Baena Turns Up the Heat at Futures Tour Event
'I do like the heat and I've always felt that it works to my advantage,' said Baena of Pereira, Colombia, who fired a 5-under-par round of 67 today to take the lead at 140 (-4) going into Sunday's final round.
The second-season pro out of the University of Arizona played a bogey-free round that included five birdies and a handful of up-and-down par scrambles. She successfully navigated Lake Forest Golf Club's large and speedy greens and avoided the 6,214-yard course's treacherous fescue rough.
'I hit 14 greens and had 33 putts on Friday, and today, I hit 10 greens and had 23 putts,' said Baena, still seeking her first win on the Futures Tour. 'Golf is so weird. But I know things will eventually come together. It's important to get yourself going on the front nine here.'
Stephanie George of Myerstown, Pa., moved into second at 141 (-3) after carding a 2-under-par round of 70 today. Like so many others, she battled for pars and was grateful to finish the day with four birdies and two bogeys.
'The greens make this course so difficult,' said George, who recorded 30 putts in today's round. 'I three-putted three times yesterday and today, I had numerous putts within 10 feet that were downhill, sidehill or uphill. It's hard to trust how hard to hit it and the greens are speeding up and getting firmer.'
Sarah-Jane Kenyon of Queensland, Australia, had a little steam coming out of her ears when she walked off the 18th green in Friday's first round. Kenyon was four over after 18 holes. But golf history has shown that Queenslanders -- such as the LPGA's Karrie Webb -- are savvy hot-weather players. Kenyon turned her anger into an assault on the course in today's second round. By day's end, the rookie cruised in with a 6-under-par 66 that locked her into a tie with Clarissa Childs (71) of Glendale, Calif., and Kellee Booth (73) of McKinney, Texas -- all tied at 142 (-2).
Kenyon's performance included three birdies, two eagle-2s (on par-four holes) and one bogey. She holed out from a front bunker on the fifth hole for her first eagle, and then holed out from 152 yards with a 7-iron on the 12th hole for the round's second eagle.
'I didn't hit the ball any better or any worse than yesterday, but I had 33 putts yesterday and 25 today, so that was the difference,' said Kenyon, who won the season's second event in Tampa earlier this year.
Booth opened with bogeys on holes three and four, but rebounded with two birdies on the back and a final bogey at the 17th. Still looking for her first win, the former Arizona State University collegian called her day 'sketchy at times and fabulous at times.'
'I'm still in it,' she added. 'Anything is possible out there but it will take some good shots and good putts to win this tournament.'
First-week rookie pro Julieta Granada of Asuncion, Paraguay carded a 3-under-par 69 today to move into a tie with Seon-Hwa Lee of Chonan, Korea at 1-under-par 143. It was a day of misfortune for the Korean, who took the lead on the 11th hole, but lost it on the 15th.
Lee built her lead to three shots with a birdie on the 14th hole, but took a quadruple-bogey on the 15th when her drive landed under a left tree. Lee was forced to turn her club upside down to hit the shot out, but the ball ricocheted off the tree and hit her shoes for a two-shot penalty. As if to make matters worse, after she was forced to call the penalty on herself, the ball was unplayable and she had to add another shot for a drop. One chip and two putts later, Lee had carded an 8 on the par-4 15th hole.
'That hurt,' said Cindy Pasechnik of Calgary, Alberta, who was playing in Lee's group.
Seventy-four players made the 36-hole cut at 151 (+7) in the fifth annual Ann Arbor tournament.
Sunday's final round of the 54-hole event will begin at 8 a.m., off the first tee only. The leaders will tee off at noon.
Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change
Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.
David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.
“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.
Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.
“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”
Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.
The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.
Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.
Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:
1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.
2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.
While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”
PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes
The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:
The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.
We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.
Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open
JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.
The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.
Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.
''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''
Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 5: Dec. 12
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18