Feng holds off Pettersen to win Wegmans

By Associated PressJune 10, 2012, 11:23 pm

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Shanshan Feng set two personal goals this year regarding the LPGA. She reached them both with one memorable round.

Feng won the Wegmans LPGA Championship on Sunday to become the first Chinese player to win an LPGA title and a major event, closing with a 5-under 67 for a two-stroke victory.

''I am so excited right now,'' Feng said. ''I did it! I don't know how to celebrate. It happened too soon. I'm going to miss my flight tomorrow. I might just go home. Who knows? I want to see my parents. I'm sure they want to see me.''

More than likely.

The 22-year-old, the only player from China on the tour, had the lowest round of the tournament at the right time and finished at 6-under 282.

Feng, who began the day three shots behind third-round leader Eun-Hee Ji, had a bogey-free round to etch her name in the record books, and her fourth top 10 of the year moved her to fifth in the world.

''For me, I never thought, 'I must win.' I knew I was three behind (at the start), so I knew I had a chance,'' said Feng, who began playing golf at age 10. ''I was focusing on every shot. If I win, I win. If I don't, I don't. It just worked out.''

Stacy Lewis, bidding to win her third straight LPGA stroke-play event, shot a 70 to tie for second with Mika Miyazato, Suzann Pettersen and Ji. Miyazato shot 69, Pettersen 70, and Ji 72.

Karrie Webb, who started the day one shot behind Ji, had a 72 to finish at 3 under. Little-known Gerina Piller, a star in college at UTEP and a former contestant on GolfChannel's 'Big Break' series, and Ai Miyazato each shot 68 to also finish at 3 under.

Paula Creamer had a 71, and Giulia Sergas and Inbee Park shot 72 to finish another shot back.

Defending champion Yani Tseng had a closing 76 and was 13 over in a tournament she won a year ago by 10 shots.

Feng joined a growing list of players who have broken through for their first career victory at the LPGA Championship. Anna Nordqvist in 2008 and Tseng in 2009 were the last two of the seven who have accomplished the feat.

''You knew it was coming at some point. I'm surprised she hasn't won out here,'' Lewis said. ''She went out and won it. The goal was to go post a low number. That's what everybody was trying to do.''

Over the first three days, Ji and Webb had notched the lowest score – 68 – on the Locust Hill Country Club course, its narrow fairways and long, thick rough providing a challenge worthy of a major.

Tseng last year and Cristie Kerr in 2010 won this tournament with 19-under scores, Kerr by a record 12 shots and Tseng by 10. With difficult conditions over the first three days, nobody was able to break away, and only 13 players began the day under par.

But under a blue sky with only the hint of a breeze, a breakthrough by somebody seemed likely. That it ended up being the only player from China with an LPGA card and no career wins didn't seem likely.

''Obviously, it means a lot for me because this is my fifth year on the tour,'' Feng said. ''I was sad and I was even thinking, 'Can I win again?' I won twice on the Japanese tour last year and it helped a lot. It helped me to have confidence again. Now, I know I can win again.''

Feng made five birdies without a bogey, hitting 11 of 14 fairways and reaching 16 greens in regulation. She even laughed with her caddie after barely missing a birdie putt at No. 16, probably because she didn't know she was nursing a one-shot lead over Mika Miyazato.

''I wasn't looking at the scoreboard,'' Feng said. ''I was on 18th green and I looked at the board and I was leading. I couldn't believe it.''

Feng didn't allow an errant drive into a fairway bunker at the par-5 17th hole get her down. She hit her third shot 12 feet from the pin and made birdie for a two-shot lead that nobody challenged. She closed with a par, hitting her drive right down the middle of the fairway on one of the most difficult scoring holes on the course.

Unfazed when her second shot found rough at the edge of the green, she chipped inside 2 feet and made par to secure the victory.

''There was nobody with us before 16,'' Feng said. ''Then on 17 at least 10 media people were around us. 'OK, maybe I have a chance to win.' After I chipped (at 18), I looked at the board, so I knew I was leading.''

The 26-year-old Ji is no stranger to Locust Hill, having captured her first career LPGA victory here in the 2008 Wegmans LPGA, when the Rochester stop was a regular tour event.

She had eight pars and a bogey on the front side and a bogey at 10 dropped her three shots behind the leaders. She rallied on the back side with birdies at Nos. 13, 15, and 16 but couldn't keep it going over the final two holes.

Even with the gallery rooting hard, Creamer, a crowd favorite, was dreading this tournament because of the death in March of her 94-year-old grandfather, Tom, her biggest fan. She dropped one shot on the front nine and managed only one birdie on the back side.

The final twosome of Webb and Ji both hit great drives to start, and when Ji hit her second shot inside 8 feet, Webb duplicated it as a fan shouted ''Game On!''

Ji missed, but Webb sank hers to tie for the lead at 4 under with Ji and Pettersen, who birdied the second and third holes.

Webb faltered with bogey at No. 3 as Pettersen continued a front-nine surge with a long birdie putt at the par-3 fifth hole. The long-hitting Norwegian star clenched her right fist and pulled her arm back in celebration as she gained sole possession of the lead at 5 under.

Feng had two birdies over her first six holes to move one shot behind and nearly took the outright lead at No. 8. But her eagle try slid just past the hole and she settled for a tie with Ji and Pettersen.

Pettersen won the 2007 LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock, beating Webb by one shot, but has had not-so-great moments in major play, having been a runner-up three times at Kraft Nabisco. The most painful was in 2007 when she lost to Morgan Pressel, blowing a four-shot lead over the final holes. She was solid on this day at the start and regained the lead with a birdie at No. 8, making the turn at 5 under.

A birdie by Feng at No. 12 moved her into a tie with Pettersen and the little-known Piller, who had only one top-10 finish since her rookie year two years ago.

Piller started the day at 1 over, five shots off the lead, but quickly made her way up the leaderboard with four birdies on the front side. Birdies at Nos. 11, 14 and 16 made her 9 under through a 19-hole stretch and moved her into a tie for the lead at 5 under.

But Piller found trouble at the par-5 17th, which she eagled Saturday to begin her steady rise. She drove under a tree into the thick rough and her punch shot out clipped some leaves and she dropped two shots when her short bogey putt slid just past the cup.

Pettersen found rough on two straight shots at No. 13, chipped well past the pin and settled for bogey to fall one shot behind Feng. Pettersen drove the rough again at the 14th hole and again made bogey to fall two shots behind and never recovered.

Webb birdied No. 11 to reach 4 under again but gave it right back on the next hole when she drove into the rough and couldn't salvage par. Webb birdied Nos. 16 and 17, but like Ji her rush came too late.

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Players winner to get 3-year exemption into PGA

By Rex HoggardFebruary 21, 2018, 8:01 pm

Although The Players isn’t golf’s fifth major, it received a boost in that direction this week.

The PGA of America has adjusted its criteria for eligibility into the PGA Championship, extending an exemption for the winner of The Players to three years.

According to an official with the PGA of America, the association felt the winner of The Players deserved more than a single-year exemption, which had been the case, and the move is consistent with how the PGA Tour’s annual flagship event is treated by the other majors.

Winners of The Players were already exempt for three years into the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.

The change will begin with this year’s PGA Championship.

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Thomas: Playing in front of Tiger even more chaotic

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:52 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas may be going from the frying pan to the fire of Tiger Woods’ pairings.

Translation: He’s going from being grouped with Woods last week in the first two rounds at the Genesis Open to being grouped directly in front of Woods this week at the Honda Classic.

“Which might be even worse than playing with him,” Thomas said Wednesday.

Typically, the pairing in front of Woods deals with a lot of gallery movement, with fans racing ahead to get in position to see Woods’ next shot.

Thomas was quoted after two rounds with Tiger at Riviera saying fans “got a little out of hand,” and saying it’s disappointing some golf fans today think it’s “so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots.”

With 200,000 fans expected this week at the Honda Classic, and with the Goslings Bear Trap pavilion setting a party mood at the 16th green and 17th tee, that portion of the course figures to be quite lively at PGA National.


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Thomas was asked about that.

“I touched on this a little bit last week,” Thomas said. “I think it got blown out of proportion, was just taken out of context, and worded differently than how I said it or meant it.

“I love the fans. The fans are what I hope to have a lot of, what all of us hope to have a lot of. We want them cheering us on. But it's those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times, or just saying stuff that's completely inappropriate.”

Thomas said it’s more than ill-timed shouts. It’s the nature of some things being said.

“It's one thing if it's just you and I talking, but when you're around kids, when you're around women, when you're around families, or just around people in general, some of the stuff they are saying to us is just extremely inappropriate,” he said. “There’s really no place for it anywhere, especially on a golf course.

“I feel like golf is pretty well known as a classy sport, not that other sports aren't, but it has that reputation.”

Thomas said the nature of the 17th hole at PGA National’s Champion Course makes it a more difficult tee shot than the raucous 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Typically, players like to hear fans get into the action before or after they hit shots. Ill-timed bluster, however, makes a shot like the one at Honda’s 17th even tougher.

“That hole is hard enough,” Thomas said. “I don't need someone yelling in my ear on my backswing that I'm going to hit it in the water, to make it any harder. I hope it gets better, just for the sake of the game. That's not helping anything. That's not helping grow the game.”

Those who follow golf know an ill-timed shout in a player’s backswing is different than anything a fan says at a football, basketball or baseball game. An ill-timed comment in a backswing has a greater effect on the outcome of a competition.

“Just in terms of how much money we're playing for, how many points we're playing for ... this is our jobs out here, and you hate to somehow see something that a fan does, or something that they yell, influence something that affects [a player’s] job,” Thomas said.

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Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

“Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.


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The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

“He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 21, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.