Four South Koreans share Farr lead

By Associated PressAugust 11, 2012, 11:24 pm

SYLVANIA, Ohio – For the lead groups, the final round of the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic will be just like a friendly round back home in South Korea.

Oh, and give the winner a check for $195,000.

South Koreans Jiyai Shin, In-Kyung Kim, So Yeon Ryu and Hee Kyung Seo dominated the leaderboard, sharing the top spot at 11-under 202 on Saturday through the third round.

Two more South Koreans, Inbee Park (69) and second-round leader Chella Choi (70), were a shot back along with Japan's Mika Miyazato (69).

Call them the Seoul sisters.

'It will be really exciting Sunday,' said Kim, who will be chasing her fourth career LPGA Tour victory. 'These are players that I grew up with. I know them personally and I know their family issues and all that. So, even though we're playing in the U.S., having them around I feel much more at home.'

South Koreans have not only flooded the LPGA (there are 43 of them on the roster this year), but also dominated the tour in recent years. Still, they have seldom taken over a tournament like the one at Highland Meadows. In addition to filling the top four spots and six of the top seven, South Korea was represented by players occupying seven of the top 11 positions and 11 of the top 25 through 54 holes.

Even though they are extremely competitive, don't expect any gamesmanship.

'There are a lot of Korean players on tour,' said Shin, who has won eight times in LPGA events since 2008, including victories in the 2010 U.S. Women's Open and the 2008 Women's British Open. 'We are very close because we came over to play in the U.S. We were homesick, missing our friends and family in Korea. And that has made us close to each other.'

Shin and Kim each shot 5-under 66 for the low rounds of the day, while Ryu had a 67 and Seo a 68.

The range in scores of the four leaders is a high of 69 to a low of 66. In other words, almost the perfect definition of consistency.

Ryu acknowledged that, then added, 'Sometimes someone is crazy and has a low score – like a 61 or 62.'

It's not really surprising that the South Korean contingent is elbowing everyone else out of the picture at the Jamie Farr. After all, the player who is the matriarch of her country's players on the LPGA Tour – Se Ri Pak – has won the Farr five times. And three other players from South Korea – Mi Hyun Kim, Eunjung Yi and Na Yeon Choi – also have finished first in suburban Toledo.

In fact, since Pak won her first Farr in 1998, South Koreans have walked off with the title eight of the 13 years.

Shin was perhaps the brightest star on the LPGA landscape but has not won in two years because of injuries.

'It's as if I'm on my way,' she said after her 66. 'I have a little bit of pressure on myself.'

Kim, who has three career LPGA Tour wins, lost to Choi in a four-person playoff at the Farr the last time it was played in 2010 (the tournament was on hiatus a year ago while the city hosted the men's U.S. Senior Open).

'I'm in a great place, not only on the golf course,' she said. 'I'm happy on and off the course. That's really important.'

Seo was the tour's rookie of the year in 2011. She took a stab at making a humorous remark at the awards ceremony.

'Everybody wants to be No. 1,' she said. 'I just mentioned that I'll be No. 1 very soon.'

Tied for eighth at 8-under 205 were Americans Jacqui Concolino (69) and Angela Stanford (69), along with first-round leader Pernilla Lindberg of Sweden (70) and yet another South Korean, Hee-Won Han (70).

Needless to say, all eyes will be on the intrasquad scrimmage atop the leaderboard between the longtime friends, neighbors and countrywomen.

'We pretty much help each other,' said Ryu, who defeated Seo in a three-hole playoff at the 2011 U.S. Women's Open to earn her first and only tour victory. 'If some Koreans have a winning chance, everybody will be waiting on the 18th green and everybody will congratulate the winner. Our relationship is pretty great.'

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”


Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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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."