Ko birdies 18, takes 1-shot lead at U.S. Women's Open

By Associated PressJuly 9, 2016, 11:20 pm

SAN MARTIN, Calif. - When Lydia Ko first came to a U.S. Women's Open four years ago, her hands were shaking so much out of nerves. Now with two major titles under her belt by age 19, Ko is able to keep those emotions under control and project a picture of calmness on the golf course.

Ko birdied the 18th hole to cap a 2-under 70 in the third round Saturday that put her in the lead at the U.S. Women's Open, bolstering her chance for her third major title in less than a year.

''I think nerves are good because it means you're excited,'' Ko said. ''You're ready. It means a lot to you. You've got to be able to control it. But a little bit of nerves is always good. It can end up being a little bit of adrenaline.''

Whatever Ko is doing is working.

She became the youngest woman to win a major last year at the Evian Championship and followed that up by winning the ANA Inspiration this spring. Now she's in contention for her first U.S. Open title after failing to make the top 10 in her first four appearances.

Ko has a one-shot lead over 2009 winner Eun Hee Ji and Sung Hyun Park. Brittany Lang and Amy Yang are two shots back at 5 under, and Angela Stanford is in sixth place at 4 under at CordeValle.


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''I'm going to just try and enjoy it, just focus on the shot I have in front of me and not think about what everybody else is doing,'' Ko said. ''If I think that way, I won't get too carried away with what position I am at certain parts of the final day.''

Ko's week at the Open got off to a somewhat shaky start when she was tied for 52nd after a 73 in the first round in the difficult afternoon conditions.

But Ko got into contention with a 66 in the second round and then took sole possession of the lead on the final hole Saturday. Her approach shot spun back about 9 feet from the hole. She calmly sank the putt and then threw her ball into the stands in celebration.

Ko is tied for the fewest putts through three rounds. She made two other long birdies Saturday, a 25-foot downhill putt on No. 3 and a long left-to-right swinging putt on No. 13 that she initially thought she had over-read.

''That's what I was doing the majority of the day,'' she said. ''I said, 'Oh, man.' And then I was kind of walking a little bit and then I saw the ball drop. So it kind of took me by surprise. So it was a lucky one.''

Ji has broken par all three rounds with a 69 and 71 in the first two rounds followed by the 2-under performance on Saturday. She is looking for her first LPGA win since winning the Open at Saucon Valley seven years ago.

Park, playing her first U.S. Open and second major ever, got off to a solid start with birdies on the sixth and eighth holes to move to 9 under. But fortunes quickly changed at the par-5 ninth when she hit her tee shot into a hazard for a penalty and ended up with a double bogey.

Lang birdied 14 and 15 and had the low round of the day at 68 to move to 5 under. Lang tied for second as an amateur in her first U.S. Open back in 2005 but has gotten in the top five only once since then back in 2010.

''I've been here before and I think you really have to just get to work on what you're doing, because if you spend a lot of time thinking about where you're going to finish, you're going to drop down pretty quick,'' Lang said.

There are several other golfers lurking close enough to make a push on Sunday. Danielle Kang is at 3 under and fellow Americans Cristie Kerr, Stacy Lewis and Kris Tamulis are among seven golfers five shots back at 2 under.

''There's no doubt I have to shoot at least 4 to 6 under, I'd say tomorrow to have a chance,'' Kerr said. ''It depends on the wind and the weather and the pins. Sometimes they like to set it up easier on Sunday and people get some low scores. I don't know what they're going to do, but I have to be prepared for anything. If the conditions are easier, I have to be prepared to go low.''

The highlight of the day might have been Lee Lopez's ace on the 191-yard, par-3 12th hole. Lopez is at even par for the tournament.

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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.