China Syndrome melts down LPGA rookie hopes

By Randall MellSeptember 15, 2011, 12:27 am

PRATTVILLE, Ala. – Jessica Korda’s season might suddenly be rushing to a close.

And she’s not alone.

The LPGA rookie is among rank-and-file hit hardest by Monday’s unexpected cancellation of the Imperial Springs LPGA event in China. The tournament was scrubbed just a little more than two weeks from its scheduled start. The news means this week’s Navistar LPGA Classic could be Korda’s last start of 2011.

Korda’s 90th on the LPGA money list. The top 80 at season’s end gain Category 1 priority status for tour access next season. The higher Korda finishes on the money list, the more events she’s qualified to play in next year.

Coming to Navistar, Korda thought she was assured of at least two more starts to improve her standing. She was in the field for the now non-existent China event, which was scheduled to feature a $2 million purse.

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan broke the news to players on Tuesday.

“It stinks, because you never know when you’re going to be in your last event,” Korda said.

Korda said she heard rumors of the possible cancellation of Imperial Springs on Monday. An LPGA email confirmed it on Tuesday.

“You read it, and you just get really disappointed, because you realize, all of a sudden, this could be your last week out here,” Korda said.

The news was even harder on 20-year-old rookie Amelia Lewis.

At 105th on the money list, Lewis learned Monday that she had moved up from first alternate to gain the final spot in the limited field at Imperial Springs. Her joy lasted less than 24 hours.

“On Tuesday, Mike Whan walks up to me on the driving range and tells me there’s no China event,” Lewis said. “I got to enjoy the idea of playing in China for one night.”

The LPGA featured 34 official tournaments in 2008. The Imperial Springs cancellation leaves 23 official events on this year’s schedule.

As a rookie, Lewis has gained access to only seven events this season. She’s made five cuts and earned $29,301 in money winnings.

Korda, 18, ranks 90th in money with $45,763 in 13 starts.

Back in ’08, Kris Tamulis finished 90th in money and made $117,139 in 21 starts.

Though top 80 in money gains Category 1 priority status next year, top 70 is a magic number.

“That just about gets you into every event,” Lewis said.

If Korda doesn’t crack the top 80 this week, she still has a chance to play one more event. She is third alternate for the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship during the Asian swing in October, but she’s not sure she wants to fly to the other side of the planet as an alternate now that China’s off the schedule.

“I’ll make the decision whether I want to do that when we’re done with this event, and I re-evaluate with my team what is going to happen,” Korda said. “I understand part of this is my fault. I didn’t play as well as I wanted to play and didn’t make enough money to get into these last events, but I was really looking forward to playing in China. It’s just really unfortunate we can’t.”

After Navistar, there are six events remaining on the LPGA schedule, four in Asia, one in Mexico and the season-ending CME Group Titleholders in Orlando.

Whan had no recourse dealing with the cancellation. The China Golf Association didn’t inform him until Monday night. He said he felt for his players.

“I know how much it means to have that opportunity to play again, to play for a big purse, to play on a world stage,” Whan said. “I’m not here to cancel events. It’s frustrating for them. It’s frustrating for me. I told the players we will be back [in China]. It’s a market we are going to succeed in long term.”

Whan said the cancellation wasn’t due to title sponsorship issues with Imperial Springs.

“We have a four-year agreement with Imperial Springs,” Whan said. “To their credit, they built an incredible facility. They built an incredible purse. They paid for that up front. They were ready to go. It wasn’t a sponsor problem or a money problem. I think it’s possible we could be at Imperial Springs, but as you can guess a lot of things still have to be worked out.”

Why the late cancellation? There have been issues reported with the Chinese government’s involvement and the approval process. Beyond that, Whan said he’s not at liberty to discuss details.

“It’s not completely clear,” Whan said. “I think it’s something we will be able to talk about a little bit more in the future.”

For Korda and Lewis, this season’s future is short.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.