H.Y. Park's 61 catapults her into Manulife LPGA lead

By Associated PressJuly 13, 2013, 10:32 pm

WATERLOO, Ontario – The course was dry yet the greens remained soft at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic on Saturday. Players aimed straight at the pins for a third straight day and the scoreboard was loaded with low numbers as a result.

South Korea's Hee Young Park shot a career-low 61 to move into sole possession of the lead at Grey Silo Golf Course. Her 20-under 193 total left her one shot up on American Angela Stanford and two strokes ahead of Scotland's Catriona Matthew.

With 21 players already in double digits at 10 under or better and course conditions likely to remain the same, expect a shootout on Sunday.

''When you see everybody going low, you have to go with them or you're going to get left behind,'' Stanford said.


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Park's three-round score was the best 54-hole total on tour this year and it was just the 11th time a player has shot 61 in tour history. She almost went one better – nearly chipping in for eagle on the 18th before tapping in a short putt for her sixth birdie on the back nine alone.

''I finished really well, finished (with) the birdie, so it's going to be fun tomorrow,'' she said.

Matthew (68) started the day with a three-shot lead on Stanford (64) but fell back with a double bogey on the par-3 12th. She followed with a birdie and got another stroke back with a birdie on the final hole.

''Yeah, didn't maybe click quite as well today, didn't hit it quite as close,'' Matthew said. ''Had a lot of chances but just kind of left a few, and then a silly double on 12, kind of getting a bit greedy going for the hole and just pulled it.

''Nice to come back with a couple birdies.''

Meena Lee of South Korea was three shots off the lead after a 65, while Sweden's Anna Nordqvist shot a 67 and was five shots off the pace.

South Korea's Inbee Park remained in contention after a 68, good for a ninth-place tie at 13 under. Park has won her last three tournaments.

''I had a lot of opportunities today but missed a lot of putts,'' she said. ''I mean I hit the ball the way I wanted to, that's the positive part to take away. Hopefully the putts will go in tomorrow.''

Lorena Ochoa was the last player to win four straight LPGA tournaments, accomplishing the feat in 2008. Nancy Lopez holds the tour record with five consecutive wins in 1978, a mark tied by Annika Sorenstam over the 2004-05 seasons.

The sunny, warm and breezy conditions held steady throughout the day on the 6,330-yard, par-71 course. American Gerina Piller got things started early in the afternoon with a 62, taking a stroke off the competitive course record.

Her mark lasted for about two hours.

Park hit a slick 4-foot tester for the 61 as the gallery roared its approval. She smiled, waved and tossed the souvenir ball into the grandstand.

''It's anyone's game,'' Piller said. ''Like today if you get someone that gets hot with their putter and, I mean, it's a free for all. The course is in great condition.

''Like I said, the greens are soft, so that's kind of a green light for us as pros that we can just kind of throw darts and it makes it a whole lot easier.''

Matthew said she believed anyone within seven strokes of the lead might have a chance on Sunday.

Stanford, meanwhile, had predicted earlier in the tournament that the winning score would be in the 20-under range. Now she thinks 25 under might be needed.

''We see a couple courses throughout the year that give up some birdies, but they're the best players in the world and if you give them soft greens, it's like letting, what, the kid go after candy,'' she said.


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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

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The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."