Notes Woods Singh Weigh in on Wie
Phil Mickelson said he didn't have a problem with Michelle Wie playing, but 'I just hope it doesn't become a big trend.'
Laura Davies is playing in Australia this week, the first woman in a tournament co-sanctioned by the European Tour.
Vijay Singh, who was critical of Annika Sorenstam playing at Colonial last year, didn't mind Wie playing.
'They can invite all the women they want to,' he said. 'They can't beat me. I have nothing against women. If they want to invite 20 of them, go ahead. It's not going to affect me at all.'
WOODS ON WIE
Tiger Woods has said that the 14-year-old Wie should develop the 'art of winning' by blowing away the competition in her own age group before taking on professionals on the LPGA and PGA tours.
He was duly impressed with her 68 in the second round of the Sony Open, where she missed the cut by one shot.
'She didn't drive the ball all over the place,' Woods said. 'She drove it pretty solid. She hit good iron shots and she putted consistently. From that aspect, I was surprised. Usually when you're nervous, one part of your game is going to be affected. But it seemed like she had control over every part of her game.'
Even though her round was the best ever by a female competing against men, Woods is sticking to his opinion.
'I think the most important thing for her is to take that learning experience and go back and develop,' he said. 'What I mean by develop is go back down a few levels and compete and win. I think that's very important.'
He cited the career paths of Mickelson, Justin Leonard and himself, players who dominated their age group and had immediate success on the PGA Tour. They are the only players in the last 10 years who never had to go through qualifying school.
'But she might be different,' Woods added. 'She might go out there and skip a whole bunch of levels. Who knows?'
TIGER KEEPS HIS BUICK
Woods will continue to keep Buick on his bag and in his garage, signing a five-year extension Tuesday.
Woods first began representing Buick in 1999. Along with a series of commercials, Woods displays the logo on his golf bag and serves as honorary chairman of the Buick Scramble, the world's largest amateur tournament.
The new deal is believed to be worth more than $40 million over the next five years.
'Tiger has been an invaluable asset to Buick across the marketing spectrum,' Buick general manager CJ Fraleigh said. 'Tiger ... makes people think differently about Buick.'
Fraleigh said the contract, which he and Woods signed during a news conference at the Buick Invitational, does not require Woods to play in specific PGA Tour events sponsored by Buick.
Woods has played in the Buick Invitational every year since 1998, and considers Torrey Pines a home course since he grew up about 90 minutes away.
He occasionally plays the Buick Classic in New York and the Buick Open outside Detroit, although he never played the old Buick Challenge in Callaway Gardens. And he is not expected to play in the Buick Championship, formerly known as the Greater Hartford Open.
Chris Heintz, a freshman at UCLA, was one of two amateurs who earned a spot at the Buick Invitational through a qualifying tournament at Torrey Pines.
He took advantage of the situation.
Heintz heard that Tiger Woods practices early, so he was on the course at 6:15 a.m. Tuesday. Woods showed up a few minutes later, and Heintz was on the first tee to ask if he could join him.
'Sure, no problem,' Woods said.
During the round, Woods showed him where the hole locations were likely to be and kidded him about another bad season for UCLA basketball, easy to do for a guy who went to Stanford.
'This was definitely a heavenly experience,' Heintz said.
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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain
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.
“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.”
Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead
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.
“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.
Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders
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.
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.
Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC
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.
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.