Park leads by 4 after Day 3 at U.S. Women's Open

By Associated PressJune 30, 2013, 12:12 am

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Inbee Park was mad, even if it didn't show in her always placid demeanor.

She had made bogey, her third straight, on a hole she thought she should have birdied, and the world's top-ranked player was looking a bit shaky.

Time for a clutch putt.

Park is now one round away from history, leading the U.S. Women's Open by four strokes. She shot a 1-under 71 on Saturday in harsh conditions at Sebonack Golf Club and is 10 under for the tournament.

Fellow South Korean I.K. Kim had a 73 to remain in second but lost two strokes to Park. With the wind whipping, the course set up long and the pin placements tricky, Park was the only player to shoot under par in the third round.


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No one has ever won the first three majors in a year when there were at least four.

''I'm just going to try to do the same thing that I did for the last three days,'' Park said. ''Yeah, it will be a big day. But it's just a round of golf, and I just try not to think about it so much.''

She wasn't too disappointed by her bogeys on the 11th and 12th. Those were tough holes. But on the par-5 13th, her chip on her third shot rolled into the bunker when it should have put her in position for a birdie putt.

She still led by three strokes but appeared vulnerable – at least by her recently lofty standards.

''That bogey was a bad bogey,'' Park said, ''so after that I really got my concentration going.''

She was unlucky then lucky on the par-4 14th. She thought her second shot would be pushed back by the wind, but it carried too far and settled on the ridge above the hole. No worries. Park simply holed a 30-foot downhill putt for birdie.

''That was a big putt for me,'' she said. ''Those three bogeys were very tough to handle in the kind of situation that I was in.''

A hole later, she made a 15-foot birdie putt.

It looked as though nobody would break par for the day until she birdied No. 18. Only five players were under par for the tournament.

England's Jodi Ewart Shadoff (74) was third at 3 under. She had to play 21 holes on Saturday after the second round was suspended the night before because of fog. Park had good timing on Friday. Her group was on the 18th fairway when the horn sounded, so she was able to finish off her round and rest up for the weekend.

Not a morning person, Ewart Shadoff didn't enjoy waking up at 4:30 a.m. She birdied the 18th hole to earn a spot in the final group with Park and Kim, then took a nap in the four-plus hours between rounds.

Ewart Shadoff had a chance to make things interesting on No. 12 with Park on the way to a bogey. But her long birdie putt slid over the hole, and she missed the par putt. Instead of pulling within two strokes of Park, Ewart Shadoff remained four back.

Then she bogeyed two of the last three holes.

Kim had a double bogey on No. 3 to fall back. She played 1 under the rest of the way, but that one bad hole allowed Park to put some distance between them.

''She is playing great. But you never know, I might have a great day tomorrow,'' Kim said. ''So golf is a different thing than other sports. That's why you play four rounds.''

If Park shoots even par or better on Sunday, it will be just the fourth time the U.S. Women's Open was won with a score in double digits below par.

No wonder Brittany Lincicome joked to reporters, ''I think Inbee's playing a different golf course, which you guys are unaware of yet.''

Certainly feels that way.

With Park again on a different plane from the rest of the field, the biggest excitement on Saturday might have come when Jessica Korda fired her caddie after nine holes and replaced him with her boyfriend.

The switch seemed to work. After shooting 5 over on the front nine, Korda was 1 under the rest of the way. She finished with a 76 and was tied for sixth at 1 over, 11 strokes behind Park.

The 2008 U.S. Women's Open champion, Park has already won five times this year, including her last two tournaments.

''I'm just going to think that I.K. and I am tied starting in tomorrow's play because anything can happen out here,'' she said. ''I mean, four shots, it could be nothing around this golf course. So I just have to keep pushing myself to make pars. I think par is going to be good enough tomorrow, but I'm just going to try to do my best. A lot of thinking going on, a lot of pressure.

''But I've done that before, so I think the experience is going to help me going through it tomorrow.''

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.

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Beef's beer goggles: Less drinks = more wins

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

An offseason spent soul searching is apparently paying quick dividends for Andrew “Beef” Johnston, who is in contention to win Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Johnston acknowledged he was “burning the candle at both ends” last year, playing both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, but he told reporters Saturday that it wasn’t too much golf that hindered his efforts.

It was too much “socializing.”

“I'm a social person,” Johnston said. “If you go out with friends, or you get invited to something, I'll have a beer, please. But I probably had a few too many beers, I would say, to be honest. And it reflected in my golf, and I was disappointed looking back at it. I want to turn that around and have a good season.”

Johnston posted a 6-under-par 66 Saturday, moving into a tie for sixth, three shots off the lead. He said he arrived in Abu Dhabi a week early to prepare for his first start of the new year. It’s paying off with a Sunday chance to win his second European Tour title.

“Last year was crazy, and like getting distracted, and things like that,” Johnston said. “You don't know it's happened until you've finished the season. You’re off doing things and you're burning the candle at both ends. When I got back from last season, sort of had time to reflect on it, I sort of said to myself, 'You've got to keep quiet and keep disciplined and get on with your work.’”


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Johnston finished 189th last year in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings. He was 116th in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

Johnston’s fun-loving personality, his scruffy beard and his big-bodied shape quickly made him one of the most popular and entertaining players in the game when he earned his PGA Tour card before the 2016-17 season. Golf Digest called him a “quirky outlier,” and while he has had fun with that persona, Johnston is also intent on continuing to prove he belongs among the game’s best players.

His plan for doing that?

“Just put the work in,” he said. “I didn’t put enough work in last year. It’s simple. It showed. So, just get down, knuckle down and practice hard.”

Rory McIlroy at the 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Getty Images

McIlroy making big statement in first start of 2018

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 3:40 pm

Rory McIlroy marched the fairways of Abu Dhabi Golf Club Saturday with that fighter pilot stride of his, with that confident little bob in his step that you see when he is in command of his full arsenal of shots.

So much for easing into the new year.

So much for working off rust and treating these first few months of 2018 as a warmup for the Masters and his bid to complete the career Grand Slam.

McIlroy, 28, is poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

With back-to-back birdies to close his round, McIlroy put up a 7-under-par 65, leaving him just one shot off the lead going into the final round.

“It’s good,” McIlroy said. “I probably scored a bit better today, short game was needed as well, but I hit the ball very well, so all in all it was another great round and confidence builder, not just for this week but obviously for the rest of the season as well.”

McIlroy can make a strong statement with a win Sunday.

If he claims the title in his first start of the year, he sends a message about leaving all the woes of 2017 behind him. He sends a message about his fitness after a nagging rib injury plagued him all of last year. He sends a message about his readiness to reassert himself as the game’s best player in a world suddenly teeming with towering young talent.

After his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro, McIlroy is eager to show himself, as well as everyone else, that he is ready to challenge for major championships and the world No. 1 title again.

“It feels like awhile since I’ve won,” McIlroy said. “I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


A victory would be all the more meaningful because the week started with McIlroy paired with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and reigning European Tour Player of the Year Tommy Fleetwood.

McIlroy acknowledged the meaning of that going into Saturday’s round.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent healthy,” he said. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and one of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

It’s worth repeating what 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman said last month about pairings and the alpha-dog nature of the world’s best players. He was talking about Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge, when Immelman said pairings matter, even in off season events.

“When you are the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Immelman said. “They want to show this guy, `This is what I got.’”

A victory with Johnson in the field just two weeks after Johnson won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in an eight-shot rout will get the attention of all the elite players.

A victory also sets this up as a January for the ages, making it the kind of big-bang start the game has struggled to create in the shadow of the NFL playoffs.

Johnson put on a tour-de-force performance winning in Hawaii and the confident young Spaniard Jon Rahm is just a shot off the lead this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour. Sergio Garcia is just two off the lead going into the final round of the Singapore Open. Tiger Woods makes his return to the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines next week.

To be sure, McIlroy has a lot of work to do Sunday.

Yet another rising young talent, Thomas Pieters, shares the lead with Ross Fisher. Fleetwood is just two shots back and Johnson five back.

McIlroy has such a good history at Abu Dhabi. Over the last seven years, he has finished second four times and third twice. Still, even a strong finish that falls short of winning bodes well for McIlroy in his first start of the year.

“I have never won my first start back out,” McIlroy said.

A strong start, whether he wins or not, sets McIlroy up well for the ambitious schedule he plans for 2018. He’s also scheduled to play the Dubai Desert Classic next with the possibility he’ll play 30 times this year, two more events than he’s ever played in a year.

“I’m just really getting my golf head back on,” McIlroy said. “I’ve been really pleased with that.”

A victory Sunday will make all our heads spin a little b it with the exciting possibilities the game offers this year.