Els Leads Memorial Woods Three Back

By Associated PressJune 5, 2004, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Ernie Els fired a 6-under 66 on Saturday to move two strokes clear of the field after three rounds of The Memorial Tournament. Els completed 54 holes at 12-under-par 204.
Second-round co-leader Justin Rose notched a 3-under 69 to share second place with K.J. Choi (68) and Fred Couples (68) at 10-under-par 206.
Lurking one stroke behind that trio is three-time Memorial winner and World No. 1 Tiger Woods, who posted a 5-under 67 Saturday. He shares fifth place with Stephen Ames (70) at minus-9.
Couples and Els seemed to feed off each others solid play throughout the round. Els, the world No. 3, got off to a good start at Muirfield Village. He birdied the par-4 second, then notched back-to-back birdies from the fifth to get to 9 under.
In the process, Els took over the lead. He settled down with four straight pars, while Couples caught fire. The University of Houston alum chipped in for his first birdie at the seventh, after opening with six straight pars.
Couples rolled in an 18-footer for birdie at the next to get to minus-8. After a par at the ninth, he dropped his second shot within 6 feet to set up his third birdie, one that gave him a share of the lead.
Couples then posted four straight pars, while Els answered with a solid stretch of golf. After a poor drive at the par-5 11th, Els knocked his third shot to 15 feet and he sank that birdie to tie Choi in the lead. Choi had climbed into the lead thanks to five birdies and a bogey over his first 10 holes.
Els parred the 12-14 to remain at 10 under and in the lead as Choi fell off the pace with bogeys at Nos. 11 and 13.
The South African moved to 11 under with a birdie at the par-5 15th, which was matched by Couples. Els hammered an 8-iron to within 7 feet of the cup at the 200-yard par-3 16th. He calmly sank that putt to move to minus-12, three clear of Couples who bogeyed the same hole.
Els parred in to remain at 12 under.
'It was a good day. I put myself in good position most of the day and I hit some good iron shots, and made some putts and saved some good pars,' said Els, whose best here was tie for second in 2000. 'I've got a two-shot lead, but it doesn't mean much.
'It means that I'm playing well, doing something right. I've just got to go out there and play golf tomorrow. I need to try to stay aggressive.'
Couples holed out from 70 yards for birdie at the 17th to get within two of Els. He parred the last to share second place. For the tournament, Couples has chipped in for birdie three times to go along with that hole-out birdie.
'I hung in there, hit the ball really, really well and had a good day,' said Couples, who won here in 1998. 'If anything, tomorrow for me personally will be a great day. I've been working on my game and it held up today. I'm definitely looking forward to tomorrow, I have a great shot at winning. It's just another great round of golf to be played at Jack's (Nicklaus) course.'
Meanwhile, Choi recovered from his troubles at 11 and 13th with consecutive birdies from the 14th to get to 10 under. He faltered to his fourth bogey of the day at the 16th, but managed to erase that mistake with a birdie at the next to share second place.
Rose recovered from a double bogey at the third to climb back into contention. He birdied the second and fifth, to head to the back nine at 7 under. He picked up birdies at Nos. 10, 14 and 17 to move into his share of second place.
By the way, Woods managed to remain among the leaders by hitting 79 percent of his fairways and needing only 24 putts to complete his round. He stumbled out of the gate with a bogey at the first, but came back with birdies at three and five to move to minus-5.
Woods nearly holed his pitch shot for eagle at the par-5 seventh, but settled for a tap-in birdie. After a pair of pars, Woods stuck a 9-iron inside 3 feet of the hole at the 10th for his fourth birdie of the round.
The 28-year-old dropped his third shot to the par-5 11th inside 8 feet and sank that birdie try to get to 8 under. He left his third shot in a greenside bunker at 14 and nearly holed his fourth from the beach, but walked away with bogey.
As he often does, Woods made up for the error with an up-and-down birdie at the next. He capped his round by rolling in a birdie putt from just over 20 feet at No. 17 to get within three strokes of Els.
'I hit better golf shots, and also I got some pretty good breaks, as well,' said Woods. 'For instance, on No. 2 today, the ball should have been in the hazard, but it wasn't. I had a swing, I had a difficult shot, but at least I had a swing, and I made par where that should have been a bogey. Bogey-bogey is not the way you need to start on a Saturday afternoon.'
Defending champion Kenny Perry (66) and reigning British Open champion Ben Curtis (73) share seventh place at 6-under-par 210. Retief Goosen and Jay Haas are one stroke further back at minus-5.
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    Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

    PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

    She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

    “I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

    Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

    “Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

    She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

    “I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

    Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

    She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

    “They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

    Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

    While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

    “Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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    Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

    PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

    In fact, she named her “Mona.”

    For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

    While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

    And that has her excited about this year.

    Well, that and having a healthy back again.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

    Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    “Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

    Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

    She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

    Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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    Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

    By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

    PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

    Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

    Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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    Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

    PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

    With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

    After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

    “I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

    It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

    Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

    “It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

    Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

    “Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

    Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

    Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

    “It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

    Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

    “This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

    Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.