Jutanugarn takes 1-shot lead with 18th-hole eagle

By Associated PressMay 28, 2016, 11:24 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ariya Jutanugarn ended a shaky round spectacularly, making a 15-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole Saturday at Travis Pointe to take a one-stroke lead in the Volvik Championship.

Trying to become the first to win three straight LPGA events since Inbee Park in 2013, the 20-year-old Jutanugarn shot a 1-over 73 in the third round to reach 10-under 206. She became the first Thai winner in tour history three weeks ago in Alabama and followed that up last week with a victory in Virginia.

Following three straight pars, she teed off on the 500-yard, par-5 18th with a 3-wood and landed in the rough. From 220 yards, she hit an impressive 3-iron shot that went as planned.

''Just go to the pin,'' she said.

Jutanugarn shrugs off her stellar play, but is earning praise from other players.

''It's incredible what she can do with the golf ball,'' said Christina Kim, who was tied for second. ''It's just absurd. She is able to dominate really any golf course without necessarily hitting driver on any hole."

Kim shot a 72 to join Jessica Korda (70) at 9 under.

Korda said pin placements made Travis Pointe, a new LPGA venue, play much tougher than it did the previous two days.

''They are tucked in a lot of places and the greens are just super firm,'' she said.

Stiffer wind was a factor, too.

''It's very hard,'' Jutanugarn said.

Hyo Joo Kim and Suzann Pettersen were 7 under, each shooting 70. Top-ranked Lydia Ko was tied for 25th at 2 under after a 72.

Jutanugarn has been playing better than any woman on the planet lately, including earlier in the week with a 65-68 start.

On Saturday afternoon, though, she fell back to the pack and then behind it with consecutive bogeys on Nos. 3, missing a 3-foot putt, and 4 and a third bogey to close the front nine. A bogey at No. 13 dropped her to 7 under and she birdied the next hole.

A freak accident was the only thing that slowed Jutanugarn down three years ago as a teenage phenom.

After finishing in the top four of each of the five tournaments she played in 2013, Jutanugarn fell off a tee box while running away from her sister, fellow tour player Moriya, who was trying to pour water on her while they were goofing around. Jutanugarn needed shoulder surgery and was knocked out of competition for nine months.

''I think it made her want it even more,'' said Michael Yim, Jutanugarn's agent.

Korda is aiming for her fifth LPGA title and first since winning last year in Malaysia. She has three top-10 finishes this year, including a tie for third.

Kim, meanwhile, has been struggling. A tie for 19th last month, her season-best finish, was followed by missing the cut and being tied for 45th and 65th the previous two tournaments. She won her third LPGA title in 2014. Kim was leading late in the third round, but bogeyed No. 15 to fall into a four-way tie with Jutanugarn, Korda and So Yeon Ryu.

With a birdie on her first hole, Ryu was 10 under and among the leaders. She didn't have another birdie the rest of the day and had four bogeys, including on Nos. 16 and 17, to fall to 3 over for the day and 6 under for the tournament and into a sixth-place tie with Belen Mozo (70) and Marina Alex (75).

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:







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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."