Sophie Gustafson grabs early lead in California

By Associated PressSeptember 25, 2009, 6:43 am

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DANVILLE, Calif. – Sophie Gustafson is on a bit of a roll, one that’s been long overdue.

Gustafson, the long-hitting Swede who won the last of her four career LPGA victories in 2003, shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge.

Gustafson had eight birdies and a bogey on the Blackhawk Country Club course, continuing her recent streak of solid performances that include three top-10 finishes in her previous five tournaments.

“You never know what can happen, but it’s always nice to have that bit of history,” Gustafson said. “I have good confidence now. It is never enough, though.”

Sophia Sheridan, playing in her third tour event of the year, matched Angela Stanford and Na Ri Kim at 67. Top-ranked Lorena Ochoa had five straight birdies in a 68 that left her three strokes back along with 2006 winner Karrie Webb, Shanshan Feng, Kyeong Bae and Mikaela Parmlid.

Jiyai Shin opened with a 72. She has a tour-high three victories, leads the player of the year and rookie of the year points races and also tops the money list.

Defending champion In-Kyung Kim struggled to a 73.

Ochoa was in the middle of the pack before the string of five consecutive birdies pushed her near the top of the leaderboard. She came up a foot short of an eagle on the par-5 No. 11 then ran her birdie attempt on No. 13 just left of the cup, then had a bogey on No. 14 to drop four strokes back.

“It was a good day,” Ochoa said. “It is getting a lot more harder than the practice rounds. This course is one where you need to have a good strategy because if it gets a little bit windy, it (could) be tough.”

Gustafson had it fairly easy all afternoon. She had four birdies over a six-hole span on the front to hit the turn at 4 under, then added another four birdies on the back nine. Only a bogey on No. 14 – a hole that seemed to give nearly every player fits – prevented Gustafson from extending her lead.

A member of the European Solheim Cup team, Gustafson missed the cut in four straight tournaments beginning in May and also missed the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open before starting to turn her season around with a runner-up finish at the Evian Masters in late July, losing to Ai Miyazato in a one-hole playoff.

The Swede had to save par out of the sand twice Thursday and stayed out of trouble the rest of the afternoon to take the first-round lead.

Casie Cathrea, a 13-year-old playing on a sponsor exemption after winning a qualifier Monday, made a hole-in-one on the 155-yard 12th and finished with a 74.

Cathrea had a small crowd following her all afternoon and the bubbly teenager gave them something to remember with her ace on No. 12. But the high school freshman had a double bogey on No. 13 and bogeyed No. 14 to fall off the pace.

“It went OK today,” Cathrea said. “I wasn’t actually like hyped up until I got to the golf course and I knew I was finally here. Mostly I just really wanted to play with the Tour people and see what they do differently than I do so I could learn what they do.”

Sheridan, whose previous career-low was a 70, was 2 under at the turn before making her run. She had a birdie on No. 10, eagled No. 11, then added another birdie on the par-5 No. 15th before a bogey on No. 16 left her tied for second.

Ochoa had predicted scores would be lower at Blackhawk than in past tournaments and she was right. Thirty-five players broke par and 10 were within four shots of the leader.

Webb was one of four former tournament winners within striking range. Suzann Pettersen and Helen Alfredsson were four shots back at 69, while Christina Kim had a 70. Two-time winner Juli Inkster opened with a 71, and Se Ri Pak had a 72.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.

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While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm