Atwal Takes Top Spot in New Orleans

By Sports NetworkApril 29, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Zuric Classic of New OrleansAVONDALE, La. -- Arjun Atwal posted a 4-under 68 on Friday to take the outright lead through two rounds of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Atwal finished 36 holes at 11-under-par 133 for a one-shot lead over J.J. Henry.
Chris DiMarco
Chris DiMarco uses a little body english to try and coax in a birdie putt Friday.
Chris DiMarco, who shared the opening-round lead with Atwal, carded a 71 to join Tim Clark in a tie for third at 8-under-par 136. Lucas Glover followed at 7-under-par 137.
Atwal parred his first five holes at the TPC of Louisiana, then hit a 6-iron to 8 feet to set up birdie at the par-4 sixth. He made it two in a row at the par-5 seventh when his 4-iron second shot missed the green right. Atwal putted up and converted his second putt for the birdie.
At the par-3 ninth, Atwal landed in a greenside bunker and blasted out to 3 feet. He missed the putt to drop a shot and make the turn at 1-under 35.
Atwal quickly atoned for the mistake at nine with a birdie at the 10th. His next birdie came at the par-4 13th. Atwal drove 40 yards short of the green, then pitched to 10 feet, where he ran home the birdie putt. Atwal added another birdie at No. 14 to reach 11 under par.
Atwal ran into problems at the 16th when he hit his approach into the water. His fourth stopped 14 feet from the hole and he made the putt to save bogey. At the par-5 last, Atwal reached the green with a 3-wood for his second shot and two-putted for birdie and a one-shot edge.
'As the wind started to pick up, I started focusing a little better and hit it closer,' said Atwal. 'I made a few putts. I have been putting really well. It was just steady stuff.'
Atwal, 32, has seven wins internationally, including two on the European Tour. Those two wins, the 2002 Malaysian Open and the 2003 Singapore Masters, came with several of the top players in the world in the field, so Atwal feels he is ready for victory in the U.S.
'It was a good experience,' said Atwal, who is in his final year of full status on the European Tour, but indicated he will let that go in order to play full time on the PGA Tour. 'I think it might carry over here. Hopefully, it does.'
Henry started on the back side and collected his first birdie of the day at the par-4 13th. He found trouble with a bogey at the 16th but recovered with birdies on each of his next two holes.
The 30-year-old added a birdie at the par-5 second and picked up another birdie at the par-4 fifth. Henry then birdied the par-4 eighth for a round of 67.
'I feel real comfortable for some reason on this golf course,' said Henry. 'It really suits my eye. I like the way most of the holes fit.'
DiMarco picked up a birdie at the par-3 third but gave that shot back with a bogey at the sixth. DiMarco responded with an eagle at the par-5 seventh but stumbled again with a bogey at the ninth.
He countered with a birdie at the 10th and added a birdie at the 13th to move to 10 under. DiMarco then bogeyed the 15th but came back with a birdie at the very next hole. He fell off the pace with a double bogey at the closing hole.
Defending champion Vijay Singh shot a 71 to share sixth place with Hank Kuehne and Richard S. Johnson at 6-under-par 138. Padraig Harrington, Hidemichi Tanaka, James Driscoll, Darron Stiles and Sean O'Hair are one-shot further back at 5-under-par 139.
The 36-hole cut came in at 1-over-par 145 with 84 players qualifying for the weekend
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    Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

    PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

    She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

    “I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

    Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

    “Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

    She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

    “I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

    Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

    She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

    “They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

    Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

    While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

    “Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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    Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

    PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

    In fact, she named her “Mona.”

    For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

    While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

    And that has her excited about this year.

    Well, that and having a healthy back again.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

    Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    “Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

    Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

    She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

    Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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    Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

    By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

    PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

    Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

    Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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    Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

    PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

    With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

    After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

    “I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

    It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

    Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

    “It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

    Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

    “Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

    Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

    Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

    “It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

    Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

    “This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

    Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.