After Further Review: Ko vs. Park a classy rivalry

By Al Tays, Randall Mell, Rex HoggardNovember 23, 2015, 2:30 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on the Lydia Ko-Inbee Park rivalry, Gerina Piller flying under the radar and Kevin Kisner's breakthrough win on the PGA Tour after so many close calls this season.

Lydia Ko and Inbee Park came into the CME Group Tour Championship so close in all the battles for the tour’s big awards that one of them could have swept all the prizes with a hot week. Given how good they both were all year, it wouldn’t have seemed fair. They both deserved to leave Tiburon Golf Club with meaningful rewards, and they got them. Ko won the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the money winning title. Park won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. Park was ecstatic because the Vare Trophy came with the one point she needed to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame. One more year of “active” service and Park will be eligible for induction. Ko and Park may be developing as rivals in the women’s game, and it’s looking like it might be the classiest rivalry in sports. - Randall Mell

Following four runner-up finishes since April, Kevin Kisner began the final round at the RSM Classic with a three-stroke lead and a lot of reasons to be apprehensive.

After coming so close so many times, it would have been natural, human even, to wonder if maybe he’d missed his chance at PGA Tour greatness and to lament his poor timing and bad luck.

“He never once doubted or poor-mouthed or questioned anything. He knew how good he has to be just to be in that position, so it’s all been positives,” said John Tillery, Kisner’s swing coach.

Kisner’s time finally arrived on Sunday at Sea Island Resort, where he lapped the field by six strokes following weekend rounds of 64 - proving that persistence and patience do pay off. - Rex Hoggard

Lost in the accomplishments of Lydia Ko, Cristie Kerr and Inbee Park on Sunday at the LPGA's season-ending CME Group Tour Championship was the T-2 finish of Gerina Piller. Piller, 30, a pro since 2007, is still chasing her first LPGA victory, but based on what she has done this year, she bears watching in 2016. She had her first top-10 finish in a major - a T-9 in the Women's PGA Championship - and made the biggest putt of her life, a 12-footer to keep U.S. hopes alive in an eventual Solheim Cup victory. On Sunday she turned in her second consecutive 67 to finish one stroke behind Kerr. Keep your eyes on Piller next year - Al Tays

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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.