LPGA finally gets back to American soil

By Randall MellMarch 11, 2013, 10:29 pm

The world’s best women are upping the ante early.

Last year’s LPGA Player of the Year (Stacy Lewis) and leading money winner (Inbee Park) arrive this week for the tour’s first American event of 2013 having already won titles this year.

The RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup begins Thursday at JW Marriott’s Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix, with eight of the top 10 in the world among the 144 players competing for a $1.5 million purse.

Rolex world No. 3 (Lewis), No. 4 (Park), No. 6 (Jiyai Shin) and No. 7 (Suzann Pettersen) have all claimed titles already this season, and they’re all in this week’s field.

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This week marks the third rendition of the Founders Cup, an event created to honor the 13 founders who started the tour 63 years ago.

Rolex No. 1 Yani Tseng is back to defend the title she won last year. Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, winner of the inaugural event, is also in this week’s field. So are world No. 2 Na Yeon Choi, So Yeon Ryu, Ai Miyazato, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Juli Inkster, Brittany Lincicome, Angela Stanford, Azahara Munoz, Beatriz Recari, Natalie Gulbis, Michelle Wie, Morgan Pressel, Sandra Gal and Lexi Thompson.

Pettersen arrives as the hottest player fresh off her latest win, a Ladies European Tour victory at last weekend’s Mission Hills World Ladies’ Championship in China. She won a duel with Park, coming from two shots behind in the final round to win by a shot.

“We all bring the best out of each other, and I think it elevates the game and women’s golf, the competition down to the bitter end,” Pettersen said. “I’m just very happy that I managed to get this one, this time.”

Shin, a former world No. 1, won the LPGA season-opening ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. Park won the Honda Thailand, and Lewis won the HSBC Women’s Champions.

Tseng is looking for her first victory in almost a year, but she made a good start to 2013 overseas, finishing second at the Women’s Australian Open and tying for third at the Honda Thailand.

Tseng won three of her first five starts a year ago. She will also defend next week at the Kia Classic, her last victory anywhere.

“It’s getting really tough out here,” Tseng said. “Everybody’s working so hard to play well, to try to be No. 1. It’s not easy to win or get a top 10. People don’t see how hard we’re working and trying to improve every week. We’re all pushing each other to keep getting better and better.”

That’s evident with so many top players off to winning starts this year.

“I’m very happy with my game right now,” Tseng said. “I just need to keep improving my swing, to get more consistent, but everything was good in Asia.”

Tseng won in trying conditions in Phoenix a year ago, prevailing in a cold Sunday finish that saw three weather delays, including delays for hail and lightning.

“I remember putting in the dark on the last hole,” Tseng said. “I remember being 45 feet away and needing to two-putt and barely being able to see the hole.”

Tseng got her two-putt, finishing strong. This week, she will be looking to start strong in a bid to win the tour’s American start.

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Watch: Tiger's drive startles strolling duck

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 25, 2018, 7:21 pm

Tiger Woods split the eighth fairway with a 287-yard, 3-wood on Sunday and startled a duck (goose?) who was merely out and about for a stroll at PGA National.

The duck (goose?) walked away under its own power, and Woods followed up with a wedge to inside 9 feet and his third birdie of the front nine.

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Watch: Tiger's Sunday birdies at the Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 25, 2018, 6:40 pm

One day after he left a barrage of birdie opportunities out on the golf course, Tiger Woods worked his way into red figures early on Sunday.

Seven off the pace to start the day, Woods found the first fairway, hit the first green and rolled in a 20-footer for his firist birdie of the day.

After narrowly missing a 10-footer for what would have been another circle at the par-5 third, Woods came right back at the fourth, flying an approach from 148 yards to 9 feet and finishing the job.

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New-look Korda wins after serious jaw surgery

By Will GrayFebruary 25, 2018, 6:31 pm

If the pictures of Jessica Korda from the Honda LPGA Thailand cause you to do a double-take, you're not alone.

Korda's world-class talent was on full display this week in Asia, where she won by four shots, but so too was her new-look face. The 24-year-old underwent serious jaw surgery in December, a final attempt to address a significant overbite that led to ailments ranging from facial cramping to headaches to sleep apnea.

The procedure was intense. Doctors first broke her nose, then broke her jaw in five different places - three on the top, and two on the bottom. She now has 27 screws in her face, and the physical result still requires some adjustment for a woman who now has five career LPGA wins.

"I look at pictures of myself and I don't feel like I look like that person," Korda told Golfweek. "I don't know who that is. And then I look at pictures of my old self and that doesn't look like me either."

Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand

The Dec. 7 surgery left Korda unable to eat, with her mother reportedly feeding her through a syringe for "weeks." Korda's facial structure before the surgery was such that she was only using 20 percent of her teeth when chewing food.

But despite returning to practice only six weeks ago and still dealing with lingering numbness in her face, Korda promptly dusted a world-class field in her first start back. She shot 25 under for the week, highlighted by a second-round 62, leaving the likes of Lexi Thompson and Ariya Jutanugarn in her wake.

After a difficult winter, Korda's look may have changed but her game clearly remains unaffected.

"Coming in after surgery, I didn't know what to expect," Korda told reporters. "Obviously when I look at myself, I still don't feel like I look like myself yet. That will come. I'm just very, very happy. All the hard work I was putting in in the off-season when I could has paid off rather quickly."

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 25, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.