Inkster Storms to 31st LPGA Title

By Sports NetworkMarch 19, 2006, 5:00 pm
SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. -- LPGA Hall-of-Famer Juli Inkster fired a 5-under 67 Sunday to roar from behind and win the Safeway International. Inkster, who won for the first time since the 2003 season, ended the event at 15-under-par 273.
 
The win broke a 12-year stranglehold that foreigners had on the crown. The last American winner of this tournament was Patty Sheehan in 1993.
 
'It feels great. It has been a long time,' said Inkster, who won for the first time since the 2003 Evian Masters. 'I've worked really hard this winter and its great to see my hard work pay off.'
 
Inkster broke through despite cold, rain and fading sunlight. Due to a one hour, 50-minute rain delay, portable lights were brought out to help illuminate the final two holes.
 
Third-round leader Sarah Lee struggled to a final-round, 1-over 73 to end two shots back at 13-under-par 275. Lee was looking for her first tour win, but settled for her fourth second-place finish in her five-year career.
 
Aree Song, who led after the second round, also shot 73 to end at minus-12. Cristie Kerr and Catriona Matthew each posted rounds of 3-under 69 to share fourth place at 11-under-par 277. They were joined there by reigning Women's British Open champion Jeong Jang (70).
 
Lee and Song were for the lead most of the round. Lee birdied the first and second to get to 16 under. Song also birdied the second to trail by two.
 
Both Song and Lee bogeyed the fourth. Song birdied No. 7 to get back to 14- under and Lee joined her there after a bogey at the eighth.
 
Inkster, meanwhile, dropped in back-to-back birdies from the fourth to get to 12-under. From there, she parred her next five holes around the turn.
 
The 45-year-old rolled in a birdie on the 11th, then sank a 4-footer for birdie on 12 to join Lee and Song in the lead at minus-14. Lee answered with a birdie at the 12th to regain a one-stroke lead.
 
Lee made it two in a row as she birdied 13 to go two clear. Inkster, playing one group ahead of Lee and Song, dropped her approach shot five feet from the cup at the 14th.
 
Inkster sank that birdie putt to move to 15 under. Lee found a transition area off the tee at 14. After her second shot plugged in a bunker, Lee blasted across the green.
 
She could do no better than double bogey, which dropped her to minus-14, one behind Inkster. Song found two bunkers on the 14th en route to her own double bogey that put her out of the running at minus-12.
 
Lee parred 15 and 16, while Inkster missed the green at the 16th and could not save par. So Lee and Inkster were tied at 14 under. Lee fell one back as she bogeyed the 17th after missing the green long and right.
 
Inkster, going for her 31st tour win, pitched her third to 3 feet and sank the birdie putt on the par-5 closing hole to get to 15 under.
 
'I hit the ball very well today,' said Inkster, who claimed $210,000 for the win. 'I think I only missed one green and that was on 16. I had a lot of opportunities for birdie. I just stayed patient all week and tried to keep hitting good shots.'
 
Lee, needing eagle to force a playoff, could only par the last despite her eagle chip running just past the lip of the cup.
 
'I made birdie on 12 and 13 and I was in good position,' said Lee. 'On 14, I was into the wind so I grabbed my driver and swung aggressively. I just pulled it. The second shot off the rocks was really difficult, I didn't know how the ball would come off them. I did imagine the shot before I hit it, but it didn't work.'
 
Women's world No. 1 and three-time champion Annika Sorenstam tried to make a miraculous comeback on Sunday. She trailed by 13 strokes entering the round, but fired 6-under 66 to fly up the leaderboard.
 
Sorenstam ended at 7-under-par 281 and in a tie for 19th place on the Prospector Course at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club.
 
Young-A Yang (69) and Paula Creamer (70) shared seventh place at 10-under-par 278. Candy Hannemann, Patricia Meunier-Lebouc and Stacy Prammanasudh were one stroke further back at minus-9.
 
Related Links:
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    Rahm (62) takes early lead at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."