Kim Outlasts Prammanasudh for Win

By Futures Tour MediaJune 22, 2003, 4:00 pm
Futures TourANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It took more than two years for Ju Kim to once again hoist the winners trophy over her head. But this time it was Kim at a different level ' a mature level.
'I was very young two years ago and tried to go for everything, now my game is different,' said 21-year-old Korean, who captured the $60,000 Bank of Ann Arbor Futures Golf Classic by shooting a final round 6-under 66 for a total of 209 (-7). 'My mind is so much better. Before I used to get uncomfortable and nervous when I hit a bad shot, now I just say thats golf, it doesnt matter and try and concentrate on the next shot.'
These words come from a player who watched her dream of playing on the LPGA Tour disappear with one birdie putt made by her good friend, Jung Yeon Lee, on the final hole of the last 2001 Futures Tour tournament. The difference in money - a mere $210.
Having learned from the school of hard knocks, Kim finds herself focusing on different things, primarily on her own golf game and not so much the money list or even the leader board. She wants to enjoy her shots. 'I am not thinking of the money list, I want to have fun. I dont want to do what I did two years ago and get caught up on where I am on the list. I am just trying to play.'
And playing is exactly what Kim did on the 6,200-yard Lake Forest Golf Club course. Heading into Sundays final round, Kim was at 1-under, six strokes back of second-round leader Stacy Prammanasudh of Enid, Okla. However, that didnt stop Kim from just playing her own game and having fun. 'I didnt try to win the tournament. In fact, when I teed off I didnt think about winning, I just wanted to hit good tee shots and try to putt well. I cant believe I won. I never focussed on it.'
Kim, playing three groups ahead of Prammanasudh, started fast with five birdies in seven holes. Prammanasudh, who last week was leading going into the final round and lost in a playoff, didnt rest on her lead. She reeled off three birdies in seven holes and made the turn at 10-under. Kim in her new mindset didnt even realize where she stood with the leader.
'Stacy is a really great player with a very strong mind,' continued the two-time Futures Tour winner, who took home the $8,400 first-place check. 'I have learned in the past two years that I need to enjoy my game and stay focussed on it, not the leaders. I do not care what the other players are doing. I have no control of them.'
Slowly and mythically Kim began chiseling away at the leader board. By the time she had reached the 16th tee she was tied with Prammanasudh who doubled bogeyed the 12th hole. Prammanasudh, who admitted earlier in the week that the 12th hole was her least favorite, hit the tree in the middle of the fairway on her second shot and ended up a hole away in the back greenside bunker of No. 8. She took four to get it in the hole and found herself tied with Kim.
'I played well and hit the ball well all day,' said the former University of Tulsa All-American, who finished the day with a 74 and ended up tied for third, two shots from Kim and one shot from Lisa Hall of Stoke-on-Trent, England, who fired a final round 68. 'It was just one unfortunate shot. If you take out my one bad hole, it changes everything.
'Lets not take anything away from Kim, she has played steady every week. Her being No. 1 on the money list and not having won a tournament says something. She shot 66 today, there is no reason that she shouldnt have been in contention.'
Does giving up shots down the stretch rattle Prammanasudh? Absolutely not.
'I am satisfied with the way I am playing,' said the winner of the Futures Tours Frye Chevrolet Classic. 'There could be six more wins for me in the six remaining Futures Tour events.'
But first she will have to get past Kim who has eight top-10 finishes including this win, one second and two third place finishes. The new mature Kim has proven that she is a solid closer. And now that she is enjoying what she is doing she is looking forward to finishing the 2003 season in the top five, securing the LPGA exempt card that alluded her two years ago.
The 18-hole tournament record was broken today by Allie Blomquist of Afton, Minn., who fired a final round 7-under 65. Her seven birdie and no bogey round beat the former record by one shot.
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    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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    McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

    Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

    The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

    McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.