Hanna Hangs on for Second Straight Day
Like child's play, Hanna whittled down to a stroke the lead Annika Sorenstam had secured for herself earlier in the day - within fifteen minutes of her round.
Then Hanna lost her feel with the putter. 'I didn't figure out what I was doing with my putter until the last few holes when I made that long birdie putt (on 15),' said Hanna immediately after her round.
There were birdie opportunities out there, but for whatever reason Hanna could not make the putts fall. 'I putted well when I had to save my pars. I didn't make birdies like I did yesterday.'
On the par-4 10th she missed a birdie opportunity after rolling an 8-foot putt to the hole where it hung on the lip refusing to fall in the cup.
For the next eleven holes she made nothing but pars. It wasn't until the par-5 13th that Hanna finally got into her groove. Birdie on the par-5 13th, tied her with Sorenstam for the lead. Another on the par-3 15th gave her the outright lead and a closing birdie on the last left the winless, second year player in the lead by two strokes.
Hanna had carded a two-day total of 13-under-par 63-68 131 and set a new 36-hole record at Randolph North Golf Club in the process. 'I have to keep telling myself that this is where I want to be and why I am practicing so hard,' said a very confident Hanna. 'It's my time. I'm not going to scare myself away from this one.'
Hanna holds non-exempt status this year after an injury mid-season 2000. So far this year she has finished 78th at the YourLife Vitamins LPGA Classic and missed the cut at both the Takefuji Classic and the Cup Noodles Hawaiian Ladies Open.
Annika Sorenstam started off at a gallop's pace on Friday. She teed off on the back nine in second place and birdied the first hole of the day to move to 8-under-par. By the time she had made it to the 13th hole she had tied Jen Hanna's first round lead of 9-under-par. Sorenstam didn't stop there - she birdied two more times to finish the back nine at 11-under-par.
After making the turn at 11-under, Sorenstam dropped back one on the par-4 2nd. Her approach shot was short leaving her with a chip shot to the green. She chipped to within three feet and two putted making her first bogey of the event.
'My only mistake was silly on No. 2,' she said after her round. 'I was hitting sand wedge in to the green and just hit it bad. After that I lost some momentum. I told my caddy I must have lost some oxygen to my brain or something to hit that kind of shot.'
The tenacious Swede managed to get back to 11-under with a birdie on No. 3. Her two-day total of 65-68 133 left her atop the leaderboard early in the day, but ironically, in the end Hanna put her right back where she began - lagging by two.
Randolph North's course record of 10-under-par 62 was safe today. As expected, scores were slightly higher during the second round.
Still, there were a lot of good rounds posted. Dottie Pepper, Pat Hurst and Se Ri Pak all shot 4-under-par on the back nine this morning. Cinderella story Dorothy Delasin (67-68) is in the hunt after finishing tied with Hurst and Pak (both 68-67) at 9-under-par 135.
Lorie Kane shot 5-under-par 67 for the second day in a row leaving her in a position she knows well - three of Kane's four victories were from behind. Kane is tied with Dottie Pepper and Brandie Burton.
Amateur Lorina Ochoa's bogey on the first hole Friday foreshadowed the troubles she would have throughout the rest of her round. On Thursday she fired off a spectacular round of 6-under-par 66 to put herself in contention for the lead, but day two was not as kind to the University of Arizona freshman. She managed to shoot 74 on Friday and made the cut. 'I have nothing to lose,' said Ochoa Thursday night. 'I am honored to be here playing with all these great players, I think this is every college player's dream to play an LPGA tournament.'
75 players made the cut of 2-under-par 142. This is the lowest score for a 36-hole cut in the history of the event. The lucky 72 will find conditions much different Saturday. High winds and rain are expected but the current leader has no fear. 'Right now I'm hitting the ball pretty solidly. I will tell you I do like to play in the rain.'
Check out full-field scores from the Welch's/Circle K
Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic
Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Tweets by GCTigerTracker
Hahn jabs USGA over possible ball rollback
As debate continues to heat up over possible sweeping changes to the golf ball amid distance concerns, PGA Tour pro James Hahn chimed in to question the merits of a potential rollback.
The ball and distance debate gained traction earlier this week when Jack Nicklaus offered that the ball should be rolled back to the approximate distances achieved in 1995, and he put blame for the current situation squarely at the feet of Titleist. That drew a response from former Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who put the onus back on the governing bodies.
It's an issue that will likely be discussed for months to come, but Hahn took to Twitter to throw a jab toward the USGA and play devil's advocate on some key arguments related to a possible rollback:
Breaking news. In addition to limited flight balls, the USGA plans to ban working out, proper diet and swinging faster than 105mph. They are also planning on removing the 3 point shot in the NBA.— James Hahn (@JamesHahnPGA) February 23, 2018
If we were playing a match, would you rather hit 7 iron to my 9 iron OR hit hybrid to my 5 iron? Oh and by the way, I can still hit par 5s in two with 3 wood. You can't.— James Hahn (@JamesHahnPGA) February 25, 2018
Hahn, who has two career PGA Tour wins and lost in a playoff last month at the Sony Open, ranks 55th on Tour this season in driving distance with an average of 301.2 yards off the tee.
Na fires back over slow play criticism from cricketer
Kevin Na fired back over recent criticism he received about his purported slow play at last week's Genesis Open.
Kevin Pietersen is a retired English cricketer with more than 3.6 million followers on Twitter. He tweeted a video of Na, known as one of the slower players on the PGA Tour, taking more than a minute to line up and hit what he described as a "Tap In" during the final round at Riviera:
SERIOUSLY, Kevin Na?!?!— Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) February 18, 2018
That Is A Tap In, MATE! pic.twitter.com/YMmNT6m5H7
He then added another video of himself on a green in Dubai, where he again called out Na and showed how long he believed it should take for a player to brush in a short putt:
Na has faced his fair share of slow play criticism, but this time he decided to defend himself. Na isn't on Twitter, but he took to Instagram to tell Pietersen to "stick to your own sport," pointing out both the length of the putt in question and the stakes that were involved during the final round, when Na went on to tie for second behind Bubba Watson:
@kp24 lets get some facts straight. Shot tracker shows what u call “tap in” 3ft 4in. Since when is 3’4’’ on green speed 12 a “tap in.” FYI 1 shot for me on Sunday was 300k. Difference between T2 and T4. Yes, I did back off because the line didn’t feel right. So what! BTW that was the only putt I backed off all day. Also our group was on pace all day! We waited if anything. @pgatour @golfdigest @golf_com @golfchannel #getyourfactstraight #sticktoyourownsport #everyshotcounts
Pepperell wins his first European Tour title in Qatar
DOHA, Qatar - Eddie Pepperell survived a tense finish to win the Qatar Masters at the Doha Golf Club on Sunday for his maiden European Tour title.
The 27-year-old Englishman held off a spirited challenge from compatriot Oliver Fisher, who needed a third successive birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff, but had his putt from six feet slip past the hole for a par.
Pepperell shot a 2-under-par 70 for a four-day tally of 18 under 270, while Fisher, who started the day tied for the lead, could only manage a 71.
Sweden's Marcus Kinhult (68) finished third at 16-under.
The No. 154-ranked Pepperell made things difficult for himself with a bogey on the 15th hole, but hit a superb wedge to three feet on the next to get back to 18 under again.
Fisher, who appeared to have fallen out of contention with three bogeys starting on the third hole, stormed back with birdies on the 14th, 16th and 17th holes.
On the last, Pepperell laid up with his second into the thick rough, made wet and unwieldy by rain in the Qatar capital, but found the green in three and two-putted for the win when Fisher missed his birdie putt.
''I did the things I needed to do, I didn't play fantastic but I won ugly and for the first win to be ugly is good. Hopefully, I'll have some prettier ones in the future,'' said Pepperell.
''I knew I was playing well, especially tee to green, so I expected a lot of myself this week and I guess to pull it off is amazing. When Oli birdied the 17th, that was when it really caught up with me that I was only one ahead. I was in my own zone, I knew I had a couple of shots of lead but Oli did great. It was a tough front nine for him and I had to stay right in my own way and out of the two guys' way because they were struggling a bit and it's sometimes easy to get dragged into that.''
Fisher was disappointed, but saw the silver lining in the way he fought back.
''It went all the way to the last hole which, after my front nine, was what I was hoping for on the back nine,'' said Fisher, who won the 2011 Czech Open, but recorded his first top-three finish since the 2014 Africa Open.
''I hit a lot of good shots coming down the back nine and gave myself a lot of good chances, but there were just too many bogeys today, four in total, so you're never going to win a tournament making that many mistakes on a Sunday. But at least I pressed him all the way.''
Italian Renato Paratore (66) had the low round of the day and finished tied for fourth place at 15 under par, where he was joined by the Spanish pair of Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Pablo Larrazabal along with Gregory Havret of France.