Inkster Faces Tough Field

By Lpga Tour MediaJuly 19, 2004, 4:00 pm
2004 Evian MastersEVIAN-les-BAINS, France -- Juli Inkster returns to the site of her 30th LPGA career victory this week at the $2.5 million Evian Masters, the second-richest tournament in women's professional golf.
 
For Inkster, it's been a good season so far-she is currently 10th on the ADT Official Money List with three top-10 finishes-but she has yet to enter the winner's circle. In fact, this is the deepest the 21-year LPGA veteran has gone into a season without a win since October 1998 when she captured her first title of the year at the Samsung World Championship.
 
But if ever there was a stage set for an Inkster victory, it is when she is defending a title. Inkster has a habit of back-to-back wins, as the 30-time tournament champion has successfully defended five different titles, and has won a total of nine tournaments more than once. This week, at the Evian Masters Golf Club, Inkster will attempt to keep pace with two other 40-somethings who have already won this season-Meg Mallon and Sherri Steinhauer.
 
The 78-player field consists of 50 LPGA Tour members, 25 players who qualified through the Robe Di Kappa Ladies European Tour (LET) and three sponsor exemptions (Amy Alcott, Paula Marti and amateur Michelle Wie).
 
Inkster will face former Evian Masters champions Annika Sorenstam (2000,
2002) and Rachel Teske (2001). In addition to Inkster and Sorenstam, fellow LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame members Beth Daniel, Betsy King and Alcott are in the field.
 
All but one tournament winner from the LPGA Tour's2004 season is competing this week: Cristie Kerr; Lorena Ochoa; Se Ri Pak; Grace Park; Jennifer Rosales; Kim Saiki; Karen Stupples; Karrie Webb; Mallon; Sorenstam; and Steinhauer.
 
All 2004 LET event winners are also in the field: Stephanie Arricau; Laura Davies; Cecillia Ekelundh; Maria Hjorth; Diana Luna; Ana B. Sanchez; and Sorenstam, who won the LET's first event of the season in Australia.
 
At last year's event, Inkster posted rounds of 64-65 on the weekend to finish at 267 (-21), the lowest four-day total in the event's history on the LPGA Tour. Her 64 (-8) on Saturday tied the course record, which is shared by four other players.
 
Inkster entered the final round tied with veteran Rosie Jones, but Jones faltered with a 73 on Sunday and Inkster was never challenged. Korea's Hee-Won Han, fresh off her first career win at the Sybase Classic the week prior, birdied the final two holes to wrap up a second-place finish at 273 (-15), six strokes behind the champion. Ochoa and Jones finished in a tie for third at 275 (-13).
 
Related links:
  • TGC Airtimes

  • Full Coverage - Evian Masters
  • Getty Images

    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

    Getty Images

    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

    Getty Images

    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."

    Getty Images

    Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

    After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

    La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

    "Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

    The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

    "That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."