Kerr, Lincicome, Salas lead U.S. Women's Open

By Associated PressJuly 6, 2012, 1:28 am

KOHLER, Wis. – Although plenty of athletes have used sports to lift themselves up from difficult backgrounds, Lizette Salas' path to the pros isn't the sort of story that's often heard in golf.

The 22-year-old Salas shot a 3-under 69 in the first round of the U.S. Women's Open on Thursday, grabbing a share of the lead along with fellow Americans Cristie Kerr, the 2007 Open winner, and Brittany Lincicome.

Salas is the daughter of Mexican immigrants from Azusa, Calif., a city with a history of gang issues outside Los Angeles. With help from her family, she used golf to earn a scholarship to USC – and now, a spot on the LPGA Tour and a share of the Open lead.

With her family on hand to cheer her on this week, Salas sees her play as a tribute to her parents.

''My dad still works long hours out on the golf course, my mom also,'' Salas said. ''So this is just my way of repaying them for all their sacrifice and all their work they've done for me.''

Third-ranked Ai Miyazato, the Japanese star coming off a victory Sunday in the LPGA Tour event in Arkansas, was a stroke back along with 17-year-old Lexi Thompson, Jennie Lee and Beatriz Recari. Seven players – including No. 5 Na Yeon Choi and No. 6 Suzann Pettersen – shot 71 in the nearly 100-degree heat and high humidity that turned Blackwolf Run, a challenging 6,944-yard course in central Wisconsin, into a boiler.

Defending champion So Yeon Ryu finished with a 74. Se Ri Pak, who won the Open at Blackwolf Run in 1998, shot a 72.

Top-ranked Yani Tseng shot a 74. She would become the youngest player to complete a career Grand Slam with a victory this weekend.

Michelle Wie also opened with a 74, and second-ranked Stacy Lewis shot 77.

Cheyenne Woods, Tiger Woods' niece, had a 75.

Salas began playing at age 7 thanks in large part of her father, Ramon, who is the head mechanic at a golf course and offered to do odd jobs for a local pro if he was willing to teach Salas how to play.

''He didn't have that much money to pay for lessons because they're really expensive,'' Salas said. ''I didn't have golf shoes. I didn't know how to dress, nothing like that. They worked out a deal where my dad did handyman favors for them. My dad fixed cars on the side, and that's how I got started. Just been swinging ever since. Haven't stopped.''

As Salas began playing in tournaments, she and her father would drive long distances and sleep in the car to save money. Even now that Salas is a professional, the family still sometimes travels the country in its high-mileage 2006 Toyota Tacoma.

''We like that truck,'' Salas said. ''It's red and it has 'USC dad' on it. I think it has over 90,000 miles on it. We've had some great memories, laughed and shed tears in that truck. And I often slept in it. It's been a good, it's been a fun adventure, and just going to keep going and making more experiences.''

Salas' hard work, and the sacrifices her family made, paid off when she earned her spot on the LPGA Tour by winning a nine-way, three-hole playoff for the final qualifying spot.

''My dad is like, 'It's OK, it's OK.' But my mom is like, 'No, no, no, no. You're going to go out there and you're going to get that card,''' Salas said. ''And just birdie, birdie, birdie. That 18-footer on the last hole, I knew where I stood. I knew I had to make it. It was probably the slowest putt of my life, but it was great. All the emotions of all the hard work we've done as a family and all the sacrifice my dad has done and my mom. It was just a great moment for us.''

Salas began with a birdie on the 348-yard, par-4 first hole, with a 9-iron approach that left her with a 7-foot putt. It was one of her four birdies on the day. Her only bogey came on the 375-yard, par-4 11th.

The other leaders have an edge in terms of experience.

Kerr is a 14-time winner on the LPGA tour and the 2007 Open winner. But she was winless in 2011 after winning at least one tournament in each of the previous seven years.

Kerr, who birdied three of her first seven holes and made it through the day without a bogey, feels a different level of energy at the Open.

''This is where I want to perform,'' she said. ''This is the stage I want to perform on.''

The long-hitting Lincicome has five career LPGA tour wins, including a major win in the 209 Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Going into this week, breaking par didn't seem possible at Blackwolf Run.

''Obviously today shooting 3 under I have to kind of rethink my strategy, and obviously under par is very doable,'' Lincicome said. ''If you can keep it in the fairway, hit it in the right spot on the green and I made a couple long putts today which was nice.''

Beyond the challenges posed by the course's layout, plus the heat and humidity, players also had to stay focused during rounds that took as long as six hours to complete.

''Maybe just the heat, and it was slowing a few people down,'' Thompson said.

Several players said the heat affected their concentration.

''You're not thinking 100 percent clearly all the time,'' said Paula Creamer, the 2010 winner who had a 73.

Meena Lee, in the group at 71, acknowledged that the heat was getting to her.

''It was just too hot for me,'' Lee said, through a translator.

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Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.