Feng grabs lead before darkness at Sime Darby

By Associated PressOctober 29, 2016, 1:17 pm

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Shanshan Feng birdied four of her final six holes after a long lightning delay Saturday to top the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia leaderboard when darkness suspended play.

The 27-year-old Chinese player had a one-stroke lead over fellow major champion Anna Nordqvist of Sweden. Feng was 7 under for the day and 13 under overall on the 18th tee when play was stopped at TPC Kuala Lumpur. Nordqvist was on the par-5 16th.

''The 18th hole is a tough hole, but it's good that the pin location is not the toughest today,'' Feng said. ''I think maybe I'll have a full warmup in the morning. Hopefully, then, after I finish the 18th hole, I can go directly to No. 1 and start my fourth round.''

Play was delayed for 4 hours, 39 minutes by the lightning and periods of heavy rain, leaving only 90 minutes of light left when the action resumed.

''I just kept eating,'' Feng said. ''They kept updating like every 30 minutes, and like after every update, I'm like, 'Maybe I'm going out so I should eat more.' I ate like three or four times before I went out. So made sure that I'm full of energy.''

Lightning and rain also suspended play Friday afternoon. They're playing TPC Kuala Lumpur's East Course, a week after Justin Thomas successfully defended his title on the West Course in the PGA Tour's CIMB Classic.

Feng won the 2014 tournament for the last of her four LPGA Tour titles.

''Coming back here, I've had so many good memories that I'm really relaxed and really enjoying the week,'' Feng said. ''Of course, I think that really helps me to bring out my 'A' game.''

She bogeyed the par-4 11th before the delay, then reeled off birdies on par-5 12th, par-4 14th, par-3 15th and par-5 16th. She made a 20-foot eagle putt on the par-5 sixth in a front-nine 31.

Feng was third in the Olympics in August, the start of a string of five top-four finishes - the best a second behind Ha Na Jang three weeks ago in Taiwan.

Nordqvist was 5 under for the round. She has six LPGA Tour victories, successfully defending her ShopRite LPGA Classic title in June in New Jersey. The former Arizona State player lost a playoff to Brittany Lang in the U.S. Women's Open in July at CordeValle.

Amy Yang was third at 11 under with three holes left.

Suzann Pettersen (66) and Candie Kung (three holes left) were 9 under, and top-ranked Lydia Ko (65) and Chella Choi (67) were 8 under.

Playing her first tournament since firing caddie Jason Hamilton, Ko rebounded from a bogey-double bogey finish Friday that left her eight strokes back.

''I've just got to focus on my game,'' Ko said. ''That's what I tried to do yesterday and today, and that's how I got to this position, so I think I have to do the same thing for tomorrow.''

Malaysia's Sargunan Suntharaj is carrying the 19-year-old New Zealander's clubs. Hamilton shifted to Jang.

Pettersen birdied six of the first eight and made another on 12, then returned from the break to hit into the water and make a double bogey on the par-3 15th. She birdied the 18th.

Michelle Wie was 7 under with three holes left.

Paula Creamer shot a 64 before the storm hit to get to 6 under. The American played the first eight holes in 5 under. She opened with a birdie on 10, bogeyed 11, made four straight birdies, parred the par-5 seventh and birdied the eighth.

''I started on the back nine, second off today, you get really good greens,'' Creamer said. ''But I played great. I hit a lot of really good iron shots. Made a lot of good putts. Just tried to keep the momentum going. I could have shot a lot more under par, but I'll definitely take my 7 under.''

She closed with a triple bogey Thursday in a 72, and had a double bogey Friday in a 71.

''If you take those two things away, I'd be pretty much right in the mix of things and I know that,'' Creamer said. ''I've been playing well and putting well and my short game is on point. It's just putting them all together and hopefully I can do it tomorrow.''

Stacy Lewis was 1 under after a 70 in her first event since mid-September.

Second-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn also shot 70, leaving her even par. She has a tour-high five victories - one more than Ko - and leads the money list and the Race to CME Globe and player of the year standings.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.