Ko, with No. 1 in sight, leads Thompson in S. Korea

By Associated PressOctober 16, 2015, 11:59 am

INCHEON, South Korea – Lydia Ko took advantage of Sung Hyun Park's struggles to take the lead Friday in the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship.

The second-ranked Ko made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a 7-under 65 and a one-stroke lead over Lexi Thompson. Park followed her course-record 62 with a 74 to drop two shots behind.

"I thought I played really solidly and made a lot of good putts," Ko said. "When I was in trouble, I got a little fortunate, got a good lie in the rough."

The South Korean-born New Zealander moved into position to regain the No. 1 spot in the world from South Korean star Inbee Park, one of her playing partners Friday. Ko would take the top spot with a victory and also could move up under other scenarios depending on where Inbee Park finishes. Inbee Park replaced Ko atop the list in June with the first of her two major victories this year.

"The closer we get or if there is a switch, the media is going to talk about it," Ko said. "I'm sorry, but I'm going to try and ignore you guys. I think that's the best way. Because when I'm out there, I'm just trying to hit a good shot and put myself in good position. If I thought about the rankings, the awards, it's just way too much. It's hard enough just trying to hit the ball straight out there."

Ko had a 10-under 134 total on Sky 72's Ocean Course. She tied for second last week in the LPGA Malaysia after winning her previous two starts in Canada and France, where she became the youngest major champion.

Inbee Park was tied for 25th at 3 under after a 72. She's tied with Ko for the tour victory lead with four.

Thompson birdied three of the final four holes for a 67 on the course made more difficult by some tough pin positions.

"There were a few that were tucked on some ridges and that were just hard to get to," the American said. "I think there's going to be even harder ones tomorrow."

Sung Hyun Park took a four-stroke lead into the round and was seven shots ahead of Ko.

"I think it would be a lie to say that I didn't feel any pressure because of the record that I set yesterday," Sung Hyun Park said.

Still four strokes in front after birdies on Nos. 4 and 5, she bogeyed the next three holes to drop into a tie for the lead with Ko. The 22-year-old South Korean player, making her first LPGA start, missed a 3-foot putt on No. 6 for her first bogey of the week, had a 4-footer circle the cup and stay out on No. 7 and missed from 6 feet on No. 8. She birdied the 10th, but bogeyed the 12th and 18th.

"It was very difficult to read some of the putting lines," she said. "I think I missed a couple of putts that I could have made. That's kind of lingering on my mind at the moment."

South Korea's Yoon-Ji Cho also was 8 under after a 68. Taiwan's Yani Tseng, the 2011 winner, and South Korea's Mirim Lee were 7 under. Tseng shot 67, and Lee had a 69.

England's Charley Hull, playing alongside Sung Hyun Park and U.S. Solheim Cup hero Gerina Piller in the final group, pulled within a stroke of the lead on the seventh hole, but dropped five strokes on the next six holes and finished with a 74 to drop into a tie for 19th at 4 under. Hull four-putted for a double bogey on No. 8, made a bogey on No. 10 and had another double bogey on the par-5 13th after hitting into the water.

Piller also was 4 under after a 74.

American Jessica Korda, the Malaysia winner, was 1 under along with Michelle Wie and U.S. Solheim Cup captain Juli Inskter, the oldest player in the field at 55. They each shot 72.

Ko and Inbee Park attracted a large gallery.

"It's great to play in front of big crowds," Ko said. "I think they are as excited as us, even a little bit more. ... Last year was the first time playing in Korea, and I've been noticing even more and more how much they love the LPGA and how much they love golf. I think the numbers are only going to go up. I think it's going to be pretty crazy on the weekend."

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.