Kim puts on fireworks show, runs away with Founders

By Randall MellMarch 21, 2016, 2:52 am

PHOENIX – Cue up the Katy Perry hit.

“Firework” ought to be Sei Young Kim’s theme song.

Baby you’re a firework

Come on and show ‘em what you’re worth

Make ‘em go `Oh, oh, oh!’

As you shoot across the sky, aye, aye

Kim was a human fireworks show winning the JTBC Founders Cup Sunday at Wildfire Golf Club.

With a 10-under-par 62, Kim equaled a couple historic marks turning the final round into a five-shot runaway.

At 27-under, Kim equaled the 72-hole record Annika Sorenstam set winning the Standard Register Ping at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix 15 years ago. Kim’s 10-under in a final round equaled the lowest score in relation to par by a winner, tying a mark shared by Sorenstam (2006 State Farm Classic), Inbee Park (2014 Manulife) and Juli Inkster (2003 LPGA Corning Classic). 

“It’s a dream come true,” Kim said. “It’s my best score ever.”

Kim, 23, who won three times as the LPGA Rookie of the Year last season, couldn’t believe what she did after checking her scorecard Sunday. She turned to her caddie, Paul Fusco, to make sense of the numbers.

“Did I shoot 10 under?” Kim asked Fusco.

“Yeah, you did,” Fusco said.

“Oh my God,” Kim told him.

Kim had an 18-foot birdie chance at the last to break the LPGA’s 72-hole and final-round scoring records, but her putt missed left.

“She put on a phenomenal performance,” said Jacqui Concolino, who played alongside Kim. “She deserved it.”

Kim started the day one shot behind Eun-Hee Ji but Kim didn’t take long to seize control. She grabbed the outright lead with a birdie at the fourth and never looked back. Lydia Ko started the day three shots off the lead, closed with a 65 and still finished second, five shots back.

While Kim might have surprised herself making eight birdies and an eagle in Sunday’s bogey-free finish, the fireworks show didn’t surprise her caddie. Fusco saw just how spectacular this big-hitting player can be at only 5-feet-3. He was alongside Kim when she beat Inbee Park in jaw-dropping fashion at the Lotte Championship early last year. Kim hit her tee shot in the water at the end of regulation in Hawaii, took a drop and chipped in for an all-word par to force a playoff with Park. And then Kim holed out with an 8-iron from 154 yards for eagle to beat Park on the first sudden-death playoff hole.

“When she’s on, anything can happen,” Fusco said. “She’s really capable of amazing things.

“How about that 5-wood at the 11th today? An amazing shot.”

From 241 yards out, Kim’s 5-wood never left the flagstick, sailing straight at the hole, where it gently bounded in, stopping 3 feet away.

The tournament was pretty much over when Kim cleaned up the eagle putt. She was six shots up there.

Fusco said it took some discipline not getting caught up watching the terrific shot making. Kim hit her tee shot at the 16th to 3 feet again for the birdie that got her to 27 under.

“She’s a joy to watch and work for, because she’s such a good person,” Fusco said. “When she’s comfortable like she was today, she’s capable of some great things.”

Count Sorenstam among those impressed by the show Kim put on.

“Congratulations to Sei Young on her outstanding play this week,” Sorenstam told LPGA media from Tahoe, Nev. “I thought she was going to make that last putt. It’s hard to believe it’s only her second year on tour.”

Kim said Sorenstam was one of her idols growing up. She said she even read a book by Sorenstam.

“I got a lot inspired,” Kim said.

Kim led maybe the strongest LPGA rookie class in history last year. There doesn’t look like there’s going to be a sophomore slump this season. In fact, those second-year players look like they’re ready to take over. Ha Na Jang, part of that Korean rookie wave a year ago, has won twice already this year. In fact, Koreans have won four of the first six LPGA events.

Nobody’s taking Olympic golf more seriously than the Korean women with the competition so intense to make the team. Kim said the big Olympic push might be what’s behind the Koreans making such a fast start.

“Koreans struggling, struggling, struggling to make the team,” Kim said. “Everybody working hard.”

Seven of the top 12 players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are South Koreans. Only the top four can make the Olympic team. With her victory, Kim will jump from No. 7 to No. 5 in the world rankings, which will make her the second highest ranked Korean behind Park. Jang is holding down the third Olympic spot and Amy Yang the fourth.

“They’re all going to have their foot hard on the pedal all the way through the U.S. Women’s Open,” Fusco said.

That’s the last qualifying event before the Olympic teams are finalized on July 11.

Look for other Koreans to answer what Kim and Jang have already done.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

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 GolfChannel.com 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.