Han Figg-Currier Share Lead

By Sports NetworkJuly 18, 2003, 4:00 pm
Ladies Professional Golf AssociationNEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (AP) -- Cindy Figg-Currier took last year off from the LPGA Tour to give birth to her second child.
Now, she's back, and in her first week away from the kids this year was tied for the lead halfway through the Big Apple Classic.
'Maybe that's it. There's no cooking, no laundry, no getting up in the middle of the night to give a bottle,' she said Friday after a 65 left her tied with Hee-Won Han at 8-under 134. 'I wish they were here, though.'
If 8-year-old Kaitland and 1-year-old Mary had made the trip from Texas, they would have seen their mother come up with a bogey-free round that featured four birdies on her front nine, including a tap-in on the par-5 18th after a 35-foot putt for eagle hung on the lip.
'That was really nice,' Figg-Currier said of the round. 'But I feel like I left some out there.'
Han also didn't have a bogey as she matched the best round of her career to share the lead in the tournament she lost last year in a one-hole playoff.
Beth Daniel, who won last week's Canadian Women's Open, had a second 68 at Wykagyl Country Club and was at 6 under. That lefty her one shot in front of Meg Mallon (67), first-round leader Mi-Hyun Kim (71), Joanne Mills (67) and Vicki Goetze-Ackerman (69).
Suzy Whaley, the teaching pro from Avon, Conn., who will play in the PGA Tour's Greater Hartford Open next week, had a 75 and was at 2 over at 144, two shots better than the cut.
Figg-Currier, whose only tour win was in 1997, likes playing in the New York City area.
'I try to never miss this tournament because it's a great course and it's New York,' she said. 'I went to see `Movin' Out' on Broadway last night and I'm heading for the Yankees game tonight to see my fellow Longhorn, Roger Clemens, pitch.'
Last year, Han had a chance to win this tournament on the final hole of regulation but missed a 6-foot birdie putt. She lost to Gloria Park in the playoff, and second is still her best finish on tour.
'When she lost last year she said you win or lose sometimes so she let it go,' the native of South Korea said through her manager, Saint Kim. 'She has had some chances to win.
'At this time, she really wants to win the tournament. The time has come now, so it's time to win, she says.'
Han had five birdies Friday, including a 30-foot putt on No. 18, the par-5 used for last year's playoff.
Han is 23rd on the money list, and the 2001 LPGA rookie of the year has four top-10 finishes this season, but is still looking for that first win.
'It's a good position right now,' she said. 'I want to win.'
Daniel has won 33 times in her Hall of Fame career, including last week when the 46-year-old player became the LPGA Tour's oldest winner, ending an eight-year victory drought.
'I actually hit the ball better than I did yesterday,' she said. 'I started out putting well but on the back nine. I didn't make anything. That was the difference.
'I felt like if I had taken advantage of how I hit it on the back nine, I could have shot a lot under, but just couldn't do it.'
Daniel said she 'hit a wall' on the back nine Thursday but felt rested in the second round.
'It's been a busy week for me,' she said, alluding to the attention her historic win brought as well as a players Board meeting and the pro-am on Wednesday. 'I have been doing way too much this week. It's a matter of getting through it and going home next week.'
Whaley got as low as 3 under Friday, but she struggled down the stretch, including a double-bogey 6 on No. 9, her last hole of the day.
'Today I tried too hard,' she said. 'I made the cut against the best women players in the world and will play the weekend.'
Whaley drove the ball into a pond on the right side on 9 and then dropped into a hole.
'That's golf,' she said of the poor drop. 'I rushed the driver. I had a bad 18th and that will leave a bad taste, but I still hit some good shots and made some putts.'
The $950,000 tournament is sponsored by Sybase.
Divots: Park had a 67 and was at 139. ... Three players withdrew with injuries Friday: Shiho Katano (hip), Val Skinner (wrist) and Lisa Kiggens (shoulder). None were in contention.
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    Tiger's checklist: How he can contend at Augusta

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 8:31 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Augusta is already on the minds of most players here at the Honda Classic, and that includes the only one in the field with four green jackets.

    Yes, Tiger Woods has been talking about the Masters ever since he started this latest comeback at Torrey Pines. These three months are all about trying to build momentum for the year’s first major.

    Woods hasn’t revealed his schedule past this week, but his options are limited. He’s a good bet to play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, but adding another start would be a departure from the norm. He’s not eligible for the two World Golf Championship events, in Mexico and Austin, and he has never played the Valspar Championship or the Houston Open.

    So there’s a greater sense of urgency this week at PGA National, which is realistically one of his final tune-ups.

    How will Woods know if he’s ready to contend at Augusta? Here’s his pre-Masters checklist:

    1. Stay healthy

    So far, so good, as Woods tries to resume a normal playing schedule following four back surgeries since 2014. Though he vowed to learn from his past mistakes and not push himself, it was a promising sign that Woods felt strong enough to sign up for the Honda, the second of back-to-back starts on separate coasts.

    Another reason for optimism on the health front: The soreness that Woods felt after his season opener at Torrey Pines wasn’t related to his surgically repaired back. No, what ached most were his feet – he wasn’t used to walking 72 holes on hilly terrain.

    Woods is stiffer than normal, but that’s to be expected. His back is fused.

    2. Figure out his driver

    Augusta National is more forgiving off the tee than most major courses, putting more of a premium on approach shots and recoveries.

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    That’s good news for Woods, who has yet to find a reliable tee shot. Clearly, he is most comfortable playing a fade and wants to take the left side of the course out of play, but in competition he’s been plagued by a two-way miss.

    In two starts this year, Woods has hit only 36 percent of the fairways, no matter if he was using driver, fairway wood or long iron.

    Unfortunately, Woods is unlikely to gain any significant insight into his driver play this week. PGA National’s Champion Course isn’t overly long, but there is water on 15 of the 18 holes. As a result, he said he likely will hit driver only four times a round, maybe five, and otherwise rely on his 3-wood and 2-iron. 

    Said Rory McIlroy: “Being conservative off the tee is something that you have to do here to play well.”

    That won’t be the case at Augusta.

    3. Clean up his iron play

    As wayward as Woods has been off the tee, his iron play hasn’t impressed, either.

    At Riviera, he hit only 16 greens in regulation – his fewest in a Tour event as a professional. Of course, Woods’ chances of hitting the green are reduced when he’s playing from the thick rough, sand and trees, but he also misfired on six of the eight par 3s.

    Even when Woods does find the green, he’s not close enough to the hole. Had he played enough rounds to qualify, his proximity to the hole (39 feet, 7 inches) would rank 161st on Tour.

    That won’t be good enough at Augusta, where distance control and precision are paramount.

    Perhaps that’s why Justin Thomas said last week what many of us were thinking: “I would say he’s a pretty good ways away.”

    4. Get into contention somewhere

    As much as he would have liked to pick off a win on the West Coast, Woods said that it’s not a prerequisite to have a chance at the Masters. He cited 2010, when he tied for fourth despite taking four months off after the fallout from his scandal.

    In reality, though, there hasn’t been an out-of-nowhere Masters champion since Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Since then, every player who eventually donned the green jacket either already had a win that year or at least a top-3 finish worldwide.

    “I would like to play well,” Woods said. “I would like to win golf tournaments leading into it. The years I’ve won there, I’ve played really well early.”

    Indeed, he had at least one win in all of the years he went on to win the Masters (1997, 2000, ’01, ’05). Throw in the fact that Woods is nearly five years removed from his last Tour title, and it’s reasonable to believe that he at least needs to get himself into contention before he can seriously entertain winning another major.

    And so that’s why he’s here at the Honda, trying to find his game with seven weeks to go. 

    “It’s tournament reps,” he said, “and I need tournament reps.”

    Add that to the rest of his pre-Masters checklist.

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    Players winner to get 3-year exemption into PGA

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 21, 2018, 8:01 pm

    Although The Players isn’t golf’s fifth major, it received a boost in that direction this week.

    The PGA of America has adjusted its criteria for eligibility into the PGA Championship, extending an exemption for the winner of The Players to three years.

    According to an official with the PGA of America, the association felt the winner of The Players deserved more than a single-year exemption, which had been the case, and the move is consistent with how the PGA Tour’s annual flagship event is treated by the other majors.

    Winners of The Players were already exempt for three years into the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.

    The change will begin with this year’s PGA Championship.

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    Thomas: Playing in front of Tiger even more chaotic

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas may be going from the frying pan to the fire of Tiger Woods’ pairings.

    Translation: He’s going from being grouped with Woods last week in the first two rounds at the Genesis Open to being grouped directly in front of Woods this week at the Honda Classic.

    “Which might be even worse than playing with him,” Thomas said Wednesday.

    Typically, the pairing in front of Woods deals with a lot of gallery movement, with fans racing ahead to get in position to see Woods’ next shot.

    Thomas was quoted after two rounds with Tiger at Riviera saying fans “got a little out of hand,” and saying it’s disappointing some golf fans today think it’s “so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots.”

    With 200,000 fans expected this week at the Honda Classic, and with the Goslings Bear Trap pavilion setting a party mood at the 16th green and 17th tee, that portion of the course figures to be quite lively at PGA National.

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    Thomas was asked about that.

    “I touched on this a little bit last week,” Thomas said. “I think it got blown out of proportion, was just taken out of context, and worded differently than how I said it or meant it.

    “I love the fans. The fans are what I hope to have a lot of, what all of us hope to have a lot of. We want them cheering us on. But it's those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times, or just saying stuff that's completely inappropriate.”

    Thomas said it’s more than ill-timed shouts. It’s the nature of some things being said.

    “It's one thing if it's just you and I talking, but when you're around kids, when you're around women, when you're around families, or just around people in general, some of the stuff they are saying to us is just extremely inappropriate,” he said. “There’s really no place for it anywhere, especially on a golf course.

    “I feel like golf is pretty well known as a classy sport, not that other sports aren't, but it has that reputation.”

    Thomas said the nature of the 17th hole at PGA National’s Champion Course makes it a more difficult tee shot than the raucous 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Typically, players like to hear fans get into the action before or after they hit shots. Ill-timed bluster, however, makes a shot like the one at Honda’s 17th even tougher.

    “That hole is hard enough,” Thomas said. “I don't need someone yelling in my ear on my backswing that I'm going to hit it in the water, to make it any harder. I hope it gets better, just for the sake of the game. That's not helping anything. That's not helping grow the game.”

    Those who follow golf know an ill-timed shout in a player’s backswing is different than anything a fan says at a football, basketball or baseball game. An ill-timed comment in a backswing has a greater effect on the outcome of a competition.

    “Just in terms of how much money we're playing for, how many points we're playing for ... this is our jobs out here, and you hate to somehow see something that a fan does, or something that they yell, influence something that affects [a player’s] job,” Thomas said.

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    Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

    McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

    “Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

    The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.

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    The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

    “He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”