Calcavecchia grabs three-shot lead at Regions Tradition

By Associated PressMay 7, 2011, 2:22 am

Champions TourBIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Mark Calcavecchia well remembers the last time he opened a weekend contending for a major championship.

This time, he’s hoping for a better ending.

Calcavecchia opened a three-stroke lead Friday in the Regions Tradition, shooting a 7-under 65 to run his bogey-free streak to 35 holes at Shoal Creek.

Calcavecchia, with wife Brenda working as his caddie, was second in the British Open last year after 36 holes, but dropped to 73rd with closing rounds of 77 and 80.

“I didn’t handle that too good,” said Calcavecchia, the 1989 British Open winner. “That was a just a tad bigger tournament than this one.”

Calcavecchia birdied Nos. 10-12 to pull ahead and added another birdie on the par-5 17th to reach 11 under. He had a chance to get to 12 under, but missed a birdie putt by a few inches on No. 18

The 13-time PGA Tour winner, seeking his first Champions Tour victory in the 50-and-over circuit’s first major of the year, hasn’t made a bogey since opening the tournament with a double on the first hole.

Now, Calcavecchia will be the one everyone’s chasing.

“I’m sure I’ll be nervous,” he said. “You want to get off to a good start. That’s where you want to be. You don’t want to be sneaking up on anybody from six shots behind, although that’s happened before, too. But it’s always nice to be out in front.”

Kenny Perry was second, matching Calcavecchia with a 65.

Jay Haas – whose son, Bill, is contending in the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship – and Michael Allen were tied for third at 7 under. Haas had a 68, and Allen shot a 67.

First-round leader Tom Lehman (71) and Tom Pernice Jr. (66) were 6 under.

Perry, who asked swing coach Ron Green to come up from Mobile on Wednesday, actually had to get over jitters from the second straight day with big names Nick Price and Tom Watson.

Birdies on two of the first three holes helped.

“That seemed to kind of take the edge off me a little bit,” Perry said. “I always looked up to Tom Watson. I was nervous (Thursday) playing with Tom Watson, even though I’ve played a lot of golf with him. (He) and Nick Price are just great men, guys I’ve looked up to and I was actually a little tight (Thursday). When I birdied 1 and 3, it really loosened me up right out of the gate and I was able to just continue on.”

Perry was 4 under over the final nine. He hit a 5-iron to 20 feet of the hole on No. 17, then eagled the hole to take sole possession of second.

“I need a lot more rounds like that,” Perry said.

But his biggest shot might have come two holes earlier when he hit a driver through the fairway and into the woods.

“My only shot was to hit a sand wedge to the left front and then I made about a 50-footer for birdie,” he said. “It’s a putt you don’t even think about making much less two-putting, and it went right in the middle, so you know it’s kind of your day.”

Lehman had two bogeys after a bogey-free first round.

Pernice had four birdies in the final nine holes after entering the day at even par.

This is Pernice’s first Champions Tour major.

“I was a little gun-shy (Thursday), had a lot of mud on the ball” from Wednesday’s rains, Pernice said. “Fairways are starting to firm up, so a little more of a green light, and I felt better with my swing as well.”

Calcavecchia, meanwhile, said he isn’t feeling overly confident with two rounds left.

“If there was only one more round to go, I might feel my chances are a lot better than they are,” he said. “I’m not looking at the big picture yet. We’re only halfway done. I’ve got to keep making birdies.”

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 18, 2018, 5:00 pm

Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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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.”