Westwood feeling right at home at Honda

By Randall MellMarch 3, 2013, 1:17 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Lee Westwood didn’t take long fitting in here in his new hometown.

The tee sheets at the Honda Classic might identify him as being from Worksop, England, but when he stepped to the 17th tee in the Bear Trap late Saturday afternoon he was boisterously welcomed as a Yank.

He was introduced there as Palm Beach Gardens’ own Lee Westwood.

“A bigger cheer goes up than when it’s Worksop, that’s for sure,” Westwood said.

Westwood is making himself at home more quickly than anyone back in England could have imagined. Just five days ago, he moved his family into their new 15,000-square-foot mansion at Old Palm Golf Club just down the road from PGA National’s Champion Course. He moved into position to win his new hometown event with an even-par 70 Saturday in windy, trying conditions.


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At 6-under-par 204, Westwood is just two shots behind the co-leaders, Luke Guthrie and Michael Thompson.

Westwood was asked if winning a PGA Tour event in his new backyard would make it special. He said winning anywhere in the United States would make it special.

“I’ve got 40 career wins and only two in the United States,” Westwood said. “So, I need to try to change that.”

That was one of Westwood’s motivations in moving to the United States. He has 22 European Tour titles, 17 other professional titles around the world, but his only PGA Tour titles came at the Freeport McDermott Classic in ’98 and at the St. Jude Classic in 2010.

Mostly, Westwood wants to win his first major championship, and three of the four majors are played in the United States. With his 40th birthday looming this year (April 24), Westwood made the major commitment to move his wife, Laurae, and their two children to South Florida.

While Westwood worried how his 11-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter would take the news, he was pleasantly surprised by their reaction.

“Do you want to go and live by the sea and the sun by a beach?” Westwood asked them.

“Yeah,” they shouted.

Fourteen builders are still putting the finishing touches on Westwood’s mansion. His new home is just a mile from PGA National. Westwood has been driving his children to school this week.

“It’s nice to go home and sleep in your own bed, and sort of do the things you normally do,” Westwood said. “I’ve never had a chance to do that before because there has never been a tournament so close to my home in England.”

Westwood sold his home back in Worksop. He believed moving to the United States would help him win the big events he wants to win.

“I’ve been looking to move for a couple of years, just getting frustrated with the weather and winters in England, not being able to work as hard as I would like, really feeling too rusty,” Westwood said. “I wanted to come and live in the sunshine.”

South Florida has become a hot spot for Tour pros. Tiger Woods lives on Jupiter Island. Rory McIlroy moved to Palm Beach Gardens two months ago. Luke Donald, Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley and Rickie Fowler all have places down here.

“He sounds like he loves it here,” said Mike Kerr, Westwood’s caddie.

Westwood is considered one of the game’s best ball strikers, and he showed it, navigating his way around that difficult back nine at PGA National in Saturday’s blustery conditions. His even-par round felt better with just eight players breaking par in the third round.

Basically, Westwood fought his way back from a rough front nine. With back-to-back bogeys at the eighth and ninth, Westwood dropped back in the chase. He got himself into a tie for third with birdies at the 14th and 17th holes on a bogey-free back nine.

“It was a strong performance,” Kerr said. “He handled the wind and hit some very good shots.”

Westwood closed his round with a good par save at the last. Trying to reach the par-5 closing hole in two, he blew his shot over the right edge of the green and into the water. He was able to take a greenside drop and got up and down.

“I normally get a bit of stick for not having a short game, but I’ve chipped in twice this week and had a lot of sand saves and a lot of scrambling, like you need to do around this golf course. Maybe I'm turning that around.”

Westwood is hoping to turn around his record in the United States with a victory and build some momentum on the way to The Masters in six weeks.


Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.


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“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.


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Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is also one shot off the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu and Shanshan Feng are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''


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J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.

''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''