Ko moves into LPGA mix Friday despite wrist injury

By Randall MellAugust 15, 2014, 9:30 pm

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Lydia Ko betrays no weakness behind those librarian’s glasses.

She plays with an inscrutable game face that belies her 17 years, 3 months and 21 days on this planet.

There’s no better evidence than the stoic way she’s making her run this weekend at trying to become the youngest winner of a major championship and the youngest world No. 1 in the history of professional golf.

Ko got herself in the hunt to win the Wegmans LPGA Championship Friday with a troubled, sore left wrist that she never let on was hurting until she was asked about it after the round. She shot 3-under-par 69 at Monroe Golf Club showing no visible effects of the pain the wrist is causing.

After the second round, Ko acknowledged her wrist began hurting on the range when she started hitting drivers before the first round, but she opened with a 70 and never mentioned any physical issue after.

“It definitely feels much better today,” Ko said. “I felt much less pain than when I was on the range, because I got it taped up, and that's been supporting my wrist.”

The supporting wrap wasn’t visible under Ko’s long sleeves. She sought treatment at the LPGA medical trailer after the first and second rounds.

Ko also saw Tom Graham, a hand specialist and orthopedic surgeon with Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, a couple weeks ago – according to David Leadbetter, Ko’s swing coach. Ko is being evaluated for whether an issue in her left wrist will require surgery at season’s end.

Ko betrayed no concern about any serious issue.

“It felt OK during my round yesterday, and I think if it stays like this I'm definitely playable with it,” Ko said.

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Playable? Ko appears equipped to win this championship despite Monroe Golf Club looking as if it sets up better for long hitters. Ko isn’t short, but she isn’t a long hitter. Still, she birdied three of the four par 5s in the second round and was within one shot of the lead when she signed her scorecard.

“Lydia hits hybrids like other players hit short irons,” Leadbetter said. “She also has a wonderful short game.”

There’s so much history that can be made for Ko this weekend.

If Ko wins, she will become the youngest winner of a major championship. She would be six weeks younger than Young Tom Morris was when he won the British Open in 1868. She could also become the youngest world No. 1 in the history of men’s or women’s golf. A victory will move her to No. 1 as long as current No. 1 Stacy Lewis finishes worse than solo second place.

Speaking of Lewis, there’s something about her that brings the best out of Ko.

Ko got herself in contention over the first two rounds at Wegmans playing alongside Lewis (71-73), who has battled a balky putter this week. When Ko won the CN Canadian Women’s Open, becoming the youngest winner of an LPGA title at 15 years old, she was paired with Lewis in the final round. When Ko won the Swinging Skirts Classic in San Francisco in April of this year, she played all four rounds with Lewis.

“When I go out there and see my name next to her name on the pairing sheet, I'm pretty excited to play with her, because I learn a few things playing alongside her,” Ko said. “She's just a great person to play with.”

Leadbetter believes Ko’s stoic temperament suits her for the rigors of major championship tests.

“She has the perfect temperament,” Leadbetter said. “You never know what she’s shooting by looking at her. She never gets too high or too low.”

Leadbetter says there is no need to address the pressure that might build on Ko this weekend because of the way she approaches the game.

“Lydia never gets ahead of herself,” Leadbetter said. “She never mentions making history, becoming No. 1. She’s like, `Ho-hum, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and we’ll see where the chips fall.’ There’s maturity beyond her years.”

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.