Amateur Kim Edges Mackenzie at FUTURES Tour Qualifer

By Futures Tour MediaNovember 10, 2006, 5:00 pm
Duramed Futures TourLAKELAND, Fla. -- Amateur In-Kyung Kim learned her lesson at this year's U.S. Women's Amateur Championship, where she finished double-bogey, bogey before making her exit from the tournament.
'Today, I knew I was behind by about three strokes, so I wanted to finish strong,' said Kim, 18, an amateur from Seoul, Korea who spent most of last year at International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
So Kim stayed patient and birdied three of the last four holes to win the eighth annual Duramed FUTURES Tour Qualifying Tournament at Cleveland Heights Golf Course. Kim's final-round score of 68 allowed her to finish at 281 (-7), edging Paige Mackenzie of Yakima, Wash., by one stroke. Mackenzie also posted a four-under-par final round score of 68 to finish at 282 (-6), but bogeyed two of the last three holes.
'I was disappointed with how I finished,' said Mackenzie, 23, who finished solo second this week and who capped off her amateur career by anchoring the winning U.S. Curtis Cup team earlier this summer. 'I had two bad yardages that I mishandled at a bad time today. It's just disappointing to end on that note when I was in a good position.'
Playing in the final group with Kim, Mackenzie did take charge on the back nine with a string of birdies on holes 11 through 15. The former University of Washington All-American stuck her approach shots to one foot on the 13th and 14th, then drained a 25-foot downhill birdie putt on the 15th.
'Paige birdied five in a row and it made me focus,' said Kim, who won the 2005 U.S. Girls' Junior Championship and advanced into the round of 16 in this year's U.S. Women's Amateur. 'I knew I wasn't finished yet. I didn't give up.'
While Mackenzie was trying to close out the tournament, Kim was trying to focus on what she needed to do to fight back. That opportunity came when Mackenzie gassed a 'soft 9-iron' over the 16th green and didn't get up and down for par. On the par-three 17th, she missed a 10-foot birdie chance, and then on the final hole, her 48-degree wedge out of the rough landed short of the green and again, she didn't save par.
'My wedges are generally my strength, but I was disappointed down the stretch,' said Mackenzie, who hit 14 greens in regulation and used only 28 putts. 'There were a lot of birdies in this group. When [Kim] birdied 17 and 18, I knew we were close.'
Kim's performance on her closing holes was indeed timely. She rolled in a four-foot birdie on the 15th, hit her 6-iron to set up a birdie putt on the 156-yard, par-three 17th, and then drained an eight-footer for birdie on the 18th hole for the win.
'I knew I had to make that putt on 18,' said Kim, a 2003 and 2004 member of the Korean National Team and a friend of Song-Hee Kim (no relation), who won last year's Duramed FUTURES Tour Qualifying Tournament and later finished as 2006 Player of the Year.
'I know Song-Hee from Korea and I hear about her everywhere,' added Kim, who will graduate from high school in February 2007 and who, like Mackenzie, also has advanced into the final LPGA Q-School later this month, where she plans to turn pro.
Another amateur, Ji-Young Oh of Seoul, Korea, carded a 69 in the final round to tie for third with professional Marcela Leon (70) at 284 (-4). The product of the David Leadbetter Academy in Bradenton, Fla., posted a three-birdie, bogey-free final round.
'I am very happy,' said Oh, 18, also a member of the Korean National Team. 'My putting wasn't very good, but I hit my irons well.'
Having recently finished her fourth season as a professional on the Duramed FUTURES Tour, Leon was perhaps the happiest finisher all day with her share of third. The native of Monterrey, Mexico has spent the last two years struggling with a foot injury and confidence in her game. With a final round that included five birdies, two bogeys and a par save from 18 feet on the ninth hole, Leon called this week's event a turning point.
'I'm happy to finally see the results and hopefully this will continue next year,' said Leon, 25, who played her junior golf with LPGA Tour star Lorena Ochoa. 'I have always expected to be in the top five and now it's a good goal to go for next season.'
Former Auburn University All-American Maru Martinez of Maracaibo, Venezuela, carded a two-under-par final-round score of 70 today to move into a tie for sixth with Hanna Kang (69) of Seoul, Korea, at even-par 288 -- two shots behind fifth-place finisher Na-On Min (71) of Seoul, at 286 (-2). The 2006 Southeastern Conference (SEC) Player of the Year and five-time collegiate winner, posted three birdies and one bogey today, but could get no closer to the leaders. Now playing as a professional, Martinez struggled on the Bermuda grass greens in Thursday's third round, carding six three-putts on a day she said was 'like somebody else putting.'
'I felt good today, but I just couldn't go any lower,' said Martinez, 22, who also will play in the LPGA's Final Qualifying this month. 'I played solid and I had a chance [to win] all week. It may take some time to figure it all out, but that's why I'm here.'
Players competing in the annual 72-hole event to gain or retain playing status for the Tour's 2007 season rotated to three courses this week. The event attracted 269 contestants from 23 nations and 39 U.S. states and was held simultaneously at Cleveland Heights Golf Course, Huntington Hills Golf & Country Club and Schalamar Creek Golf Club in Lakeland. Following the player cut after 54 holes to 90 players and ties, the field returned to Cleveland Heights for today's final round.
And while the tournament's winner was more than happy to share the details of her day that included 14 greens and 12 fairways in regulation, as well as 29 putts for the round, Kim admitted there was one little concern that still warranted her attention.
'Well, my [travel] visa expired today and I'm flying back to Korea tomorrow for a week,' she said. 'But I had to play the final round.'
And Kim certainly did, finishing strong. Just as she planned.
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G-Mac has Ryder Cup on mind with Genesis in grasp

By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2018, 2:12 am

LOS ANGELES – Graeme McDowell is four years removed from his last start in a Ryder Cup and golf is more than seven months away from this year’s matches, but then it’s never too early to start daydreaming.

Following a third-round 70 that left him tied for third place and just two strokes off the lead at the Genesis Open, McDowell was asked if the matches are on his mind.

“I feel like I've got a lot of things to do between now and getting on that team,” he said. “Standing here right now it's probably not a realistic goal, but if I continue to play the way I'm playing for the next few months, it may start to become a realistic goal.”

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McDowell began his week at Riviera Country Club fresh off four consecutive missed cuts and has drifted to 219th in the Official World Golf Ranking. But his play this week has been encouraging and the Northern Irishman has always relished the opportunity to play for Europe.

“Deep down I know I'm good enough, but I've got to show, I've got to put some results on the board, I've got to take care of my business,” he said. “The greatest experience of my career bar none, and I would love to play another couple Ryder Cup matches before it's all said and done.”

McDowell does have a potential advantage this year having won the French Open twice at Le Golf National, site of this year’s matches.

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Bubba on McGrady block: 'Just trying not to get hurt'

By Will GrayFebruary 18, 2018, 1:56 am

LOS ANGELES – A detour to the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game didn’t keep Bubba Watson from leading this week’s Genesis Open, although an on-court brush with Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady nearly derailed his chances for a third tournament win.

Watson enters the final round at Riviera with a one-shot lead over Patrick Cantlay after firing a 6-under 65 in the third round. The day before, the southpaw left the course around lunch time and headed across town to participate in the All-Star festivities, where during the celebrity game he tried to score 1-on-1 over McGrady.

Watson’s move into the lane went about as well as you’d expect given their five-inch height disparity, with McGrady easily blocking the ball into the stands. According to Watson, he had only one thought as McGrady came barreling towards him across the lane.

“When I saw him, all I saw was, ‘This is my moment to get hurt,’” Watson said. “This big tank is about to hit me, and I was like, ‘Just knock it into the stands. Just don’t touch me.’ So it worked out, he didn’t touch me so it was good.”

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Watson’s attempt went against his wife Angie’s advice to avoid the paint area, but it provided a fun moment for a player used to carving up fairways and greens – not to mention the guy who played 15 seasons in the NBA.

“Well, he’s got like just under 800 blocks for his career, so I gave him one more, you know?” Watson said. “It was just, it was a blast. I wanted to see how good he was, see if he could miss it. He hasn’t played in a while.”

Watson took some heat on Twitter from his PGA Tour peers for the rejection, but few were still laughing as he rocketed up the leaderboard Saturday with five birdies and an eagle. Now he has a chance to win this event for the third time since 2014 – even if he doesn’t plan to go toe-to-toe with McGrady again anytime soon.

“Some guys wanted to try to win MVP, so I was trying to pass it and let them have their fun and their moment,” Watson said. “I was just trying not to get hurt.”

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Spieth on third-round 69: 'Putter saved me'

By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2018, 1:37 am

LOS ANGELES – Jordan Spieth has spent the last few weeks talking about his putting for all the wrong reasons.

Two weeks ago when he missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open he lost 3.76 shots to the field in strokes-gained putting, and last week he wasn’t much better.

It looked like more of the same at the Genesis Open when he lost about a half stroke to the field on Day 1 with 29 putts, but since then his fortunes on the greens have gotten progressively better.

“I thought each day last week I progressed,” said Spieth, who needed just 24 putts on Friday and moved into a tie for 20th after taking 26 putts on Day 3.

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Spieth said he started to feel things turn around at Pebble Beach after working with his swing coach Cameron McCormick and Steve Stricker, who has become something of a putting sounding board for players on Tour.

“I got set up really nice. I got really comfortable on the greens even though they were very difficult to putt last week and this week,” said Spieth, who rolled in a birdie putt of 14 feet at No. 12 and a par putt of 35 feet at No. 14. “Any putt, I either made it or I left it just short today. It was one of those days that with the way I struck the ball, it was an off day, but that putter saved me and allowed me to shoot the lowest score so far this week.”

Spieth’s third-round 69 is his best of the week and moved him to within seven strokes of the lead, which is held by Bubba Watson.

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Bouncing back: Watson seeks a third Riviera win

By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2018, 1:25 am

LOS ANGELES – Yeah, but can Tracy McGrady smoke a 7-iron from 203 yards to kick-in range for eagle on Riviera Country Club’s opening hole?

The way Bubba Watson’s mind drifts there’s no telling if, as he began his day at the Genesis Open, he revisited his play from Friday night at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. If he did, it would have been an apropos conclusion after McGrady sent his weak floater into the cheap seats midway through the second quarter.

Either way, Watson made it clear playtime was over on Saturday. The eagle at the opening par 4 ½ sent Watson on his way to a third-round 65 and the outright lead at the Left Coast event that’s starting to feel like a second home for the lefthander.

In 11 starts at Riviera, Watson already has two victories. A third on Sunday could get folks talking about renaming the layout Bubba’s Alley. Or not.

What is certain is that Watson has emerged from a funk that sent him tumbling outside the top 100 in the world ranking and he’s done it in quintessential Bubba style.

If Friday’s detour to the celebrity game received worldwide attention it was only a snapshot of Watson’s Tinseltown itinerary. He taped a segment for Jay Leno’s Garage show, visited with Ellen DeGeneres and watched a taping of The Big Bang Theory. You know, L.A. stuff.

Oh, and he’s curved and carved his way around Riviera with signature abandon.

“You've got to hit shots from every different angle, you've got to move it right to left and left to right, so it's just fun,” said Watson, who also led by one stroke when he won here in 2016, his last victory on the PGA Tour. “Then the greens are the equalizer so it makes me look like I putt as good as the other guys.”

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He “hammered” a 7-iron from 203 yards at the first to 1 ½ feet for his opening eagle, chipped in at the sixth to begin a run of four birdies in five holes and played the three par 5s in 3 under to move into a familiar spot after enduring his worst season on Tour in 2017 when he failed to advance past the second playoff event.

That he’s turned the tide in Los Angeles is as predictable as it is peculiar. Despite Watson’s record at the Genesis Open, Riviera wouldn’t seem to be the tonic for all that ails Bubba.

Ask a player - any player will do - the keys to playing Riviera and the answers range wildly from it being a bomber’s course to the need for ball-striking precision. But the word that comes up with regularity is "patience."

“Patience and pretty much just not being stupid, to be honest,” Justin Thomas said when asked the key to his third-round 67 that left him tied for eighth place. “Just stop trying to hit at pins with 5-irons and 6-irons, and when I hit in the rough, realize just try to make a par. When I get in places, when I'm out of position, realize that sometimes even bogey is what I need to make.”

While that thought dovetails with conventional wisdom, Watson’s not exactly known for his patience.

“Oh, for sure I do. Haven't you seen me in the last 12 years?” Watson laughed when asked if he had patience on the course. “The tougher the golf course, the more focus I have. The tougher the shot, I've been able to focus better. When I get my mind on something, I can focus and do pretty well at the game of golf.”

While Bubba drifts between artist and antagonist with ease, both on and off the golf course, his primary challenge on Sunday is the picture of thoughtful composure.

Patrick Cantlay, who returned to the Tour last season after struggling with back issues for years, began the third round with a share of the lead but quickly faded on the front nine. He rallied on the closing loop with birdies at Nos. 10, 11 and 18, where he capped his day with a 54-footer that assured him a spot in Sunday’s final threesome. Although he’s just 25 and playing his first full season on Tour, Cantlay’s approach to the game is patently different from Watson’s.

“I feel like if I can just engage and not worry about where I am on a particular hole or what's going on and I just engage and stay present in whatever I'm doing at that particular time, it all turns out better than what you would expect,” explained Cantlay, who attended nearby UCLA and played dozens of practice rounds at Riviera. “Making sure you stay present and having that confidence in yourself that if you just click in and focus, it all will be good and that's kind of the head space I'm in.”

It will be a clash of wildly contrasting styles on Sunday – Watson, who admitted he “(doesn’t) focus very well,” and Cantlay, whose approach to the mental side of the game borders on the clinical.

One player relishes the challenge of hyper-focus, the other is Bubba, but that’s not to say Watson is void of patience, only that he needs to be properly motivated.

“Like last night when Tracy McGrady was coming at me, I was focused on not getting hurt and I didn't, so it worked out,” Watson smiled.

And besides, T-Mac can’t bomb it like Bubba.