Uehara leads Women's British; Wie shoots 75

By Doug FergusonJuly 10, 2014, 8:06 pm

SOUTHPORT, England – Ayako Uehara of Japan felt confident with the putter and played in the best weather Royal Birkdale has to offer. It was the right combination to take the lead Thursday in the Women's British Open. And the best she could manage was a 4-under 68.

Pot bunkers can present problems on any links course. Throw in some thick grass and par becomes a problem.

Michelle Wie could attest to that. The U.S. Women's Open champion spent too much time chipping out of sand and rough on her way to a 75. Cristie Kerr didn't make a birdie, shot 81 and withdrew with a sore back. Only nine players broke par, all but two of them in the relative calm of a sunny morning along the Irish Sea.

''It's only going to get harder,'' defending champion Stacy Lewis said after a 71. ''Anything under par on this golf course is a good score.''

Uehara got her lone mistake out of the way early and made another bogey after the opening hole. She made three birdies in a four-hole stretch, added two birdies on the back nine and built a one-shot lead over Mo Martin.


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''Ayako obviously put up a really good number,'' said Lewis, who played in her group. ''She seems like she wasn't in trouble at all. She was just greens, greens, center of the green. You can kind of learn a little bit from that and maybe not go at so many pins.''

Morgan Pressel scrambled her way to a 70, joined by Sarah Kemp and Mina Harigae. The only players who broke par in the afternoon were former U.S. Women's Open champion So Yeon Ryu and Amy Yang, who played in the final group at the U.S. Women's Open last month. Both shot 71.

''I don't think they can make it any easier,'' Pressel said.

That doesn't bode well for Wie, who was introduced on the first tee as the U.S Women's Open champion and then posted her highest score of the year. Wie had to birdie the par-5 18th hole - the only time she hit driver - to finish 3 over.

''Thought I made a good game plan,'' Wie said. ''Just didn't hit good shots today.''

The scores Thursday might have been a preview of what the men can expect next week at Royal Liverpool for The Open Championship, through Royal Birkdale is a stronger test. The links courses are separated by about 25 miles, and a wet spring has allowed the grass to get thick and lush. That makes it difficult to make contact with the golf ball, assuming it can be found. Tiger Woods won at Liverpool in 2006 on a fast course with wispy grass.

''The golf course is so hard, I couldn't imagine four days of this much rough and all the wind and everything it entails,'' Lewis said ''It's nice to have it pretty calm today.''

Pressel had 23 putts, though only four of them were for birdie. She escaped with par when she found trouble off the tee and one time salvaged bogey. Playing her third shot from the right rough to a pin on the right side of the tough 16th green protected by a pot bunker, Pressel played short of the green and got up-and-down to limit the damage. Her putter made all the difference.

''I was happy that I made it look easier than it actually was,'' Pressel said.

It wasn't like that for everyone.

Paula Creamer was 5-over par after five holes and rallied for a 75. The best comeback belonged to Jessica Korda, who went out in 39 and then made four birdies on the back nine to return to even par. Karrie Webb, Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen and Kraft Nabisco champion Lexi Thompson also were at even par.

The way it looked Thursday, anyone around par might be in good shape when it ends on Sunday.

Wie now has to climb back on a course that makes it feel as though she has to scale a mountain. She tried to rely on her powerful stinger off the tee, using mostly hybrids, to stay short of the bunkers and out of the rough. But she hit only seven fairways, leading to three of her bogeys.

''I definitely felt like my tempo was a little bit off,'' Wie said. ''But it's a long way until Sunday, and I battled out there. It's not the score I was looking forward to on Thursday, but it could have been a lot worse.''

Martin had a plan for Birkdale, too. She is one of the shorter hitters on the LPGA Tour and can't recall a round where she hit so many 3-woods off the tee, all in an effort to stay out of trouble.

''Every hole, every shot is its own test,'' Martin said. ''You just really have to have so much strategy. It keeps you in the moment and it's a challenge. It's a fun challenge.''

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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.

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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.


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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?

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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."

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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