Cink eager to get to Open Championship

By Randall MellJuly 12, 2012, 3:41 pm

SILVIS, Ill. – Stewart Cink is eager to jump on the private charter flight after the John Deere Classic Sunday night to go to next week’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

Cink, winner of the ’09 British Open at Turnberry, will enjoy the embrace British golf fans give their champs.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from, if you win the Open Championship, you earn their respect,” Cink said. “It’s really special to go back, even though it will be to a different site. There will be a lot of people in the stands who were at Turnberry and will remember what happened that day. They have the best golf fans in the world. No disrespect to the golf fans here, but when they say on TV the golf fans over there are knowledgeable, they’re not just saying that. They remember all the championships, going way, way back. It’s always good reception.”

Cink, 39, continues the hard work of piecing together a new swing, an overhaul he hopes will lead to a return to winning form. The six-time PGA Tour winner has been committed to a new swing under the tutorship of Chris O’Connell since late last year.

“Royal Lytham & St. Annes is a phenomenal course,” Cink said. “All of those British Open courses really have a way of letting you know how you’re playing. They teach you a little bit every day, about what you need to be doing differently.”

Cink hasn’t won since his British Open breakthrough and has endured a steady slip in his money-ranking as he has sought to improve. As high as fifth on the money list in ’04 and ninth in ’08, he is 122nd on the money list this week.

There's progress, if not yet a big breakthrough. Cink is coming off a tie for 22nd at the AT&T National. He tied for 25th at Memorial and tied for 15th at Wells Fargo. Cink hopes his swing changes will lead to his best golf in his 40s, much the way Steve Stricker’s changes did. Stricker is seeking his fourth consecutive John Deere Classic title this week.

“I’m trying to get settled in to some pretty big swing changes,” Cink said. “I really committed to changing everything back in December. Physically, I understand it, but emotionally, I want to go back to the old stuff a little bit. When you’re caught in between, it’s not good. I am trying to commit and take every shot as if it is a brand new ballgame.”

Cink could relate watching Tiger Woods get caught between old and new swings.

“His self belief is pretty high, probably all-time highest,” Cink said. “Mine hasn’t been quite so high. That’s the big difference between us. But I know when I swing like I want to, I’ve never hit it better. I just haven’t put it all together this year. It may still be awhile. I’m kind of prepared for a long battle.”

The Brits will be rooting him on in that battle next week.

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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.