Kite cards front-nine 28, leads U.S. Senior Open

By Associated PressJuly 12, 2012, 9:00 pm

LAKE ORION, Mich. – Tom Kite set a U.S. Senior Open record with a 28 on the front nine at Indianwood and finished with a 5-under 65 on Thursday.

Corey Pavin's sixth birdie on his 17th hole pulled him into a tie atop the leaderboard, but a penalty pushed him back to the pack after completing his first round.

Pavin hit a chip after his ball moved back a fraction of an inch when he grounded his club on his 14th hole and that later cost him two strokes.

''Yeah, I agree,'' he said after watching slow-motion replays of the infraction with officials in a TV trailer.

That setback put Bernhard Langer and Lance Ten Broeck in second place, one shot behind Kite. It pushed Pavin into a five-way tie for fourth with Fred Funk, Jeff Sluman, Tom Pernice Jr. and Mikael Hogberg at 3-under 67.

''Still a very good score,'' Pavin said. ''I just like the way I played. That's the important thing now. There's three more rounds and lots of time to make it up and lots of golf left.''

Kite, who matched the lowest nine-hole score of his career on the front nine, is confident his window to win on the Champions Tour hasn't closed.

The 62-year-old Kite expects players like him to have success more than a decade into their career on the 50-and-over circuit because they're staying in shape and relentlessly working on their game.

''You probably haven't read, but 60 is the new 40,'' Kite said.

Kite, whose season-best finish was a tie for second four months ago at the Toshiba Classic, hasn't won on the Champions Tour since 2008.

He put himself in a position to end the drought on the front nine with an eagle from 155 yards at the 424-yard, par-4 No. 4 with a blind shot over a hill.

''The gallery let me know it went in the hole,'' Kite said. ''So it must have run out nicely out of that semi-rough.''

Kite also had five birdies before making the turn, leaving his playing partners - Peter Jacobsen and Scott Simpson - to marvel at his seven-under front nine.

''I felt like the Washington Generals playing against the Harlem Globetrotters out there,'' Jacobsen said. ''He didn't miss a shot on the front nine.''

Simpson said Kite played textbook golf to have his way with a course with tight fairways, thick rough and quick greens the USGA set up to be the hardest on the Champions Tour this year.

''I certainly didn't think there was a 28 out there,'' Simpson said.

Jacobsen, though, saw a breakout round coming from Kite after giving him lessons of sorts with Olin Browne recently at Pebble Beach.

''We gave him a couple ideas, and they worked last week and they obviously were still working,'' Jacobsen said. ''We all know each other's games and each other's swings, so we can tell when something is a little off and help each other out.''

Kite had the best nine-hole score in a USGA championship. There were seven 29s, including three at the U.S. Open, most recently by Vijay Singh in 2003. Olin Browne had the previous U.S. Senior Open record, shooting a 29 on the back nine in the third round last year at Inverness.

Kite scrambled to save pars on the back nine, especially when his drive at the 490-yard, par-4 12th – perhaps the toughest hole on the course – went left and into water. He recovered with a jaw-dropping approach from 209 yards that set him up with a 4-foot par-saving putt.

''That was probably the best shot I had all day,'' he said.

Kite's worst swing cost him a relatively comfortable cushion, heading into the second round. His tee shot at the 195-yard, par-3 17th landed in ankle-high rough on a decline to the left of the green. His flop shot went about 2 feet, leading to a double bogey that turned his three-shot lead into a one-stroke edge at the time.

''This golf course is tough enough it will bite you,'' Kite said. ''Nobody's going to play 72 holes out here without having it jump up on a hole or two and kick 'em in the rear, and it got me on 17. There are just some places that, if you miss it, you're going to pay the penalty.''

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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.”

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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.

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Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.