Sutton Issues Challenge to Woods

By Associated PressSeptember 15, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupU.S. captain Hal Sutton wants Tiger Woods to bring the same purpose he has in winning majors to the Ryder Cup.
'Nobody has to give Tiger Woods a pep talk,' Sutton said Tuesday after the first day of practice at Oakland Hills.
'All we have to do is just say, 'Hey, Tiger, it's time you felt this is important. I want you to realize that this is going to be an area that guys are going to judge you by down the road, whether you like it or dislike it. You're the one who chose to be as great as you are. Let's give it all you've got and lead this team.''
Woods has been chasing Jack Nicklaus in golf record books since he was a kid. When it comes to the Ryder Cup, though, Tiger doesn't mean Jack.
Woods has won more PGA Tour events than Nicklaus at this stage in his career, and his eight majors put him on pace to break Nicklaus' all-time record.
The world's No. 2 golfer can only contribute five points to the 14 1/2 points the United States needs to win back the Ryder Cup, but his record has hardly been an inspiration - he is 5-8-2 in his three Ryder Cup matches.
He has been shut out on the first day the last two times, allowing Europe to seize early control.
He comes into this one no longer No. 1 in the world, his five-year reign atop the world ranking uprooted by Vijay Singh two weeks ago outside Boston.
Even so, he is the star of the American team, and in that regard, his captain's urging is new to Woods.
'It's not any different than the rest of the captains have said,' Woods said. 'I qualified No. 1 in points every time. All I know is that I've tried my best. Unfortunately, I just haven't gotten more points for our team. Hopefully, I'll be able to get more points for our team where we can win this thing.'
Players take one week every other year to compete with their European counterparts for pride and patriotism. The rest of the time, they are trying to win major championships, and Woods drove home that point with a quiz for reporters.
'I'm sure all of you guys probably know what Jack's record is in the Ryder Cup, right?' he said, looking around a crowded room and getting no takers. 'Anybody? No?
'How many majors did he win?' Woods continued, and heard murmurs of '18' across the room.
Then again, Woods got himself in trouble with the British press two years ago at the American Express Championship in Ireland, a week before the Ryder Cup. He was asked which week was more important for him to win, and he picked the World Golf Championship.
'Why? I can think of a million reasons,' Woods said, referring to the $1 million winner's check.
But comparisons to Nicklaus come with a caveat.
Nicklaus (for those keeping score, his record was 17-8-3) played in a different era of the Ryder Cup, a time when the Americans only had to show up to claim the gold trophy.
The United States was 5-0-1 in Nicklaus' six Ryder Cups, only one of which came after continental players were added to the European team to make it more competitive. The first one was the famous tie, when he graciously conceded Tony Jacklin a short par putt on the final hole of the final match. In the other five matches, the Americans won by at least five points, a margin that now would be considered a blowout.
Europe has captured the cup six of the last nine times, so it's no surprise that Phil Mickelson (8-5-3) and David Toms (3-1-1) are the only U.S. players with a winning record.
'Guys, I go out there with the same attitude, and that's just to win, period,' Woods said. 'I don't go into any tournament thinking it would be great to lose. It would be asinine to think that way.'
Sutton doesn't believe he has anything to worry about.
He looked like a college football coach during the Tuesday practice round - the square jaw, the sunglasses, arms folded across his paunch - as he watched Woods hit a wedge that spun back over the cup on the 11th green.
Someone mentioned that Woods was in a slump, having won only one time this year and losing the No. 1 ranking for the first time in five years.
'Oh, man, I was out there watching him play. I don't know if you've been out there, but I've been licking my chops over it,' Sutton said. 'I don't think he's in any sort of a slump right now. I aspire to be in his slumps.
'No, no, don't be worried about Tiger Woods. If that's your only worry, you have no worries.'
Europe wasn't buying into it, either.
Padraig Harrington of Ireland, his team's highest-ranked player, said he thought Woods might be tougher this week at Oakland Hills than at his other two Ryder Cups.
'His record has not been as good as he would like,' Harrington said. 'He's out to prove something. There's definitely going to be a backlash from Tiger at some Ryder Cup. It's going to happen. I would think it's more of a wounded Tiger at the moment, and it would be very dangerous to play against him.
'He's going to have something to prove, and I would see him as quite intimidating.'
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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.