Kerr in Command in Vegas

By Sports NetworkApril 16, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Takefuji ClassicLAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Cristie Kerr posted a 5-under 67 Friday to take a commanding four-stroke lead after two rounds of the LPGA Takefuji Classic. Kerr stands at 8-under-par 136 through two rounds.
Stacy Prammanasudh, one of four first-round leaders alongside of Kerr, managed a 1-under 71. She shares second place with Seol An Jeon (70) and Heather Daly-Donofrio (68) 4-under-par 140. Mi Hyun Kim is one stroke further back after a 2-under 70.
Kerr began her day on the 10th tee at Las Vegas Country Club. She birdied the par-5 hole after chipping to 1-foot to get to minus-4. She then parred the next nine holes.
She picked up back-to-back birdies from within 15 feet from the second to extend her lead. Kerr birdied the par-5 sixth after dropping a wedge within eight feet. She two-putted from 45 feet for birdie at the par-5 ninth to close out her round.
'I had a good day with really solid ball striking,' Kerr said. 'I hit one or two drives left, which I need to go work on. But overall I hit the ball much more solidly today, and I had a lot of opportunities for birdie. I was real calm the whole day and just tried to play within myself, and once I saw I had the lead I said let's see how far in front I can get.'
With the three-round event ending on Saturday, Kerr will attempt to pick up her first win since the 2002 Longs Drugs Challenge.
'I think I'm playing the course a little bit better,' said Kerr, who shared second place here last year. 'I am a year older. I have got much more experience under my belt. So I look at things a lot differently than I used to. I know I need to stay patient and just play as well as I can. That's all you can really do, right?'
Daly-Donofrio scorched the back side, her opening nine. She drained back-to- back birdies from the 10th before birdieing the 14th. She again made two straight birdies from the 17th to get to minus-5.
The front side was not as kind however. Daly-Donofrio bogeyed the first, but erased that mistake with a birdie at the fourth. She dropped a shot at the very next hole to drop back to 4 under.
The 34-year-old birdied the seventh, but again stumbled to a bogey at the next to fall into a share of second.
'It played a little bit easier this morning than it did yesterday afternoon,' said Daly-Donofrio. 'I was the last group off yesterday and it was much windier yesterday afternoon than it was this morning. It's still very gusty and you still have to pay attention to it.'
Jeon had a steady round. She opened with three straight pars then dropped in back-to-back birdies from the 13th. The Korean parred the remaining 13 holes to remain in a share of second place.
Prammanasudh, who earned her tour card as the leading money winner on the Futures Tour in 2003, also opened her round on the back nine. She traded a birdie for a bogey over the opening two holes and then birdied the 12th as well.
The 24-year-old dropped another stroke on No. 14, before four straight pars to head to the front side at minus-3.
There, she picked up her third birdie of the day at the par-3 third. Prammanasudh stumbled to her third and final bogey of the day at the par-4 fifth. She took her share of second with a birdie at the sixth.
Juli Inkster posted a 4-under 68 to move to 2-under-par 142. She is joined in sixth place by Danielle Ammaccapane, Kraft Nabisco Championship winner Grace Park, Moira Dunn and rookie Reilley Rankin.
Tour rookie Aree Song and amateur In-Bee Park pace a group of 13 players at 1-under-par 143.
The cut line fell at 5-over-par 149 with 88 players advancing to the final day. Among those who missed the cut were Christina Kim (151), reigning U.S. Open winner Hilary Lunke (152) and Hall Of Famer Amy Alcott (152).
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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 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 sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

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    “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.

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

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    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.

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

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    “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.

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    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.