Annika Wie Close in on Jang

By Sports NetworkJuly 30, 2005, 4:00 pm
04 Weetabix WomenSOUTHPORT, England -- Jeong Jang posted a 3-under 69 on Saturday to extend her lead through three rounds of the Women's British Open. She stands at 13-under-par 203 and is five ahead of Annika Sorenstam and Cristie Kerr at Royal Birkdale Golf Club.
Annika Sorenstam
Annika Sorenstam's Saturday 66 earned her a place in the final group on Sunday.
Sorenstam, who is looking for her third major championship of the year, fired a 6-under 66, while Kerr, who has yet to hoist a major trophy, shot a 3-under 69. The duo is knotted at minus-8.
Amateur sensation Michelle Wie carded a 5-under 67 and is tied for fourth place with 18-year-old, two-time winner this year Paula Creamer (65), Sophie Gustafson (67), Young Kim (67) and Liselotte Neumann (68). The group is knotted at 7-under-par 209.
Jang held a four-shot lead to start Saturday's third round, which was played under sunny skies. Thursday's action featured a long weather delay, but Saturday was perfect for scoring conditions.
Jang struggled out of the gate when she drove right at the first hole. She was forced to punch out to the fairway, then hit her wedge to 30 feet. Jang two-putted for a bogey, but that would be the last miscue for some time.
At the third, Jang hit an 8-iron to 6 feet to set up birdie. She made it two in a row at the par-3 fourth, when her 5-iron stopped 3 feet from the hole.
She took advantage of the next par-3, the 155-yard seventh. Jang hit an 8-iron to 4 feet and converted the birdie putt to make the turn at 3-under 32.
Sorenstam, who won this title in 2003 to complete the career Grand Slam, moved up the leaderboard with a pair of birdies on the front side, both from 20 feet.
The Swede rolled in a pair of 6-footers for birdie at 12 and 14, then used her length to close out her round. Sorenstam came up short of the green with a 4-wood at the par-5 17th, but chipped to 7 feet and drained the birdie putt. She knocked a 7-wood long and left at the par-5 closing hole, but again saved birdie.
Sorenstam got in the clubhouse at 8 under par and Jang made her second big mistake of the round. At the 149-yard, par-3 12th, Jang left a 7-iron in the bunker short of the green. She blasted out, but two-putted for a bogey and now owned a four-shot lead over the game's best player.
Jang remained calm. She parred 13 and 14, then birdied the par-5 15th to increase her margin to five. Jang had a 10-foot birdie look at the 18th, but came up short.
All totaled, Jang has a five-shot lead over Sorenstam. Jang admitted that she will have some butterflies come Sunday, but has a game plan on how to win not just her first major title, but her first LPGA Tour event.
'Just keep playing my golf and think about the golf course and not think about Annika,' said Jang. 'I like playing with Annika. It's more fun. I think maybe tomorrow, playing with Annika, or just the leaders, that makes me nervous a little bit. I'll be nervous leading tomorrow, not Annika.'
But Sorenstam has a chance for major No. 3 this year on Sunday. She captured the Nabisco Championship and LPGA Championship earlier in 2005, and would like to end the major season with another triumph.
Although, she will have to make up some ground.
'I've come from behind before, so I think anything is possible,' said Sorenstam. 'I think tomorrow I'm just going to mind my own game, play the way I did today and see what happens. She's in a new position, she has not won before, it's a major, I know what it's like.'
Sorenstam is not alone in second place. Kerr, the top-ranked American and fourth on the LPGA Tour money list, played horribly early with a pair of bogeys in her first two holes.
She rebounded with a 5-foot birdie putt at the fourth and added a pair of birdies on her front nine. Kerr hit an 8-iron to 4 feet to set up birdie at the 12th, then sank a 10-footer at the last to join Sorenstam at minus-8.
'I like my position,' said Kerr, who has two top-10s in majors this year. 'I'm just going to go out and try to play well and put some pressure on the leaders and hopefully it will go my way.'
Defending champion Karen Stupples worked her way back into the tournament on Saturday. She fired a 7-under 65 and is tied for ninth place with Juli Inkster (68), Karrie Webb (69), Carin Koch (66) and Pat Hurst (70). The group came in at 6-under-par 210.
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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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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.”