M.H. Lee tops Webb after wild week at Ladies Scottish

By Randall MellJuly 30, 2017, 7:06 pm

IRVINE, Scotland – The weather blew more than bone-chilling wind and sideways rain into four days of the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open.

It blew in some crazy storylines.

How about Mi Hyang Lee winning Sunday after showing up at the start of the week in a bit of a panic when she got off the plane in Glasgow and discovered her clubs didn’t arrive with her?

How about Hall of Famer Karrie Webb skillfully avoiding all the bunkers around Dundonald Links through 70 holes until finding a pot bunker at the 17th  hole on Sunday? She was so stymied she had to play out backwards, setting up a double bogey. It would lead to her undoing after building a two-shot lead with three holes to play.

And how about Webb’s frustration not knowing if she needed a birdie or an eagle at the last to force a playoff with Lee?

Because . . .

“There was no leaderboard at the 18th,” Webb said. “It’s pretty bad to not have a leaderboard at the last.”

For Lee, who said she also didn’t know where she stood closing out with birdie at the last, playing in front of Webb, there was no denying her brilliant ball striking.

The 24-year-old South Korean played fabulously through tough weekend conditions. Though Lee didn’t see the heaviest of the rain at Saturday’s end, nobody escaped the brutish cold and hard winds that day brought.

Tied for 39th at 4-over par at the beginning of the weekend, Lee rallied from nine shots back to win her second LPGA title. She did it with a 68 on Saturday and a 66 on Sunday to finish one shot ahead of Webb and Mi Jung Hur.

Nobody else shot in the 60s both Saturday and Sunday.

“Big confidence from this win,” Lee said. “Gets me ready for the British Open next week.”

Lee will join the women’s best at Kingsbarns just outside St. Andrews for the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

Lee’s excited about the fact that she’ll have her own clubs for the entire week as she bids to win her first major.

Lee flew from Boston to Iceland to Glasgow before the Ladies Scottish.

“I always wanted to see Iceland,” Lee said.

The downside was that her golf clubs spent way too much time in Iceland. They didn’t make Lee’s flight.

Lee said she had no idea where her ball was going during her Tuesday practice round in the high winds that she played with rental clubs featuring irons with regular shafts, instead of the stiff shafts she is accustomed to.

“My ball was flying everywhere,” Lee said.

Lee’s clubs showed up Wednesday, and she got to play nine holes in the pro-am with them, but only after a player withdrew, opening a pro-am spot for her.

Remarkably, Lee said this was just her third time playing in Scotland. She looked as if she grew up playing these tough conditions. In fact, Lee said she did learn to play in the wind after moving near the Incheon airport in South Korea when she was about 13. She said the wind always seems to blow hard off the Yellow Sea.

“It was like playing island golf,” Lee said.

Webb, 42, looked as if she was going to sew up her 42nd LPGA title - her first in three years - when she chipped in for eagle at the 14th to go two ahead of Lee. But Webb bogeyed the 16th, then ultimately lost the event after hitting her drive into a pot bunker at the 17th.

“I bent down, picked my tee up, thought I hit a perfect drive there,” Webb said.

Webb thought she “knotted” her 3-wood into position to set up birdie, but her caddie, Johnny Scott, delivered the bad news.

“He said it kicked into the bunker,” Webb said. “I have no idea how it did that.”

With Lee making birdie in front of her, Webb found herself two shots back at the last tee, but she said she didn’t know where she stood there.

There is a jumbo-sized TV screen at the 18th green, where the scoreboard was occasionally shown, along with live TV action and graphics, but there is no fixed leaderboard there.

Needing to make eagle, Webb knocked her second shot into the left greenside bunker. Webb said she didn’t know if she needed to make eagle or birdie when she set up over the bunker shot.

“That’s frustrating, to not know what you need to do,” Webb said.

Asked about the lack of a full-time scoreboard at the 18th, a tournament staffer said there were walking scorekeepers with each group who could have relayed Lee’s score to Webb. Blasting out of the greenside bunker, Webb ended up 8 feet short and holed the birdie putt.

In the end, Lee finished strongest, and it makes her a player to watch again this week at the Ricoh Women’s British Open

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TT postscript: Tiger (E) survives difficult day

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 6:40 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Here are some observations after watching Tiger Woods’ even-par 70 in the first round of the Honda Classic:

• Whew, that was tough. Like, by far the most difficult conditions Woods has faced this year. The wind blew about 20 mph all day, from different directions, and that affected every part of the game, especially putting.

• And though the stats aren’t necessarily pretty – half the fairways hit, just 10 greens – this was BY FAR his best ball-striking round of the new year. He even said so himself. When he walked off the course, he was just four off the lead.

Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

• Woods had only one bad hole Thursday. It came on the par-5 third hole, his 12th of the day. He blew his driver into the right bunker. He had to lay way back, to clear the lip of the bunker. And then he tugged his third shot just barely in the greenside trap. And then his bunker shot didn’t get onto the green. Then he chipped on and missed a 4-footer. A truly ugly double bogey.

• The driver is still a concern – he found the fairway only once in five attempts. But only one of those misses was way off-line. That came on the 12th, when he double-crossed one way left.

• Though the driver is uncooperative, he has showed a lot of improvement with his 3-wood. The four times he used it, he controlled the ball flight beautifully and hit it 300-plus. His 2-iron is making a comeback, too, in a big way.

• After this round, he should have a little wiggle room Friday to make the cut, barring a blowup round. It’s playing tough, and the 36-hole cut should be over par. Tiger needs four rounds of competitive reps. If he plays like this Friday, he’ll get them. 

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 5:45 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.

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Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.

Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.

Notables in the field:

Tiger Woods

• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.

Rickie Fowler

• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 

Rory McIlroy

• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13).