Murphy Wins Season Finale

By Futures Tour MediaAugust 19, 2002, 4:00 pm
Futures TourYORK, Pa., ' Seven-year Futures Tour veteran Michelle Murphy of Tacoma, Wash., fired a 3-under-par 69 for a 206 (-10) total to capture her first-ever Futures Tour win at the $75,000 York Newspaper Company Futures Classic in York, Pa. Murphy edged fellow 2002 tournament winners Melinda Price of Jupiter, Fla., Joellyn Erdmann of Little Chute, Wis., and first and second round leader Caryn Wilson of Rancho Mirage, Calif., by one shot. The trio shot respective rounds of 70 (-2), 71 (-1), and 72 (even) on the 6,455-yard par 72 Briarwood Golf Club.
Murphy entered the final day trailing Wilson by one shot with a 137 (-7) total. She jump-started her victory round with a 12-foot birdie putt on the first hole, followed by another birdie putt on the par-5 475-yard second hole. A bogey on 4 was wiped out with a birdie on 6. She turned at 9-under-par for the tournament and was still one shot shy of Wilson, who birdied two holes on the front side.
Wilson bogeyed 10, dropping her down to 9-under-par with Murphy. Two more bogeys on 15 and 17 left Wilson trailing Murphy, who remained steady with pars on the back nine, by two strokes. Murphy finished strong and improved to 10-under-par for the tournament by draining an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, finishing the round two shots ahead of her nearest competitors. Wilson also birdied 18, making an eight-foot putt, but it was not enough and she finished at 72 (even), for a 208 (-8).
'I was really relaxed out there today,' commented Murphy, who was playing in the final pairing with Wilson and Erdmann. 'I was making good strokes, but left seven putts right on the edge of the hole. It felt great to make that last putt and finish strong. It was a good way to end the season.'
Erdmann started the day tied for second with Murphy and immediately dropped back by three shots with a double-bogey on one. She made up the blemish with birdies on nine, 10, and 13, sending her to 8-under-par for the tournament. Erdmann parred the remaining holes and finished her round with a 1-under-par 71. Price was two shots down after two rounds of play with a 138 (-6). Her final round was made up of birdies on six, 16, and 18, and a bogey on 14, to end tied for second with Erdmann and Wilson.
'I was a little concerned coming into the final tournament because of my position on the Tours money list,' said Price, who finished seventh overall on the 2002 Futures Tour money list with $31,365. 'My main goal was to stay calm and play well so I could remain in the top 10. It feels great to finish strong and now I can rest until the final stage of Q-school.'
Murphy competed for three years on the LPGA Tour in 1998, 2000, and 2001. After missing the cut at the 2001 final LPGA Qualifying Tournament, Murphy re-focused and decided on a new approach. Rather than play a full-time schedule, Murphy and her husband, Dan, returned to teaching at the Stratton Golf School in Stratton Mountain, Vt. The pair instruct golfers between the ages of 14 to 78 with all aspects of the game.
'Teaching has been very therapeutic for my golf game,' stated Murphy. 'I have become a lot more patient and since I am practicing every day, my swing and approach to the game have both improved.'
In addition to teaching, Murphy believes that the turnaround point for her game started back in July, when she was competing in her 10th U.S. Womens Open Championship. She was leading after the first eight holes of the tournament and ended up missing the cut. Five weeks later, Murphy was set to compete in the Green Mountain Futures Golf Classic in Killington, Vt., one hour away from where she resides. However, Murphy forgot to register and she missed the chance to play.
'I was very upset with myself that day,' commented Murphy, who today collected the $10,500 first-place check. 'Mentally, I was not focused on what was important. I was caught up in so many other things and that is not going to help me get back onto the LPGA Tour. I took some time to re-group and to set my priorities straight. This new approach has put me on the right track back to where I want to be.'
In four tournaments that Murphy played this season, including three after her incident in Vermont, she recorded four top-10 finishes, including two ties for sixth and one tie for seventh.

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Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

Her confidence is high.

“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.

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Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 2:09 am

PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.

While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.

But then . . .

“Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”

In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.

She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.

With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.

At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).

Park’s back with a hot putter.

That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.

“The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.

Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.

“But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.

Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.

Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.

They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.

Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year in just her second start. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.

“I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.

“She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”

Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.

“I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”

Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.

“When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”

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Joh on St. Patrick's ace: Go broke buying green beers

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:57 am

PHOENIX – Tiffany Joh was thrilled making a run into contention to win her first LPGA title Saturday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she comically cracked that her hole-in-one might have been ill-timed.

It came on St. Patrick’s Day.

“This is like the worst holiday to be making a hole-in-one on,” Joh said. “You'll go broke buying everyone green beers.”

Joh aced the fifth hole with a 5-iron from 166 yards on her way to an 8-under-par 64. It left her four shots behind the leader, Inbee Park (63).

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

One of the more colorful players on tour, Joh said she made the most of her hole-in-one celebration with playing partner Jane Park.

“First I ran and tackled Jane, then I high-fived like every single person walking to the green,” Joh said.

Joh may be the LPGA’s resident comedian, but she faced a serious challenge on tour last year.  Fourteen months ago, she had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma. She won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award for the way she handled her comeback.

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Davies, 54, still thinks she can win, dreams of HOF

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:22 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies limped around Wildfire Golf Club Saturday with an ache radiating from her left Achilles up into her calf muscle at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Every step is just misery,” Davies said after. “It’s just getting older. Don’t get old.”

She’s 54, but she played the third round as if she were 32 again.

That’s how old she was when she was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year and won two major championships.

With every sweet swing Saturday, Davies peeled back the years, turning back the clock.

Rolling in a 6-foot birdie at the 17th, Davies moved into a tie for the lead with Inbee Park, a lead that wouldn’t last long with so many players still on the course when she finished. Still, with a 9-under-par 63, Davies moved into contention to try to become the oldest winner in LPGA history.

Davies has won 20 LPGA titles, 45 Ladies European Tour titles, but she hasn’t won an LPGA event in 17 years, since taking the Wegmans Rochester International.

Can she can surpass the mark Beth Daniel set winning at 46?

“I still think I can win,” Davies said. “This just backs that up for me. Other people, I don’t know, they’re always asking me now when I’m going to retire. I always say I’m still playing good golf, and now here’s the proof of it.”

Davies knows it will take a special day with the kind of final-round pressure building that she hasn’t experienced in awhile.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“The pressure will be a lot more tomorrow,” she said. “We'll see, won’t sleep that well tonight. The good news is that I’ll probably be four or five behind by the end of the day, so the pressure won’t be there as much.”

Davies acknowledged confidence is harder to garner, as disappointments and missed cuts pile up, but she’s holding on to her belief she can still win.

“I said to my caddie, `Jeez, I haven't been on top of the leaderboard for a long time,’” Davies said. “That's nice, obviously, but you’ve got to stay there. That's the biggest challenge.”

About that aching left leg, Davies was asked if it could prevent her from challenging on Sunday.

“I’ll crawl around if I have to,” she said.

Saturday’s 63 was Davies’ lowest round in an LPGA event since she shot 63 at the Wendy’s Championship a dozen years ago.

While Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in ’01. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Davies said she still dreams about qualifying.

“You never know,” she said.