Kung Celebrates Birthday in Style
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
Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play
ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.
Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.
As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.
Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.
This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.
The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.
Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain
PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.
She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.
“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.
Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.
“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”
She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.
“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”
Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.
“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.
She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.
“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”
Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.
While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.
“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”
Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead
PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.
In fact, she named her “Mona.”
For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.
While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.
And that has her excited about this year.
Well, that and having a healthy back again.
“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”
Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”
Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.
She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”
Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.
Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders
PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.
Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.
Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.
Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.