Koch and Kung Share Lead

By Martha BrendleAugust 9, 2002, 4:00 pm
Candie Kung retained a piece of the lead at the Weetabix Womens British Open with a second-round score of 1-under 71 to finish tied with Carin Koch at 8-under 136. Kung set a new course record of 65 during the opening round and continued to hold her weight against the best professional golfers in the world.
Friday was a far cry from the fair weather that competitors had experienced during the last few days. With storm clouds looming overhead, players teed off in the morning as Turnberry served up wet and windy conditions with temperatures barely reaching the mid-50s.
But Kung was prepared.
With her brother Justin, a graduate of MIT, on the bag and wearing a rain suit and two, count em, two hats, she had an amazing start to her day recording par, birdie, eagle on the opening holes. This quickly gave the former University of Southern California golfer a jump on the day, and the rest of the field.
The front side of the famed Ailsa course played harder Friday than the closing nine, and Kung, as well as others in the field, definitely felt it.
'Everything started off pretty good, birdied the second, eagled the third, everything was in control and then the wind started picking up on, I don't know, probably like our 6th hole or something,' Kung said. 'And all of a sudden it got really cold and I just lost control of my drives.'
She recorded her first bogey in 25 holes on the par-5 seventh and another at the turn on the par-4 ninth. Kung completed her round by rather carelessly dropping a stroke on the last to join Koch at 8-under.
One week ago, Koch missed the cut at the Norwegian Masters. Friday, she matched her first-round score of 68 to move into a share of the lead going into the weekend.
'When I looked out the window this morning I thought it was going to be worse,' Koch said of the weather. 'I walked up to breakfast, I thought it was absolutely freezing and that it may be might get worse and worse this afternoon. But it wasn't too bad today, the cold or the wind.'
Sporting blond braids and a ski beanie, the Swedish beauty managed the opening holes in just 35 strokes. On the back nine it was back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th that gave her game a much needed boost and has now left her on top of the leaderboard. 'I putted really good for two days now. Not making everything, but just everything is close and everything is a good speed.'
Koch and Kung hold a one-shot advantage over Beth Bauer, Paula Marti, Tina Barrett and Karrie Webb, who are all tied at 7-under 137.
'I really enjoy coming over here,' Barrett, who has made nine consecutive British Open cuts, said. 'I wouldn't miss it. I don't know how anyone could miss coming and playing here with all the history, and new experiences, and the food and the pints and everything, it is just -- it's different than what we have in the States, but to me, it is like one of the great things of being on the Tour is that we get to see places like this.'
The Ailsa Craig and Turnberry lighthouse looked on as Karrie Webb recorded a trio of bogeys at the turn Friday morning. Its the most exposed area of the course, and with winds gusting, the dreaded ninth and 10th were two of the toughest holes on the course.
'It was extremely cold this morning and extremely windy, especially when we got out right on those ocean holes there,' Webb said. 'And the holes 4 through 11 were probably the toughest stretch of holes I have ever played, I think, as far as what the weather did to make those holes extremely tough.'
Webb recovered with her second eagle of the day on the par-5 17th to return to 1-under for the day and finish in the best position that she has been in all season.
Among a plethora of young talent that has risen to the top of the leaderboard is LPGA Tour rookie sensation Beth Bauer.
Bauer was all smiles following Fridays round. It was tough today, Bauer said. This morning, the wind was blowing two to three clubs. The wind can come up at any minute.
Bauer, a former member of the Futures Tour, gained her links golf experience while playing as a member of the U.S. Curtis Cup team in 2000. Friday, in typical Scottish conditions, she navigated her way through the blustery course, recording six birdies throughout her round and one of the lowest scores of the day. One bogey, on the par-4 16th, marred an otherwise error-free round.
Defending champion Se Ri Pak is at 5-under after shooting even par.
Annika Sorenstam will make Scottish headlines for the wrong reason after recording her worst round since 1999. At 5-over for the day and a projected cut of 2-over, Sorenstam has insured that she will not be around for the weekend.
Shes not the only veteran who will be watching from the sidelines this weekend. Laura Davies recorded 74-75 (149) to finish 5-over, while the reigning U.S. Open champion Juli Inkster recorded 75-78 (153) to earn a short vacation.
Full-field scores from the Weetabix Women's British Open
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Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

Her confidence is high.

“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.

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Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 2:09 am

PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.

While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.

But then . . .

“Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”

In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.

She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.

With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.

At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).

Park’s back with a hot putter.

That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.

“The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.

Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.

“But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.

Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.

Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.

They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.

Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year in just her second start. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.

“I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.

“She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”

Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.

“I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”

Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.

“When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”

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Joh on St. Patrick's ace: Go broke buying green beers

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:57 am

PHOENIX – Tiffany Joh was thrilled making a run into contention to win her first LPGA title Saturday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she comically cracked that her hole-in-one might have been ill-timed.

It came on St. Patrick’s Day.

“This is like the worst holiday to be making a hole-in-one on,” Joh said. “You'll go broke buying everyone green beers.”

Joh aced the fifth hole with a 5-iron from 166 yards on her way to an 8-under-par 64. It left her four shots behind the leader, Inbee Park (63).

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

One of the more colorful players on tour, Joh said she made the most of her hole-in-one celebration with playing partner Jane Park.

“First I ran and tackled Jane, then I high-fived like every single person walking to the green,” Joh said.

Joh may be the LPGA’s resident comedian, but she faced a serious challenge on tour last year.  Fourteen months ago, she had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma. She won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award for the way she handled her comeback.

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Davies, 54, still thinks she can win, dreams of HOF

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:22 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies limped around Wildfire Golf Club Saturday with an ache radiating from her left Achilles up into her calf muscle at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Every step is just misery,” Davies said after. “It’s just getting older. Don’t get old.”

She’s 54, but she played the third round as if she were 32 again.

That’s how old she was when she was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year and won two major championships.

With every sweet swing Saturday, Davies peeled back the years, turning back the clock.

Rolling in a 6-foot birdie at the 17th, Davies moved into a tie for the lead with Inbee Park, a lead that wouldn’t last long with so many players still on the course when she finished. Still, with a 9-under-par 63, Davies moved into contention to try to become the oldest winner in LPGA history.

Davies has won 20 LPGA titles, 45 Ladies European Tour titles, but she hasn’t won an LPGA event in 17 years, since taking the Wegmans Rochester International.

Can she can surpass the mark Beth Daniel set winning at 46?

“I still think I can win,” Davies said. “This just backs that up for me. Other people, I don’t know, they’re always asking me now when I’m going to retire. I always say I’m still playing good golf, and now here’s the proof of it.”

Davies knows it will take a special day with the kind of final-round pressure building that she hasn’t experienced in awhile.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“The pressure will be a lot more tomorrow,” she said. “We'll see, won’t sleep that well tonight. The good news is that I’ll probably be four or five behind by the end of the day, so the pressure won’t be there as much.”

Davies acknowledged confidence is harder to garner, as disappointments and missed cuts pile up, but she’s holding on to her belief she can still win.

“I said to my caddie, `Jeez, I haven't been on top of the leaderboard for a long time,’” Davies said. “That's nice, obviously, but you’ve got to stay there. That's the biggest challenge.”

About that aching left leg, Davies was asked if it could prevent her from challenging on Sunday.

“I’ll crawl around if I have to,” she said.

Saturday’s 63 was Davies’ lowest round in an LPGA event since she shot 63 at the Wendy’s Championship a dozen years ago.

While Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in ’01. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Davies said she still dreams about qualifying.

“You never know,” she said.