Thompson, Lee share first-round LPGA Championship lead

By Associated PressAugust 14, 2014, 11:17 pm

PITTSFORD, N.Y. - Tall and fit with all those Instagram photos to prove it, long-hitting Lexi Thompson figured she might have an edge on the LPGA Championship's new course.

She did.

Thompson and South Korea's Meena Lee shot 6-under-66 on Thursday to share the first-round lead in the LPGA's fourth major championship of the season.

''It's all about confidence,'' Thompson said. ''You just have to go into every shot just telling yourself you're going to pull it off.''

Thompson, the Kraft Nabisco winner in April for her first major title, and Lee each made eight birdies and a pair of bogeys at Monroe Golf Club to finish a stroke ahead of Brittany Lincicome, Colombia's Lisa McCloskey and Canadian rookie Jennifer Kirby.

Shanshan Feng of China, the tournament winner two years ago, was tied for sixth at 68 with 2010 champion Cristie Kerr.

Catriona Matthew of Scotland, runner-up a year ago to South Korea's Inbee Park, was tied at 69 with seven other players. Park was at even-par 72, one shot better than Paula Creamer and Karrie Webb.


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Top-ranked Stacy Lewis, a three-time winner this year, started on the back nine and birdied three of the first five holes, then faltered with three straight bogeys before the turn. She finished at 71.

Locust Hill had been the LPGA's host in the Rochester area for 37 straight years before the tour made the switch this year to nearby Monroe and moved the date from June to August. The Donald Ross-designed course is about 300 yards longer at 6,717 yards and does not have a single water hazard, but it does feature 106 bunkers, more than double the number at Locust Hill, and they're deeper.

The par 3s are longer, too, at 183, 193 and 207 yards, but the wider fairways favor long hitters like Thompson, who led the LPGA coming in with an average of 271.2 yards off the tee. A course made soft by recent rain only made that edge even larger, as did a stiff wind.

''I would say it (driving) was an advantage,'' said the 6-foot-1 Thompson, who had slumped in her previous four outings, missing one cut. ''You just have to hit it straight. Doesn't matter what club you're hitting.''

Not a problem on a cool, cloudy, breezy day as the LPGA marks the end of its long run in the Rochester area. Thompson used driver on 14 holes and birdied all four par 5s. And she was accurate, hitting 10 of 14 fairways and reaching 16 of 18 greens in regulation. Consecutive three-putt bogeys on the back side were the only blemishes on a round that reached 7 under with a birdie on the par-5 14th hole.

Lincicome, whose best finish this year is a tie for 10th at the Airbus LPGA Classic in Alabama in May, had eight birdies and three bogeys and avoided any three-putt greens.

''I think, take today and just build,'' Lincicome said. ''I feel like I've been playing well. I've been doing a lot of really good things. It's just not all coming together. I was hitting things to like a foot and just tapping them in. It was stress-free.''

Lee hit 12 of 14 fairways, reached 13 of 18 greens in regulation, and needed only 25 putts on the round.

''It's very exciting, and then, well, it's just (the) first day,'' she said.

A year ago, Park survived the stress of a playoff to beat Matthew and start a three-tournament winning streak that also included victories in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship and U.S. Women's Open, her third straight major win of the season. She began defense of her title with a round that included just two birdies to go with two bogeys.

U.S. players have won the first three majors this year. Besides Thompson's triumph in the Kraft Nabisco, Michelle Wie won the U.S. Women's Open and Mo Martin surged to victory in the final round at the Women's British Open.

The last time the first three majors in the LPGA were won by American players was in 1999, and not since 1992 have Americans won them all. A fifth major, the Evian Championship in France, was added last year.

Wie is not playing this tournament because of an injury to her right index finger, while Martin had to cope with a sore thumb and shot a 72 that included four birdies and four bogeys.

''I'm happy with it,'' Martin said. ''It was the first time I hit a lot of shots out there, so just learning how this course reacts, where to land my shots and where the prevailing winds are.''

Rookie Emma Jandel, who made the field when Wie withdrew, shot a 69.

''It's a little different having cameras in your face, so I'm just kind of learning to put it all together,'' said Jandel, who found out Monday morning she was playing. ''I know I got the game.''

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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