Kung Celebrates Birthday in Style

By Martha BrendleAugust 8, 2002, 4:00 pm
Candie Kung may have given herself the best birthday gift anyone could ask for. Kung celebrated her 21st birthday Thursday as leader of the first round of the Weetabix Womens British Open.
Kung is a non-exempt rookie on the LPGA Tour. The Rowland Heights, Calif., resident is the leader of the last major of the season after birdieing four of the last five holes in Round 1.
And this is only the second time she has played links golf.
Its evident that her game is coming together. Kung, born in Taiwan, finished seventh last week and ninth two weeks ago.
I was hitting the ball well the last couple of weeks, and coming into this week, just pretty much tried to do the same thing as I did the last couple of weeks, Kung said after her spectacular opening round of 7-under-par 65. Today my putts were going in and that was about it. Putts were going in - (it) really makes a difference.
Some might argue that players, like Kung, with morning tee times enjoyed better conditions, but the wind remained virtually breathless all afternoon and scoring conditions remained perfect throughout the day. With this in mind, it is impressive that Kung, who less than a year ago was fighting her way through Q-school, was able to best the field by a stroke.
There are some pretty big names chasing Kung. Two-time former Womens British Open champion Karrie Webb went on a birdie spree, recording four birdies on the last six holes to end the day in sole possession of second place at 6-under 66.
Obviously, Im very pleased to shoot 6-under today, Webb said.
On this course, even as easy as the conditions were today, I don't think you ever expect to go out there and shoot 6-under, so I feel really good about that.'
'Probably the good thing about the way I hit the ball today is that my misses were always in the right place, I guess. I didn't miss - I only missed one fairway really badly where I had to pitch out. With the greens, I never really short-sided myself, so I had relatively easy, straight-forward chips,' Webb continued.
I mean, if you look at my stats, probably the only thing that was really impressive today was my putting. But when your misses are not on the wrong side of the green, it's a lot easier to get up-and-down and make par.
Webb might be able to relate to Kungs position. The young Aussie, 19 years old at the time, was in her rookie year on the Women Professional Golfers European Tour (WPGET) when she won her first of two British championships.
Germanys Elisabeth Esterl, donning a bright pink top and multi-colored pants, leads the European contigency competing in the final major of the year. Esterl enjoyed second place for much of the day after recording an opening-round score of 5-under 67. A charge by the afternoon groups left Esterl tied for third with Se Ri Pak and Rachel Teske.
Esterl, who has never won on the European Tour, finished in 10th place at the Norwegian Masters last week.
I played pretty well in the beginning of the season, the colorful Esterl said. Now, Ive had a bit of a slow spell. I wasnt actually playing badly, I just didnt get it together. It seems like Ive got it together again. Ive got my putter going again, and that makes all the difference.
Esterl could prove hard to miss Friday. She has assured that Thursday's was not her loudest of outfits.
You watch out! I will find something really special tomorrow,' she said. 'I assure you you wont see me in black and white.
Mi Hyun Kim, winner of last weeks LPGA Tour event, is three strokes off the lead and tied with five others including local favorite Mhairi (pronounced Var-ee) McKay.
Local odds makers gave Annika Sorenstam, who finished the day at 1-over 73, a 6-1 chance of winning this week.
Laura Davies, fresh off her 64th career victory at last week's WPGET event, finished at 2-over 74. An eagle at the par-5 seventh was not enough of a boost for what lay ahead; Davies closed her day with a revolting nine on the par-5 17th to drop from a tie for 21st to a tie for 89th.
The oddsmakers listed her as a 33-1 shot, along with up-and-comer Laura Diaz. Diaz, who received rookie of the year honors in 1998 while playing on the WPGET, fared far better than Davies, recording a 3-under 69.
Scotland has received an unusual amount of rain this year, resulting in a very lush 6,407 yards at Turnberry's Ailsa course. All this growth has made the rough much more difficult to get out of - something Davies can attest to after finding herself in it quite a few times Thursday.
Full-field scores from the Weetabix Women's British Open

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."