Mika Miyazato leads; Lincicome one back

By Associated PressMay 20, 2016, 12:18 am

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Mika Miyazato had five birdies in a six-hole stretch and finished with a 6-under 65 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the Kingsmill Championship.

In tricky conditions on the rain-soaked River Course, the 26-year-old Japanese player closed her opening nine with the birdie run, dropped a stroke on the par-5 third, and rebounded with birdies on the par-4 sixth and eighth holes. She won the 2012 Safeway Classic in Oregon for her lone tour title.

The greens were a lot faster than expected, though they were receptive and the players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairways.

''Course conditions is pretty wet, and last two days, so much rain,'' Miyazato said. ''But I tried to be more aggressive, the golf, so that's why maybe played very well today.''

Defending champion Minjee Lee and Brittany Lincicome were a stroke back.

''The greens were faster this year than I've ever seen them in my life,'' Lincicome said. ''I think they were faster than any other stop on tour this year, so that was obviously something I had to adjust to because I couldn't be as aggressive as I wanted to be.''

Lee made her lone bogey on the closing par-4 18th. The 19-year-old Australian won last year at Kingsmill in a Monday finish and added her second tour title last month in Hawaii.

''I thought I was pretty steady,'' Lee said. ''I started off pretty well, made four birdies on the front nine, and then two on the back, and bogeyed the last. Overall, pretty solid.''

Lincicome also had six birdies and a bogey.

''I love it here every year whether I play good or not,'' Lincicome said. ''But it was nice to get off to a good start today. Finally got the putter rolling my way, which was nice, especially when I had the 3- to 5-footers to save par. Those were going in consistently.''

Gerina Piller was at 67 along with Sei Young Kim, Moriya Jutanugarn, Pornanong Phatlum, Caroline Masson, Jennifer Song, Laetitia Beck and Sandra Gal. Piller has five straight top-10 finishes.

Top-ranked Lydia Ko closed with a birdie for a 73. The 19-year-old New Zealander was 5 over in a six-hole stretch in the middle of the round with a double bogey and three bogeys. She won the Kia Classic and major ANA Inspiration in consecutive weeks in Southern California.

''It wasn't like we were playing with any mud balls,'' Ko said. ''Just on the greens was the toughest part. Not easiest pin positions, and even if you're 15, 12 feet, you could be running it 3, 4 feet by. That's how fast the greens were.''

Ko played alongside second-ranked Inbee Park and No. 3 Lexi Thompson.

''It's a pretty cool pairing,'' Ko said. ''Hopefully, tomorrow all of us will be able to shoot under par and have even more of a good time. Just personally, I didn't feel like I was playing really bad out there. Just a couple or three shots I was giving away. We still had a pretty good time.''

Thompson had a 72. She's coming off a victory two weeks ago on the Japan LPGA. Park shot a 74 after a month off because of a left thumb injury.

Ariya Jutanugarn had a 69. She's coming off a victory two weeks ago in Alabama that made her the first Thai winner in LPGA history.

Fourth-ranked Stacy Lewis had a 70. Lewis tied for second in Alabama for her 10th runner-up finish in a 49-event drought. The 11-time tour winner has 23 career second-place finishes.

Fifth-ranked Brooke Henderson, playing with Lewis, also shot 70.

Michelle Wie made two late birdies for a 72. She's winless since the 2014 U.S. Women's Open and hasn't had a top-10 finish in 35 events.

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x