Stupples Leads Annika Three Back

By Sports NetworkJuly 29, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Weetabix WomenBERKSHIRE, England -- Karen Stupples fired a 7-under-par 65 Thursday to take the opening-round lead of the Weetabix Women's British Open. She owns a two-shot lead over Jung Yeon Lee at Sunningdale Golf Club.
 
'To start a tournament, that was a pretty special day,' said Stupples, who tied for 15th last year. 'It was very fantastic to do it in front of a home crowd. I was nervous to start because I always want to play well when I come home.'
 
Defending champion Annika Sorenstam opened with a 4-under-par 68. She is tied for third place with Catriona Matthew, Natalie Gulbis, Minea Blomqvist and Bettina Hauert.
 
'I'm very happy to start out with a 68. It's a good start,' said Sorenstam, who completed the career Grand Slam last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. 'But if you look at the whole round, it was a little bit of an up-and-down type of day.'
 
Sorenstam mixed seven birdies and three bogeys in her round on Thursday. Her play midway through the round got her into first place with birdies at seven, nine, 10 and 13, all from inside 10 feet.
 
If Sorenstam can visit the winner's circle on Sunday, she will join Mickey Wright as the only players to successfully defend every major title. Sorenstam captured her second consecutive LPGA Championship title last month and repeated at the U.S. Women's Open in 1995-96 and at the Nabisco Championship from 2001-02.
 
But after one round it was a 31-year-old from Dover, England that led the way.
 
Stupples, who won this year's Welch's/Fry's Championship with a historic, four-round total of 258, broke into red figures early. She reached the green at the par-5 second hole in two with a 7-iron and two-putted from 40 feet for birdie.
 
At the par-3 fourth, Stupples hit a 6-iron 15 feet from the hole and sank the birdie try. She added another birdie at the ninth, also from 15 feet to make the turn at minus-3.
 
Stupples made it two in a row around the turn when she two-putted from 35 feet. That birdie tied her for the lead at 4 under par, but the Englishwoman waited until later in her round to assume the top spot on the leaderboard.
 
Stupples elected to lay up short of the green at the par-5 14th. She hit her third to 8 feet and ran home the birdie try. Stupples drained a 5-footer for birdie at 16 and an 8-footer at the 17th to go two clear of the field.
 
Stupples had a battle just to get to Sunningdale on Thursday. There was a traffic jam near the course, thanks to someone cutting down a tree off a nearby highway.
 
'The traffic coming in here today was very stressful,' said Stupples, who left earlier than usual thanks to some advice from her parents. 'I think this week I would have allowed maybe 15 more minutes, just because I could then sit down, relax, maybe have a bite to eat before I start to play.'
 
Lee, who tied for second behind Stupples at the season-opening event, was also flawless on Thursday. She chipped in from 18 feet for birdie at the first, then sank a 9-footer for birdie at No. 2.
 
She parred out the remaining holes on her front side, but holed a 16-foot birdie putt at the 10th and another from half that length at the 11th.
 
It was another birdie run to close her round that moved her up the leaderboard. She hit 9-iron to 15 feet to set up birdie at the 17th, then used the same club to knock her approach to 30 feet at the last. Lee ran home that birdie to get sole possession of second place.
 
'Today was a good day,' said Lee, who shot a 60 in the first round of this year's Welch's/Fry's Championship. 'This is a great golf course. My dad played here 25 years ago when we lived here and he commented about the course before. It is very interesting playing here.'
 
Cristie Kerr, a two-time winner this season, shot a 3-under 69 and is part of a logjam in eighth place. She is knotted with Lorena Ochoa, who is third on the tour's money list, Seol-An Jeon, Janice Moodie, A.J. Eathorne Nadina Taylor and 47-year-old Beth Daniel.
 
Europeans Laura Davies, who would be eligible for the Hall of Fame with a win this week, Patricia Meunier-Lebouc and Carin Koch headline a group tied for 15th at minus-2.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Weetabix Women's British Open
  • Full Coverage - Weetabix Women's British Open
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.