Henderson, 17, sets tournament record at Swinging Skirts

By Associated PressApril 25, 2015, 12:55 am

DALY CITY, Calif. – Brooke Henderson has no photo on the LPGA Tour's website and has to rely on sponsor exemptions to get into tournaments after being denied an age waiver to even play at Q-school.

The 17-year-old Canadian fiddles with her earrings between shots, purses her lips and anxiously watches each ball, then politely responds and makes eye contact when someone in the gallery engages her with a compliment.

For one day at least, Henderson is the new 17-year-old with serious swagger in women's golf.

She shot a tournament-record 7-under 65 on Friday to take the second-round lead in the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.

''That's pretty cool,'' Henderson said about her low score.

That round put her at 9 under at Lake Merced Golf Club, where world No. 1 and defending champion Lydia Ko shot an even-par 72 to remain 5 under after taking the first-round lead Thursday.

Na Yeon Choi was two strokes back at 7-under 137 after a 68. The 27-year-old South Korean eagled the par-5, 475-yard 14th and had three birdies on her front nine.

Yueer Cindy Feng of China and Japan's Sakura Yokomine stood tied for third place at 6 under.



As Ko celebrated her 18th birthday, she cleared the way for a new teen star to shine.

''I think I'm ready. Yeah, 17 is young,'' Henderson said. ''As you've seen with Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson and even Jessica Korda, there are a lot of great names that have been able to do it. I'm hoping that I'm one of them.''

The long-driving Henderson eagled the 14th, hitting a 3-wood approach and making a 15-foot putt. She also had six birdies.

''That's an awesome round here,'' said local icon Juli Inkster, who shot a 2-over 74 after opening with a 68.

''I didn't hit the ball as well. The wind got me out of sorts. I hung in there, it keeps me in the mix,'' said Inkster, 54. ''It was just swirling all over, especially in my head.''

Henderson - who last year tied for 10th in the U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst then turned pro in December - regularly hears how she is fearless and goes for it on shots when others might be more conservative, and that approach sure worked for her in the tricky conditions at Lake Merced.

Not that she has necessarily noticed any extra hype.

Caddie Bunk Lee insists they didn't even know she had jumped to the top of the leaderboard in just her 10th career LPGA Tour event. Though Henderson grabbed a few glances at the leaderboard ''here and there.''

''I was able to stay in a rhythm today,'' Henderson said. ''I got into it early, and I was able stay there all day, which was nice.''

She and her older sister, Brittany, tied for second place in last month's Florida's Natural Charity Classic, a Symetra Tour event that earned them each $10,038 paydays.

In many ways, Henderson appears to be a veteran unfazed by golf's big stage.

''She's far above most 17 year olds as far as maturity is concerned,'' Lee said. ''She's very calm, she's very patient, her thought process is very clear. Her ability to focus is astounding. ... It's an absolute joy to be on this bag.''

While she wasn't particularly happy with her golf that left her tied for fifth, Ko was serenaded with ''Happy Birthday'' and presented with a cake, and she covered her face briefly in embarrassment. Some 300 people followed her group in the gallery for parts of the round.

Ko, who opened with a 67, drew an early tee time and had evening dinner plans to celebrate with friends. She received a new iPhone from her mother and her peers quickly told her she ''upgraded.''

She was headed for some Korean barbecue, ''go to the original roots.''

''No more singing, please,'' Ko joked after her round. ''Really cool to share this birthday with a lot of the people out here. Lots more time to celebrate tonight. It was a good day. It is really cool that now I'm an adult ... big 18.''

And Ko found herself again talking about the fact age is no issue in golf, this time not about Inkster but someone younger - Henderson.

''She's still 17 in a lot of ways, and that's a good thing,'' the caddie, Lee, said. ''She's not getting ahead of herself, and I think it's very refreshing. We rolled into the parking lot and it started from there, and it was a good day.''

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.

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Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.

At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.

Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time Web.com winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.

Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.

“Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”

In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.

“I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."

Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.