Sorenstam Webb Join Neumann
Sorenstam shot 1-under 71 Saturday, while Neumann recorded a 73. Webb had the best round of the three, shooting 5-under-par 67.
Once again, conditions were perfect for the first major championship of the season and it was no great surprise to see both Sorenstam and Webb creep up the leaderboard. Second-round leader Neumann blew a two shot lead by the eighth hole.
It was then that Sorenstam pounced.
The fiercely competitive Swede made the turn, tied with Neumann at 3-under, and never looked back. A birdie on the par-4 10th and again on the par-5 11th left Sorenstam the outright leader midway 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. A 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 Saturday 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.
Sorenstam and her caddie both had different sunglasses than on Friday. 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.
Webb, who won this championship two years ago, recorded five birdies during her round. She made only one bogey, on the 385-yard par-4 12th. The Aussie missed the fairway left off the tee, and 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, but was unable to maintain her pace and dropped three strokes on the back nine.
Iverson was one of only a handful of players to make a big move up the leaderboard Saturday. 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.
Sorenstam's playing partner, amateur Lorena Ochoa, made birdie on the first to move to 1-under, and 17 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.
News, Notes and Numbers
ASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE: Lorie Kane made a hole-in-one on the par-3 eighth from 160 yards with her 5-iron. It was only the second hole-in-one of the year.
PESKY CELL PHONES: Webb had a brief encounter with a spectator and her cell phone. I asked her how her beer tasted just to get her attention, but that didnt seem to do it.
At first I was irritated, I was just trying not to get too mad,' Webb said. And then she kept playing with her phone and I was like, You know what, can you just stop playing with that, please.'
DQ: Raquel Carriedo was disqualified following Fridays round for signing an incorrect scorecard. The Spaniard made a five on No. 10 but signed for a four. Her scores of 74-71-145 would have been good enough to make the cut.
Full-field scores from the Kraft Nabisco Championship
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.
"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."
Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.
Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.
"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.
Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.
Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.
Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.
The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.
Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta
Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.
The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.
It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.
"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."
Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.
Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.
"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."
Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder
After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.
La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.
"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."
Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.
The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.
Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.
"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."