Henderson leads Lexi through 36 in Michigan

By Associated PressJune 17, 2017, 12:00 am

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Brooke Henderson bogeyed the final two holes for a 4-under 67, leaving the 19-year-old Canadian with a two-stroke lead Friday in the Meijer LPGA Classic.

Henderson had seven birdies - four in a row on Nos. 9-12 - and three bogeys to reach 12-under 130 and break the 36-hole record at Blythefield. She had a one-stroke lead Thursday after an opening 63.

Her approach on the par-4 17th rolled down a hill and she two-putted.

''Could have been really close to being a great shot,'' Henderson said. ''I practiced that shot in the practice rounds and it jumped forward on the first bounce there and I don't think I got that today. So, unfortunately, it's a tough hole and I just came away with bogey, which is not really what I was looking for.''


Full-field scores from the Meijer LPGA Classic


On the par-4 18th, she missed the green, left her chip well short and missed the long par putt.

''I kind of let emotions get into things and I was chasing birdie to try and get it back,'' Henderson said. ''Unfortunately, two bogeys to finish. Hopefully, that just gives me a little bit more motivation going into tomorrow.''

Fellow major champion Lexi Thompson, coming off a playoff loss to Ariya Jutanugarn on Sunday in Canada, followed her opening 64 with a 68 to join 2016 runner-up Carlota Ciganda (64) and Mi Jung Hur (66) at 10 under.

Thompson closed with a birdie on 18.

''I kind of peeked with about five holes to go and I think it said minus 14 was leading, and then I just saw on the last minus 12 was,'' Thompson said. ''But I try not to look at leaderboards, just try to focus on my own game, that's all I can control.''

Ciganda lost a playoff to Sei Young Kim last year at Blythefield.

''I've been playing good,'' the Spanish player said. ''I'm just excited. It was a good week for me here last year so I have great memories. Yeah, I like the course. I like the greens. I think the crowds are always good, so I'm very excited.''

Henderson won twice last year, taking the KPMG Women's PGA Championship for her first major, and successfully defending her title in the Cambia Portland Classic. She has a 36-hole lead for the first time since late last September in China in the Reignwood LPGA Classic.

''It's great to see my name up there,'' she said. ''It's been a little bit of a rough season so far, you know, not getting the results that I've been looking for. But this week seems to be a turnaround week and, hopefully, I can just finish strong the next two days.''

Moriya Jutanugarn was 9 under after a 66.

''It was great,'' Moriya Jutanugarn said. ''I've been playing solid. I rolled the ball good on the green. Everything seems to be good.''

Shanshan Feng (70) topped the group at 8 under. The Chinese player is trying to complete a Michigan sweep after winning the LPGA Volvik Championship three weeks ago in Ann Arbor.

Ariya Jutanugarn, Moriya Jutanugarn's younger sister, was tied for 30th at 4 under in her first event as the No. 1 player in the world. Lydia Ko, at No. 2 after an 85-week run at the top, was 6 under after a 71. Michelle Wie also was 6 under after her second 68.

Kim had her second 70 to make the cut on the number.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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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.