Jimenez leads Langer, Couples in Champions debut

By Associated PressApril 19, 2014, 11:02 pm

DULUTH, Ga. – Fun-loving Miguel Angel Jimenez might turn the Champions Tour into his personal cigar-and-wine club. Ever-serious Bernhard Langer keeps churning out sub-par rounds. Bad back and all, Fred Couples is thriving in the wind and cold rain.

It makes for an enticing last group in Sunday's final round of the Greater Gwinnett Championship.

Jimenez, continuing his impressive tour debut, shot a 2-under 70 on Saturday and leads by one stroke after two days at TPC Sugarloaf.

Langer and Couples each had a 68 in the second round. Langer is one stroke back of Jimenez and Couples is two back, setting up Sunday's all-star final group.

''That's about as good a pairing as you're going to get,'' Couples said. ''I'm thrilled about that, to have a shot at winning.''

Added Langer: ''It should be an exciting shootout. ... Whoever is going to win tomorrow is going to play some good golf.''

Jimenez, Langer and Couples carried over their momentum after strong finishes last week in the Masters. Jimenez was fourth, Langer tied for eighth and Couples tied for 20th in Augusta.

''When you come in from a major like the Masters and you are playing well there, you are like in tune, you know?'' Jimenez said.

Jimenez began the day with a three-stroke lead following his tournament-record 65 on Friday. After the round he said he couldn't wait for ''a nice, warm shower, a nice fat cigar and a glass of (wine).''

Langer was tied with Jimenez for the lead at 8 under entering Saturday's final hole. Jimenez had a birdie on No. 18. Langer missed putts for eagle and birdie before settling for par and his second straight 68.

Sunday will mark the third straight round Langer and Jimenez have played in the same group.

Before the tournament, Langer predicted Jimenez will ''leave his mark'' on the Champions Tour. That opinion hasn't changed.

''He's very much the same, he's very steady and very methodical and really doesn't have too much of a weakness,'' Langer said. ''Drives the ball well, hits some good irons and putts it very well so that's why he's on top of the leaderboard right now.''

Jimenez is trying to become the second straight player to win in his Champions Tour debut. Jeff Maggert won the tour's last event in Saucier, Miss., on March 23.

Jay Haas, Chien Soon Lu, Duffy Waldorf, Kenny Perry and Steve Pate are tied for fourth at 5 under. Haas, Lu and Waldorf had 68s, and Perry and Pate had 71s.

Jimenez began his second round with a birdie, but he gave back three strokes on his next three holes. A double bogey on No. 4 dropped him to 5 under.

Langer also had his troubles early. He was tied for 10th and was 1 over for the day through eight holes. Just as there were whispers that his streak of 17 consecutive sub-par rounds on the tour could be in jeopardy, Langer had his first birdie of the day on No. 10. That putt sparked a streak of four birdies in six holes.

Couples moved into third place with a birdie on 17.

Tom Glavine, who will be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame in July, joined former Braves teammate John Smoltz and former University of Georgia and Chicago Bears kicker Kevin Butler in a celebrity group playing for charity.

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 17, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods teed off at 12:15PM ET alongside Justin Rose for Round 3 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

Getty Images

Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

Getty Images

Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

Getty Images

Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.