Perry leads wide open FBR Open

By Associated PressJanuary 31, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 FBR OpenSCOTTSDALE, Ariz. ' After erasing a four-stroke deficit in five holes, Kenny Perry wanted to be alone atop the FBR Open leaderboard.
 
All it took was a 33-foot putt on the 18th hole Saturday. When the putt dropped into the cup, it brought a roar from the massive TPC Scottsdale gallery and gave Perry a one-stroke lead over Scott Piercy through three rounds.
 
Good time to make one, said Perry, who shot a 5-under 66.
 
Despite stumbling down the stretch, Piercy thought he had a one-stroke lead when he reached the clubhouse.
 
Theyve still got to catch me right now, Piercy said after his 66.
 
Perry already had. Perry erased a four-stroke deficit between the 13th and 17th holes. He birdied the 17th to catch Piercy and birdied the 18th to surge past him.
 
Suppers going to taste good tonight, Perry said. Great day.
 
Kevin Na (66), Brian Gay (67) and Charley Hoffman (69) were tied for third, two strokes off the lead.
 
Perrys rally set up an intriguing Sunday duel between Perry, who turned pro in 1982, and Piercy, a rookie. The 48-year-old Perry has 12 tour victories. The 30-year-old Piercy is playing in his 23rd PGA Tour event, and hes here on a sponsor exemption. Na will join Perry and Piercy in the final group.
 
Perrys rally actually began Thursday, after he struggled through the first 14 holes.
 
I was out of here, Perry said. Im 4 over with four to play on Thursday and just pretty much mad, basically, going into 15.
 
But Perry smashed a 3-wood from 275 yards out and birdied the par-5 15th, and hes been rolling ever since.
 
You know what, its amazing what one shot can do for you in a tournament, Perry said. You can either go one way or another with one golf shot.
 
Counting the 15th, Perry has an eagle, 16 birdies and only two bogeys in the 40 holes since that shot. Perry is playing with an added personal burden.
 
His father has had two stents put in his heart. His mother has blood cancer and is in an assisted-living facility. And his wifes mother fell at a fast-food restaurant, breaking her knee cap and two vertebrae.
 
Its been a tough time, a tough go for us, Perry said this week. We just need to figure out some way to get us through this winter, and hopefully theyre going to come out of this deal.
 
Piercy burst onto the scene two years ago in Las Vegas, when he erased a three-stroke deficit in the last five holes to win $2 million in The Ultimate Game. Piercy said that experience, and years of Monday qualifying, have steeled him for his first full season on the Tour.
 
I think the thing Ill draw from is the fact that when the pressure is on, I know I can get it done, Piercy said. When its hot in the kitchen, I like to be there.
 
It got hotter for Piercy as the sunny, 74-degree afternoon wore on.
 
Piercy started the day in a tie for eighth at 6 under. He quickly vaulted to the top of the leaderboard with birdies on eight of the first 13 holes.
 
The putter was rolling so well today, he said. The hole looked like a five-gallon bucket.
 
Piercys lead over Perry grew to four strokes after 13 holes. But thats when Piercy began to falter. On the par-4, 477-yard 14th, he buried his second shot in thick grass beyond the green, then fluffed his chip shot and two-putted for bogey.
 
The 558-yard 15th had been the easiest hole this week. But Piercy drove into a lake on the left and took another bogey. At some point, Perry glanced at a leaderboard and saw that Piercy had dropped to 11 under from 14 under.
 
I was like, What happened? Perry said. So either they put wrong numbers up or he had a couple of tough holes coming in.
 
Piercy missed a chance to make up a stroke on the fully enclosed 16th. Piercy hit his tee shot to five feet but missed the birdie putt and had to settle for par. Piercy followed that with another bogey, on the par-4, 332-yard 17th ' his third bogey in four holes.
 
Piercy parred No. 18, but by the time he reached the clubhouse, his lead over Perry had evaporated into the dry desert air. Piercy said he didnt look at his slow finish as a missed opportunity.
 
The bogeys, whatever, Piercy said. I look at it as eight birdies; that was awesome.
 
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  • Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

    Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

    Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

    Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

    Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

    With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

    Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

    “It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

    Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

    Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

    "It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."

    Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

    Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

    “I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

    As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

    With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

    That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

    That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

    And that’s a magic word in golf.

    There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

    Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

    The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

    Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


    A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

    The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

    Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

    For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

    The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

    The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

    It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

    “The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

    And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

    “It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

    The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

    Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

    Parity was the story this year.

    Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

    The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

    The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

    “I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

    If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

    Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

    There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

    This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

    Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

    She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

    The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.