Big names tied atop LPGA leaderboard

By Associated PressMay 16, 2010, 3:04 am

LPGA Tour _newMOBILE, Ala. – Norway’s Suzann Pettersen shot a 7-under 65 on Saturday for a share of the lead with Brittany Lincicome and Se Ri Pak in the Bell Micro LPGA Classic.

Pettersen followed two birdies with an eagle on the par-5 sixth, and joined Lincicome (67) and second-round leader Pak (68) at 13 under on the Crossings Course at Magnolia Grove, part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

A six-time winner on the LPGA , Pettersen once again is in contention after finishing second twice and third once in the first five events of the season.

But six players were within two shots of the lead, setting up a last-day scramble.

“With all those names at the top of the leaderboard, nobody’s going to back down,” said Lincicome, the long-hitting 24-year-old Floridian. “Nobody’s going to shoot a high number. A lot of the long hitters are at the top. Sixty-five would be nice.”

It was certainly enough for Pettersen to make a big move. She lost by a stroke to Yani Tseng in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, but has gone 35 holes without a bogey.

“I’ve been feeling good all year,” said Pettersen, dealing with a nagging hip injury. “I’ve been playing really good. I’ve been outplayed a couple of times when I felt like what I had was going to be good enough, but that’s this game. That’s the beauty of this game.”

Suzann Petterson swings clubThe trio and others will jockey for the win with a two-tee morning start Sunday because bad weather is forecast for the afternoon.

Na Yeon Choi (66), Jee Young Lee (66) and Azahara Munoz (67) were 11 under. Michelle Wie had a 76 to drop to 5 over, last among the 73 players who made the cut.

Pettersen pulled even with Pak by opening the back nine with two more birdies and briefly took the lead with another birdie on No. 15. Pak answered right back on No. 16 with her only birdie of the back nine.

As for Pettersen’s torn hip muscle, she said the doctor prescribed rest but that’s not in the cards quite yet.

“It’s not ideal, but I can make it work,” Pettersen said.

Pak’s 68 kept the Hall of Famer under 70 for the third straight round and in position for her 25th win and first since the 2007 Owens Corning Classic. She won the Tournament of Champions on the same course in 2001 and 2002.

Pak had three birdies on the front 9, and like Pettersen she turned in a bogey-free day.

“There’s nothing I can do special, just go out there and play like I did the last three days,” Pak said. “This golf course fit perfectly this week. I feel really happy about the way I’m playing. No complaints at all.”

She has no complaints about the scenario either. “I think this is a better way to start the final round because sometimes leading by one or two shots, you’re really having a lot of pressure,” Pak said.

Lincicome overcame an opening bogey. Her 30-plus foot eagle putt on No. 6 more than wiped that out.

“I started out a little rough,” she said. “I was a little nervous. It took a couple of holes to get into a rhythm.

“I’m going to keep doing the same things I’m doing and focus on my tempo. The only time I hit a bad shot is when I get a little quick. I’m just going to take a lot of deep breaths and calm myself down.”

And maybe listen to her 10-year-old nephew, who predicted her score.

“The air conditioning temperature in the car on the drive here was 67 this morning, so he said I was going to shoot a 67,” Lincicome said. “I just need him to pick a number for me (Sunday).”

Pettersen has revised her pre-tournament estimate about what score it might take to win on a course that underwent substantial renovations last year.

“I thought about 15-16 (under) would be a good number, but I think you’ve got to go low (Sunday),” she said. “There’s reachable par 5s and some shorter par 4s.

“I think you need another really low one.”

Choi fell back with a bogey on the final hole. It was her seventh bogey of the first three days.

Munoz, a 22-year-old rookie from Spain, shot a 67 to rebound from a 6-over round Friday and put herself back in contention going into the finale.

“Of course I’m going to be nervous,” she said. “But this is the spot you want to be in. This is what you practice for.”

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McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course

By Ryan LavnerMarch 18, 2018, 1:50 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.

McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”

This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.

A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.

McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.

“It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”

As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.

“It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”

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Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

Her confidence is high.

“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.

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Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 2:09 am

PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.

While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.

But then . . .

“Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”

In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.

She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.

With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.

At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).

Park’s back with a hot putter.

That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.

“The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.

Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.

“But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.

Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.

Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.

They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.

Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year in just her second start. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.

“I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.

“She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”

Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.

“I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”

Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.

“When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”

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Joh on St. Patrick's ace: Go broke buying green beers

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:57 am

PHOENIX – Tiffany Joh was thrilled making a run into contention to win her first LPGA title Saturday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she comically cracked that her hole-in-one might have been ill-timed.

It came on St. Patrick’s Day.

“This is like the worst holiday to be making a hole-in-one on,” Joh said. “You'll go broke buying everyone green beers.”

Joh aced the fifth hole with a 5-iron from 166 yards on her way to an 8-under-par 64. It left her four shots behind the leader, Inbee Park (63).

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

One of the more colorful players on tour, Joh said she made the most of her hole-in-one celebration with playing partner Jane Park.

“First I ran and tackled Jane, then I high-fived like every single person walking to the green,” Joh said.

Joh may be the LPGA’s resident comedian, but she faced a serious challenge on tour last year.  Fourteen months ago, she had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma. She won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award for the way she handled her comeback.