Kim overcome with emotion after win

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2014, 12:59 am

Christina Kim’s emotions burst forth like fireworks after her final putt fell Sunday at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

After tapping in to win on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff with Shanshan Feng, Kim couldn’t help herself. After briefly catching her breath, she began hopping giddily, like a kid on a pogo stick. The tears came pouring out of her after that, in raking sobs with her friend, Michelle Wie, racing out onto the green to hug her, and her boyfriend, Duncan French, coming out, too. French is Wie’s caddie.

There was pride for Kim knowing that Ochoa was there watching it all from a perch above the 18th green. They came up together as rookies on the Symetra Tour and rookies on the LPGA. Kim said she was “channeling her inner Lorena Ochoa” all week.

This victory, the third LPGA title of Kim’s career, was nine years in the making, some of it just plain hell.

Lorena Ochoa Invitational: Articles, videos and photos

Kim overcame daunting obstacles to hoist that trophy Sunday in Mexico City. She overcame a back injury four years ago. She overcame bouts of depression that followed the injury, dark moments so severe she confessed to Golf Digest two years ago that she fought temptations to steer her car into oncoming traffic and to throw herself over a hotel balcony. She overcame a torn tendon in her right elbow and forearm, an injury that kept her off the course for four months late last year and early this season.

Kim, 30, got herself to a better place long before hoisting that trophy Sunday, but the long, hard climb made the victory so much more rewarding.

“It’s just huge for me,” Kim said in a telephone interview with after the trophy presentation. “I’m overwhelmed.”

Kim said seeing Wie run out to greet her was emotional because they’ve shared similar pain. They were both written off as prodigies who were not going to live up to their potential. They are both broken players who put themselves back together this year. 

“We’ve both been through a lot,” Kim said. “We’ve both sort of leaned on each other the last several years, and I know I wouldn’t be here without her because she wiped my blood. I would do anything for her. I would take a bullet for her, and I know she would do the same for me. It brings a lot of comfort knowing I have a friend like that out here on tour.”

Staying on script Sunday, Kim didn’t win without having to overcome some adversity. The five-shot lead she began the day with was gone with a two-shot swing at the 15th hole. That’s where Feng chipped in for birdie and Kim bogeyed.

Kim said she played with an inner peace knowing she was playing in Ochoa’s event.

“I played the whole week thinking, `What would Lorena do?’” Kim said. “I did that instead of, thinking,`What would Christina do?’ Because Christina would be bat sh-- about being in the trees. My goal all year was just to get to Lorena’s event, to be able to play in it.”

Two years ago, Kim was so off her game, she found herself back at LPGA Q-School, scrambling to win playing privileges back. A three-time Solheim Cup player, she had plummeted to 106th on the money list with those nagging injuries.

Though there were dark moments, Kim said her mother, Dianna, helped her get through them sharing stories of her own struggles trying to fit in as an immigrant to the United States after arriving from South Korea. Kim got herself to a better place learning to open up better with family and friends, “not bottling everything up,” she said. She said she also learned not to allow golf to consume her.

“I’m at peace with things more,” Kim said. “This is just a game. This is life, and things can be a lot worse.”

That perspective helped Kim not overreact to Sunday’s adversity. She won wire to wire, but Feng made her work for it. Feng came hard at Kim all day. Feng made eagle at the second hole and closed with a 6-under-par 66, the low round of the day by two shots.

Though Kim bounced right back at the 16th hole with a birdie to re-take the lead, there would be pain before joy again. With a 4-footer for par to win at the 72nd hole, Kim missed the putt, sending a groan through the gallery.

Kim and Feng both finished at 15 under overall, four shots clear of the field.

In the end, Kim won with a two-putt par after Feng pulled her drive at the second playoff hole under a tree and had to punch out, leading to a bogey.

“Winning Lorena’s event means so much to me,” Kim said. “I can’t put into words how I’m feeling. I’m riding so many emotions.”

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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 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.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

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."

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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."