Jeong Leads Futures Tour ILOVENY Championship
Of course, that strategy changed today when Jeong fired a 5-under-par 66 to take the lead in the $85,000 ILOVENY Championship. Jeong posted a round that included 15 greens in regulation, seven birdies and two bogeys -- both bogeys resulting from three-putt greens.
'My putting was good in the practice rounds, so I had confidence,' said Jeong of Kyungki, Korea, who earned her first win this summer in Lima, Ohio. 'I talked a lot to my mom [and caddie] about the read and speed on these greens. They're not too tricky.'
And Jeong's assessment of the greens at the Capital Hills at Albany course must have been on target as she rolled in putts from a range of five to 20 feet, with a chip-in for birdie from 45 feet on the 14th hole.
But for the player ranked 31st on the season money list to have a chance to move into the Tour's top 15 with the winner's $11,900 check on Sunday, Jeong couldn't help but allow her thoughts to drift back to the Tour's quickly culminating money race.
'I have won before and I don't think it was just luck,' said Jeong, of her victory in June. 'I'm trying to think about this as [preparation] for LPGA Q-School, but now, I'm thinking about moving up [the Tour's money list].'
Jeong doesn't have much breathing room, however, with second-ranked Charlotte Mayorkas of Las Vegas and Danielle Downey of Spencerport, N.Y., breathing down her collar one shot back at 67 (-4). Mayorkas, who turns 23 next Monday, wants nothing more than a chance to win her third Tour title this year and close the gap between herself and top-ranked Song-Hee Kim of Seoul, Korea, who carded an even-par 71. Downey, ranked 27th, wants nothing more than to win again and to win in her home state.
'This is the last event of the year, so I want to finish on a good note,' said Downey, 25, a non-exempt LPGA Tour member whose last win came in 2004 in Lima, Ohio. 'Obviously, everybody's thinking about the top five, but I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I'll just go out there and play.'
The Tour's 19th event obviously carries considerable weight this week. The top five money leaders at the end of Sunday's final round earn fully exempt 2007 LPGA Tour status. The next 10 players on the money list who are not already non-exempt LPGA Tour members automatically advance into the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament in December, avoiding the LPGA's sectional qualifying stages. Players who currently have non-exempt LPGA status will be skipped for the next available non-LPGA player.
And with her top-five status largely secured, Mayorkas admitted that having placed herself in the No. 2 position has made this week's final event less stressful.
'I feel really relaxed,' said Mayorkas, a San Diego native who played collegiately at UCLA. 'For me this week, it's more about trying to make putts to win the tournament than it is about trying to get into the top five. All I have to worry about is going out and playing my best.'
Tied two shots off the lead at three-under-par 68 is the trio of season winners Hye Jung Choi of Seoul, Korea and Meaghan Francella of Port Chester, N.Y., along with seventh-ranked Allison Fouch of Grand Rapids, Mich., who is trying to notch her first professional win. Francella is ranked eighth, followed by Choi, at No. 9. A win for any of the three could reshuffle the top five money-list positions.
'Sometimes I get tight out there and yeah, I feel the pressure, but as long as I'm playing golf and staying busy, I'm OK,' said Fouch, a non-exempt member of the LPGA Tour who has two runner-up finishes this season. 'It's easier to deal with it on the golf course. Maybe the pressure keeps me focused.'
Fouch posted three bogeys and one birdie on her first nine holes, but made the turn to the front nine and rolled in five birdies on the first six holes for redemption.
Choi missed only two greens in her round, but stayed patient on the front nine, where she had nine consecutive pars. On the back, she carded five birdies and two bogeys, admitting she feels the pressure of this week's event.
'I'm very nervous,' said Choi, a non-exempt LPGA Tour member and second-year player. 'I guess I don't want to make any mistakes right now.'
Francella said she spent most of today's round trying to focus on each individual shot. The non-exempt LPGA Tour member soared to two-over par after three holes, but settled down with five birdies and a 10-foot par save on the 15th hole to finish out her round on the hilly 6,121-yard municipal tract.
'I did a lot of work today staying in the present,' said Francella. 'And this week, that's really hard to do.'
Nine players are tied at two-under-par 69, including fifth-ranked Angela Park of Torrance, Calif., who is trying to hold on to or improve her position this week.
'I know this is a very important week and I want to do well,' said rookie Park, 18, who moved into the top five at the Tour's last event in Gettysburg, Pa. 'I think you have to be a little greedy this week and I know I need to make the putts that really count.'
One player, Katie Connelly of Beloit, Wis., was two-under par when one unfortunate swing landed her in the back of an ambulance heading to a local hospital. Connelly's tee shot on the 10th hole landed in a rocky area to the right of the fairway. Trying to punch out her shot, Connelly's ball struck a rock and ricocheted back, hitting the player squarely in her right eye. Connelly was treated and released from the hospital with a small fracture in the medial wall of her eye socket, a lesion on her cornea, and two tears in her iris.
'My eye is swollen completely shut,' said Connelly, reached by telephone, who was forced to withdraw from the tournament with an injury. 'I was in tears not because I'm in pain, but because I wanted to finish out the season. I was playing with Song-Hee and I was playing so well. This is just really disappointing.'
A total of 30 players carded scores of par 71 or better in today's first round.
Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.
It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.
Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.
“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”
The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.
“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”
Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.
Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.
''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''
It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.
''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''
Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.
''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''
After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.
''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''
He's making his first start in the event.
''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.
Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.
''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''
Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.
''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.
The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.
''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''
Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.
''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.
Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.
Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.
Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.
John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.
He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.
How rare is his missing the cut there?
The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.
The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.
The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.
Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.
Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.