Lee wins Bahamas LPGA on shortened course

By Doug FergusonMay 26, 2013, 11:35 am

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – The golf course flooded, and then was closed for two days. The only way to hold the Bahamas LPGA Classic was to use 12 holes over three rounds. No one played the par-5 18th hole in competition until Sunday. It was a week like no other on the LPGA, especially for Ilhee Lee.

''This is the best day in my life,'' she said. ''I'm so happy right now.''

Lee made a clutch par putt on the second-to-last hole in a raging wind to keep a one-shot lead, and then she drilled a fairway metal out of light rough and onto the 18th green to set up a two-putt birdie. That gave her a 5-under 42 and her first professional win, by two shots over Irene Cho.

It was only fitting that she finished in a downpour.

Flooding earlier in the week left so much of the Ocean Club course under water that the tour's best option – especially with new sponsors Ohio-based Pure Silk and the Bahamas Tourism Ministry – was to shorten the course to 12 holes and play three rounds to reach the 36 holes required for an official event.

First-time winners usually get showered with beer. In the rain, Jennie Lee sprayed her with shaving cream.

While the entire week was wild, it was memorable in so many ways for the 24-year-old from South Korea. She loves to swim and loves to gamble, and Lee couldn't have been in a better spot to kill the time. She played the opening two rounds with her idol, Se Ri Pak.

Starting the final round three shots out of the lead, with the wind blowing as hard as it had all week, she was thinking even par would do her well.

She holed a 30-foot putt from off the green on her first hole. She chipped in from 60 feet on the next hole. And after running into trouble on the next hole, a par 5, she hit 5-iron into the hurting, left-to-right wind to 10 feet for a third straight birdie.

''After the third hole I was thinking, 'Maybe this is the day to win,''' she said.

Lee hit 9-iron to tap-in range on her eighth hole to take the outright lead, but she left a long birdie putt from the fringe some 5 feet short. With a one-shot lead, she couldn't afford a bogey, and Lee drilled the par putt right in the center and lightly pumped her fist leaving the green.

''The most important putt,'' she said.

The birdie on the 18th hole affected only the final margin. Lee finished on 11-under 126 and picked up $195,000, more than enough to offset the $45 she lost in four nights at the casino. Asked if she was going back to the casino Sunday night, Lee smiled and signaled two thumbs-up.

Cho, who teed off two hours before Lee, got into the mix by holing a 9-iron into the wind from 118 yards on the par-5 11th hole – the fifth hole of her round – and birdied three of the last five holes for a 7-under 40. The 7 under matched the low score of the week.

Anna Nordqvist had a 2-under 45 to finish alone in third. Cristie Kerr, coming off a win in Kingsmill two weeks ago, was in position for so much of the day and couldn't make a putt, the strength of her game. She even laid flat on her stomach to line up a 7-foot attempt on her ninth hole, only to see it bump off line. Kerr had to settle for a 46 and a five-way tie for fourth that included Paula Creamer (45) and Mika Miyazato (45).

The most sensible routing was a strange one. Every player started on No. 10 and then jumped from one side to the next. The course dried enough that the par-5 18th was used for the first time all week, and the fourth hole – which had been converted from a par 5 to a par 3 – was eliminated.

''They did the best they could,'' Kerr said. ''Today was brutal with the wind. I didn't putt well enough and I couldn't steady myself in the wind. I'm glad the week is over. It was weird playing the 18th hole for the first time all week. I haven't seen it since Monday. I hope we get to play the whole golf course next year.''

Cho's eagle from the 11th fairway was but a small part of her exciting round. Two holes later, her shot drifted onto the sandy beach and she figured she might as well try to play it.

''It was in the beach, and there was some water around it,'' Cho said. ''And I was like, 'Shoot, I'm going to pull out a little Bill Haas and just try to get this up and over.' I got it out perfect.''

She saved par, just like Haas did in a playoff at the Tour Championship in 2011 that led him to win the FedEx Cup.

As hard as the wind was blowing over the final hour, and as the sky began to darken, it looked as though Cho's score of a 9-under 128 might be enough to win. Lee was simply flawless.

''I can't believe it right now,'' Lee said. It feels amazing. Awesome.''

First-time winners typically get showered with beer. It was raining so hard that Jennie Lee sprayed her with shaving cream. The winner posed for photos with her sunglasses covered in white cream and a smile that stayed with her all day.

The perks kept right on coming after the trophy presentation. She was awarded a silver bracelet from Tiffany's, and all first-time winners get a Rolex watch.

Lee has come a long way since her rookie year in 2010, when she earned her card at Q-school and spoke ''zero English.'' She decided to stay in private housing to help learn the language. And after a short interview before the trophy presentation, she smiled and said, ''I think I did OK right now.''

''This week, I was very happy,'' she said about her weird week. ''I can play golf. I can swim. I can gamble. This is the best job in the world. I love golf.''


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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”