Singh takes BMW lead; Woods, McIlroy trail by 1

By Doug FergusonSeptember 7, 2012, 7:38 pm

CARMEL, Ind. – Vijay Singh keeps giving himself chances to end four years without a PGA Tour victory. He made four birdies around the turn Friday for a 6-under 66 in the BMW Championship, putting his name atop the leaderboard for the second time in his last four tournaments.

It won't get any easier the rest of the way.

Tiger Woods was one shot behind. So was Rory McIlroy. Going into a storm-filled weekend at Crooked Stick, four players who have reached No. 1 in the world were among the top six.

'I've got to keep it going,' Singh said. 'I've been playing well for two days for a while now, but I need four days of good playing. Sooner or later, I think four days is going to happen. And hopefully, it starts this week.'

Woods started slowly and finished strong, with birdies on his last two holes for a 67. McIlroy, coming off what he called one of the best ball-striking rounds of his life, had to overcome four bogeys for a hard-earned 68. Joining them one shot out of the lead was Ryan Moore, who had a 66 and seems to play well in the BMW Championship no matter which state it is held in.

Lee Westwood (65) and Indiana native Bo Van Pelt (69) were two shots off the lead.

Singh was at 13-under 131 on Crooked Stick, a Pete Dye course that is vulnerable to low scoring because of rain over the last several days. The second round was played early Friday to beat approaching thunderstorms, and the times were pushed back slightly Saturday to recover from whatever rain falls overnight.

These are supposed to be the FedEx Cup playoffs. The scores make it look like the old Bob Hope Classic, especially after a week in which McIlroy won on the TPC Boston at 20-under 264.

'You come to a Pete Dye golf course, and you don't expect to see 13 under par leading after two days,' Woods said.

He was happy just to be in the mix. For the second straight day, Woods wasn't particularly sharp in any area of his game except for posting a score.

'I didn't have it with my swing,' Woods said. 'Just kind of fighting it around here. You look up at the scores, the guys are just running off. I just wanted to get to double digits (under par) today. I felt like that would have been a good accomplishment the way I was hitting the golf ball, and happy to get a couple more.'

McIlroy's mistakes all seemed to cost him, whether it was a three-putt bogey or bad lies when he missed the green. He was helped by a brilliant approach on the par-5 ninth to just inside 5 feet for eagle.

'I put myself in a great position going into the weekend,' McIlroy said. 'The round wasn't quite as good as it was yesterday. I didn't hit the ball quite as well. But I still managed to get around in 4 under par. I'm very pleased about that. I just need to try and find a little more consistency. It wasn't that bad out there, but just a couple of missed tee shots and a couple of missed iron shots.'

McIlroy and Woods are both going for a PGA Tour-leading fourth win of the year.

Singh would settle for just one win at this point. His last victory was the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2008, the year he won the opening two FedEx Cup playoff events and essentially clinched the $10 million bonus. He would not have guessed that would be his last win. Since then, he has coped with nagging injuries and has been regaining his form and his confidence.

He shared the 36-hole lead at the PGA Championship with Woods and Carl Pettersson, but a 74-77 weekend sent him plummeting to a tie for 36th. Two weeks ago, he was one shot behind going into the weekend at Bethpage Black until a 76-75 weekend dropped him into a tie for 46th. The big Fijian had a good weekend in Boston, but that only covered up a poor start.

As for what's keeping him from four solid days, Singh isn't sure.

'I have no idea,' he said. 'I guess I want it so bad that I get in my own way. So I just have to get out of my own way and just play. Last weekend I played better, but I didn't play well the first two days. Hopefully, I can go out there and just shoot two comfortable rounds this week.'

A comfortable round might not be enough.

The pins were a little tougher for the second round, but that's not nearly enough to stop the best players in the world who can lift, clean and place their golf balls in the short grass before going after flags on rain-softened greens that putt smoothly because of only 70 players in the field.

It's the perfect recipe for low scoring on any golf course, and that's been the case over two days at Crooked Stick.

The average score over two days have been 69.6. Anyone not at 69 or better was losing ground. There already have been 21 eagles and 621 birdies over two days, which at least gives the sold-out gallery something to cheer.

Bill Haas had the best round Friday at 64, despite a bogey on the 17th hole. There were 32 rounds in the 60s, and only 10 players failed to shoot par or better. That included three U.S. Ryder Cup players - Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson and Steve Stricker, who had a 73 despite a hole-in-one with a 6-iron on the sixth hole.

Hunter Mahan, concerned about an 'empty feeling' after not being selected for the Ryder Cup, had a 73.

Moore tied for 16th a year ago in the BMW Championship and finished third in 2010, both times at Cog Hill. He is at No. 35 in the FedEx Cup, needing to get into the top 30 to advance to the Tour Championship in two weeks for a shot at the $10 million bonus.

Haas is at No. 28, and helped himself immensely with a 64. Haas won the FedEx Cup last year, saving par out of the water during a playoff, but a strange piece of history is working against him. No FedEx Cup champion has ever made it back to East Lake for the Tour Championship the following year.

Much like Singh, however, Haas a lot of work left. Given the low scoring - and there's nothing to indicate that will change - the final two rounds of the BMW Championship would be wide open. Twenty players were within five shots of the lead, a group that includes Graeme McDowell, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson.

'Let's be honest,' McDowell said. 'You've got to keep going low this weekend.'

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.


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“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.


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Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is also one shot off the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu and Shanshan Feng are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''


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J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.

''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''