Ominous forecast for an Open where nothing is sure

By Associated PressJune 19, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' The forecast is ominous, which will likely cause a lot of people to keep an eye on both the clouds and their watches Saturday at Bethpage Black. A hundred bucks is a hundred bucks, after all, especially if you never get a chance to see Tiger Woods.
If its going to pour, New Yorkers had better hope it comes early. The new rules are 90 minutes of play and theres no refund, not even an invitation to come back Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or whenever this thing ever ends to watch some more.
That was about the only thing resolved during a bizarre day on Long Island, where a ton of golf was played but no one was really sure what it all meant. The leaders certainly didnt, and neither probably did Woods, whose misery was over by the time those with more fortunate starting times began venturing out.
Members of the grounds crew work on a soggy fairway during the continuation of the first round Friday morning. (Getty Images)
When Woods left the course he was under the impression a U.S. Open was going on. By the time little Mike Weir teed off hours later for his second round, it looked more like the Bob Hope Classic.
Nothing the USGA could do about that, though that didnt stop them from trying. The greens were too soft, the day too beautiful, the mud too mysteriously missing.
The unfortunates who spent the first morning of their Open trying to stay dry and the second trying to figure out how to hit balls coated with mud could only curse silently at their television sets while watching Weir carve a seemingly effortless first round 64 in brilliant sunshine. Nothing they could do about that, either, though most had to also be cursing the thought that they would likely be returning to a muddy quagmire on Saturday.
We dont know what the severity of the weather is, USGA executive director David Fay said. It sounds like we are going to get hit somewhat hard in the afternoon.
Golf can be a funny game, but there wasnt a lot to laugh about for those who got the bad end of the draw and averaged two shots a round worse than those who began play Friday. Certainly Woods wasnt laughing, especially since he could have hardly imagined that he would be 10 shots behind Weir just 18 holes into this Open.
It was just a bad day overall for superstars in New York. Alex Rodriguez got benched in the Bronx, while Woods played just 11 holes, got four mud balls and guessed wrong when he suggested the USGA might allow players to lift, clean and place their balls (Never!).
It was an even worse day for the suits of the USGA, whose biggest problem running their national championship usually is making sure they dont run out of jumbo shrimp in the corporate hospitality tents. They began by getting chewed out by New Yorkers for not giving refunds to those who made the trek to Bethpage for Thursdays aborted opening round and ended it with a lot of questions floating around about the very integrity of this championship.
They bungled the ticket mess so badly that the New York attorney generals office dispatched a team of lawyers to look into the matter. Then the governor decided to pay a visit to a course owned by the state of New York, and suddenly people were being offered a $50 refund if play concluded Sunday or a free ticket for Monday if it went that far.
They also decided that the giveaway wouldnt happen if there was at least 90 minutes of golf Saturday, meaning fans had better get on the train early if they wanted to be sure of seeing anything on a day when the weatherman was forecasting rain that could match the earlier downpour that made the course look more suited to Michael Phelps than Mike Weir.
As for the golf itself, about the only thing that had been decided by the time darkness settled on Bethpage Black was that it was going to be an awfully long weekend. Sure, there were the usual assortment of leaders and lurkers but, with players scattered everywhere from the fifth green to the nearest watering hole and new storms approaching, not one Vegas wiseguy would be wise enough to offer odds on what might happen.
What has happened, though, has already made for a most uneven playing field. Those unlucky enough to be in the morning pairings on Thursday had to grind through driving rain and then deal with mud, while the other half of the field ended up playing in the most benign Open conditions in years.
The disadvantage may be too much to make up by the time they go out under more equal conditions for the third round, assuming that ever happens. It might already be too late, even for the greatest player of his time.
Then again, maybe not. Because the only thing certain so far about this Open is that nothing is certain.
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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.

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    Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

    By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

    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.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    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.

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    Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

    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.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    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.