Price Feels Ready for a Win
Price is arguably the top attraction in the field for the biggest Pro-Am on the African subcontinent, played on both the Lost City Golf Club and Gary Player Country Club courses. The Zimbabwean comes into this event as a two-time champion in 1997 and 1998, and feeling very comfortable after a lengthy Christmas break with his family.
I took six weeks off with the family at home in Florida. I had a great Christmas and New Year, playing cricket with the kids on the lawn and so on. I didnt have to pack a suitcase, which was wonderful, Price said.
Id love to win another tournament this year. I might have a good chance in the majors, especially at Troon (Open Championship) and Shinnecock Hills (U.S. Open). I know my game is still good enough to win. But towards the end of last year, I told my wife, Sue, that Im just playing the game for fun now. Ive had my days of traveling the world and pounding balls on the range. I cant do that anymore.
Prices return to Sun City is always a bit of a homecoming for a man who has won three Nedbank Golf Challenge and two Dimension Data Pro-Am titles on these fairways, and where he was once considered the absolute master of the demanding Gary Player Country Club course. But he said on Wednesday that last years Nedbank Golf Challenge may have been his last appearance in this event.
I told tournament organizer Alastair Roper Im not coming back next year, unless the miraculous happens and I start hitting the ball 40 yards further. My notification was coming last (in the 2003 Nedbank Golf Challenge) on my favorite course. I just cant compete with the length of guys like Ernie (Els) anymore. Ive been a huge critic of technology and I just cant get used to guys hitting nine irons into par-5s. There are no par-5s left in this game. The finesse of the game is gone and new equipment has just made a lot of mediocre players look good.
Andrew McLardy, who finished tied for second behind winner Trevor Immelman last year, said he expected both the Gary Player Country Club and Lost City Golf Club course to play far tougher this year. Both are playing longer than usual because the fairways are soft after the rain they had, said McLardy, who comes into this week seeking a turnaround in form following what he described as my worst year ever in 2003.
I had a good start on the Sunshine Tour last year and carried that into the first half of the Nationwide Tour, but nothing happened in the last six months. I doubled up my practice but got worse than ever. Its the hardest thing in the world to get through. McLardy was struggling with a stiff neck on Wednesday. The result, he says, of falling out of a tree at the age of 12.
Immelman will not be back to defend his title. Immelman is playing in this week's Johnnie Walker Classic in Thailand.
Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook sank a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at RSM Classic.
Cook has gone 36 holes without making a bogey on the Plantation Course or the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.
Cook was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.
Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back.
Bubba (64) fires his lowest round of 2017
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Bubba Watson’s plan when he left the Dell Technologies Championship in September was to take a few months off and come back fresh in 2018
Those plans changed after a few weeks.
“What we figured out was the mental side, preparing for kindergarten - not for me, for my son - preparing for [wife] Angie's knee surgery. It's been a tough go,” Watson said.
“Being home and being with the family and everything, I realized how much I missed the game of golf, and that's why I wanted to come and play in these tournaments.”
The plan has paid off this week at the RSM Classic, where Watson is tied for 12th place after a second-round 64 on the Seaside course moved him to 7 under par.
Watson, who tied for 51st two weeks ago in Las Vegas, got off to a quick start on Day 2, playing the opening nine in 29. Despite a miscue at the 14th hole, when his tee shot wedged into a tree, he was solid coming in for his best individual round this year.
The left-hander was particularly sharp with his ball-striking after what has been a difficult year.
“I want to play golf now and right now I'm swinging at it pretty nicely,” he said.
S.H. Park (65) builds three-shot lead at LPGA finale
NAPLES, Fla. – Golf felt so easy to Sung Hyun Park that only when she took out her card to catch up on her scores did she realize she had closed out the front nine with five straight birdies at the CME Group Tour Championship.
Park kept right on attacking.
The 24-year-old from South Korea added a 30-foot eagle putt late in her second round and finished with a 7-under 65, giving her a three-shot lead going into the weekend at Tiburon Golf Club.
Nothing seems to bother her, even the chance to cap off an amazing rookie season by sweeping all the big awards on the LPGA Tour.
''To be honest, I don't feel quite as nervous as I thought I would,'' Park said through an interpreter. ''After the first shot, after the first hole, I felt a lot more comfortable. I'm not feeling as nervous as I thought I might be going into today.''
Leave that to the players chasing her.
Even with a three-putt bogey on the final hole, Park was at 12-under 132 and was three shots clear of Caroline Masson (66) and Sarah Jane Smith (69).
More importantly, none of the other players in the chase for the $1 million Race to the CME Globe bonus or any other big award was within five shots of Park, who is trying to become the first rookie since Nancy Lopez in 1978 to win LPGA player of the year.
Lexi Thompson, who leads the Race to the CME Globe and the Vare Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average, shot a 67 and wound up losing ground. She was six shots behind and must stay within 10 shots of Park to win the Vare.
So Yeon Ryu, who leads the points-based award for player of the year, managed a 71 with her sore right shoulder but was 11 shots back.
The other two players who need to win the tournament to collect the $1 million bonus also had their work cut out for them. Brooke Henderson had another 70 and was eight shots behind, while world No. 1 Shanshan Feng shot 73 and was 11 shots behind.
Park was in control, only she didn't see it that way.
''I don't think it's quite that far of a lead,'' Park said. ''Two, three shots of a lead can change at any moment. We will have to see what's in store for this weekend.''
Park began her big run with an 18-foot birdie on No. 5, got up-and-down for birdie from just off the green at the par-5 sixth, holed a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 7, and then closed out the front nine with birdie putts from 8 feet and 15 feet.
''I actually didn't know that I was going five birdies in a row,'' Park said. ''Come hole No. 10, I realized that I hadn't been jotting down my scores as diligently, and so I realized it a little bit later on. And it felt great.''
That gave her the lead by one shot over Suzann Pettersen, except that Pettersen faded badly on the back nine.
Pettersen dropped four shots in a three-hole stretch by getting out of position off the tee and she shot 39 on the back nine for a 70 to fall five shots behind.
''I feel like I'm playing good,'' Pettersen said. ''Three bad drives on the back nine cost me four shots. That should not be possible on this course, where the fairways are about 100 yards wide.''
Park was honored at an awards banquet Thursday night as the LPGA rookie of the year. Now, she has more awards in her sights. A victory would give her the award for player of the year. She would capture the money title, which she leads over Ryu. And depending on how the weekend goes, she might be able to surpass Thompson in the race for the Vare Trophy.
Thompson did well to recover from two bogeys on her opening three holes.
''I hit a few really erratic shots in the beginning. It wasn't a good start to the round,'' Thompson said. ''Just tried to stay positive and find something that could work for the last 14, 15 holes.''
Lydia Ko fell six shots behind in her bid to avoid a winless season. She was one shot behind going into the second round but managed only three birdies in her round of 71.
Park, meanwhile, had everything going her way. Even when she pulled her drive on the par-5 14th into a sandy area with a root next to her ball, she picked it clear and sent it through a goal post of trees back to the fairway. Three holes later, she blasted a drive and had only a 7-iron into the green at the par-5 17th, which she hit to 30 feet and made the long putt.
Does anything make her nervous?
''I hate spiders,'' she said. ''But in terms of golf, I always get nervous to this day on the first tee. I can feel my heart pounding.''
It's a feeling that doesn't appear to last very long.
Korda sisters poised to make a run at CME
NAPLES, Fla. – Jessica Korda wasn’t feeling well making her way around the CME Group Tour Championship battling congestion Friday, but the leaderboard walking to the ninth tee gave her a nice lift.
That’s where she saw younger sister Nelly’s name tucked right next to hers.
They were within a shot of each other amid hard charges up the leaderboard, with Nelly playing just in front of her.
“I was like, 'Dang!’ It was good to see,” said Jessica, 24. “It’s fun to see her playing this well. I know what she puts into it. I’m kind of jealous of the rookie year she’s having, because mine sucked.”
Nelly, 19, is looking to put a special ending on her first year on tour. She posted a 6-under-par 66, good for a tie for fourth, six shots behind Sung Hyun Park (65). Nelly has given herself a weekend shot at her first victory.
Just a year ago, Nelly was here as a spectator, watching her sister.
“I found it funny,” Nelly said. “I was walking to the range on Tuesday, thinking just last year, people were asking me, 'When are you going to be out here?’ It seems surreal to be out here, playing alongside my sister and the best players in the world.
“Being in contention is really, really special.”
Jessica shot 68 and sits a shot behind her sister.
Nelly said seeing the leaderboard gave her a lift, too.
“Maybe it amps me up just a little bit,” Nelly said. “It’s a friendly competition. Even though we want each other to succeed, we also want to beat each other. I think she would say that, too.”
Jessica is seeking her fifth LPGA title. She’s coming off a tie for third at the Blue Bay LPGA last week.
Jessica is 35th on the LPGA money list this year, with $515,521 in earnings. Nelly is 51st, with $388,983 in earnings.
“I definitely look for Jess on the board,” Nelly said. “We’ve very supportive of each other.”