McKay Luna Share Lead at Ladies Masters

By Golf Channel NewsroomFebruary 2, 2006, 5:00 pm
2004 Ladies European TourQUEENSLAND, Australia -- Scotlands Mhairi MacKay and Italian Diana Luna share the first round lead after both carded a 5-under-par 67 at the ANZ Ladies Masters, the first full field event of the Ladies European Tour season.
 
McKay, 30, from Turnberry, blazed a trail of seven birdies against two bogeys early in the day at Royal Pines Resort in Queensland, showing signs that she could be back in the form that won her the 2003 Australian Open.
 
Luna, 23, the 2003 Tenerife Ladies Open Champion, also carded seven birdies and two bogeys and both players lead by a shot over Jenni Kuosa from Finland, who had a 4-under-par 68.
 
Five players are two shots off the pace at 3-under-par including Mianne Bagger, who now plays out of Denmark, Italian Tullia Calzavara, Australian Heidi McCulkin and three-time Tour winner Ludivine Kreutz of France, a member of the 2005 Solheim Cup team.
 
McKay, who set off early in the morning, and Luna, playing in the afternoon, carded five birdies each on the front nine to make the turn in 32. On their return, they both added two more birdies and two bogeys to come home in level par 35.
 
I was very happy with the way I played today, said Luna, who married an Italian count Fabio Orlando Del Beccuto on 6th October, but is keeping her maiden name. My secret was to stay cool and calm. Thats going to be my strategy again for tomorrow.
 
Luna birdied the third, fourth, fifth, eighth, ninth, 15th and 17th holes with her two mistakes at the 10th and 18th holes. At the 18th, she drove the ball into the left rough, left her second shot short, chipped and two putted to slip back from the outright lead on 6-under-par.
 
McKay birdied the third, fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, 14th and 15th holes, but three-putted at the 16th and 18th to drop two shots in the last three holes.
 
My first birdie settled me down and I was just really very happy with it, said McKay. Ive been working hard in the off season and I felt I managed to produce the results I was looking for, which was nice.
 
McKay was forced to return to the LPGA Qualifying School after a difficult season playing in America last season, but received the seventh conditional card which means that she will receive some starts in America. She still has her full Ladies European Tour exemption status thanks to her Australian win in 2003.
 
I have my full European status which is really nice so Ill be able to go back and play in Europe for some events, she added. Marisa Baena was on a conditional card on the LPGA Tour last year and she was able to Monday qualify and win an event which changed her status. So obviously the year Marisa had is something Im trying to emulate.
 
McKays memories of Australia are especially strong as she experienced her only win as a professional at Terrey Hills Golf and Country Club. At Terrey Hills, she mentioned that one of the key contributing skills was drinking lemon, lime and bitters in the Angastura Bitters Tent.
 
Terrey Hills was one of my happiest golfing memories and the Angastura tent was there at the right time for me so it helped me on my way to victory.
 
McKay admitted that she gained a lot of support from her home fans following the win, but that it is something she is yet to follow up on. Obviously people expected me to do better than what I have done and they still talk about me having won it, so hopefully two years down the line I can go for it, she said.
 
With 44 players under par and a field of 148 there is still room for the movers and shakers in the tournament. Last year at Royal Pines, eventual winner Karrie Webb carded a 70 and was seven shots off the lead after the opening round, but came from four shots behind on the final day to win the tournament.
 
She has narrowed that gap this year. Webb and tournament favorite Ai Miyazato posted 71s, which has them four shots off the lead at 1-under-par. With their capacity to shoot extremely low scores, such as Ais opening 63 in the event last year, they are both well within striking distance of capturing the title.
 
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    Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

    By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

    Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

    That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

    Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

    From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

    Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

    She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

    She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

    “Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

    Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

    With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

    The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

    She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

    The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.

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    One & Done: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 5:55 pm

    Beginning in 2018, Golf Channel is offering a "One & Done" fantasy game alternative. Choose a golfer and add the salary they earn at the event to your season-long total - but know that once chosen, a player cannot be used again for the rest of the year.

    Log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to start your own league and make picks for this week's event.

    Here are some players to consider for One & Done picks this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, where Hudson Swafford returns as the defending champion:

    Zach Johnson. The two-time major champ has missed the cut here three years in a row. So why include him in One & Done consideration? Because the three years before that (2012-14) included three top-25s highlighted by a third-place finish, and his T-14 at the Sony Open last week was his fifth straight top-25 dating back to September.

    Bud Cauley. Cauley has yet to win on Tour, but that could very well change this year - even this week. Cauley ended up only two shots behind Swafford last year and tied for 14th the year prior, as four of his five career appearances have netted at least a top-40 finish. He opened the new season with a T-7 in Napa and closed out the fall with a T-8 at Sea Island.

    Adam Hadwin. Swafford left last year with the trophy, but it looked for much of the weekend like it would be Hadwin's tournament as he finished second despite shooting a 59 in the third round. Hadwin was also T-6 at this event in 2016 and now with a win under his belt last March he returns with some unfinished business.

    Charles Howell III. If you didn't use him last week at the Sony Open, this could be another good spot for the veteran who has four top-15 finishes over the last seven years at this event, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2013. His T-32 finish last week in Honolulu, while not spectacular, did include four sub-70 scores.

    David Lingmerth. Lingmerth was in that 2013 playoff with Howell (eventually won by Brian Gay), and he also lost here in overtimei to Jason Dufner in 2016. The Swede also cracked the top 25 here in 2015 and is making his first start since his wife, Megan, gave birth to the couple's first child in December. Beware the sleep-deprived golfer.

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    DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

    By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

    The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

    ''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

    In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

    ''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

    The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

    ''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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    Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

    Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

    Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

    As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

    Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.