Lewis leads pack at Mobile Bay LPGA Classic

By Associated PressApril 27, 2012, 9:16 pm

MOBILE, Ala. – Stacy Lewis will gladly take a round with few dramatic putts – or significant blunders – after making an early exit from her last tournament.

Owning the lead at the mid-point is a nice bonus, too.

Lewis birdied five of her final nine holes for a 5-under 67 and a one-stroke lead Friday after the second round of the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. She had a 9-under 135 total on The Crossings course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail's Magnolia Grove complex, a marked turnaround a week after going 6 over missing the cut in Hawaii.

''It was really one of those weeks,'' the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship said about the missed cut. ''I had a lot of stuff going on. Mentally I was kind of not there. I'm a lot more relaxed this week. I just kind of chalked one up to a bad couple of days, and I'm just kind of moving on.''

Karin Sjodin tied the tournament course record with a 64 to finish a stroke back along with Lindsey Wright, So Yeon Ryu and rookie Sydnee Michaels. Ryu shot 67, Michaels 68, and Wright 69.

Sjodin's best finish is a fourth-place tie at the Kraft Nabisco – with Lewis and others – after she opened the final round with a share of the lead. Ryu won the U.S. Women's Open last year for her only LPGA Tour victory.

Lewis, a former University of Arkansas star, had three straight birdies and a two-stroke lead, but missed a 5-foot par putt on the final hole en route to her first bogey of the week.

''It's really just been boring golf,'' said Lewis, who made a more exciting 20-footer on No. 17. ''I haven't made a ton of putts. I've just hit a lot of shots close and taken advantage of the par 5s. It's been pretty relaxing.''

Wright, playing in the one of the last groups, parred the last 11 holes after closing within a shot.

''Playing in the second-to-last group, it was a little bit difficult to read putts and make putts,'' said the Australian who won the New Zealand Women's Open in February. ''I think I hit it just as good on this (final) nine. It's disappointing not to birdie anything, but I'm in a great spot coming into the weekend.

Her best tour finish is second at the 2009 LPGA Championship. Wright's downhill putt on her closing hole, No. 9, was ''probably the fastest putt I had ... and it nearly went in.''

''I'm one shot from the lead. No pressure, really,'' she said.

Sjodin rebounded from an opening 72 with the help of a little coaching counsel.

''I had a talk with one of the Swedish coaches that's out here and we suggested attack every swing and every putt, have a positive approach to each shot instead of being scared or kind of chickening out,'' Sjodin said. ''I think I went in with maybe a bit of an aggressive attitude, and it seems to have helped.''

Or maybe putting in the dark made for good practice. The lights went out when Sjodin was on the putting green before her early morning round.

''Maybe not seeing the hole is a good thing,'' she joked.

The final holes didn't bedevil only Lewis.

Kraft Nabisco winner Sun Young Yoo's bogey gave her a 69 to fall into a six-player group two strokes back that included Brittany Lincicome (67). Cindy Lacrosse also was a stroke behind Lewis before double bogeying her final hole.

The three players tied with Wright for the first-round lead – Jennifer Rosales (72) , Katie Futcher (77) and Caroline Hedwall (73) – retreated into the pack.

Teen star Lexi Thompson shot a 71 and was 3 under, tied for 35th. Defending champion Maria Hjorth was tied for 56th at 1 under after a 72.

Sandra Gal and Christina Kim were among those failing to make the even-par cut.

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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.