Pressel fires 64, ties course record at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 28, 2015, 2:42 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. – Morgan Pressel matched the course record with an 8-under 64 on Friday for a share of the second-round lead in the Kia Classic with Mirim Lee.

Pressel had eight birdies in her bogey-free morning round at Aviara to match Lee at 10-under 134. The American won the last of her two LPGA Tour titles in 2008.

''It was kind of stress-free golf out there today. It was nice,'' Pressel said. ''I had a lot of opportunities, and still, even with eight birdies, opportunities that I left out there, I missed or lipped out. But I just played really, really solidly. I'm happy with the result.''

Top-ranked Lydia Ko was tied for ninth at 7 under after a 70, her 26th straight LPGA Tour round under par - three short of Annika Sorenstam's record set in 2004 - and 29th worldwide.

''I didn't know that the record was 29 until I saw it on Twitter,'' Ko said. ''But to have a record that's already set by a legendary player like Annika, it's pretty awesome that I'm like only three rounds away. But like I said, I'm going to try and take one round at a time. This is a tough course.''

The 17-year-old New Zealander has two worldwide victories this year, winning the tour's Women's Australian Open and the Ladies European Tour's New Zealand Women's Open in consecutive weeks. She has 10 straight top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour.

Pressel matched the course record set last year by Dori Carter.



''I've been fighting the cut for a little while, so it's nice to be in a different position heading into tomorrow,'' Pressel said. ''I feel comfortable with the way that I'm hitting it. I've got to keep working on the things that I've been doing. I was really good at staying patient, even though I was playing well, not getting too far ahead of myself.''

Lee, the first-round leader after a 65, had six birdies and three bogeys in a 69. The 24-year-old South Korean player won LPGA Tour events last year in Michigan and China.

Alison Lee and Cristie Kerr were 9 under. Alison Lee had a 66, and Kerr shot 68.

The 20-year-old Alison Lee is making her fourth LPGA Tour start as a professional. She won the Pac-12 title last year as a freshman at UCLA and was co-medalist at Q-school.

''I was striking the ball really well,'' Alison Lee said. ''I did miss a couple putts here and there, like on the last hole, I missed like a 4-footer, but overall I played really solid.''

The 37-year-old Kerr won the last of her 16 LPGA Tour titles in 2013.

''It's just a matter of putting four solid rounds together,'' Kerr said. ''I've managed to do two of those so far. ... Just have to be consistent with my rounds the next couple days, and I'll have a shot.''

Fourth-ranked Hyo Joo Kim birdied her final hole for a 68 to join Brittany Lang (68), Maria Hernandez (66) and Yokomine Sakura (67) at 8 under. The 19-year-old Kim, from South Korea, won the Founders Cup on Sunday in Phoenix for her second LPGA Tour victory in 13 career starts.

Third-ranked Stacy Lewis was 7 under after a 69 in the final event before the first major of the season, the ANA Inspiration next week in Rancho Mirage. She was second last week in Phoenix.

''The ball-striking wasn't exactly where I wanted it, so to shoot 3 under on this golf course is pretty good,'' Lewis said. ''It was nice getting out early, getting the better greens.''

Second-ranked Inbee Park was 6 under after a 70. She took last week off after winning in Singapore and finishing second in a Ladies European Tour event in China.

Defending champion Anna Nordqvist had a 69 to reach 3 under.

Yani Tseng, a stroke back after an opening 66, had a 76 to drop into a tie for 46th at 2 under. She won the 2012 event at nearby La Costa for the last of her 15 LPGA Tour titles.

Michelle Wie was 1 under after a 74. She has an endorsement deal with title sponsor Kia.

Getty Images

What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

Getty Images

Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

Getty Images

Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.