Wrapping up two weeks in the United Kingdom

By Jay CoffinJuly 25, 2012, 4:06 pm

Emptying out the notebook from an 11-day excursion to Great Britain, including stops in Scotland, then England for the Open Championship.

• Visited Gleneagles, host of the 2014 Ryder Cup. The Centenary Course is hard, really hard. Either hit it straight or you’re hurtin’ for certain. I failed to hit it straight.

• The King’s Course at Gleneagles is a hidden gem. It hosted the Scottish Open from 1987-94 and Ian Woosnam and Jesper Parnevik won during that span. Nice walk, cool layout, neat track.

• Played Royal Troon with a host family member from our Open Championship stay in 2009 at Turnberry. Weather called for 60-degree temps and a 90-percent chance of rain. Almost bailed. Glad I didn’t. It was 75 and sunny.

• Had never been to Troon before. Loved it. The 128-yard, par-3 eighth postage stamp hole is proof that size doesn’t always matter in golf. It’s an absolute beast. I blew it in the right bunker on the hole then had difficulty finding the green on the second.

• The back left bunker on the postage stamp is named the Coffin Bunker. Thankfully there was no Coffin v. Coffin on this day. If there were, clearly Coffin would’ve won.

• Journalists are jaded, I get that. Told family and co-workers before I left that I wasn’t fired up to go to the Open Championship and that there better be a good payoff at the end of the week. Um … got that in spades.

• Feel badly for Adam Scott. He played beautifully for 68 holes and was in complete control. Then it all unraveled so quickly and in front of the world to see. He handled it all with class and dignity, which isn’t a surprise.

• Hope Scott wins a major at some point, but you just never know. It wouldn’t surprise me if he did, wouldn’t surprise me if he didn’t.

• Loved seeing Ernie Els become the beneficiary of Scott’s collapse. No one has more major championship scar tissue than the Big Easy over the last 20 years.

Phil Mickelson is widely accepted as the second-best player of this generation behind Tiger Woods. But now that Els has a fourth major, a case can be made that his career is better than Mickelson’s. Els has 65 career professional victories (19 PGA Tour, 27 European Tour) and four majors, Mickelson has 48 career victories (40 PGA Tour, seven European Tour) and four majors. Each is missing two legs of the career Grand Slam. I contend Mickelson’s career is much more impressive, but Els’ second Open Championship puts him in the discussion.

• Last year, Mickelson made us believe he found the key to success at the British Open. This year proved that was an aberration. He’s lost on links.

• Two words: Tom Watson. The 62-year-old made birdie on the 18th hole Friday to make the cut, then was out early on the chipping green Saturday morning grinding during a heavy drizzle. So cool.

• Love our sport. Seven crusty golf writers were sitting at the hotel bar one night debating where Watson would’ve ranked as an all-time sports story if he had won three years ago at Turnberry. Some said No. 1, many said inside the top three, but one out-of-touch scribe said it wouldn’t be anywhere near the top 10. It’s a fun debate. Too bad Watson didn’t actually win.

• No doubt Woods beat himself up over the final-round 73; he knows 69 would’ve got him in a playoff with Els. Sixty-nine would’ve been a tough ask with the windy conditions Sunday at Royal Lytham & St. Annes but it was totally doable.

• Best line I heard from the week came from Peter Alliss, while commentating on ESPN. “I get seasick on a wet lawn,” he said. Lovely.

• Fell for the “fresh pie” two years ago at the Open, but never again. Thought the kind woman said “fresh pie.” Turns out she said “fish pie.” Big difference.

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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.

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Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.