Feng leads A. Jutanugarn at Japan Classic

By Associated PressNovember 5, 2016, 12:09 pm

IBARAKI, Japan – Shanshan Feng shot an 8-under 64 on Saturday to take the TOTO Japan Classic lead, putting the Chinese star in position to close the Asian swing with consecutive victories.

Feng birdied the final two holes for a one-stroke advantage over Ariya Jutanugarn, the 20-year-old Thai player who leads the LPGA Tour with five victories and would wrap up the player of the year award with a victory.

''I still missed a few shots, but I think right now my confidence level is really high, so I know how to score,'' Feng said. ''I think that the reason that I struggled in the first half of the year, I was actually hitting the ball really well, but I just didn't know how to score. Now my putting is working and even if I leave myself a 15-footer, I feel comfortable to make it. I feel a lot more comfortable and confident on the course.''

Jutanugarn had a 68 on another chilly day at Taiheiyo Club in the tour's first tournament in the Tokyo area since 1991.

''I'm just going to try to have fun and enjoy tomorrow,'' Jutanugarn said.

Feng won last week in steamy conditions in Malaysia. She has finished no worse than a tie for fourth in her last six events. She started the run with the Olympic bronze medal in Rio, tied for fourth at Evian in France, opened the Asia trip at home in China with a fourth-place tie, was second in Taiwan and tied for third in South Korea before winning. After winning Sunday, she took off Monday and Tuesday.

''I went to Tokyo,'' Feng said. ''I love Japanese food, so I went to my favorite restaurant and went shopping. I spent some money on Monday, so I think that's why I have to try hard on the weekend to make my money back.''

The five-time LPGA Tour winner two-putted for birdie on the par-5 17th, then capped the bogey-free round with a 10-footer on the par-4 18th that caught the left edge, circled the cup and fell in to get her to 11-under 133. She birdied three of the first six and had three in a row on Nos. 12-14.

''I'm happy about the score, but there's still one day to go,'' Feng said. ''I'm not going to do anything different. I'm going to stick to the game plan and, hopefully, it's another good day.''

She lost a playoff to Momoko Ueda in 2011 at Kintetsu Kashikojima, the tournament venue from 2006 to last year.

The second-ranked Jutanugarn had six birdies and two bogeys. She has a 13-point lead over Lydia Ko in the player of the year standings, with each playing one more event.

''I played good today,'' Jutanugarn said. ''Front nine was really good and on the back nine I just missed some tee shots. Front nine, I made a lot of putts, but back nine putting was not that good. But overall the day was pretty good.''

She praised the Japanese fans who have packed the course.

''They're very very nice,'' Jutanugarn said. ''I never have all the spectators be nice like this.''

The top-ranked Ko was tied for 52nd at 1 over after a 71.

''I putted better today, but it wasn't overly great,'' Ko said. ''I was able to get back from the two bogeys that I had in my first two holes.''

Norway's Suzann Pettersen (66) and South Korea's Soo-Yun Kang (69) were 9 under on the pine tree-lined Minori Course.

''Good setup today. Some fun holes,'' said Pettersen, second in Malaysia.

The 15-time LPGA Tour winner got the last spot in the final group to complete a major champion threesome.

''I'm playing some good golf these days,'' Pettersen said. ''I felt really comfortable on the greens and gave myself a lot of good chances. I just tried to keep the card clean and I managed to do so. Six birdies and playing well, so I'm excited to have a chance tomorrow.''

Defending champion Sun-Ju Ahn (65) was 8 under with Ha Na Jang (68), Jiyai Shin (67), and Jenny Shin (69). Jang won last month in Taiwan for her third victory of the year. Jiyai Shin won the tournament in 2008 and 2010, and is coming off a Japan LPGA victory last week.

Stacy Lewis followed her opening 67 with a 73 to fall into a tie for 21st at 4 under. The 2012 champion, she's winless in 61 starts since June 2014.

U.S. Solheim Cup teammate Lexi Thompson had an eagle and a double bogey in a 68 that left for tied for 31st at 3 under. In May, she won the JLPGA's World Ladies Championship Salonpas Cup.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

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The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.

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Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium Course to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time.

The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine – and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

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The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.