Langer takes big lead into final day of U.S. Senior Open

By Associated PressJuly 14, 2012, 9:41 pm

LAKE ORION, Mich. - Fred Couples joked that someone will have to close with a 60 to catch Bernhard Langer at the U.S. Senior Open.

That might not be low enough.

Langer shot a 6-under 64 on Saturday to move to 10 under for the tournament, putting him ahead of a big-name field by four strokes.

''That's not a huge lead,'' he insisted. ''That can disappear in no time. I'm going to have to get out there and shoot under par. That's my goal.

''If I go 2 under or 3 under, it will be very difficult for anyone to catch me. And if they do, they deserve to win.''

The two-time Masters champion opened with three straight birdies and eight in 12 holes at Indianwood, a course with tight and unforgiving fairways and undulating greens.

''He didn't win two Masters by luck,'' said Corey Pavin, who was in a five-way tie for second place. ''He's an exceptionally good player, very methodical.''

Langer didn't miss a green in regulation during the third round until the par-3 No. 13, where a double bogey cut his cushion to three shots. He bounced back with a birdie at 15 before giving that stroke back with a bogey at 18.

Pavin, Tom Lehman, Roger Chapman, John Huston and Tom Pernice Jr. were at 6-under 204.

Couples surged up the leaderboard with a 65 after starting the day tied for 25th place. He was part of a pack - along with Fred Funk and Jay Haas - that was five shots back in a tie for seventh at the Champion Tour's fourth of five majors.

What did Couples think it would take to get into contention with Langer in the final round?

''Sixty,'' he said. ''How does that sound? Does that sound pretty good? Not really realistic.

''He's not going to come back. Corey and whoever is going to have to play a remarkable round to win. I'm at least inching closer.''

While Langer was in his sensational stretch Saturday, first-round leader Tom Kite and second-round leader Lance Ten Broeck were struggling in the final group.

Kite finished with a 74 to drop into a tie for 17th, nine shots back. Since opening with a U.S. Senior Open nine-hole record 28, Kite is 6 over.

Ten Broeck, a full-time caddie for Tim Herron and occasional player, shot a 72 with three birdies and five bogeys. He is alone in 11th place, six shots back, after starting the round with a one-shot lead over Kite and a two-stroke edge on a group that included Langer.

Pavin was tied with Langer coming in and finished the third round four shots back, insisting he only thought about a two-stroke penalty from Thursday when a reporter asked about it. After pulling into a first-round tie for the lead, Pavin was docked two shots for hitting a ball that moved a fraction of an inch when he grounded his club to prepare for a chip.

Couples, who said that his chronic back problems have kept him from ever practicing for a Champions Tour event, got into contention by driving the green at the 360-yard, par-4 No. 9 and posting an eagle from 105 yards on the next hole that created a buzz on the course.

''You know it's going to be close when they start to ooh and aah,'' he said. ''As it went closer, they threw their hands up. Yeah, it's a great feeling. You don't make many eagles, especially from the fairway.''

Langer scored with his flat stick, making a pair of 20-foot-plus putts for birdies on the first two holes while building confidence on a course set up to be a tough test for the best 50-and-older golfers in the world.

The 54-year-old German has nine top-10 finishes in his 11 previous Champion Tour events this season, including three runner-up showings, and is shooting for his first win since needing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb last year.

Langer sounds as if he's back to being the golfer that led the senior circuit money list from 2008-2010 - each of his first three seasons on the Champion Tour - before slipping to 25 last year because of a surgery-stunted season.

''Without being big headed, I think I'm one of the better players out here the last three or four years,'' he said. ''I've won the Schwab Cup. If you do that, you've got to play well. If you can win normal tournaments and be in the top five or top 10 on a regular basis, you ought to be doing fairly well in the majors too because the majors are even harder.

''The better players, I think, will separate themselves even more from the average player in the majors because conditions are usually tougher.

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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.