Webb Leads Elite Field

By Martha BrendleNovember 15, 2001, 5:00 pm
There was very little evidence of rust on Karrie Webbs game Thursday, even though its been four or five weeks since she competed in an LPGA Tour event. During that time Webb took a solid two weeks off from golf before returning to her playing and practicing schedule.
Now as the first round of the season-ending Tyco/ADT Tour Championship closes, it is Webb ' winner of two majors this season ' who has thus far denied course owner Donald Trump his dream of wanting even par to be leading this championship.
Webb shot 35-32-67, making a total of three bogeys in the process ' two of which were on the front nine.
The Aussie made bogey on the par-4 first after hitting her 3-wood into the right fairway bunker. Her second bogey of the day fell on the 496-yard par-5 9th after missing the green and winding up in the left bunker.
Using her wedge, she hit it to within 15 feet of the hole only to two-putt. I havent really played a competitive round in four or five weeks, Webb said. Took me a while to settle into the round.
The third, and final, of Webbs bogeys fell on the second-to-last hole. This is where playing partner Annika Sorenstam double bogeyed.
I actually misjudged the wind there and hit it short right on the green, Webb said. But I probably had, I dont know, a 50-, 60-footer. I three-putted. Annika missed the green left in the hazard. Long story short, she didnt get up and down.
Nonetheless, her 5-under-par 67 was just enough to edge out Sorenstam, who shot 33-35 to finish at 4-under 68.
There were many similarities in Webb's and Sorenstam's games Thursday. They both birdied five of the same holes - the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 12th and 18th.
In the end it was the differences that set them apart.
It was on No. 17 that Sorenstam, who had been tied for the lead coming into the final holes, became deflated. Her double bogey on the second-to-last hole left her scrambling to make up ground with only one hole remaining.
It was more important for me (to match Karrie) because I was very upset on 17 for many reasons, Sorenstam said. I felt I played so well all day. You know, I have to birdie this hole, I dont care. I ripped my driver, 7-iron. Pretty much made it from the fairway. Thats how pumped up I was to finish with birdie.
Early leader Marisa Baena ended the day two strokes off the lead and in a tie with three others - Wendy Doolan, Grace Park and Meg Mallon ' all of who are tied at 3-under-par 69.
In the 33rd position on the money list, Baena did not automatically qualify for the event, yet she wasted no time proving that she should be there. Baena carded back-to-back bogeys on the first two holes of the day before rallying into the red with two birdies.
I knew that the third hole was a par-5, Baena said. I reached it on two. I made a two-putt for birdie. Then No. 4, actually made a birdie again. It was about ten feet. That put me back to even again. It was just like nothing had happened.'
The girl who just a week ago was third alternate into the field finished with a solid par and now finds herself a mere two strokes off the lead.
Although this is her first appearance, Baena is feeling no pressure amongst the illustrious field.
I was a little bit nervous, Baena said. Top 30 (players), Im at the bottom of the list. Oh, great. I was like, Im going to go out there, enjoy it. I thought Free money. Money I can go and spend during my off-season. But of course, like everybody else, I wanted to come out here and win.
Park made bogey on the first and didnt bogey a hole again until the par-4 16th. Park made six birdies in her round, taking the outright tournament lead at 5-under-par. Park then proceeded to bogey two of the three closing holes, which left her tied at 3-under-par.
You know, I feel good, but Im mad because I finished with two bogeys, Park said. It sucks.
Pat Hurst, seven months pregnant with her second child (due Jan. 16), started the day with back-to-back bogeys and never did recover. She made the turn at 2-over-par 38 and finished her round 43 strokes later at 9-over for the day.
Hurst had not expected to play in the season-ending event.
Until two weeks ago, I hadnt touched a club for a month, since the week of Sept. 11, the three-time tournament winner said. So Im really just going to go out and try to do the best I can.'
Full-field scores from the LPGA Tour Championship
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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x