Notes: Park, Creamer disappointed in rough at Kraft

By Associated PressApril 2, 2014, 11:36 pm

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Defending champion Inbee Park and Singapore winner Paula Creamer were disappointed to see the short rough at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

''It's a shame it's not 5 inches,'' Creamer said. ''Definitely, you can hit a 5-iron out of the rough if you do hit it in there. The greens, I'm sure, will get faster as the weekend comes around. They're so green. I've never seen this golf course so green and lush.''

The rough is only 2-3 inches, taking away a big advantage for straight hitters.

''This golf course, I think, definitely needs more rough,'' Park said. ''It's a major. We're used to seeing narrow fairways on this golf course. I still feel there is a rough still, but it's not as long. Even if you're in the rough, you can go at the green. Last few years you couldn't go at the green. You just had to punch it out.

''Obviously, how I've been striking the ball, I really want it to be longer. ... It opens up a little bit more to the field. A lot more players can win now.''

In Singapore, Creamer made a breaking, downhill 75-foot eagle putt on the second extra hole to beat Azahara Munoz in the HSBC Women's Champions.

''I get to show my kids that one day,'' Creamer said. ''When they say, 'I'm not cool,' I can say, 'I did this, though.'''

The victory was her 10th on the tour and first since the 2010 U.S. Women's Open.

STUCK IN SECOND: Third-ranked Stacy Lewis has five runner-up finishes since winning the Women's British Open in August.

''I definitely would have liked some more wins, especially in the last six months or so, but I feel like I'm moving in the right direction,'' said Lewis, the 2011 Kraft Nabisco winner for the first of her eight LPGA Tour titles.

The Texan has finished in the top 10 in 15 of the last 16 tournaments she has completed. After her top-10 streak ended at 13 with a tie for 40th in Singapore, she tied for second two weeks ago in Phoenix and tied for sixth last week in Carlsbad.

''Last week, I didn't feel like I played my best golf, but I still had a chance going into Sunday,'' Lewis said. ''That's what I'm really proud of.''

She has been thinking about the Kraft Nabisco for months.

''Probably in December, as soon as the year is over,'' Lewis said. ''I work all offseason to get ready for the majors and to be peaking at the right time, to get ready for this week.''

ANNIKA MAJOR AWARD: The major champion who earns the most points in the five major championships will receive the Rolex Annika Major Award.

Annika Sorenstam won 10 major titles during her Hall of Fame career.

''Who better than Annika Sorenstam to represent the best in performances, at the biggest events,'' LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan said in announcing the award.

Points will be awarded to the top 10 at the five tournaments, with a victory worth 60 points, second 24, third 18, down to two for 10th.

Sorenstam was asked if she was responsible for requiring a player to win one the events to be eligible for the award.

''I had a little bit to do with that,'' Sorenstam said.

The winner will get $100,000 and a watch.

AMATEUR LINEUP: Nelly Korda, Bahamas winner Jessica Korda's 15-year-old sister, is one of nine amateurs in the field.

The younger Korda tied for 67th last summer in the U.S. Women's Open. Her father, former tennis star Petr Korda, is working as her caddie.

Korda is paired with Charley Hull, the 18-year-old English player who played in the Solheim Cup last year and won her first pro title last month in Morocco.

Korda is joined in the field by four other junior players - 15-year-old Angel Yin, 16-year-old Brooke Henderson, and 17-year-old Australians Minjee Lee and Su Hyun Oh.

Lee, ranked 110th in the world, will be part of Australia's four-player team in the International Crown in July at Caves Valley in Maryland.

Alabama's Emma Talley, the 2013 U.S. Women's Amateur champion, also is playing along with Southern California's Annie Park - the NCAA champion - and UCLA's Alison Lee and Clemson's Ashlan Ramsey. Stanford's Mariah Stackhouse turned down a spot because of a conflict with a college tournament.

TOP PAIRINGS: Defending champion Inbee Park will play alongside 2012 winner Sun Young Yoo the first two rounds.

They will open Thursday morning on the 10th tee, followed by the groups of Lydia Ko-Ai Miyazato, Stacy Lewis-Anna Nordqvist, Cristie Kerr-So Yeon Ryu, Jessica Korda-Brittany Lincicome, and Na Yeon Choi-Yani Tseng.

Karrie Webb is paired with Lizette Salas in an afternoon group that will start on No. 1. Other top afternoon pairings include Michelle Wie-Angela Stanford, Lexi Thompson-Azahara Munoiz, and Paula Creamer-Sandra Gal.

DIVOTS: Second-ranked Suzann Pettersen withdrew Tuesday because of an aggravated disk in her back. The Norwegian also withdrew last week before the Kia Classic. ... Hall of Famer Amy Alcott is making her 36th start in the tournament at age 58. She won in 1983, 1988 and 1991. In 1988, she became the first player to take the now-traditional victory leap into Poppie's Pond.


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McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.