Gulbis fires 65 for share of Titleholders lead

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2013, 9:43 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Natalie Gulbis got off to a rocky start and put herself in position for a great finish. That describes her year as much as her third round Saturday in the LPGA Titleholders.

Gulbis hooked a 5-iron into the water and made bogey on the par-5 opening hole, and then bounced back for a 7-under 65. That gave Gulbis a share of the lead with Gerina Piller and Pornanong Phatlum of Thailand. They each had a 67.

The leaders were at 11-under 205, though it was far from a three-player race for the richest prize in women's golf.

Stacy Lewis virtually wrapped up the Vare Trophy with a tournament-record 63, and now has a chance to do so much more. Lewis was two shots behind, along with Shanshan Feng of China (67), Lexi Thompson (67) and 36-hole leader Sandra Gal, whose 74 let so many players back into contention.

Michelle Wie, on the one-year anniversary of her peculiar putting stroke, had a 66 and was among three shots behind.



A dozen players were separated by four shots going into the final round of the season at Tiburon Golf Club, where the winner gets $700,000 from the $2 million purse. That most likely won't be 16-year-old Lydia Ko, who had a 72 and was nine shots behind in her pro debut.

Gulbis hasn't won a tournament since 2007, and it looked unlikely for this year to end that drought.

She became ill at her first tournament of the year in Thailand and later was diagnosed with malaria. Gulbis was told to rest for two months, take ''medicine I can't even pronounce,'' and she spent the first part of the year trying to return too early and suffering setbacks.

It wasn't until June that she could get through a round of golf and have enough energy left to practice. She didn't qualify for any of the events on the Asia swing, instead spending that time at home in Las Vegas retooling her swing with coach Butch Harmon.

But she hit her stride on a warm day along the gulf shores of Florida. Even though the 5-iron was a shock – she was trying to lay it up on the right side of the fairway, and the water is way on the left – she quickly piled up birdies and finished with eight of them.

''To be in the mix, and to be making birdies, is what you play for,'' Gulbis said.

Five players had at least a share of the lead at one point, and Sunday figures to be a sprint to the finish. Gal made this dynamic leaderboard possible with a double bogey on the second hole, and the 28-year-old German never quite recovered. After making 14 birdies the opening two rounds, she made only one on Saturday.

Lewis felt a sense of relief even as the leaderboard was tightening.

Suzann Pettersen has to finish nine shots ahead of Lewis to win the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average. They started the day tied at par, and Lewis walked off the 18th green knowing she was virtually a lock to become the first American since Beth Daniel in 1994 to win the prestigious award.

Lewis had a 63. Pettersen struggled to a 71, and now needs a 17-shot swing on Sunday to overtake Lewis.

''Suzann was playing right behind me and I told myself I was not going to look back there all day long,'' Lewis said. ''I wasn't going to look at a leaderboard and I was just going to take care of myself. And that's why I did.''

Now there's that matter of winning a tournament that gives Lewis another chance to end a long drought. She can take the money title with a win Sunday, which would make Lewis the first American since Betsy King in 1995 to win the Vare Trophy and the money title in the same year.

The record day for Lewis started with a 5-iron from 177 yards that she holed for eagle on the third hole, though it still wasn't her best 5-iron of the year. She hit a pretty good one at St. Andrews on the 17th hole of the final round that carried her to victory in the Women's British Open.

It was at the Old Course when Lewis realized the golf can take some quick and unexpected turns. She was two shots behind playing the 17th at St. Andrews and wound up winning. So even 11 shots behind going into Saturday, Lewis realized there was plenty of golf left.

The final round is shaping up the same way, and it even includes Wie, who hasn't won since the Canadian Women's Open three years ago. It was at the CME Titleholders a year ago where she bent her torso parallel to the ground and turned that into her putting stroke.

''Proud creator of the tabletop – trademark, patent pending,'' she joked. ''But it feels good. It feels good that I found something I created myself.''

And it's working.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.



Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.