Choi opens big lead on Day 3 of Women's Open

By Associated PressJuly 7, 2012, 11:08 pm

KOHLER, Wis. – Na Yeon Choi was just a kid when Se Ri Pak won the U.S. Women's Open at Blackwolf Run in 1998.

Today, Choi is living proof that Pak's landmark victory 14 years ago really did have the power to inspire girls in South Korea to try to make it in professional golf. And after posting one of the best rounds in Open history, Choi is poised to repeat Pak's feat in the same event at the same course.

Choi shot a 7-under 65 on Saturday in the third round at Blackwolf Run, taking control of the tournament.

''I couldn't believe how I got eight birdies today,'' Choi said. ''But I did. And I'm very happy, and I'm very satisfied and I'm very excited.''

The fifth-ranked South Korean star's remarkable round put her at 8 under for the tournament, giving her a six-stroke lead over fellow South Korean Amy Yang. Only four players ever have posted a lower round in the Open, and the 65 tied the lowest third-round score in the event's history.

As Choi surged despite windy conditions, Michelle Wie faded, shooting a 6-over 78 to fall to 2 over. Wie shot a 66 in the second round and came into the day a stroke behind second-round leader Suzann Pettersen.

''It was a lot of fun being in contention,'' Wie said. ''I'm still not out of it. Don't count me out just yet.''

Pettersen also shot 78 on Saturday and slid to 1 over, but still hoped to get back into contention.

''You know what, there's birdies out there,'' she said. ''I think the wind is going to be a little bit less tomorrow from what I've seen. So if you get off to a hot start, hopefully put a number down early in the clubhouse. Who knows?''

Yang had a 69. Choi and Yang were the only players to break 70 in the round.

''I'm just going to keep being patient tomorrow, try to do my best,'' Yang said.

Lexi Thompson, Mika Miyazato and Sandra Gal were tied for third at 1 under. The 17-year-old Thompson had a 72, Miyazato shot 73, and Gal had a 74.

''Seven under at an Open is pretty good, I would say,'' Thompson said about Choi's round. ''So she's leading by a good amount, but I'm still going to go for it.''

Top-ranked Yani Tseng struggled, shooting a 78 and fading to 8 over.

Tseng said she had trouble feeling comfortable with her club selection at times as she tried to deal with the wind and tough pin placements.

And Tseng said she didn't see too many opportunities for low scores out there, adding, ''Except Na Yeon.''

Choi has five career LPGA Tour victories. She tied for second in the 2010 U.S. Women's Open.

And she credits Pak for helping to inspire those accomplishments.

Choi recalls watching the 1998 Open on television. At the time, she said she already was thinking about trying to make it as a golfer in South Korea – but when Pak won, her conceptions of what might be possible changed dramatically.

''I changed my goal: 'I have to go to the LPGA Tour and I want to win on the LPGA Tour,''' Choi said.

And given the source of her inspiration, winning at Blackwolf Run would be extra special.

Choi came into Saturday at 1 under for the tournament and started posting low numbers right away.

She had only 26 putts, and is optimistic she'll be able to continue putting well.

''I have a good feeling about my putting speed and putting strokes,'' Choi said. ''So I hope to get good results tomorrow.''

Choi had four birdies on the front nine, including back-to-back birdies to start the round. She made a 20-foot putt to birdie No. 7.

Then Choi birdied the first three holes on the back nine, draining a birdie putt on the 12th hole to go to 7 under on the day.

Choi's only slip-up of the day was a three-putt on the 13th, her only bogey of the day. Choi then made a 15-foot putt to birdie the par-3 17th, going back to 7 under for the day and 8 under for the tournament.

The lowest round in U.S. Women's Open history was a 63 by Helen Alfredsson in 1994. Three other players have shot a 64 in the Open.

With another low number Sunday, she could run away with the tournament.

''Honestly, it will be a lot of pressure tomorrow,'' Choi said. ''But you know, I know what I have to do, and I know what I can control.''

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x