and bogeys on Nos. 3 and 5. She rebounded with a birdie on No. 6, ran off four straight on Nos. 8-11 and added birdies on 13, 15 and 17. On the par-4 18th, she saved par with a 15-footer after finding the right fairway bunker and hitting her approach well left.



''I know I can putt well, but I think I'm like pushing the limits right now,'' Kirk said. ''It's fun.... It's unexpected, but you certainly take them when you can.''

She won the last of her two tour titles in 2010.

South Africa's Ashleigh Buhai was second after a 65. She's winless in the LPGA.

''Obviously, Katherine is playing really well,'' Buhai said. ''I saw I got within one at one stage, and then I looked again, and she was back to three ahead. She obviously made a lot of birdies and I felt I made as many as I could. Tomorrow will be fun between the two of us.''

Buhai had seven birdies in a nine-hole stretch in the middle of the round.

''I hit the ball really solid,'' Buhai said. ''I made a bogey on my first hole and after that I hit 17 greens in a row. I just kind of favored to the side of the pin that you had to, and I rolled in a few 15-footers. I was cautious at some times, and then I knew when I could be aggressive. Overall, good ball-striking, and you have to roll in the putts.''

Japan's Ayako Uehara (65) and England's Jodi Ewart Shadoff (66) were tied for third at 13 under, and Suzann Pettersen (66) was another stroke back along with Tiffany Joh (66), Cristie Kerr (67), Angel Yin (67), Megan Khang (67), Jaye Marie Green (70) and Sandra Gal (72). Gal shot a 64 in the morning in the completion of the suspended second round on the rain-softened course.

''I'm obviously going to tee off a little bit earlier than the leaders, obviously try and post a number,'' Pettersen said. ''That's all I can do at this point. ... I love the way they set it up. They invite us to make eagles, go for greens. Hopefully, they'll do that tomorrow, as well, and everyone will keep seeing low numbers.''

Top-ranked So Yeon Ryu, No. 3 Lexi Thompson and No. 4 Lydia Ko are among those taking the week off before the U.S. Women's Open next week at Trump International in New Jersey.

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.


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With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.


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“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.


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Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”