Lexi looks to increase CME Globe lead in Japan

By Associated PressNovember 2, 2017, 12:17 pm

Eight of the top 10 players in the world, including top-ranked So Yeon Ryu of South Korea and No. 3 Lexi Thompson of the United States, will be among the select field this week at the LPGA tour's Toto Japan Classic.

The tournament is a three-day, 54-hole, no-cut event that begins competition on Friday at Taiheyo Club's Minori Course in Ibaraki, Japan.

The Toto Japan Classic, in its 44th year, is one of just three tournaments remaining in the LPGA's 2017 schedule and the penultimate stop in the tour's six-week run in Asia. This event marks the 31st tournament of the LPGA season, which has seen two first-time winners among its 22 different event champions.

The roster of 78 players, 43 of which compete regularly on the LPGA and 35 from the LPGA-J (Japan) circuit, will try to tame the par-72, 6,646-yard course. The players are vying for a total purse of $1.5 million, with $225,000 and 500 crucial Race to the CME Globe points going to the winner.

Full-field scores from the Toto Japan Classic

World No. 4 and defending champion Shanshan Feng of China is also in the field and one of the favorites this week. In 2016, Feng defeated Ha Na Jang of South Korea by one shot for what was then Feng's sixth career win (she now has seven). The Toto Japan Classic marks Feng's 12th start since her victory at the 2017 LPGA Volvik Championship in May in Michigan.

This event also has drawn fifth-ranked In Gee Chun of South Korea among the 13 winners from this year's LPGA season, a list that includes Anna Nordqvist of Sweden, Haru Nomura of Japan, Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, Brooke Henderson of Canada and Americans Danielle Kang and Michelle Wie, who is playing this event for only the second time.

Henderson has fared well on the tour's six-event Asia swing. She won the McKayson New Zealand Open on Oct. 1 to start the swing and will take a rare event off next week in China after playing in Japan.

"This stretch has been really good to me, and starting off with a win was awesome for me," Henderson said. "It gave me a lot of confidence, and to get my second win of the season really meant a lot to me. Now I'm just trying to climb leaderboards and get some Top-10 finishes, which hopefully that will happen this week."

Seven former champions of this tournament are in the field this week including former world No. 1 Jiyai Shin and Mi Hyang Lee of South Korea and American Stacy Lewis. Throughout the years, several of the LPGA's best have captured victories in Japan, including Nancy Lopez, Pat Bradley, Betsy King, and Annika Sorenstam of Sweden.

Ryu, who has held the top spot in the world for 19 straight weeks (since June 26), has had a strong season on tour with two wins and 12 top-10 finishes.

Thompson returns to action after taking a week off during the Malaysia event. She also has a pair of wins and nine top-10 finishes in a very calculated 19 starts and has a 237-point lead in the Race to the CME Globe standings over South Korean rookie Sung Hyun Park, who is taking this week off.

Sisters Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn are both competing this week in Japan as seven-figure earners this year. They are the first sisters in the history of the LPGA to earn over $1 million in the same season. Moriya ($1,070,466) currently ranks 12th on the LPGA money list while Ariya (last season's Player of the Year) ranks 14th ($1,018,699).

Two tournaments are all that separates LPGA players and fans from the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla. The top 12 at the Tour Championship have a mathematical chance to win the $1 million top prize.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.