Tseng takes share of lead into final day

By Associated PressApril 1, 2012, 1:15 am

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — While the infamous Coachella Valley winds toppled the world’s best golfers, Karin Sjodin thrived with a mix of patience and power.

That same blend has kept her on the LPGA Tour through seven seasons without a win, and now she’s taking it into a final-round duel with Yani Tseng in the first major of the year.

Sjodin shot a steady 4-under 68 through heavy wind while chasing down the top-ranked Tseng on Saturday, pulling even at 9 under heading into the final round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

The dominant Tseng proved she’s not unbeatable, showing visible frustration while posting a five-birdie, four-bogey 71 that was as inconsistent as the wind that buffeted Mission Hills from about the time she stepped onto the first tee.

While Tseng is a five-time major champion, the long-hitting Sjodin has only four top-10 finishes in seven years — nothing higher than 19th in a major. Yet Sjodin made just one bogey in her third round, briefly taking the outright lead down the stretch.

“The day was kind of smooth,” said Sjodin, who kept playing despite apparently dislocating one of her ribs Friday. “I was never in any trouble, apart from one hole. It was nice and smooth out there. … It feels great to be there. I don’t know if I’ve really had time to think about it much. It’s going to be fun tomorrow, definitely.”

Haeji Kang, who also has never won on the LPGA Tour, was two strokes back after struggling to a 72. She will join Tseng and Sjodin in the final group Sunday. World No. 2 Na Yeon Choi was among five players at 6 under.

Sjodin is among the few LPGA Tour pros who can compete with Tseng off the tee, but the Oklahoma State alum is ranked 216th. Sjodin first played the Kraft Nabisco on an exemption in 2005 while still in college, but had never made the cut until this weekend, when she will play in a final group for the first time in her LPGA career.

“In college and amateur golf, I lived off of my long drives,” Sjodin said. “I never realized what my weaknesses were, because I could just bomb it up there and had such an advantage because of that, and coming out here, all of a sudden there are a lot of people that hit it further. It took me a while to first realize what I needed to work on, and how to work on those things.”

And if the wind keeps blowing, Sjodin doesn’t mind.

“Playing in wind is more about trusting the decision you made, and hit it as solid as you can,” said Sjodin, who got plenty of experience in wind-affected golf from Sweden to Stillwater. “The solid shots don’t move too much at least.”

Sjodin hasn’t yet reached the enormous potential suggested by her driving abilities, but the 28-year-old smiled throughout her third round after beginning the day three strokes back. She’s off to a strong start to the season despite an offseason bout of pneumonia that forced her to stop working out and kept her out of qualifying school for the European tour.

Yet after three rounds, Sjodin has matched Tseng, who has won the last two tournaments and three of five so far this season, leading 10 of the last 11 rounds on the LPGA Tour. The 23-year-old Tseng is shooting to become the youngest six-time major winner in golf history, even three years younger than Tiger Woods.

But Tseng knew she might be in trouble when serious wind hit the Dinah Shore tournament course as Tseng and Kang teed off in the final twosome of the day.

“Actually, the front nine, I played very solid, especially under this wind,” said Tseng, who also has plenty of experience in bad-weather golf growing up in Taiwan. “I don’t think it was as tough as I thought, because maybe I was prepared for this. But on the back nine, I got kind of emotional, maybe thinking too much, wasn’t trusting as much as I did on the front nine.”

Tseng dropped back to 9 under with a bogey on the seventh hole, and Sjodin briefly grabbed a share of the lead with a birdie putt on the 11th before Tseng birdied the 10th.

But Tseng was put on the clock on the next hole, and she bogeyed the 11th with a poor tee shot. She then missed a 2-foot par putt on the 13th hole, staring at her ball blankly after it toured the rim of the cup before popping back out.

She fell back to 8 under and a tie with Sjodin, but reclaimed the lead with a birdie putt on the next hole.

“I’m glad this happened today instead of tomorrow,” Tseng said. “I was just thinking too much and trying too hard. It’s good to find out earlier.”

Sjodin pulled back into the lead with a birdie putt on the 16th, while Tseng bogeyed the 15th after a poor shot out of a bunker. Tseng pulled even with Sjodin yet again on the par-3 17th, holing a beautiful 6-iron for birdie.

Kang began the day one stroke off the lead, but had three bogeys in five holes around the turn. She rebounded with an eagle on the 11th and another birdie.

Se Ri Pak stayed in the hunt at the only major she has never won, shooting a 72 to stay at 5 under. Australia’s Lindsey Wright was hurt by the wind, falling from third to 24th with a 76.

World No. 3 Suzann Pettersen, who has finished second at the Kraft Nabisco three times, took full advantage of an early tee time to match the tournament’s lowest round at 66, moving up 36 spots to 12th. Lexi Thompson, the 17-year-old prodigy, also avoided the winds with a 68, matching Pettersen at 4-under 212.

With winds expected throughout Saturday night into Sunday, the Kraft Nabisco delayed its first tee times for the final round to finish course cleanup, and grouped the players in threesomes with split tees to finish quickly.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.