Kerr Ready for Title Defense

By Lpga Tour MediaSeptember 29, 2003, 4:00 pm
LINCOLN, Calif. ' For the first time in her seven-year LPGA career, Cristie Kerr enters an LPGA event not as one of the hungry players chasing a win, but as the tournaments defending champion, looking to hold off a wave of challengers gunning for her title.
Kerr headlines a 144-player field at this weeks $1 million Longs Drugs Challenge, where she will be looking for her second career victory. Her breakthrough win last year came via a 280 (-8) total, one stroke better than Koreas Hee-Won Han.
Kerrs title defense comes a little late and on unfamiliar territory, as the event was moved from April to October and from Twelve Bridges Golf Club to Lincoln Hills Club.
A deep and talented field awaits the 25-year-old, as 11 tournament champions from 2003 are playing in the 72-hole event. Three-time champions Candie Kung and Se Ri Pak, as well as two-time champions Hee-Won Han, Juli Inkster and Rachel Teske are teeing it up on the 6,428-yard course.
In addition, 2003 tournament winners Beth Daniel, Wendy Doolan, Hilary Lunke, Grace Park, Angela Stanford and Karrie Webb are competing. Kerr will also have to defend her title against 10 of her U.S. Solheim Cup teammates and five players from the victorious European squad. U.S. Solheim Cup captain Patty Sheehan and assistant captain Jane Geddes are also making the trip to Lincoln, Calif., for the event.
Seventeen-year-old Aree Song, who advanced to the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament after finishing as co-medalist at the LPGAs first sectional qualifier, is competing in the event as a sponsors exemption. Song has made the cut in 11 of her previous 14 LPGA events, including all six major championships. Most recently, she finished fifth at this years U.S. Womens Open.
Last year, Kerrs opening-round 66 (-6) gave her a share of the first-round lead with Sara Sanders, three strokes ahead of Jane Crafter, Sophie Gustafson and Julie Piers. An even-par 72 in the second round left Kerr with a two-shot advantage over Mi Hyun Kim and Crafter after 36 holes.
Kerr fired a 5-under-par 67 in the third round to widen her lead to five shots over Crafter and put her in position for her first career win. A pair of front-nine bogeys and a costly double bogey on the 15th hole, coupled with birdies by Han on holes 13 and 16, left the two tied for the lead as Kerr stood on the 18th tee.
Han, who was playing in the group ahead of Kerr, struggled to a bogey on the final hole after an errant tee shot, while Kerr two-putted from 25 feet for par and her first career LPGA title. Despite a final-round 75, Kerr became the 2002 seasons second Rolex First-Time Winner and wire-to-wire winner.
Han, whose final-round 70 was not enough to get her in a playoff with Kerr, finished a stroke back in second, followed by Heather Bowie and Crafter two strokes back in a tie for third.
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    McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

    By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

    The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

    McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

    McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

    ''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

    Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

    ''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

    McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

    ''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

    ''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

    The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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    Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

    By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

    If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

    Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

    If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

    Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

    Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

    I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

    A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

    And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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    Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

    Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

    The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

    Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

    “I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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    Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

    Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.