Walshe leads Creamer, Thompson by one at Marathon

By Associated PressJuly 18, 2013, 11:10 pm

SYLVANIA, Ohio – Alison Walshe put herself in prime position at the Marathon Classic for her first LPGA victory.

But, as the name of the tournament implies, the race has just begun.

Walshe shot a 6-under 65, her best score in her four years on the LPGA, to take a one-stroke lead Thursday in the opening round of the tournament formerly known as the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic.

Also daunting is the who's who of stars on her heels. Paula Creamer, who won the tournament five years ago, and top-ranked Inbee Park, winner of the year's first three major championships, were within two shots.

Walshe, among the top 20 on tour in putting stats, three-putted at the first hole for bogey – then took only 19 putts on the next 17 holes.

''I was like, 'Here we go again,''' Walshe said. ''Then I one-putted the next hole and got my confidence going.''

She also chipped in for birdie on the 14th hole, her fifth of the day, to jump-start her round.

Walshe came into the Marathon, in its first year under its new title sponsor, quietly. She hasn't had a top 10 this year and ranks 55th on the money list with earnings of just over $120,000.

She hasn't finished higher than a tie for 17th at Kingsmill. Her career best is a tie for eighth a year ago at the Kraft Nabisco.

''I've been hitting it probably the best I've hit it in a long time this year,'' said the 28-year-old University of Arizona grad from Westford, Mass. ''I've been giving myself a lot of opportunities, and it's frustrating that I haven't been able to really go deep and make some putts.''

Everybody in the 144-player field was tormented by temperatures in the 90s, high humidity, little wind and a glaring sun. Teenager Lexi Thompson, who was tied with Canada's Jessica Shepley and Creamer at 66, said after her round that she drank a bottle of water per hole to stay hydrated.

Walshe benefited from a morning tee time, but it wasn't as if it was cool then, either.

''At 7 in the morning I was sweating and I'm sweating now,'' she said just after completing her round around 1 p.m.

Creamer, who opened with a career-low 60 in her 2008 victory at the course, was satisfied to be a shot off the pace.

''I'm very pleased. I had a lot of shots out there that I could have gone lower with,'' she said. ''But at the same time, it was a good start. I haven't been able to start off the way I wanted the last couple of events, so this was nice to post a good number.''

Shepley, a former University of Tennessee player, has struggled this year but is encouraged.

''I've had a couple of good results. I played a couple smaller events up in Canada,'' she said. ''I've been working hard on my swing a lot. I'm trying to stay patient, so was hoping one of these rounds would come soon.''

Thompson, who was the youngest winner ever of an LPGA event when she took the 2011 Navistar at the age of 16, was asked if American players had been eclipsed by the South Koreans who have dominated in recent years.

''There are a lot of good American golfers out here. There is so much competition,'' she said. ''It doesn't matter where you're from; it matters how well you bring it out on the golf course.''

No one questions how well Park has played. She'll go for an unprecedented fourth consecutive women's major in the same year when she heads for the Women's British Open late this month.

She's already won six times on the tour this year while ascending to No. 1. Naturally, galleries expect her to win every time out.

''I do feel more pressure coming into this tournament,'' she said after a 67 that left her tied with Haeji Kang, Jacqui Concolino, Gerina Piller and Karine Icher. ''But I try to enjoy it. I enjoy the fans coming out to watch.''

Defending champ So Yeon Ryu had a 68 along with a large group that included Morgan Pressel and Natalie Gulbis. Se Ri Pak, a five-time winner of the tournament, opened with a 69 – the same as the world's top-ranked amateur, Lydia Ko.

The course is built for low scores. Over the last six years, the winners are a combined 103 under par.

''I know there are some very good scores out there,'' said Ko, who appears a lock to run her streak of professional cuts made to a perfect 22 for 22. ''I've just got to play my game. I can't control what the others do.''

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Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


FALLING

Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.