King Kung at Takefuji

By Sports NetworkApril 19, 2003, 4:00 pm
LAS VEGAS -- Candie Kung carded a 2-under 70 Saturday to earn her first LPGA Tour victory at the Takefuji Classic. Kung, who finished the tournament at 12-under-par 204, held off Cristie Kerr, Soo-Yun Kang and 2002 champion Annika Sorenstam, who tied for second at 10-under-par 206.
 
'This is great,' said Kung. 'That is about all I can say about it. It is awesome.'
 
Kang and Sorenstam began the final round five strokes off the pace, but both shot 5-under 67s in the final round to put pressure on Kung.
 
Kung entered the last round sharing the lead with Catriona Matthew, who owned at least a share of the lead after each of the first two rounds. Kung dropped a shot at the first after losing her drive right, then parred seven straight holes before rolling in a six-footer for birdie at the par-5 ninth.
 
On the back side, Kung made it back-to-back birdies with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 10th. She rolled in another birdie at the par-4 12th, before sinking a 30-footer for her final birdie and a three-stroke lead at the par-4 15th.
 
'I was just trying to go there and knock everything in the hole,' said Kung, who earns $165,000 with the victory. 'That is what I was trying to do. I wanted to hit fairways, greens and try to make a putt.'
 
Kung, who won the 2001 U.S. Public Links Championship before turning professional later that summer, faltered with a three-putt bogey at the last, but it didn't matter.
 
'I was just trying to hit the green on the third shot and somehow it flew the pin,' said Kung. 'I did not know how many shots I was leading by. I was trying to hit it on the green and two-putt from there.'
 
Kang had a strong front nine. She rolled in a birdie at the fourth from 10 feet out before sinking a four-footer for birdie at the sixth. She capped the front side with consecutive birdies on eight and nine.
 
Around the turn, Kang birdied the 12th and 14th both from within 10 feet to get to 11-under. Her chance at challenging for the crown ended with a bogey at the 15th when she was unable to get up-and-down.
 
'I knew I was at 11-under and Kung was at 12-under before my bogey on 15,' said Kang. 'I wanted to make birdie, but didn't. I am happy with my finish though.'
 
Kerr started slowly with a bogey at the first, but recovered quickly. She rolled in a 15-footer at the next for birdie. Kerr then birdied the two par-5s on the front nine, Nos. 6 and 9, to get to 11-under. On the back side, she was unable to keep up her momentum. She carded eight pars and dropped a shot after missing the green at the par-3 14th.
 
'I would have been a lot happier if my last putt went in,' said Kerr. 'I played pretty well and hit a lot of greens, but today was just not my day to make putts.'
 
Sorenstam made a nice run to try to make it back-to-back titles at this event. She struggled to start both nines with bogeys at the second and 10th. Otherwise, she had an excellent round. The top-player in the women's game birdied the third, sixth and ninth to get to minus-7.
 
After her bogey at 10, Sorenstam ran off three straight birdies from the 13th to move into contention. Over the final three holes, Sorenstam could only muster a birdie at the last to move into a tie for second.
 
Hee-Won Han finished alone in fifth at 9-under-par 207, followed by Matthew (74), Se Ri Pak (69) and Akiko Fukushima (69), who tied for sixth at minus-8.
 
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the Takefuji Classic
  • Full coverage of the Takefuji Classic
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    Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

    Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

    Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

    Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

    New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



    FALLING

    Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

    Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

    Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

    Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

    Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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    Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

    By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

    “I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

    Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

    “If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


    Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


    Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

    Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

    “He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

    As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

    "I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

    Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

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    McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

    The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

    McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

    And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

    “I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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    Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

    No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

    Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

    With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

    “This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

    Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.