Kerr pulls away from Ko for first LPGA title since 2013

By Associated PressMarch 30, 2015, 1:15 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. – Cristie Kerr ran off four straight birdies on the back nine and closed with a 7-under 65 to win the Kia Classic on Sunday for her first LPGA title in nearly two years.

Starting the final round three shots behind, Kerr was in a three-way tie for the lead at Aviara Golf Club when she pulled away from Mirim Lee and 17-year-old Lydia Ko. Her fourth straight birdie was on the 16th hole when she drove the green and two-putted from 20 feet.

It was her 17th career win, and her first since May 2013 at the Kingsmill Championship.

Kerr's two-shot victory over Lee (70) ended a stretch of seven straight LPGA events won by South Korean-born players dating to the CME Group Tour Championship last year.

''I love to win,'' Kerr said. ''Golf has always been great to me, always given me special moments like this.''

Ko was tied for the lead with a birdie on the par-3 14th hole, but the No. 1 player in women's golf didn't make another birdie the rest of the way. She lipped out on a 5-foot putt on the 16th and finished with a three-putt bogey on the 18th for a 67 to finish third.

It was her 28th consecutive round under par on the LPGA tour, one short of the record Annika Sorenstam set in 2004. Ko's next event is the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills, the first LPGA major of the year.

''Last three holes were a little iffy, like yesterday, but 67 around here is good and I've improved my placing compared to last year, so a lot of positives to take from this week,'' Ko said. ''And I'm excited for the first major next week.''

Ko had her 10th consecutive finish in the top 10.

Kerr opened up a three-shot lead with her fourth straight birdie. Lee, playing in the final group behind her, drove the 16th green to within 4 feet for eagle to get within one shot. Her next tee shot wasn't nearly as good. She pushed it into the trees and chopped her way to a double bogey on the par-5 17th that effectively cost her any chance of winning.

Kerr finished with a three-putt bogey on the 18th and still broke by six shots the 72-hole record at the Kia Classic, which began in 2010. She finished at 20-under 268.

The 37-year-old American couldn't hold back tears after she won. The father of her caddie, Greg Johnston, died a week ago and Kerr said she wanted to win it for both of them. It also was her first victory since becoming a mother at the end of 2013. Her son, Mason, was in a stroller behind the 18th green.

''I've been working with a new coach, and I definitely found something this week,'' Kerr said. ''He said I was going to have a hot round, and he was right. I just found something. I'm just real happy right now.''

Kerr had gone 42 LPGA starts without winning until Sunday at the Kia Classic.

Ilhee Lee became the third player this week to match the course record with a 64. Morgan Pressel had a 64 in the second round, and Se Ri Pak had one on Saturday.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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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

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

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.