Kerr, Jang tied for lead; Ko heads chase for bonus

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2015, 9:32 pm

The focus is on Lydia Ko and Inbee Park in their battle to see who will win the season-long Race to the CME Globe and its $1 million bonus, but there is also the matter of who will win the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship. Here's how things stand after 54 holes in Naples, Fla., where Cristie Kerr and Ha Na Jang are tied for the lead.

Leaderboard: Cristie Kerr (-13), Ha Na Jang (-13), Gerina Piller (-11), Lydia Ko (-11), Lexi Thompson (-10), Karine Icher (-10), Brittany Lincicome (-10), Inbee Park (-9), Ai Miyazato (-9).

What it means: Park (67) picked up two shots on Ko (69), tightening their race for the $1 million bonus. But it was Kerr with the round of the day, a 6-under 66. She briefly lost the lead when Jang eagled the 17th hole, but Jang's bogey on 18 left them tied at the top.

Round of the day: After bogeying the first hole (a par 5, no less), Kerr birdied five of the next six, including four in a row to turn in 32. She started the back nine with a birdie at No. 10, but managed only one other circle - at the par-5 17th, the rest of the way.

Best of the rest: Nine players shot 67, including Thompson (T-3), Piller (T-5) and Park (T-8). Piller was cruising on six birdies and no bogeys until she got to the final hole, where she missed a short par putt. Thompson birdied three holes on each side, including three of the four par 5s, with a lone blemish of a bogey at the par-4 11th. Park played the par 5s in only 1 under, but made hay with two birdies on the par 3s. Overall she had six birdies and one bogey.

Biggest disappointment: Jaye Marie Green was on the fringe of contention at 4 under after 36 holes, but she plummeted 30 positions on the leaderboard after a 4-over 76. Two double bogeys - at the par-4 seventh and ninth - were the culprit.

Main storyline heading into Sunday: Kerr, who won the Kia Classic in March, would love to make this her first multiple-win season since 2010, when she was ranked No. 1. She'll be paired with Jang, 23, a rookie in search of her first LPGA win. But the bigger focus will be on Ko and Park and the $1 million bonus for winning the season-long race. Last year Ko took the tournament and the bonus, making for a $1.5 million payday, the most lucrative in the history of women's golf.

Quote of the day: "We both had really, really good seasons and somebody is going to become 1 and somebody is going to become 2. That's just the way it is. I'm just trying to tell myself I had a really good enough season this year. I've earned what I wanted to earn, what I wanted to achieve. The rest is just a bonus." - Park

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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.