Sorenstam Webb Join Neumann In Lead
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. The defending champion Annika Sorenstam and past champion Karrie Webb join Liselotte Neumann at 4-under-par 212 as co-leaders of the third round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Sorenstam shot 1-under 71 today while Neumann recorded 1-over. Webb had the best round of the three, recording 5-under-par 67 today.
Once again Conditions were perfect for the first championship of the season and it was no great surprise to see both Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb creep up the leaderboard. Neumanns return to the leaders circle was actually the big surprise of the day. Second round leader Liselotte Neumann blew a two shot lead by the 8th hole.
It was then that Sorenstam pounced.
The fiercely competitive Swede made the turn, tied with Neumann at 3-under, and never looked back. Birdie on the par-4 10th and again on the par-5 11th left Sorenstam the outright leader mid-way through the day.
Neumann spent the first 10-holes of the day throwing away the lead, with bogey after bogey, and spent the final three making it up. Birdie on the par-4 16th and again on the last rectified the damage done earlier in the day. Oh, my God. Im done, she said just after walking off the 18th green. It was a struggle today, especially off the tee. I think I was spending more time with the crowd than I was inside the ropes today.
Finally figured it out in the end and actually started playing some good golf coming in.
The secret to many success stories today was on the greens. The only difference, really from yesterday, to today was that I made a couple more putts, Webb said. Sorenstam also had an easier time of it. I do think I read the greens much better today.
Annika Sorenstam and her caddy both had different sunglasses on today. Sorenstam sported Oakley-20s while she made her caddy wear Read the Green Shades. He didnt take them off all day, She said. That was a standing joke. I said, What does your shades say? It worked pretty good today. So I think hes going to wear them tomorrow, too.
Karrie Webb ' who won this championship two years ago - recorded five birdies during her round. Only one bogey, on the 385-yard, par-4 12th, came off the course with her today when the Aussie missed the fairway left on that shot then launched her approach shot into the greenside bunker. She left herself a 10-foot putt, which she two-putted.
Before the round today, I knew that I needed to at least shoot in the 60s to have a chance tomorrow, Webb said. So I thought if I got to 2- or 3-under, four shots was not going to be that bad.
Webb is excited about playing with Sorenstam in the final group. I think Annika and I both bring the best out in one another, and the fact that ' well, I wanted to make sure I was in that last group. Just because I think part of being in the last group, playing with Annika will help me. The last time the two were paired together in the final round was at the 2000 Evian Masters. Sorenstam defeated Webb in a one-hole playoff that year.
Webb birdied the final hole to move to 4-under. I really didnt want to be in the second to last group because I know I wanted to know what was going on in the last group.
Rosie Jones and Becky Iverson are just a stroke off the lead - tied for second at 3-under-par 213.
Jones took it to 6-under during her round today but was unable to maintain her pace and dropped three strokes on the back nine.
Becky Iverson was one of a handful of players to make big moves up the leaderboard today.
Iverson joined the Tour in 1994. The Michigan native has one career victory - the 1995 Friendlys Classic where she recorded a bogey-free career low round of 63 to win the title. A win this week would be nice but its not a must for the laidback Iverson.
Tomorrow I just want to have a good round and just play my own game and not worry about what anyone else is doing, Iverson said. I dont need to win to be happy.
This is Iversons sixth appearance at the championship. She recorded her best finish of 23rd place last year. This is a tough course for Iverson whose best finish here was in 2001 when she finished 23rd. It doesnt set up for me. I dont draw the ball off the tee and a lot of the holes are set up for a draw.
So this year I decided to his a lot of 3-woods and 5-woods and take a longer shot in, and that seems to help staying out of the rough, staying out of the bunkers, not in the trees as much, all of that bad stuff Ive been in, in years past.
Sorenstam's playing partner Amateur Lorena Ochoa made birdie on the first to move to 1-under and 18-holes later thats where she remained. Two birdies and a lone bogey completed her round of 71. Lorena is the low amateur for the second day in a row. Im very impressed with her game, her attitude and what a nice girl she is, too, Sorenstam said. Even though shes an amateur, she sure doesnt behave like one.
So many great players are just a stroke off the twosomes lead, which should make for some very interesting golf during the final round.
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.
Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back
Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.
At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.
Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time Web.com winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.
Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.
“Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”
In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.
“I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."
Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.