Ko will face Korea's U.S. Women's Open dominance

By Randall MellJuly 9, 2016, 3:13 am

SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Lydia Ko is chasing the favorites this weekend.

She was chasing the moment she set foot at CordeValle Golf Club, long before she hit her first tee shot.

As the Rolex world No. 1, Ko may be the favorite just about every time she tees it up, but not this week, not at a U.S. Women’s Open.

The South Koreans have become the players to beat at this event, and so it’s no surprise that it's setting up that way yet again going into this weekend.

Ko rebounded Friday from her sluggish start with a 6-under-par 66, vaulting her up the leaderboard. She went from T-52 at day’s start to a tie for fourth place, three shots back.

All three players ahead of Ko are South Koreans.

Sung Hyun Park went out Friday and shot 66 to move into the lead at 8-under overall.

She’s two shots ahead of both Amy Yang (71) - twice a runner up in this championship, including last year, when she lost out to In Gee Chun - and Mirim Lee (74), who was the first round leader after opening with a 64.

The South Koreans are the most dominant force in women’s golf, and there’s something about the U.S. Women’s Open that brings out the very best in them.

The Koreans are in weekend position to win this championship for the fifth time in the last six years, for the seventh time in the last nine.

Se Ri Pak - who bid farewell Friday, playing her 19th and final U.S. Women’s Open - is responsible for turning this championship into the stage Koreans have best used to introduce themselves to the world. Pak missed the cut but left this stage in good hands with young stars continuing through the door she opened.

Americans didn’t know much about Chun, already a star in South Korea, until she won last year. Like Chun, So Yeon Ryu won the U.S. Women’s Open in 2011 before she was even an LPGA member. Inbee Park won her first LPGA title at the U.S. Women’s Open at Interlachen in 2008.

And now here comes Sung Hyun Park, a budding star on the Korean LPGA Tour who Americans don’t know much about.

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Ko knows her, though. So does Lexi Thompson.

Park, 22, got their attention at the KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea last fall when she shot 62 in the first round of her first LPGA event. She did so in spectacular fashion, striping tee shots past the big-hitting Thompson, who won the event but left with a lasting impression of the young Korean star.

“Amazing putter, great ball striker, and she hits it long,” Thompson said.

Ko tied for fourth that week, two shots behind Thompson and a shot behind Park.

“This is my first time in a USGA tournament,” Park said through a translator. “Coming to the tournament, I didn't even think about winning. I would like more experience with the USGA and LPGA, but I'm trying to enjoy this tournament. That's why I am just more comfortable, don't even think about the winning. I just enjoy the play.”

Ko won honors in the week’s marquee grouping, outplaying world No. 2 Brooke Henderson and No. 4 Thompson on both days. Henderson (71) and Thompson (73) both made the cut by a shot. Ko is eight shots better than each of them through two days.

“It was a really cool group,” Ko said. “I was super excited for this pairing.

“Brooke has been playing great and coming off a win in Portland, and Lexi has been playing great this year, the highest ranked American player. So we were expecting big fans, and fans came out to watch.”

Ko, 19, is seeking to win a tour-best fourth title this year and to her third major in the last four played. She won the Evian Championship at the end of last year to become the youngest winner of a major at 18 years, 4 months and 20 days old and then took this year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration.

“This would be one of the highest tournaments to win,” Ko said. “This is the biggest championship in the U.S. It would be a tournament that I would love to win. It takes a lot of great golf, a lot of patience to win this championship, but there’s a lot of golf to be played. So I don't really want to get ahead of myself.”

Henderson, 18, said she relished playing in a marquee grouping but she had to remind herself there were a lot of other strong players to beat this week.

“It’s a lot of fun, to be in that position,” Henderson said. “It was really cool, playing with two of the best players in the world, the No. 1 player in the world. It’s always a lot of fun to be in that position, to have the cameras, to have the attention. It always makes golf a lot more fun when you have a lot of people cheering for you and following along, but you definitely have to remember there are 155 other players good enough to be here, quality players. Maybe I thought I was a little too good. I don’t know what happened the last couple of days. I kind of got a reality check.”

Henderson wasn’t sure she would make the cut when she signed her scorecard but like Thompson was optimistic.

“Hopefully, I’ll have two more rounds of golf to redeem myself.”

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:

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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."