Villegas fires 62 for early lead in Phoenix

By Associated PressFebruary 26, 2010, 6:44 am

Waste Management Phoenix OpenSCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The memory of a missed 3-foot putt did nothing to diminish Camilo Villegas’s game Thursday in the Phoenix Open.

The 28-year-old Colombian tied the tournament first-round record with a 9-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over former Florida teammate Matt Every.

Villegas regrouped with a bogey-free round Thursday after making the semifinals of the Match Play Championship last weekend, but missing the short putt that would have put him in the final. He beat Sergio Garcia in the third-place match.

Justin Rose, Mark Wilson, Ryuji Imada, Rickie Fowler and Pat Perez were three strokes back at 65 in near-perfect conditions at TPC Scottsdale.

Phil Mickelson and defending champion Kenny Perry were in a large group at 68. Match Play champion Ian Poulter struggled to a 72.

Playing the back nine first, Villegas wrapped up his round by chipping in from 21 feet on the par-4 ninth for his ninth birdie.

A two-time winner on the PGA Tour in 2008, he credits a more relaxed approach to the game to his strong start to this season.

“I was getting a little too concerned with my world ranking position and money list and this and that,” Villegas said, “and I just got a little tight on the golf course. So I needed to put all those things aside and remember that I’m playing golf for a living, and there’s a million people out there that would love to be in my shoes, and have fun with it.”

In keeping with that attitude, Villegas shrugged off the missed short putt in last week’s semifinal match against Paul Casey.

“You know what? It’s OK,” he said. “I’ve got no problem with it. I wish I would have made it, yes. But you know what? It ain’t going to change me as a person.”

Villegas’ 9-under round tied the first-round tournament record shared by Steve Jones (1997) and Harrison Frazier (2003).

Every, who earned his tour card by winning last year’s Nationwide Tour Championship event, also had no bogeys on a wide-open desert layout that was relatively quiet and calm with an estimated crowd of 69,475. That should change when even more rowdy fans stream in to what has become essentially a big party with a golf tournament running through it.

As many as 150,000 are expected Saturday, although rain could dampen the turnout.

Every ran off a string of six consecutive birdies starting on No. 17, the longest streak of its kind so far in the young PGA season.

He is coming off an unfortunate week at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Cancun, where he signed an incorrect scorecard that had been kept by his lifelong golf hero and fellow ex-Gator Mark Calcavecchia in the third round and was disqualified.

Every said he was so upset with his play that he stormed away and signed his scorecard without even looking at it.

“It’s 100 percent my fault, and he felt horrible, but it’s in no way his fault,” Every said. “He’s still my favorite player and he was a blast to play with.”

Every, who earned his tour card by winning the Nationwide Tour Championship last year to finish 10th on the developmental tour’s money list, said he hasn’t dwelt on last weekend’s mistake, noting that he would have been near the bottom of the leaderboard going into the final round.

“I haven’t even thought about it the whole week really until somebody said something to me right after the round,” Every said. “Just because I got DQ’d doesn’t mean I’m going to stop hitting it well.”

Every played two seasons with Villegas at Florida.

“It’s pretty neat,” he said of the first-round results. “Obviously we played a lot of golf together. Not in the last few years, but he’s a really, really good player. … It’s good to see him playing well, especially after last week. I mean, he missed that little putt and he rebounded well, so that says a lot about his attitude.”

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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.