Lexi, Lydia and Brooke all fail to break par

By Randall MellJuly 8, 2016, 4:19 am

SAN MARTIN, Calif. - Starlets in overalls and work boots.

That’s what the first round of the U.S. Women’s Open looked like with world No. 1 Lydia Ko, No. 2 Brooke Henderson and No. 4 Lexi Thompson struggling.

This wasn’t a day for this glamour grouping to entertain us with their special gifts.

This was the kind of day that should have started with the trio punching a clock, because this was a blue-collar kind of work day. It wasn’t about wowing us with spectacular shot making, with CordeValle Golf Club toughening up in the afternoon sun and the late afternoon winds. It was about posting a score with elbow grease and spit polish. Mostly, it was about cleaning up messes.

“You had to scramble,” Ko said.

Henderson and Thompson may be three highest-ranked players in the world competing this week, but they all failed to break par.

Ko shot 1-over-par 73, Henderson posted 76, and Thompson 74.

They combined to make 14 bogeys and seven birdies.

The morning wave was welcomed to a softer course, and Mirim Lee took advantage. She shot 64.

“I don't know what course she played, maybe the ladies tees, maybe a different course,” Ko said. “But she played fantastic. We were checking the leaderboard. She made two bogeys and still shot 8-under. It's very impressive.”

The glamour grouping went off at 2:03 local time, just as Lee was finishing up.

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“The first hand full of holes, there was still a little bit of softness,” said Jason Hamilton, Ko’s caddie. “But you could already see some of the grass surrounding the greens starting to burn out. By 3:30, you were playing defense all the time. You couldn’t go chasing birdies in the afternoon.”

It was more difficult in the afternoon, but not impossible. Amy Yang shot 67, the low round in the afternoon.

Lee made 10 birdies in the morning, three more than Ko, Henderson and Thompson combined.

“It was fun,” Lee said.

The Ko, Henderson and Thompson trio didn’t look like they were having much fun, especially at the end of their round, a nearly six-hour grind.

At No. 8, her 17th hole of the day, Ko swiped at a short chip and caught too much of the ball, running her shot 8 feet past the hole. She tilted her head and looked down at the patch of grass in befuddlement. She missed the putt for par. Ko made two bogeys on the front nine where her normally stellar short game let her down.

“My short game wasn't as good,” Ko said. “When I did miss a green, I didn't make that many up and downs. In majors, it is tough to get around the pin. You do have to scramble, and that's what I was missing today.”

Thompson missed a 4-foot putt for par and a 3-foot putt for par over the last two holes of her round.

“I didn’t play that great and then just finished bad,” Thompson said.

Henderson hooked her last tee shot in the heavy rough at the par-5 ninth, then hacked a fairway wood into the right rough, behind a tree. She had to punch out into the fairway and ended up failing to get up and down for par.

“Really disappointed, but with that being said, it wasn’t that far off from being really good,” Henderson said. “Just a couple mishit shots out there that put me in the wrong positions.”

The glamour trio will be back out together Friday morning, hoping for the softer, gentler conditions Thursday’s morning wave enjoyed.

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Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.

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“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

“I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

“I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”

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On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

“We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

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Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.

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Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

• Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

• Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

• Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1

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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.”