Mickelson, Donald in the hunt at Scottish Open

By Associated PressJuly 14, 2012, 5:40 pm

INVERNESS, Scotland – Francesco Molinari held off a barrage of challengers at the Scottish Open on Saturday, shooting a 5-under 67 to take a one-stroke lead into the final round.

The Italian, who held the overnight lead with Alexander Noren, remained consistent in changing weather around the Castle Stuart links to stay in front at 17 under.

After a third straight low-scoring day, Anders Hansen is Molinari's closest challenger after a 65. Hansen upstaged his top-ranked playing partner Luke Donald (68), while Phil Mickelson also carded a 65 and sits three shots back in a tie with three others.

Noren was among that quartet at 14 under. The Swede, who finished with a 70, kept pace with Molinari until a triple-bogey 8 on No. 12 after losing his ball in bushes off the tee.

Molinari is looking to emulate older brother Edoardo, who won the Scottish Open in 2010 when it was staged at Loch Lomond. They would be the second siblings to win the same event on the European Tour, after the victories of Antonio and German Garrido at the Madrid Open in the 1970s.

''I think it's going to need more than 20 under to win,'' said Molinari, who has already won this year at the Open de Espana. ''So I need to play like today and give myself plenty of chances.''

Molinari shot a tournament record-tying 62 in the first round and will have either shared the lead or held it on his own all four days.

Soren Kjeldsen and Marc Warren are two strokes behind after 64s - the lowest rounds of the day along with Martin Laird.

Scottish players Warren, Laird and Peter Whiteford (66) are all in the top eight, boosting hopes for a first home winner of the event since Colin Montgomerie in 1999.

With Donald failing to build on a bright start in glorious lunchtime conditions, when the rain stayed off and the flags were limp, Mickelson could now be Molinari's biggest challenger.

The American proved he is returning to form - less than a week before the start of the British Open - by building on a second-round 64 with another blitz of eight birdies. Six of those came on the back nine and he finished just as the day's only burst of heavy rain came.

Mickelson believes the wind will need to pick up if Molinari is going to be stopped on Sunday.

''We'll see more bogeys and we'll see the golf course play the way it's capable of playing,'' said the triple Masters champion, who was only entered for the event on Sunday after getting a late invitation. ''I think for us to catch the leaders, we need a little bit of weather.''

Mickelson played 12 holes at a local club Friday night to get some more practice in ahead of this weekend, and also with the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in mind.

Of the 77 players to make the cut, only 12 failed to shoot par or better Saturday. Two of that dozen came in the next-to-last pairing, with Ricardo Gonzalez (75) and Matteo Manassero (73) falling off the pace after being well-placed on Friday.

Donald, the defending champion, will still feel he has a chance of winning after birdies on two of the last three holes.

''Players have proved there are low scores out there and the leaders feel a bit more pressure and are more hesitant, and I feel I can use that a bit to my advantage to catch them up,'' he said.

Molinari, however, has dropped shots on only two of his 54 holes so far this week.

''I just have to start from scratch now,'' Molinari said.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.