Late birdies propel Ko into lead at Founders Cup

By Associated PressMarch 23, 2014, 1:46 am

PHOENIX - There were too many players close behind and too many low scores to be had for Lydia Ko to feel at ease at the top of the JTBC Founders Cup leaderboard.

That won't change the 16-year-old New Zealander's approach Sunday at Desert Mountain.

''I'm just going to play my own game,'' Ko said. ''If somebody goes crazy low like shooting 10 under, 9 under or whatever, it's not something I can control.''

She shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday to reach 16-under 200. Jessica Korda and Mirim Lee were a stroke back, and a dozen players were within four shots on a course that gave up a 63 and two 64s in the third round.

''Obviously, there's going to be some nerves,'' Ko said. ''Of course, that's always there.''

Ko was 3 under on Wildfire's Arnold Palmer-designed front nine Saturday after playing it in even par the first two days. She eagled the par-5 fifth after hitting a 5-wood to 7 feet.

''I played much better on the front nine, so I was really happy with that,'' Ko said.



Ko tapped in for birdie on the par-5 15th after missing an eagle try and took the outright lead with a 10-footer on the par-3 17th. She's 13 under on the Nick Faldo-designed back nine, where the tournament will be decided.

''You never know until the last hole, last putt,'' Ko said.

Ko won the Canadian Women's Open as an amateur the last two years and took the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters in December in Thailand in her second start as a professional. She has five victories in pro events, also winning in Australia and New Zealand.

''It would be pretty special and especially at the Founders Cup,'' Ko said. ''Without the founders, there would be no LPGA. This has been my dream tour.''

Ko will play alongside Korda. They also played together in the first two rounds.

''It's always cool to play with her,'' Ko said.

Korda, the winner in the season-opening event in the Bahamas, birdied the final two holes for her second bogey-free 66 in a row.

''I look at her like a little sister,'' Korda said about Ko. ''She's a great girl.''

Lee, the leader after each of the first two rounds, bogeyed the 15th and shot 70. She's making her third start on the LPGA Tour after winning three times on the Korean LPGA.

Sun Young Yoo, the 2012 Kraft Nabisco winner, was 14 under after a 68.

Michelle Wie had a 67 to join Azahara Munoz, So Yeon Ryu, Amy Yang and Chella Choi at 13 under.

''I couldn't get anything to the hole, but scrambled and shot 5 under,'' Wie said. ''I'm really happy to be in the position that I am. I'm really excited for tomorrow.''

Munoz, coming off a playoff loss to Paula Creamer three weeks ago in Singapore, shot 64 - one of 19 rounds of 67 or better in the 74-player field Saturday. Yang had a 67, and Ryu and Choi shot 68. Choi holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 18th.

Creamer had a 64 to match defending champion Stacy Lewis and Morgan Pressel at 12 under.

Creamer played the first 15 holes in 9 under, then bogeyed the short par-4 16 after driving into a bunker.

''I have hit the ball great this week,'' Creamer said. ''I've given myself so many opportunities, it's kind of ridiculous. I just didn't putt my best the last two days.''

In Singapore, she holed a 75-foot eagle putt to beat Munoz on the second extra hole.

Lewis and Pressel, 9 under after 11 holes Thursday, shot 67.

''Pretty disappointing,'' Lewis said. ''I left a ton of shots out there today. The greens were a bit softer and I just didn't quite adjust to it. Speed was a little bit different.''

Scottsdale resident Cristie Kerr matched the course record with a 63 to reach 11 under, finishing an hour before the leaders teed off.

''I saw Cristie shot 9 under and Paula was 8 and I was like, 'Wow! That's serious scoring,'' Korda said. ''But the greens are a little bit bouncier in the afternoon and you can kind of see where people have walked.''

Kerr, playing a new set of irons this week, had an eagle, eight birdies and a three-putt bogey.

''I'm glad that I had the courage to switch because I'm just so much more consistent now,'' Kerr said.

DIVOTS: The third-round scoring average was 69.421. ... Top-ranked Inbee Park was 11 under after a 70. ... Ai Miyazato set the course record in the first round last year. ... Fifty-year-old Laura Davies shot 66 to reach 11 under.

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x