News of Ballesteros overshadows Spanish Open

By Associated PressMay 7, 2011, 12:17 am

European TourTERRASSA, Spain – Thomas Aiken took a one-shot lead at a somber second round of the Spanish Open that was marked by news of Seve Ballesteros’ worsening health on Friday.

The South African player carded a 4-under 68 to move ahead of Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal (70). Fellow countryman Alvaro Velasco (70), Frenchman Romain Wattel (71), Anthony Wall (70) of England and first round leader Scott Jamieson (71) of Scotland trailed Aiken by two shots.

The majority of players were on the El Prat course when news emerged that five-time major champion Ballesteros’ condition has severely deteriorated, more than two years after the 54-year-old had surgery to remove a cancerous brain tumor.

Ryder Cup partners Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez were moved to tears as they left the course and both declined to talk to reporters.

“We tried to talk to them after their rounds but they couldn’t even speak because they were crying. They couldn’t even talk,” Spanish Open spokeswoman Maria Acacia Lopez-Bachiller told The Associated Press by telephone. “This had to be the saddest competition in terms of ambiance today. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Both players managed to go around the course in even-par 72 with Jimenez sitting seven strokes back of Aiken and Olazabal – one of Ballesteros’ best friends – one further behind.

Former Ryder Cup player and captain Ballesteros won three British Opens and two Masters with a game marked by spectacular improvisational play. One of the best-known personalities in Spain and the golfing world, he also won 50 times on the European Tour and is widely credited with transforming European golf.

“There’s no words to describe it, it’s something that touches all of our hearts,” said Italian teenager Matteo Manassero. “He’s always been my idol. I don’t know what to say, he’s an incredible person and his fighting spirit is an example. My first memory of Seve is from when I was four or five, I saw him play at the Italian Open at my home club.”

Ballesteros fainted at Madrid’s international airport while waiting to board a flight to Germany on Oct. 6, 2008, and was subsequently diagnosed with the brain tumor. He was hospitalized for 66 days and underwent four brain operations.

Alexander Noren (67) of Sweden and Frenchman Gregory Bourday (71) were three back of the leader.

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 17, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods teed off at 12:15PM ET alongside Justin Rose for Round 3 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

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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.