LPGA Tour finally reaches US with Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 25, 2010, 4:41 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. – It’s almost Easter, and the LPGA Tour is finally getting around to holding its first tournament in the United States.

The tour began with stops in Thailand and Singapore, took a break of nearly a month and will resume with the inaugural Kia Classic at La Costa starting Thursday.

The first regular-season LPGA stop in the San Diego area since 1993 will feature a field worthy of a major, which makes sense since the season’s first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, will be played next week in Rancho Mirage.

The field includes the top 10 players in the rankings, led by No. 1 Lorena Ochoa, and 49 of the top 50 players from the LPGA’s 2009 money list.

Among the top 10 are No. 3 Ai Miyazato of Japan, whose back-to-back victories made her the first player since 1966 to win the first two official events of the year, and Michelle Wie, who won her first professional tournament at the end of last season.

While glad to be back in the United States, Brittany Lincicome understands why the LPGA has gone global.

“My thing is, it’s wherever the money is, really. Whoever’s going to believe in us and give us a sponsorship, I mean, that’s where we’ve got to go,” she said.

Most players had a long stretch overseas because the first two tour events were followed by the Australian Ladies Masters.

“Obviously we’d like to see more tournaments in the United States,” Lincicome said. “But I am not opposed at all to going to Singapore, Thailand, Australia. I fed kangaroos out of the palm of my hand. Like, who does that? There’s a lot of cool things you can do in a lot of cool places, but obviously we’d like to see more tournaments here in the states.”

The LPGA Tour will make its debut at La Costa, which formerly hosted the Mercedes Championships and the Accenture Match Play Championship before those tournaments moved elsewhere.

“It just makes sense to have a golf tournament in such a beautiful area,” Lincicome said. “The weather is absolutely perfect 90 percent of the time.”

Most of those in the field haven’t played La Costa before, but the elite 20-player Samsung World Championship was played in September just down the freeway at Torrey Pines’ challenging South Course.

“I’m sure it’s going to kind of be set up the same,” Lincicome said. “It’s long, which is good. I’m sure the greens are going to be super fast, so just kind of keep it in play is your No. 1 goal. If you keep it in play and have a short iron to the greens, you’re going to score well.”

Then again, there’s Wie’s way of looking at it.

“A golf course is a golf course, and it depends on how well you play that week,” she said. “When you’re playing great, every golf course seems exactly fit for you, and when you’re not, everything is wrong. I think it’s a really fun golf course. It’s a great track and in good condition and one I want to play on.”

Wie earned her elusive first professional win at the end of last season at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, which has her more motivated than ever.

“It just felt so rewarding that I wanted to do it over again,” she said. “It was such a high that I want to do even better and just keep winning. I could see what I could do and what I could become. It was really motivating. I feel like this past offseason I’ve been more determined and more motivated than I’ve ever really been.”

So far this year she’s had a tie for 22nd and a tie for 15th.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.