Korda overcame obstacles to win in Bahamas

By Randall MellJanuary 27, 2014, 12:20 am

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Jessica Korda made you scratch your head Sunday at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic.

She also made you marvel.

How do you win the LPGA season opener two weeks after deciding to overhaul your swing? How do you win when you’re still fighting your old swing, so much so that you shank a wedge sideways and out of bounds late in the third round? How do you win when the coach you sought to help rebuild your swing is so weakened in a cancer fight that you’ve been doing some of your work over the phone?

It speaks volumes that Korda kept fighting to the finish to beat daunting obstacles.

Take the 18th hole Sunday.

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Korda, 20, had to birdie it to beat Stacy Lewis and win her second LPGA title. She had to do so getting up and down from one of the most awkward circumstances you’ll see at the end of a tournament. After drilling her approach over the 18th green, just a few feet from the bleachers and amid some electric cables, she decided her nearest relief would create an inconvenient drop. So, instead, she had some officials hold the cables a few feet over her ball while she bumped a putt to the green.

Korda left that bump-and-run 6 feet short of the hole, and then she buried the birdie putt.

When Na Yeon Choi failed to hole out from the fairway behind her, Korda was the winner. She’s a season-opening specialist. Both her LPGA titles were season openers.

“It’s unbelievable,” Korda said after players doused her with Pure Silk shaving cream.

Korda closed fiercely, making birdies at the final two holes to overtake Lewis, the Rolex world No. 3. She birdied three of the last four holes.

She won even when it didn’t make sense she should win.

A couple weeks ago, Korda decided to overhaul her swing with the IMG Academy’s Grant Price (pictured), who is fighting cancer. She took a work in progress to the Bahamas. After taking the lead into Saturday, she started unraveling with old swing habits creeping into her game. She hooked a tee shot at the seventh hole into a hazard. She shanked a wedge at the 13th hole sideways, knocking her ball out of bounds.

Somehow, some way, Korda put herself back together.

“I didn’t let it get to me,” Korda said. “I hooked a bunch of shots in the water this week, hooked a bunch of shots in general. I might have shanked a shot, but I birdied the next hole after that. I definitely wasn’t looking back. I was looking forward.”

Her new coach couldn’t have taught that better.

Price, the nephew to Hall of Famer Nick Price, is on medical leave from the IMG Academy. He was diagnosed with stage 3 testicular cancer last spring. He endured 4½ months of chemotherapy last summer, then major surgery last month, a retroperitoneal lymph dissection that left him with a scar from his sternum to his groin.

Price, 36, isn’t big on looking back, either.

“Grant means so much to me,” Korda said. “He’s so positive, and that’s shown this week. It’s given me a lot of confidence, his positivity.”

Though they were just two weeks into overhauling her swing, Price wouldn’t allow it to be an excuse for a poor start.

“He kept saying, `You are going to be ready this week, you are going to be ready regardless how you are hitting it on the range,’ and I wasn’t hitting it good. I wasn’t really that confident in myself. But just him being on the range with me, ingraining that positivity into my mind, it helped me so much.”

Price and Korda probably met 10 times on the range at the Ritz Carlton course in Bradenton before she left for the Bahamas, but in his weakened condition, Price’s stamina wouldn’t allow long sessions. He sat in a golf cart, and they worked.

“I’m proud of her,” Price told GolfChannel.com in a telephone interview after he watched Korda’s victory from his home. “It was heartwarming to see, and I think it was genuinely therapeutic.”

Korda talked with Price on the phone every day this week. They talked about the shank after Saturday’s round.

“After hitting a shank, there’s a psychological barrier to get over,” Price said. “It’s a testament to Jessica’s mental strength that she bounced back so quickly. Really, this whole swing change, leaving her old coach, it’s a tough decision. Her confidence could have dropped through something like that.”

The week didn’t get off to the best start for Korda, either. Over her first nine holes, she topped a tee shot and hooked another tee shot in a hazard. The new and the old swings were clashing.

“We haven’t had that long to prepare,” Price said. “We’ve probably met about 10 times on the range, but the time I could spend there with my limits was less than I would like.”

Korda knew Price from her days at the IMG Academy. She sought him out carefully.

“First thing I did, I asked him, `Can you help me? And if you can't, it's completely OK. If you don't feel up to it, then it's fine, I don’t mind. But I need to know if you're going to be OK first,’” Korda said. “And that's how every practice started.”

It proved a most unusual winning formula.

“Just heartwarming,” Price said.

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.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

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. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

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