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

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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.

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


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There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


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Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''