Diaz Matthew in Takefuji Lead

By Sports NetworkApril 17, 2003, 4:00 pm
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Laura Diaz and Catriona Matthew posted matching rounds of 6-under-par 66 Thursday to share the first-round lead of the 54-hole Takefuji Classic at Las Vegas Country Club.
Kim Saiki, Cristie Kerr, Emilee Klein and Candie Kung share third place at 5-under-par 67.
Annika Sorenstam, the defending champion, struggled to an even-par 72 on Thursday. She hit her opening tee shot into the trees and struggled all day to salvage pars from difficult locations.
'I had to scramble a lot, hit it from under trees and make putts,' Sorenstam said. 'It's important to get off to a good start in a three-day tournament. I have to keep it low the next few days.'
Diaz, a two-time winner on tour last year, collected two birdies in her first three holes. She carded an eagle at the ninth thanks to a 45-foot putt that sent her around the turn at 4-under par.
She kept the strong play going with a two-foot birdie at the 10th and 15-footer at No. 11. Diaz dropped a stroke to par at the par-3 17th when she three-putted from 30 feet but rebounded with a eight-foot birdie at the par-5 closing hole.
'That was great. I made a few birdies after the turn and I just felt good out there,' said Diaz. 'I made a couple of par saves coming down stretch and then unfortunately I three putted 17. I was able to birdie 18 and finish with a smile on my face. It feels good to finish under par again and be able to roll some putts in, which I really haven't felt lately. It is a good feeling to have, so I need to go out and make some more putts.'
Diaz wore a cumbersome ankle brace throughout her round Thursday. She sprained her ankle in college and it never properly healed but the injury was re-aggravated two weeks ago when the tour stopped in Los Angeles.
'Last week in Los Angeles I did a little jumping in my workout routine and next morning I wasn't able to walk that well,' said Diaz. 'I feel like I am carrying around 10 extra pounds on my ankle, but I am not having any pain like I was in L.A., so I am very happy about that.
'I will play until I can't walk basically. That is my theory - smart or stupid.'
Matthew got off to an amazing start with a four-foot eagle at her first hole, the par-5 10th. She birdied the 12th but tallied a pair of bogeys over her opening nine to fall to 1-under par.
Matthew went on a birdie tear on her second nine. She chipped in for birdie at one, holed a pair of 12-footers at two and three, sank a six-footer at eight and drained a 12-footer at nine to match Diaz in first.
'It was very breezy and the wind was swirling, especially on the back nine holes,' said Matthew. 'I really played well, kept it in the fairway and had no bad swings.'
Kelli Kuehne is alone in seventh place at 4-under-par 68. Rosie Jones, Soo- Yun Kang, Akiko Fukushima, Jackie Gallagher-Smith, Vicki Goetze-Ackerman and Se Ri Pak share eighth place at minus-3.
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the LPGA Takefuji Classic
  • Full coverage of the LPGA Takefuji Classic
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

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    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry