Lexi, Park, Ko chasing Lincicome at LPGA Champ.

By Associated Press, Matt AdamsAugust 16, 2014, 12:25 am

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Brittany Lincicome opened a three-stroke lead Friday in the wind-swept LPGA Championship, the tour's fourth major championship of the season.

The long-hitting Lincicome followed her opening 67 with a 68 to reach 9 under at Monroe Golf Club. She won the 2009 Kraft Nabisco for her lone major title and has five LPGA victories.

Lexi Thompson, tied for the first-round lead with Meena Lee, dropped into a tie for second with defending champion Inbee Park of South Korea. Thompson had a 72, and Park shot 66.

That gave the United States two players at the top as the Americans go for their fourth straight major title of the season. Thompson won the Kraft Nabisco to start the run.

Seventeen-year-old Lydia Ko of New Zealand had a 69 to join Lee, from South Korea, and Jane Park at 5 under. Lee had a 73, and Park shot 69.

Top-ranked Stacy Lewis sputtered again with a 1-over 73 to finish the two rounds at even par.

It's the first time Americans have won the first three majors since 1999, and they haven't won four since 1992. A fifth major, the Evian Championship in France, was added last year.

Michelle Wie won the U.S. Women's Open, and Mo Martin surged to victory in the final round at the Women's British Open.

Lincicome had an eagle and three birdies to go with one bogey for her second solid day. She averaged 277.5 yards off the tee and needed 26 putts for the second straight day.

''It's been incredible. I haven't been here in a while, especially in a major,'' said Lincicome, who hasn't won on tour since 2011. ''I feel like I've been playing really well. It's just not coming together.''

Thompson reached 8 under after a birdie at the par-5 14th hole but followed with bogeys at Nos. 8 and 9 to drop into a tie with Lincicome at the turn.

Lincicome, who started the day one shot off the lead, birdied the par-5 12th hole to gain a one-shot advantage while Inbee Park slowly clawed her way back into contention after shooting even par on the first day.


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Park had two birdies and an eagle on her first five holes on the back side, and three birdies in the first three holes on the front put her at 6 under.

Thompson's birdie at No. 3 forged a tie with Lincicome and Meena Lee at 7 under, but it was short-lived. Moments later, Lincicome notched the sixth eagle of the day at the par-5 14th hole to put her two shots ahead and then parred out.

Unable to string any sort of run together as she did on the first day, Thompson dropped into a tie for second after a bogey at the par-3 sixth hole, statistically the sixth-most difficult hole on the day.

Locust Hill had been the LPGA's host in the Rochester area for 37 straight years before the tour made the switch this year to nearby Monroe. The Donald Ross-designed course is about 300 yards longer at 6,717 yards, and the wider fairways favored long hitters.

''Right now, the fairways are generous. You can just bomb it off the tee,'' Pettersen said. ''You can risk the extra few yards. Even if you miss it (the fairway), you'll still be able to get to the greens somehow.''

A gusting wind strafed the course all day, sending leaves and bits of bark onto some greens and making each shot an adventure. Pettersen, who averaged over 276 yards off the tee, second-best over the first two rounds, was in the morning group and managed to stay out of trouble for the most part.

It wasn't easy.

''It is playable out there, but you've got to hit some great golf shots,'' said Suzann Pettersen, who’s tied for seventh at 4 under after a 69. ''The wind is a bit choppy. It's bounding up and down all the time. You've got to try and find the pocket, try and hit the right shot that gives you the highest percentage.''

Ko, already a four-time LPGA winner, hit all 14 fairways and reached 15 greens in regulation in notching six birdies with three bogeys in an up-and-down day.

Ko needed 31 putts to complete the round – six more than the first day – in part because of a three-putt bogey at No. 2 and then failing to get up-and-down at No. 4, making another bogey. Both holes are par 4s.

''I just give myself as many opportunities as I can,'' said the low-key Ko, who didn't touch a club during a recent five-day stretch because her swing was ''on holiday.''

''I wish I was a long hitter,'' Ko said. ''I'm just trying to play to my strengths.''

Ko, a two-time winner this season, remained focused on the moment and just shrugged at the possibility of becoming the youngest winner of a major in LPGA history.

''I think about winning at the end of the week,'' Ko said. ''I'm going to go out there and just have some fun. There's still two more days. I'm pretty confident. It's good to be in this position.''

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.