Saiki Leads Sorenstam Three Back

By Sports NetworkMarch 18, 2004, 5:00 pm
04 Safeway InternationalSUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. -- Kim Saiki fired an 8-under-par 64 on Thursday to take a three-stroke lead after the first round of the Safeway International at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club.
 
Defending champion Se Ri Pak carded a 5-under 67 in the first round and is tied for second place with world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam, Donna Andrews, Jennifer Rosales and Mi Hyun Kim.
 
Michelle Wie, the amateur phenom who played in the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Hawaii this year, bogeyed her final hole, the ninth at Superstition Mountain, to polish off a round of even-par 72.
 
Saiki opened up on the back nine at the Prospector Course at Superstition Mountain and parred her first four holes. After that start, the 38-year-old drained a 25-footer for birdie at the 14th and holed one for birdie from about half that distance at the very next hole.
 
At the 167-yard, par-3 17th, Saiki knocked a 7-iron to 15 feet and cashed in on the birdie putt to make the turn at 3 under par.
 
Saiki wasted little time on the front nine. She hit a 9-iron to eight feet to set up birdie at the first and made it two in a row with a six-footer at the par-5 second hole.
 
Saiki continued her fine iron play at the fifth. She hit an 8-iron to six feet and ran home the birdie putt, then played a sand-wedge to tap-in range at the par-5 seventh for her seventh birdie of the round.
 
At the ninth hole, Saiki hit a 9-iron approach to 15 feet. She rolled in the birdie putt to place herself three clear of the field.
 
'It was just a solid round of golf today,' said Saiki, who is winless in 11 seasons on the LPGA Tour. 'I was very patient and everything just kind of flowed. I was basically in the zone today. This is by far the best ball-striking rounds of my career.'
 
Pak collected seven birdies and two bogeys in her opening round Thursday. She birdied two of her last three holes to get within three of the lead and put herself in better position for the title defense.
 
Sorenstam was more consistent than Pak Thursday. She started on the back nine and picked up back-to-back birdies at 13 and 14. Sorenstam dropped her only shot of the round at the par-4 16th but tallied four birdies on her second nine to grab her share of second place.
 
'Maybe it wasn't quite as tidy as I wish it would have been,' said Sorenstam. 'You know, 5 under, I'll take that any day, especially my first round out this year.'
 
Andrews, a six-time winner on tour but has not visited the winner's circle since 1998, birdied her first three holes. She birdied the seventh but three-putted from 40 feet for a bogey at No. 8.
 
Andrews rebounded with a birdie at the ninth, then sank a 30-footer for birdie at 16 to get into the clubhouse first at 5 under par.
 
'I made six birdies out there today, lipped out on the last hole for another one, and had a real consistent round,' said Andrews. 'I think keeping it in play off the tee is the key.'
 
Rosales mixed six birdies and a bogey for her 67, while Kim was flawless in her round.
 
Catherine Cartwright, Siew-Ai Lim, Lorie Kane and Catriona Matthew are knotted in seventh place at 4-under-par 68.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Safeway International
  • Full Coverage - Safeway International
  • Getty Images

    Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

    Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

    “While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

    It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

    “What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

    The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

    “I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

    Getty Images

    Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

    Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:







    Getty Images

    Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

    By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

    The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

    Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

    Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

    1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

    2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

    3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

    4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

    5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

    6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

    7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

    8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

    9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

    10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

    Getty Images

    Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

    By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

    It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

    Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

    "The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

    Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

    That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

    "You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

    "But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."