Ko (62) equals course record, shares lead with Pressel

By Associated PressJune 26, 2016, 1:46 am

ROGERS, Ark. - Lydia Ko is comfortable on most any golf course she steps onto these days.

The top-ranked player feels exceptionally at home at Pinnacle Country Club in the LPGA's NW Arkansas Championship, and that comfort level has shown in her performances over the last few years.

Ko continued her mastery of the 6,330-yard layout Saturday, matching the course record with a 9-under 62 to move into a tie for with Morgan Pressel at 14 under. Ko played the final eight holes in 7 under, making five birdies and the eagle.

The New Zealander has shot under par in each of her 11 rounds over the last four years at Pinnacle, resulting in a fourth-place finish as an amateur in 2013 and then a second and sixth over the last two years. She has been at her best in the final rounds each year, including a 63 a year ago.

''I've played well here the last three years and have had really solid Sundays,'' Ko said. ''I love it here, and I really like the golf course.''

Ko and Pressel were two shots ahead of Jing Yan, Candie Kung and Alena Sharp.

Pressel appeared on her way to the lead on her own after shooting a 63, a round that included birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 to cap her lowest round in nine years at Pinnacle.

However, the 19-year-old Ko - the reigning LPGA Player of the Year - closed with a flourish.

Ko made the turn at 7 under and was well off the early leaders when she missed the fairway with a poor drive on No. 10. She recovered to make par and followed with four straight birdies, capping her 7-under back nine with a 10-foot putt for birdie on No. 17 and a 12-foot eagle putt on the 520-yard par-5 18th.

''I love a par-5 finishing hole; it can really make it exciting,'' Ko said. ''... I think it's great for [the fans] to see a lot of birdies there.''

Ko has two LPGA victories this year, including the major ANA Inspiration, to push her career total to 12. The reigning LPGA Player of the Year has finished no lower than 23rd this year and had finished in the top 10 in eight of her 12 tournaments.

Pressel, meanwhile, hasn't won since the 2008 Kapalua Classic. The major winner at the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship (now the ANA Inspiration) has finished second five times since her last victory - including last month in Alabama.

Pressel was one of 13 players who opened the tournament with a 65 on Friday, and she quickly moved up the leaderboard during her afternoon round Saturday.

After Yan took the early clubhouse lead at 12 under following her second straight 65, Pressel moved into a tie at the top following back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14. She closed her round with a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th and a two-putt birdie on No. 18.

Pressel missed the cut last year, but she has finished as high as 16th in her eight previous appearances at the tournament. She hit 11 of 13 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation on Saturday, needing 27 putts on her way to a career low round on the course - topping an opening-round 66 she shot in 2010.

''Certainly winning is the goal,'' Pressel said. ''... If I play anywhere near like I did today, I think that I can get it done.''

Ko, who opened with 66, needed only 27 putts and hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation.

Local favorite and former No. 1 Stacy Lewis was 5 under after a 70.

Second-ranked Brooke Henderson, who beat Ko in a playoff two weeks ago at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, missed the cut after a second-round 73 and finished at even par.

Defending champion Na Yeon Choi also missed the cut, finishing at 4 over.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.