Rookie Shon has all of Princeton cheering her on

By Randall MellFebruary 7, 2015, 12:03 am

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Kelly Shon is a different type of cat out here on the LPGA’s tour.

She’s a Princeton Tiger.

Though this is her first start as an LPGA rookie here at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic, she’s already the greatest player in the history of the Princeton men’s or women’s golf programs. When she advanced through LPGA Q-School last December, she became the first golfer from Princeton to earn a PGA Tour or LPGA card.

She’s just the third Ivy Leaguer to play the LPGA as a member, joining Yale’s Heather Daly-Donofrio, a two-time winner who is now the LPGA’s senior vice president of tour operations, and Jeehae Lee.

Shon, 22, made her fellow Tigers even prouder Friday, when she bolted on to the leaderboard at the Ocean Club Golf Course. With a 2-under-par 71 following up her opening-round 69, Shon sits at 6 under overall, just one shot behind Sun Young Yoo, the leader in the clubhouse.

“You know, I don’t know how to feel about that,” Shon said. “Does it shock me a little bit that I’m on the leaderboard? Absolutely.”

It delights Princeton athletics. Shon, who graduated with a sociology degree, made fellow Tigers proud tying for ninth at LPGA Q-School in December to earn tour membership.

Just how big a deal is it?

“I’m not sure I can really quantify it,” said Will Green, the director of golf at Princeton. “It’s huge. It’s enormous.”

Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic: Articles, videos and photos

When Shon put herself in position to earn a tour card that last day at Q-School, Green was more than paying attention. He was live tweeting her results hole-by-hole.

“I was a wreck,” Green said. “You can’t imagine how proud I was.”

Green said Shon’s success is being celebrated within the walls of Princeton.

Green is proud of what Shon represents. He was especially proud to see her carrying her small Princeton golf bag Friday, with her Tiger orange head covers.

“When I saw that on TV today, it was emotional for me,” Green said.

“For someone of her talent coming out of high school, she made the choice to go to an Ivy League school to compete and get her education,” Green said. “That’s very difficult for talented young players, to make choices like that, with the pressure there is to go to sports centric schools. To have the maturity to do that speaks to her character.”

Shon was born in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to New York when she was 8 after her father took a job as a surgeon there. She grew up in Port Washington. She has interests that reach beyond golf. Even with this impressive start, she isn’t sure how long she will play professionally.

“My senior year, it hit me that I really wanted to work for others in a non-profit,” Shon said. “I still have `windows and tabs’ open looking for jobs. Golf is all about me, and there’s a piece of me that wants more. There’s a part of me that wants to work in an office helping others, with colleagues, with 9 to 5 hours.

“I actually want to go to work for the Peace Corps. It’s something I will do at some point in my life.”

For now, though, there are birdies to make and lots of fellow Tigers to please back at Princeton.

“I think she will go down as the best player we’ve ever had,” Green said.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.