Stricker three back of Matteson

By Associated PressJuly 14, 2012, 10:21 pm

SILVIS, Ill. – Troy Matteson enjoys having the lead going into the final round of a golf tournament.

Steve Stricker doesn't mind having to come from behind.

Each has their chance in Sunday's final round of the John Deere Classic. Matteson has a three-stroke lead over Stricker going into the last 18 holes at TPC Deere Run.

Both Matteson, a two-time PGA Tour winner, and Stricker, chasing his fourth straight title at the Deere, shot 5-under par 66 on Saturday.

Matteson had a total of 18-under par 195, with Stricker alone in second at 198.

'I've been in the position Troy's in, and it's a difficult position because you have the expectation that you should go out and win,' Stricker said. 'It's still very hard, because guys behind you are going for broke. They can be a little bit more aggressive and take a shot at pins, where the guy with the lead may steer away from pins and play more cautiously.

'The bigger lead you have, the more you expect and everyone else expects you to win.'

Matteson doesn't mind being on top of the leaderboard.

'You always want to be ahead rather than behind,' Matteson said. 'Every stroke you can gain is good. I think you still need to be aggressive. It's anybody's tournament.

'I mean, a guy at 12 under could shoot 60. You have to come up with a lot of under-par shots. I'm going to do the same thing I've done every day. I know those guys are going to, too. They're just going to be trying to shoot as low as they can.'

Stricker is attempting to join Tom Morris Jr., Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen and Tiger Woods as a winner four straight times in the same tournament. Woods has accomplished the feat twice.

'Nobody's paying attention to what I do,' Matteson said. 'It's great for me if I win. If Stricker wins, it's a really big story.'

Stricker, seeking his second victory of the year and 13th of his career, was five strokes behind Matteson at one point during the back nine, then surged.

His 76-yard wedge shot to the par-4 14th green landed 2 feet from the hole to set up the first of four straight birdies. He sank a 5-footer at the 15th, a 6-footer at the 16th, and an 11-footer at the par-5 17th after missing the fairway with his tee shot and sending his approach into a greenside bunker.

'Those were four nice birdies in a row, which I really needed,' Stricker said.

The final one made up for the bogey on the last hole, set up by shoving his tee shot into a grove of trees to the right of the fairway.

Nonetheless, he posted his 37th under-par round at Deere Run in 39 attempts, and is 109 under par at the course since the tournament moved here in 2000.

They'll be in the final twosome, but others may have a say in the outcome, including Brian Harman and former Masters champion Zach Johnson, who are at 14-under 199.

Johnson, whose gallery in the third round rivaled Stricker's, is from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and is a member of the tournament's board of directors. While chasing his first win at Deere Run, he understands how Stricker would make history by triumphing.

'If I can't win it, I wouldn't mind seeing him win it,' Johnson said. 'It's not hard to be a fan of his. But anything can happen. There are guys behind making birdies.'

In contrast to Stricker and Johnson, Matteson played in relative seclusion, even though he was in the final pairing with Harman. There was little applause when his approach shot landed on the 18th green.

'I'm in a different position in life (than Stricker and Johnson),' Matteson said. 'These guys are Ryder Cuppers, winning major championships. People buy tickets to see them.'

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.