HanaBank win for Pettersen may lend to No. 1 ranking

By Randall MellOctober 19, 2013, 2:41 pm

Suzann Pettersen is poised to send a message to Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park in Park’s backyard this weekend.

The red-hot Pettersen moved into position Saturday to win her third LPGA title in four starts with another strong round at the KEB-HanaBank Championship. Pettersen, No. 2 in the world rankings, is making a bold move to topple Park from her perch atop the women’s game in Park’s South Korean homeland.

With another round of 3-under-par 69 at Sky 72 Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, the Norwegian Pettersen moved one shot behind Australia’s Katherine Hull-Kirk (70) and Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist (70). Park (73) is tied for 22nd.

Park built a commanding lead as No. 1 in the Rolex world rankings this summer. It seemed unfathomable that anyone could overtake her in the world rankings or the Rolex Player of the Year race in the second half of the year, and yet that’s just what Pettersen is poised to try to do.

“I keep an eye on it, but it’s not like I wake up and the first thing I glance on is the world rankings,” Pettersen told reporters after her round Saturday. “But I know if I play well towards the end of the year, and I win tournaments, I can possibly take it from her by Christmas. That’s what I’m shooting for, but I won’t be disappointed if I don’t get it. There’s a chance, an opportunity.”

Pettersen has never held the No. 1 world ranking.

After winning the U.S. Women’s Open in late June to claim her sixth LPGA title of the year, and her third consecutive major championship, Park established herself on a majestic peak high above the women’s game. Park (13.27) was a whopping 5.35 average ranking points ahead of then No. 3 Pettersen (7.92) in the Rolex world rankings. Today, Park is a mere 1.27 average points ahead. A Pettersen win Sunday will have her breathing down Park’s neck, less than a point behind with four events left in the LPGA season.

With a victory Sunday, Pettersen will also move within striking distance of taking the lead in the Player of the Year race.

Back in late June, Park sat atop the Player of the Year standings with 281 points. Pettersen was well off the pace with 98 points.

Since her U.S. Women’s Open victory, Park has gained just nine Rolex POY points. Pettersen has racked up 115.

If Pettersen wins Sunday, she could move just 47 points behind Park in the Rolex POY standings, depending on how Park finishes. A victory is worth 30 points. A player has to finish among the top 10 to earn points.

Pettersen is comfortable in South Korea. She’s the defending champ this week and going for her third KEB HanaBank title. She is the only non-Asian to win this event since it started in 2002. Pettersen has a good record overall in Asia. Four of her 13 LPGA titles were claimed in Asia. She also won a Ladies European Tour event in China.

“I expected to be in contention the way I’ve been playing, that’s all I can ask,” Pettersen said of Sunday’s finish. “We’ll see where I go out tomorrow, but I feel pretty comfortable with the position I’m in. It’s not going to be easy.”

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

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.

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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."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

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.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

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.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.