Late Stumble Keeps Webb Well Back
Ahn's two-round total of 12-under 132 put her on track for her first win outside South Korea. She had five birdies but bogeyed the 18th in windier conditions at the Royal Pines resort to give her a one-shot lead over Australian Michelle Ellis, who had a second-round 66.
'I had a lot of chances to make birdie but I didn't make them,' Ahn said. 'I love this course, but I hate the wind.'
Ellis, a former regular on the LPGA Tour, nearly had a hole-in-one on the par-3 fifth, her tee shot rolling around the cup before popping out and leaving her a tap-in birdie. She bogeyed the eighth but birdied the ninth, her final hole, to pull within one of Ahn.
Lotta Wahlin of Sweden is in third place after a 67 Friday, three strokes behind Ahn, followed another stroke back by Australian Tamie Durdin (69), and South Korean Shin Ji-yai, whose 66 tied her with Ellis for the best round of the day.
Karrie Webb, who won last week's Australian Open at Royal Sydney, was making a charge, moving to 6-under before taking a double bogey on the par-5 12th.
She recovered for a 68 after making birdie on 18 and sits at 4-under 139, seven shots back of Ahn.
Amy Yang, an Australian-based South Korean who won the tournament last year as a 16-year-old amateur, shot a 75 Friday, missing the cut of even par by two strokes.
American Cristi Kerr, making her first start of the year, is tied for ninth after her second straight 69 and is six shots off the lead.
The big-hitting Wahlin's 67 was only the third time she's shot that score in a tournament. The second-year European Tour player, who said she was inspired to take up golf due to Annika Sorenstam's exposure in Sweden, missed the cut at Royal Sydney last week but said she prefers the Royal Pines layout.
'I am just using wedges on most of the holes,' said Wahlin, adding that she could reach most of the par-5s in two shots.
Three-time former champion Laura Davies and American star Natalie Gulbis both shot a 73 in the second round and are at 2 under, 10 behind Ahn. The popular pair played in back-to-back groups and attracted the largest crowds of the day.
Gulbis, playing in Australia for the second straight week after finishing 15 shots behind Webb at the Australian Open, bogeyed three of four holes during one stretch, including a three-putt on the par-3 fifth.
While her mother, Barbara, watched and frequently took photos of the black swans that inhabit the waterways around Royal Pines, Gulbis continued to have problems on the greens, alternately leaving her putts short or well past the hole.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia
This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.
The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.
Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.
The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.
A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.
And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18
Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf
Well, this is a one new one.
According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:
“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”
Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.
“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.
The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.
“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”
The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.
Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.
Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.
PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation
Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.
The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.
The statement reads:
The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.
Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.
The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.
The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.
The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.