Park leads Kraft Nabisco through 36 holes

By Associated PressApril 6, 2013, 1:48 am

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Lizette Salas got her first look at Mission Hills as a teenager when her father brought her to see Mexican star Lorena Ochoa.

''I remember watching Lorena, and I came out with a little banner for her that said 'You can do it' in Spanish, and I had great memories from outside the ropes,'' Salas said. ''Now, I'm trying to make some from inside the ropes.''

She got a good start on that Friday, shooting a 4-under 68 to finish a stroke behind leader Inbee Park after the second round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

The 23-year-old daughter of Mexican immigrants, Salas was introduced to the game when her father, the head mechanic at Azusa Greens Golf Course west of Los Angeles, did some handyman jobs for the club pro and, instead of pay, asked him to teach his daughter to play.

''So, I started at 7,'' Salas said. ''I didn't know how to dress and barely had a full set of golf clubs. ... It's been a roller coaster from that point.''


Highlights: Park leads Kraft through 36

Kraft Nabisco Championship: Articles, videos and photos


She went on to star at the University of Southern California, where she was a four-time All-America selection and helped the Trojans win the 2008 NCAA title. She later caught Nancy Lopez's attention and they have become close friends, with the Hall of Famer serving as a mentor.

''I met her for the first time a year ago and she watched me in Phoenix, all 18 holes, and I went to dinner with her and she has been calling and texting me with more advice,'' Salas said. ''That's something that's amazing about her. She reaches out to a second-year player and just kind of has become my second mom on tour. I just can't thank her enough for all the advice she has given me.''

She showed her maturity on the par-5 18th after driving into the left rough and hitting her hybrid second across the fairway into the right rough. Instead of risking going into the water fronting the green, she pitched to the fairway to set up a three-quarter wedge approach that she hit to 3 feet for a par save.

''It was not a good lie and I knew if I would go for it, it would probably go in the water,'' said Salas, the lone American in the top 11 on the leaderboard. ''I'm comfortable in my short game and I'm not a long hitter, so I have to make it up some way. I've been working hard dialing in with my wedges because that's your go-to club. I just trusted it and went with my first instinct.''

Park shot a 5-under 67 to reach 7 under. The 24-year-old South Korean made three birdies in a row early on the back nine and rebounded from a wind-blown bogey with four straight pars on another hot afternoon at Mission Hills.

''Obviously, putted really good out there, especially on the back nine,'' Park said. ''The wind picked up, so it was tough out there on the back nine. Last four holes, I made all pars. I'm really happy with that.''

The former UNLV player is seeking her second major title after winning the 2008 U.S. Women's Open Championship. She won the LPGA Thailand in February for her fourth LPGA victory when 17-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn closed with a triple bogey to blow a two-stroke lead.

''I just like to stay a little quiet and just do my own thing,'' Park said. ''If I win a little more, I think I'll get a little bit more attention.''

Park hit a sand wedge from 70 yards to 2 feet for birdie on the par-5 11th to take the outright lead, then hit 9-iron approaches to 7 feet on the next two holes to set up birdies. The wind pushed her tee shot on the par-3 14th into the left bunker, leading to her lone bogey of the day, and she avoided further trouble on the final four holes.

''We were playing about a club and a half of a breeze there and it was getting tough,'' Park said. ''I'm just happy that I have a chance on the weekend that I can win.''

Sweden's Carolina Hedwall and Italy's Giulia Sergas were tied for third at 5 under. Hedwall shot 68, and Sergas had a 69.

Michelle Wie followed her opening 72 with a 70 to reach 2 under. She had six birdies, but three-putted the 18th for the last of her four bogeys.

''I made a lot of great birdies,'' Wie said. ''The whole round was pretty interesting in general. I hit some interesting shots around the trees.''

Playing partner Lydia Ko, the 15-year-old New Zealand amateur who won the Canadian Women's Open last August to become the youngest LPGA champion, was 2 over after a 74.

''She is amazing,'' Wie said. ''I think she's pretty good and, like I said yesterday, she is also a really good girl.''

Top-ranked Stacy Lewis was seven strokes back at even par after a 71.

''It's definitely frustrating,'' said Lewis, the 2011 champion who won consecutive events this year in Singapore and Phoenix. ''It's a major and you want to play well here, but that's golf. Some weeks, it's going to all come together and other weeks, it's going to be tough, and you've got to fight through it.''

Second-ranked Yani Tseng, the 2010 winner, was 3 over after a 75. Winless in more than a year, the Taiwanese star had a triple-bogey 7 on No. 7 - her 15th hole of the day - after she pulled a 3-wood drive left and out of bounds.

''I'll learn from today and I won't make the same mistakes tomorrow,'' Tseng said.

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.