Kim leads Ochoa and Wie struggle in Phoenix

By Associated PressMarch 26, 2009, 4:00 pm
LPGA Tour _newPHOENIX ' South Koreas In-Kyung Kim shot a 4-under 68 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the J Golf Phoenix LPGA International, while two-time defending champion Lorena Ochoa and Michelle Wie struggled in windy afternoon conditions.
 
Kim had a one-stroke lead over countrywomen Jiyai Shin, Imbee Park and Eun-Hee Ji and American Cristie Kerr, who eagled the final hole, and Norways Suzann Pettersen, who finished with a birdie.
 
The wind gusts were measured as high as 39 mph at Papago, the recently renovated, difficult municipal layout in its first year as the tournament site after five seasons at Superstition Mountain.
 
On the back nine, it was quite windy, Kim said. It was on and off, so it was a little difficult to adjust the yardage. It was tougher on and around the greens because it was so dry out there. There was not much spin around the greens.
 
Ochoa, showing anger at times over her disappointments, opened with a 72.
 
Wie, the 19-year-old Stanford sophomore still seeking her first tour victory, shot a 73 in her first tournament since the season opener.
 
Wie admitted it was a hard day, with the wind and everything.
 
I felt a little rusty, she said. I made a couple of stupid mistakes.
 
Pat Hurst, the Mastercard Classic winner last week in Mexico, had a 76.
 
Kim had five birdies and an eagle.
 
I three-putted at No. 3, but other than that, it was a solid round, Kim said.
 
The highlight of her round was an eagle at the par-5, 475-yard 18th, where she chipped in from 20 feet.
 
Although this is Kims fourth tournament of 2009 and she has yet to crack the top 25 in any event, she described her golf this year as very decent.
 
But the putts werent going in as expected, she added.
 
This is Kims first tournament after a two-week hiatus and she said her time off was boring,
 
She was, however, very concentrated Thursday. I was ready to play golf today, she said.
 
Kerr, who lives in Scottsdale, eagled No. 10 in addition to her closing eagle.
 
It was almost like torture in the wind, Kerr said. But I didnt try too hard. If you try too hard, you wont be able to control your shots in the wind. I controlled the ball very well today.
 
Kerr played in the afternoon and thought the golfers who played earlier had a one- or two-shot advantage.
 
I knew if I could put a good round together today, tomorrow would be to my advantage, said Kerr, who will play in the morning Friday. A little less wind would be appreciated. But I played a phenomenal round today.
 
Shin had a spectacular finish, with birdies at 16 and 17, and a 12-foot eagle putt at 18, moving her from 1 over to 3 under. Shin, the HSBC Womens Champions winner in Singapore this month, is a 20-year-old rookie on the tour.
 
Before becoming an LPGA member, she won three tournaments last year, the British Open, a major, and the Mizuno Classic and the season-ending ADT Championship, where she received $1 million.
 
Her professional career, as a member of the Korean LPGA, included seven victories in 15 starts and seven additional top-eight finishes. As an amateur, Shin had five victories as a member of the Korean national team.
 
Today, I started with a birdie, so I felt comfortable, Shin said. But on the first nine holes, my putting is always short. So, on the back nine, I tried to hit longer drives. At 16 and 17, it was easy to make birdies, and at No. 18, I made an eagle.
 
Kris Tamulis even bettered that. She aced the par-3, 158-yard second hole, using an 8-iron.
 
Ochoa apparently was bothered by the wind and the hard greens, noting they were harder than at Superstition Mountain in Gold Canyon.
 
One of Ochoas angry moments came at the 13th. After hitting the ball well past the green, she slammed her club into the ground. She then appeared relieved after making a par putt.
 
As winner the past two years, the worlds No. 1 player and winner of 25 tournaments overall, Ochoa was the overwhelming favorite. But she didnt play like it.
 
Ochoa even admitted she lost patience on the 16th hole, but was satisfied that she closed with a birdie.
 
I finished the day strong, she said. But I felt I left a few shots out there.
 
Pettersen called the wind ridiculous.
 
I knew the wind was going to blow, but this was surreal, she said. There isnt even any shotmaking out there. You can try, but no chance. You have to be really creative.
 
This is the first LPGA tournament of the season on the U.S. mainland and a prelude to next weeks Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of the season, at Rancho Mirage, Calif.
 
Darkness prevented nine players from finishing the round, but none of those players was close to the leader.
 
Every active player among last years top 100 money winners and the top 90 from this year committed to the tournament, but late withdrawals were Paula Creamer, fourth last week in Mexico and fourth on this seasons money winning list, and Grace Park.
 

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Phoenix LPGA International
  • Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

    By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

    Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

    ''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

    Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

    ''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

    Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

    ''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

    ''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.

    ''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

    He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

    ''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

    Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

    ''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''

    Park's stumble creates wide-open finale

    By Randall MellNovember 18, 2017, 11:46 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park didn’t turn the CME Group Tour Championship into a runaway Saturday at Tiburon Golf Club.

    She left with bloody fingernails after a brutal day failing to hold on to her spot atop the leaderboard.

    OK, they weren’t really bloody, but even the unflappable Park wasn’t immune to mounting pressure, with the Rolex world No. 1 ranking, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the money-winning title among the prizes she knew were within reach when she teed it up.

    “It’s honestly some of the worst pressure,” Stacy Lewis said of CME week. “It’s so much pressure.  It’s just really hard to free yourself up and play golf.”

    Lewis isn’t in the mix for all those prizes this year, but the two-time Rolex Player of the Year and two-time Vare Trophy winner knows what the full weight of this week’s possibilities bring.

    “It’s almost nice to come here without all that pressure, but you want to be in that situation,” Lewis said. “It’s just really tough.”

    Park is no longer in charge at Tiburon.

    This championship is wide, wide open with a four-way tie for first place and 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Park is one shot back after stumbling to a 3-over-par 75.

    Count Michelle Wie among the four tied for the lead after charging with a 66.

    Former world No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn (67), Suzann Pettersen (69) and Kim Kaufman (64) are also atop the leaderboard.

    Kaufman was the story of the day, getting herself in contention with a sizzling round just two weeks after being diagnosed with mononucleosis.

    Park is in a seven-way tie for fifth place just one shot back.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    Lexi Thompson (69) is in that mix a shot back, as is Lewis (67), who is seeking to add a second title this year to her emotional win for Houston hurricane relief.

    For Wie, winning the tournament will be reward enough, given how her strong rebound this year seemed derailed in September by an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

    Before the surgery, Wie fought her way back from two of the most disappointing years of her career, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

    “I gained a lot of confidence this year,” Wie said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun. That’s when I play my best.”

    All the subplots make Sunday so much more complicated for Park and Thompson, who are best positioned for a giant haul of hardware.

    They have the most to gain in the final round.

    Park has already clinched the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, but she can add the Rolex Player of the Year title, joining Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win both those awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978.

    A fifth place finish or better could give Park the Player of the Year Award outright, depending what others do.

    “There are a lot of top players right now at the top of the leaderboard,” Park said. “Keeping my focus will be key.”

    Thompson can still take home the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy and the CME Globe jackpot. She needs to win the tournament Sunday to win Player of the Year.

    Like Park, Thompson is trying not to think about it all of that.

    “I treat every tournament the same,” Thompson said. “I go into it wanting to win. I’m not really thinking about anything else.”

    The Vare Trophy for low scoring average is Thompson’s to lose.

    Park has to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson on Sunday to have a shot at the trophy, and they are tied at 9-under overall.

    The money-winning title is Park’s to lose. So Yeon Ryu has to win the tournament Sunday to have a chance to wrestle the title from Park, but Ryu has to pass 31 players to do so.

    The CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot remains more up for grabs, with Thompson and Park best positioned to win it, though Jutanugarn is poised to pounce if both stumble. A lot is still possible in the race for the jackpot.

    The pressure will be turned way up on the first tee Sunday.

    “There is always that little bit of adrenaline,” Thompson said. “You just have to tame it and control it.”

    Simpson WDs from RSM, tweets his father is ill

    By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:45 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Following rounds of 67-68, Webb Simpson was in 12th place entering the weekend at the RSM Classic before he withdrew prior to Saturday’s third round.

    On Saturday afternoon, Simpson tweeted that he withdrew due to an illness in his family.

    “Thanks to [Davis Love III] for being such a great tournament host. I [withdrew] due to my dad being sick and living his last days,” Simpson posted on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Simpson’s father, Sam, caddied for his son during amateur events, and Webb Simpson started playing golf after following his father to the course on family vacations to North Carolina.

    “My dad is probably the kindest man I know. He’s always been the guy who knew everyone, everyone knew him, everyone wanted to be around him,” Simpson said in a 2015 interview with David Feherty. “He taught me the game. He’s always been one of those dads who loved to be active with their kids.”

    Before play began on Thursday, Luke Donald withdrew after being hospitalized with chest pain. Tests indicated the Englishman’s heart was fine and he returned home to undergo more tests.

    New old putter helps Kirk (64) jump into contention

    By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:43 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Chris Kirk’s ball-striking has been nearly flawless this fall. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for his putting.

    In four events this season, Kirk ranks 143rd in strokes gained: putting, but his fortunes have changed this week, thanks at least in part to a return to something familiar.

    Kirk switched to an older style of putter similar to the one he used on the Web.com Tour in 2010 to earn his PGA Tour card.

    “It's nice to be back in contention again,” said Kirk, who is alone in second place, three strokes behind front-runner Austin Cook. “It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Kirk is 25th in strokes gained: putting this week and has converted several crucial putts, including a 30-footer for birdie at the 17th hole on his way to a third-round 64.

    His putting is similar to 2013 when he won the RSM Classic, and his improved play on the greens has given the 32-year-old confidence going into Sunday’s final round.

    “I'll probably be relatively comfortable in that situation, and thankfully I've been there before,” Kirk said. “It's still not easy by any means, but hopefully I'll be able to group together a bunch of good shots and see what it gives me.”