Notes Americans dominate Leftys wild ride

By Associated PressFebruary 25, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. ' Only 17 Americans played in the Accenture Match Play Championship, the fewest in the event that began in 1999.
They posted a 13-4 record in the opening round Wednesday ' and one of the losses came when Steve Stricker beat fellow American Dustin Johnson.
By contrast, the 20 Europeans in the field went 10-10, with Peter Hanson beating fellow Swede Robert Karlsson in the only match between Europeans.
Only 19 of the 47 international players won their first-round matches. The largest remaining international contingent is from England, with six players surviving.
Not a lot of Americans in the field, to tell you the truth, Stricker said.
Stricker will face Ernie Els, a South African, in the second round.
The most notable victory by an American may have been Pat Perezs 1-up victory over Irelands Padraig Harrington, the worlds No. 3 golfer.
Obviously, winning is a huge confidence, said Perez, who lives in Scottsdale. But once you start beating guys like him, the confidence just keeps going up.

LEFTY PULLS IT OUT: Three days after winning the Northern Trust Open, Phil Mickelson was 4-up over Angel Cabrera with five holes to play.
Then Mickelsons lead evaporated into the desert air.
Cabrera rallied to force sudden death before Mickelson recovered to win in 19 holes, birdieing the par-4 first hole.
I was fortunate to win in sudden death, but Ill gladly take it, Mickelson said.
Cabrera trimmed Mickelsons lead with a par on the 14th hole and birdies on the next three holes, squaring the match on the 17th. Both players parred the 18th, with Cabrera rolling in a 10-footer to force sudden death.
I give him a lot of credit for gutting it out, Mickelson said. I was fortunate to come out on top with somebody that was really getting hot there at the end.
Mickelson, ranked fifth in the world, advanced to face Zach Johnson, who beat Graeme McDowell 3 and 1. Mickelson improved to 14-9 in match play.

BIG EASY, FINALLY: Ernie Els headed to his hotel after his opening match Wednesday, which was a refreshing change.
The Big Easy usually goes to the airport.
Els ran off three straight birdies late in his match against Soren Hansen for a 4-and-2 victory, advancing to the second round for the first time in seven years. He skipped two years when it was held at La Costa Resort, a course he never liked.
Glad to get through, Els said.
The last time he won in this event, Els defeated Jeff Sluman, 4 and 3, at La Costa in 2002.
Els is a six-time champion of the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth, but the only time he has advanced beyond the third round of the Accenture Match Play Championship was in 2001, when he finished fourth in Australia.
Then again, the World Match Play is 36 holes per match, leaving a greater margin for error. Plus, Els has a home at Wentworth in England, and even helped redesign the course.
Its more of a sprint here, he said. If you get off to a bad start, its hard to get back into it.

OVERTIME: In a match between two players who had won at least 80 percent of their matches, former 2006 Match Play winner Geoff Ogilvy survived a scare from 2002 winner Kevin Sutherland before winning in 19 holes.
I was hoping on the 17th tee to not go down 19, obviously, Ogilvy said.
He should have expected it.
The year Sutherland won, he was 2 down with two holes to play until winning the next two holes against David Duval, then beating him in 20 holes. Sutherland almost did it again. He won the 17th hole with a par, then holed a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th.
Ogilvy, however, got up-and-down from the bunker on the 19th hole (No. 1), to advance to the second round.

NO WORRIES, MATE: Australia turned out to be a good place to tune up for the Accenture Match Play Championship.
Anthony Kim, Lee Westwood and Camilo Villegas all fought off jet lag to win their opening-round matches after competing in the Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth, Australia, last week.
I know I have not slept for more than three hours in a row for two weeks, said Westwood, who beat Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand 2 and 1. It is part of professional golf. We play all over the world now and you have to be able to adapt to time change.
Westwood finished his match before noon Wednesday ' or 4 a.m. Thursday in Perth.
Villegas romped past Australian Rod Pampling in 12 holes (7 and 6).
Kim defeated Lin Wen-Tang of Taiwan in 13 holes (7 and 5). Kim estimated that he logged 47 hours in planes in the last two weeks as he traveled between tournaments in Malaysia and Australia, then flew back to the United States.
Kim said working out helped him recover from jet lag quicker.
Im definitely getting better, but at the same time Im in better shape, so its easier for me to find my rhythm as far as getting to the gym and then going and playing, he said.
Kim advanced to a second-round match against Englands Oliver Wilson, a 3-and-1 winner over South Koreas K.J. Choi.
(Kim) has been on a long trip back from Australia, so maybe a bit of jet leg will kick in, Wilson said.

OUCH!: As if losing to Davis Love III in 21 holes wasnt painful enough, Henrik Stenson had a brush with a cactus on the second extra hole.
Stenson hit his tee shot into a tangle of prickly chollas on the par-5 2nd hole. He managed to extricate his ball but not before backing into a cactus.
As Stenson trudged back to the fairway, he had to pick a cluster of needles off his purple shirt. Ive got tweezers, one fan called out.
I was all over the place, right and left and unfortunately not often in between, Stenson said. Lot of desert visits and picking up cactus. Bit painful at times up the back, especially on the second extra hole.

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  • Full Coverage ' WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''