Cejka Leads in Home Country

By Sports NetworkMay 21, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Deutsche Bank-SAP OpenHEIDELBERG, Germany -- Germany's Alex Cejka matched his own course record Friday with an 8-under 64 and took the lead midway through the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open TPC of Europe. He stands at 11-under-par 133 and leads by three over first-round co-leaders Gregory Havret and David Howell.
 
Cejka set the original mark at Golf Club St Leon-Rot in the first round of the 2002 event. Mark Pilkington and three-time champion Tiger Woods equaled the feat the same year.
 
'I'm very delighted today,' said Cejka, who splits time between the European Tour and the PGA Tour. 'We had an early tee time and it was still pretty calm. The first nine holes I had a great start again, but towards the end, the wind got up, it was a little bit challenging. It's nice to be on the leader board again.'
 
Havret and Howell each posted matching rounds of 1-under 71 to share second at 8-under-par 136.
 
Trevor Immelman, who also held a piece of the first-round lead, shot an even-par 72 and is tied for fourth place with Darren Clarke (67), Louis Oosthuizen (68) and Stephen Scahill (69). That group is knotted at minus-7.
 
Cejka started on the back nine Friday and broke into red figures in an impressive fashion. At the par-5 12th, Cejka knocked a 5-wood on to the green in two and rolled home the 20-footer for eagle.
 
The German tallied back-to-back birdies at the 12th and 13th holes then found more success at the next par-5. At No. 17, Cejka reached the green with a 3-wood and drained his 20-footer for his second eagle of the round.
 
'The first nine holes I had a great start again,' said Cejka, whose best finish this season on the European Tour was a tie for 14th last week at the Asian Open. 'I had two eagles - it always helps.'
 
Cejka continued his fine form on the front side with a 10-foot birdie putt at the first. He added another at the par-5 third when he two-putted from close to 30 feet.
 
Cejka bogeyed the par-4 seventh hole for the second consecutive round but he reached 11 under par at the ninth hole. He hit his approach to 4 feet and converted the short birdie putt.
 
The 33-year-old was fortunate even to compete this week. On Sunday, Cejka injured his leg and when he arrived at St Leon, he immediately received treatment but his leg did not respond.
 
'I would say if we would not be here in Germany, I don't think I would have played on Thursday,' admitted Cejka. 'But, I'm a fighter and I was trying to forget the pain and just try as hard as I can.'
 
Havret flew out of the gate on Friday with four consecutive birdies. He dropped a shot at the fifth, then bogeyed the par-3 12th when his 9-footer for par missed the cup.
 
He joined Cejka in a share of first with birdies at 15 and 17 but trouble loomed at No. 18. Havret drove into the water at the 18th and ultimately three-putted for a triple-bogey-7.
 
'It's quite hard for me because I lost three shots on that one hole,' said Havret, who won the Italian Open in 2001. 'I tried hard all day and did some good things but, right now, I am disappointed because of the finish. Still, golf is like that.'
 
Howell mixed three birdies and a bogey in his round of 71.
 
Defending champion Padraig Harrington shot a 4-under 68 and is tied for eighth place with Klas Eriksson (69), Anders Hansen (70), Alan McLean (72), Eduardo Romero (69) and German Marcel Siem (72). That group is knotted at 6-under-par 138.
 
Ernie Els was cruising toward the top of the leaderboard until he drove into heavy rough at the 17th. He advanced his ball but it stayed in heavy rough and the No. 3 player in the world left with a double-bogey-7.
 
'I kept it together until the 17th,' said the current No. 1 on the Order of Merit. 'That was a disaster. The wind kept getting stronger and stronger and it was a pity about the finish.'
 
Els posted an even-par 72 and is tied for 14th at minus-5.
 
The 36-hole cut fell at 2-over-par 146 and among the notable players who will miss the weekend are: Nick Faldo and Angel Cabrera (152), Colin Montgomerie (153) and Open de Sevilla winner Ricardo Gonzalez (157).
 
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  • Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

    Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

    Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

    Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

    With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

    Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

    “It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

    Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

    Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

    Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

    “I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

    As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

    With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

    That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

    That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

    And that’s a magic word in golf.

    There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

    Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

    The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

    Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


    A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

    The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

    Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

    For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

    The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

    The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

    It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

    “The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

    And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

    “It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

    The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

    Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

    Parity was the story this year.

    Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

    The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

    The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

    “I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

    If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

    Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

    There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

    This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

    Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

    She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

    The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.

    Love's hip surgery a success; eyes Florida swing return

    By Rex HoggardNovember 22, 2017, 3:31 pm

    Within hours of having hip replacement surgery on Tuesday Davis Love III was back doing what he does best – keeping busy.

    “I’ve been up and walking, cheated in the night and stood up by the bed, but I’m cruising around my room,” he laughed early Wednesday from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala., where he underwent surgery to replace his left hip. “[Dr. James Flanagan, who performed the surgery] wants me up. They don’t want me sitting for more than an hour.”

    Love, 53, planned to begin more intensive therapy and rehabilitation on Wednesday and is scheduled to be released from the hospital later this afternoon.

    According to Love’s doctors, there were no complications during the surgery and his recovery time is estimated around three to four months.

    Love, who was initially hesitant to have the surgery, said he can start putting almost immediately and should be able to start hitting wedges in a few weeks.

    Dr. Tom Boers – a physical therapist at the Hughston Orthopedic Clinic in Columbus, Ga., who has treated Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and Brad Faxon – will oversee Love’s recovery and ultimately decide when he’s ready to resume normal golf activity.

    “He understands motion and gait and swing speeds that people really don’t understand. He’s had all of us in there studying us,” Love said. “So we’ll see him in a couple of weeks and slowly get into the swing part of it.”

    Although Love said he plans to temper his expectations for this most recent recovery, his goal is to be ready to play by the Florida swing next March.