Rookie leads Ko by 2 in Phoenix

By Associated PressMarch 22, 2014, 1:44 am

PHOENIX - Mirim Lee is just getting started in the LPGA - and isn't taking baby steps.

Neither is 16-year-old Lydia Ko.

Lee shot a 5-under 67 on Friday in the JTBC Founders Cup to take a two-stroke lead over Ko into the weekend. The 23-year-old South Korean played the final eight holes in 5 under, making an eagle and three birdies to reach 13-under 131 at Desert Ridge's Wildfire Golf Club.

''I played a little boring on the front nine, so I went more aggressive on the back nine and it worked well,'' Lee said. ''So, now I plan on being aggressive the rest of the week.''

Ko, the Canadian Women's Open winner as an amateur the last two years, shot 66. The first-year pro played a late six-hole stretch in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.



''I just gave myself more opportunities on the back nine,'' Ko said.

Lee is making her third start in her rookie season on the LPGA Tour after winning three times on the Korean LPGA. In her first two events, she tied for 33rd in the Bahamas and tied for 25th in the Women's Australian Open.

''I feel more comfortable because here the fairways are bigger,'' Lee said. ''My driver shots play better here.''

She holed a 35-foot birdie putt on the par-4 13th, saved par on the par-3 14th with a 20-footer, and hit a hybrid from 220 yards to 12 feet to set up the eagle on the par-5 15th.

''All this week, hybrids have not worked for me, so I felt very fortunate,'' Lee said.

She also birdied the par-4 18th, hitting a 9-iron to 2 feet.

Born in South Korea and raised in New Zealand, Ko won the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters in December in Thailand in her second start after turning pro in October. She has five victories in professional events, also winning in Australia and New Zealand.

Ko began her back-nine run with birdies on Nos. 12 and 13, eagled the 15th and birdied Nos. 16 and 17.

After going hungry on the course in the first round, she stocked up Friday.

''I had a protein bar and like a protein jelly and there's always a peanut butter sandwich in there,'' Ko said. ''I actually noticed that it was in my bag yesterday, but I didn't find it, so it was actually more done.''

Sun Young Yoo was third at 10 under after a bogey-free 65, matching the best round of the day. The 2012 Kraft Nabisco winner played the back nine in 5-under 31.



''I was more patient today,'' Yoo said. ''Overall, everything was working very well.''

Top-ranked Inbee Park was 9 under along with Bahamas winner Jessica Korda, Chella Choi and So Yeon Ryu. Park, playing alongside Ko and Korda, also eagled No. 15 in her 69.

''I left a lot of putts out there,'' Park said.

Korda and Choi shot 66, and Ryu had a 67.

Michelle Wie topped the group at 8 under, following her opening 66 with a 70. She had four straight birdies in the middle of the round to take the lead at 10 under, then bogeyed the par-5 fifth - her 14th hole of the day - after hitting over the green from a greenside bunker.

''I thought I hit a really good bunker shot and I flew it 15 yards past the green,'' Wie said. ''So, that was a good one. ... It went over everyone's head.''

She also dropped a stroke on the par-4 ninth.

''All day today I just felt like I could have shot a lot more under par,'' Wie said.

Defending champion Stacy Lewis, 2011 winner Karrie Webb, and Morgan Pressel were 7 under. Lewis and Webb shot 71, and Pressel followed her opening 65 with a 72. After playing the first 11 holes Thursday in 9 under, Pressel was 2 over on the next 25.

DIVOTS: Yani Tseng, the 2012 winner, missed the cut with rounds of 71 and 74. The 15-time tour champion is winless in 46 events since the 2012 Kia Classic, a week after her Founders Cup victory. She has dropped from first to 45th in the world in a year. ... Cheyenne Woods, Tiger Woods' niece, also failed to advance in her hometown event, shooting 71-73. She won the LET's Australian Ladies Masters last month.

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm