Tiger Woods Mark Wilson tied at BMW Championship

By Doug FergusonSeptember 12, 2009, 2:29 am

BMW Championship 2007 LogoLEMONT, Ill. – Tiger Woods and Mark Wilson were in a tie for the lead Friday at the BMW Championship, two players who have every reason to feel right at home at Cog Hill.

One practices here all the time. The other seems to win here all the time.

Woods made two solid par saves from deep bunkers early in his round, ran off three straight birdies at the turn and cashed in on enough good shots for a 4-under 67 to put him atop the leaderboard for the first time since the PGA Championship.

Woods is a four-time winner at Cog Hill, including his most recent appearance two years ago in the BMW Championship

Mark Wilson
Mark Wilson is seeking his third career PGA Tour title. (Getty Images)
Wilson, who birdied his final hole for a 5-under 66, moved to Chicago about five years ago and was looking for a place to practice when Frank Jemsek gave him carte blanche at Cog Hill. Wilson now spends most of his time on this public golf course in the Chicago suburbs.

“This summer when I’ve been home, I’ve been primarily coming out here because I thought it made sense to get ready to see the new golf course,” said Wilson, alluding to the Rees Jones renovation.

They were at 7-under 135, and will play as a twosome for the first time since their championship match in the 1992 U.S. Junior Amateur in Massachusetts, where a 16-year-old Woods rallied from 2 down to win on the 18th hole.

“We go back a long way,” Woods said.

This won’t be anywhere near that situation, not in stroke play, and certainly not halfway through a tournament in which two dozen players were separated by five shots.

Padraig Harrington, a familiar name atop the leaderboard over the last two months, was poised to join them until his tee shot on the 18th hole sailed wide ride and into a tree, sending the Irishman back to the tee. He did well to escape with bogey after making a 20-foot putt that gave him a 68.

Harrington was one shot behind, along with Rory Sabbatini (70), Bo Van Pelt (69) and Marc Leishman of Australia, who overcame a rugged start with four straight birdies and ended up with a 69.

Woods got off to a bad start when he hooked his 3-wood into the face of a deep bunker, forcing him to blast out to the fairway and setting up a bogey when his 9-iron went 40 feet too long. With firm greens and a few difficult hole locations, he never had a reasonable birdie putt over this first six holes, and twice had to hit good bunker shots to avoid bogey.

The turnaround began with a 12-foot birdie putt from the fringe on No. 7, and a risky decision that paid off on the next hole. With only 133 yards to an uphill green with the hole location to the back right, Woods decided to take one extra club to fly it long and hope to have it spin back. The gallery groaned when it hopped onto the fringe, then cheered when it spun back to 4 feet for birdie.

“I was in between clubs and I said, ‘You know what? I’m not going to take the little one here’ because I just didn’t feel it was going to skip up there,” he said. “I thought I had to carry it back to the hole. I knew I could never hit the ball past the flag in the air with that club, so I went ahead and took the chance of throwing the ball up in the air.”

He added another bunker save on the 12th, and final birdie on the 17th with an approach to 4 feet.

Wilson was one of only three players in the 68-man field to make birdie on the par-3 second hole, where the green was so firm that some balls even landing in the front would roll off the green and into a bunker.

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“It must have carried just over in the rough and got a nice hop up there about 6 feet, which I think is probably the only way you can keep it short on that hole,” Wilson said. “So that was a nice break.”

Woods and Harrington are among the top six players assured a trip to East Lake in two weeks for the FedEx Cup finale at the Tour Championship and a chance to win the $10 million bonus.

Not so for Wilson, who is at No. 41 in the standings. Only the top 30 advance after this week, and Wilson doesn’t even know how high he needs to finish, only that a victory would take care of everything.

“Something tells me a win gets me way up there, and I’d rather do that,” Wilson said. “And I’ll be going for that. If I fall a little short, then the consolation prize would be Atlanta. And that would be good.”

DIVOTS: Phil Mickelson had a 69 and was among those five shots behind. … Davis Love III had a 77 and was tied for last, effectively ending his FedEx Cup season. He is 44th in points and likely would have needed to finish among the top five. … Steve Stricker, who overtook Woods for No. 1 in the standings with his win last week, missed four birdie putts inside 10 feet during a five-hole stretch before making one from 35 feet. He shot a 73 and was 10 shots behind. Stricker would only lose his FedEx Cup lead if Woods were to win this week.

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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.