Park wins North Texas Shootout with final-hole birdie

By Associated PressApril 28, 2013, 10:46 pm

IRVING, Texas – Inbee Park was already preparing to congratulate Carlota Ciganda for winning the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout.

Park, the top-ranked woman in the world, was in the middle of a solid final round and still trailed by two strokes after the playing partners both had birdies at the par-5 10th on Sunday.

Everything changed in a two-hole stretch, when Park went ahead with consecutive pars. The 24-year-old South Korean went on to a bogey-free 4-under 67 that put her one stroke ahead of Ciganda, good enough for her third victory this season and fifth in her last 18 starts.

''She was hitting fairways and greens and making putts,'' said Park, who finished at 13 under. ''And I thought I played really great today, but I just missed a lot of birdie opportunities, so I thought this tournament might not be mine because I missed that many opportunities and Carlota was playing great golf. But she made a couple mistakes on the back nine.''

Ciganda's drive at the 416-yard 14th hole settled in the right rough with a tree between her and the green, and her shot from about 130 yards clipped a branch and came up short. She had a chance to save par but her 6-foot putt was short, and Park's par had her within a stroke of the lead.

After stepping away from her approach at No. 15, to a green surrounded by water on three sides, Ciganda hit a shot that went to the right and then rolled down into the water. Ciganda had to go back to a drop zone, where the 22-year-old Spaniard had a decent pitch before her first putt rolled over the left edge of the green for a double-bogey 6.

Park had another par and never trailed again.

''I'm very happy with my round and with my week. ... I had two bad holes on the back nine,'' Ciganda said.

With the $195,000 check for first place, Park exceeded $6 million in career earnings and will be No. 1 for the third week in a row. It was her sixth career LPGA victory, along with four more wins in Japan.

Fifth-ranked Suzann Pettersen from Norway, the winner in Hawaii last week, had a closing 66 to get to 10 under and finish third. Hee Young Park (64) and So Yeon Ryu (68) tied for fourth at 275.

Ciganda played last season on the Ladies European Tour, where she was the top rookie and the top money winner – the first player since Laura Davies in 1985 to accomplish that feat. She won twice in Europe last year and now has her best LPGA finish.

At the 403-yard eighth hole, Park made a birdie before Ciganda followed with one of her own and responded with a slight fist pump when her ball dropped into the cup. They both had pars at No. 9, where Park was closer to the hole even though she had missed the green to the left, and they traded birdies again at the par-5 10th.

''I was happy and playing good and having fun and enjoying the day,'' said Ciganda, who had a closing 70. ''And then I think, let me see, the hole it bounced to the right, but I had a bogey there and then hit it to the water on 15.''

Caroline Masson had a 75 and finished eight shots back. The LPGA rookie from Germany led after each of the first two rounds and started the final round tied for second with Park.

Hee Young Park's 64 was the best round of the day on the 6,439-yard course with plenty of sloping fairways and raised greens.

Stacy Lewis, the Texas native and No. 2 player in the world, had a closing 66 when all six birdies and her only bogey came between Nos. 7-17. She tied for seventh for her sixth top-10 finish this season.

At the end of her round, Lewis signed the back brace of a 6-year-old Dallas girl who was diagnosed with scoliosis at 18 months old. Lewis wore a similar brace 18 hours a day for seven years after being diagnosed with scoliosis at age 11 and missed her first collegiate season after a spinal fusion.

Third-ranked Na Yeon Choi, among the four players tied for seventh, had 44 consecutive bogey-free holes and was 9 under before consecutive bogeys at Nos. 10-12. She went on to a 72.

Inbee Park sank a 4-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th after Ciganda also birdied even after her final drive went into the right rough. But they had an unusual wait after hitting their drives, when Jee Young Lee, playing two groups ahead of them, had to replay the hole.

Before Lee signed her scorecard, officials determined she took an improper drop after her drive at No. 18 went out of bounds. Lee carded a 10 before Ciganda and Park got to play out the hole.

''It was all right. I mean it was actually really good, it ended up really good for me because I made a birdie,'' Park said of the delay. ''Maybe if I hit it in the water maybe I could have blamed it on them.''

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 18, 2018, 5:00 pm

Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course

By Ryan LavnerMarch 18, 2018, 1:50 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.

McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”

This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.

A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.

McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.

“It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”

As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.

“It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”

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Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

Her confidence is high.

“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.

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Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 2:09 am

PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.

While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.

But then . . .

“Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”

In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.

She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.

With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.

At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).

Park’s back with a hot putter.

That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.

“The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.

Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.

“But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.

Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.

Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.

They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.

Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year in just her second start. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.

“I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.

“She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”

Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.

“I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”

Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.

“When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”