Wie, Thompson tied atop Kraft leaderboard

By Associated PressApril 6, 2014, 2:00 am

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson topped the Kraft Nabisco leaderboard, setting up a possible final-round showdown the LPGA has been waiting for.

The 24-year-old Wie shot a bogey-free 4-under 68 on Saturday to match Thompson at 10-under 206 at Mission Hills in the first major championship of the year.

''I think Lexi is a really entertaining golfer,'' Wie said. ''I like to think I'm somewhat entertaining as well. So, I think the both of us paired together is great. I think it's great for the tour and it's going to be a lot of fun.''

The 19-year-old Thompson settled for a 69 after missing a 3-foot par putt on the par-5 18th. She also missed two short birdie putts on the front nine.

''Not the ending I wanted,'' Thompson said. ''I'm getting looks at birdies and just waiting for a few more to drop.''

Charley Hull, the Englishwoman who turned 18 last month, was two strokes back along with five-time major champion Se Ri Pak. Hull birdied the 18th for a 66, the best round of the day. Pak shot 71.

Both leaders said they were nervous.


Kraft Nabisco Championship: Articles, photos and videos


''I probably won't sleep that well,'' Wie said. ''It's just the chance. You want something so badly. I dreamed about this all my life, so I'm just trying to not think about it so much. I'm just trying to think it's a normal Sunday. ... But I think that's a good thing. It's a sign that I'm really excited and I really want this.''

Thompson agreed.

''I think if you're not nervous, you don't care,'' Thompson said. ''But it's a good nervous. This is what I've been waiting for and what I've worked my whole life for.''

Wie is making her 12th start in the tournament. She was ninth in 2003 at age 13, fourth the following year and tied for third at 16 in 2006. She also was sixth in 2011.

''I just go out there and I think I just really know what I need to do,'' Wie said. ''I think that came with experience of playing so many rounds in my life.''

Wie has two LPGA Tour victories, winning the 2009 Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico and the 2010 Canadian Women's Open. She has been in the top 16 in all five of her starts this year, finishing a season-best fourth in Thailand.

Wie opened with a birdie for the second straight day, making a 20-footer from the front edge. She hit a 9-iron to 12 feet to set up a birdie on the par-4 sixth and knocked a wedge to 5 feet for another birdie on the par-5 ninth. She made a 3-footer for a birdie on the par-5 11th and parred the final seven holes. On 18, she left an 8-foot putt short.

''I'm really happy with my placement,'' Wie said.

Thompson, already a three-time LPGA winner, struggled with her putting after having a great day on the greens Friday in a bogey-free 64.

After two-putting for birdie on the par-5 second hole, she missed a 2 1/2-foot try on the par-4 fourth and a 4-footer on the par-4 seventh.

The long-hitter birdied Nos. 11 and 12, chipping to 1 1/2 feet on 11 and hitting a lob wedge to 4 feet on the par-4 12th. She made a 5-foot birdie putt on the par 4 15th to take the outright lead and parred the next two holes to run her bogey-free streak to 36 holes.

On 18, she drove close the face of a right-side bunker and blasted out, leaving her 145 yards on the water-guarded hole that she would normally reach in two. Her approach went long and right, and her 80-foot birdie putt broke about 15 feet right to left, setting up the short par miss that cost her the outright lead.

''I would say I had a few mis-reads,'' Thompson said.

Hull birdied six of the last holes. She played in the Solheim Cup last year and won her first pro title last month in Morocco.

''I hit it quite well,'' Hull said. ''My irons were pretty good and I hit some good drives. When I got myself in trouble, I was able to get out of it. I'm pretty happy.''

Hull turned 18 on March 20 and could become the youngest major champion in LPGA history. Morgan Pressel set the record at Mission Hills in 2007, winning at 18 years, 10 months, 9 days.

''It would be the best feeling ever,'' Hull said.

Pak birdied the par-4 16th after bogeying three of the first six holes on the back nine. The 36-year-old South Korean player won the last of her five major titles in 2006 and the last of her 25 LPGA victories in 2010.

''There's nothing to complain about it,'' Pak said. ''Of course, I mis-hit it there a little bit, but that will happen on this golf course.''

Getty Images

Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

Getty Images

McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

Getty Images

What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x