Icher Leads in France Sorenstam One Shot Back

By Sports NetworkJune 13, 2002, 4:00 pm
EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France - Karine Icher shot a bogey-free round of 6-under 66 Thursday to grab the second-round lead at the Evian Masters. Icher's 36-hole total of 10-under-par 134 is good for a one-shot edge over Annika Sorenstam, Se Ri Pak and Leta Lindley.
 
First-round leader Mi Hyun Kim was two shots off the lead at 8-under-par 136 while fellow Korean Grace Park was one shot further back at 7-under-par 137.
 
Icher, playing in front of a home crowd at Evian Masters Golf Club, was two strokes behind Kim to start the round. She began to chip away at the margin with a chip-in birdie at the third and added another at the fourth to reach 6-under.
 
She birdied the par-5 seventh and hit a sand-wedge within three feet of the hole at the ninth to move to 8-under and tie Kim, who had birdied the first and the fifth.
 
At the 11th, Icher drained a 40-footer for birdie to climb to 9-under but was soon matched by Kim, who made a birdie of her own at the same hole.
 
Icher took the outright lead with a seven-foot birdie at the 16th and parred the two remaining holes to stand atop the leaderboard midway through the tournament.
 
'I do not have the fate of the world,' said Icher. 'Second year on tour, so I learn.'
 
The 23-year-old Frenchwoman finished first at the 2000 Ladies European Tour Qualifying School. She went on to win twice during her rookie campaign in 2001 and earned her first victory of 2002 at the Caja Duero Open de Espana in May.
 
Sorenstam was lurking just one behind Icher after a round of 5-under 67. The Swede collected three birdies on the front nine and knocked a 4-wood one foot from the hole for birdie at the 15th. She had a chance to tie Icher for the lead at the par-5 last, but her eagle try missed as she settled for birdie.
 
'I gave myself a lot of opportunities, like that eagle putt on 18,' said Sorenstam, who won this event in 2000. 'I had a lot of chances out there, but the greens are still not something I'm used to. It's been tough to make the transition from last week. But if I keep hitting them close enough, they'll drop eventually.'
 
Pak, who captured her second LPGA Championship last week, matched the course record with a round of 8-under 64. Pak had a share of the lead after a birdie at the 16th but a three-putt bogey at the very next hole dropped her out of the top spot.
 
The 24-year-old, who became the youngest woman to win four majors with her victory last week, closed with a birdie at the last to join Sorenstam in a tie for second.
 
'It was fun today,' said Pak. 'Mentally, everything is set.'
 
Lindley put together a remarkable stretch to close out her round. The 30-year-old landed her tee shot inside three feet of the cup at the par-3 14th for the first of five consecutive birdies en route to a round of 6-under 66.
 
Cristie Kerr posted a round of 68 to finish alone in seventh at 6-under-par 138. She was followed by Wendy Doolan, Catriona Matthew, Maria Hjorth, Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, Carin Koch and Mhairi McKay, who were all tied at 5-under-par 139.
 
Suzann Pettersen and Jackie Gallagher-Smith are tied for 14th at 4- under-par 140.
 
Defending champion Rachel Teske recovered from an opening-round 74 with a 2-under 70 Thursday. Teske finished 10 shots off the lead at even-par 144.
 
Full field scores from the Evian Masters
 
Getty Images

Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

Getty Images

McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

Getty Images

What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x