Stupples Maintains Advantage

By Sports NetworkJuly 30, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Weetabix WomenBERKSHIRE, England -- Karen Stupples posted a 2-under 70 on Friday to extend her lead at the Women's British Open. She stands at 9-under-par 135 and leads by three strokes over three players at Sunningdale Golf Club.
The 9-under-par 135 tied the 36-hole record for this event, when it has been contested on a par-72 layout. Karrie Webb originally set the mark in 1997, while Catriona Matthew equaled the number in 2001.
Beth Daniel, the 47-year-old American who became the oldest winner on the LPGA Tour last year, shot a 3-under 69 and is tied for second place. Seol-An Jeon, who also carded a 69, and Jeong Jang, who shot a 68, joined Daniel at 6-under-par 138.
Defending champion Annika Sorenstam was in the hunt Friday, but stumbled late. Stupples already posted her 9-under-par total so Sorenstam knew what she needed to do when she teed off.
She tallied three front-nine birdies to get within two, but a pair of late bogeys and zero birdies on the back nine dropped her down the leaderboard.
Sorenstam, who can join Mickey Wright as the only players to successfully defend all four major titles, only managed a 1-under 71 and is part of group in fifth at minus-5.
'I still shot under par, so I have to look on the bright side,' said Sorenstam, who 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. 'I lost a little ground, but then again I'm right there. There's two more days. It's not the end of the world by any means.'
Sorenstam will have to catch Stupples, a feat she accomplished last week.
Stupples, who won the season-opening Welch's/Fry's Championship with a historic, four-round total of 258, carded seven birdies in a flawless round on Thursday. Friday's round was also mistake-free, but thanks to different conditions, offered fewer birdies.
At the par-5 opening hole, Stupples knocked a 7-wood to 40 feet. She two-putted for birdie to reach 8 under par for the championship.
After one birdie in one hole, things cooled off for the 31-year-old from Dover, England. Stupples found a greenside bunker at the seventh and had little green to use. She blasted out to 8 feet and sank the par-saving putt.
'It was very, very boring,' admitted Stupples. 'Fairways and greens most of the way around today. And then if I missed the green, it was just on the fringe where I could putt real easily or chip real easily.'
Stupples gave herself good looks for birdie at the ninth and 10th. Her birdie try at nine never grazed the hole, but her putt at No. 10 circled the cup before rimming out.
Stupples parred her next six holes, then broke into red figures again at the 17th. She tried to run a 5-iron back to the hole, but due to overnight rain, the ball never got to the flag. Instead, Stupples drained the 40-foot birdie putt to get to 9 under.
So, is a two-birdie, no-bogey round boring?
'It can be,' said Stupples. 'It was frustrating at times, but I had a couple of good opportunities, they just didn't go in the hole. But I think if you can come through today and still be under par, even though things don't quite go according to plan, it's a good day.'
Stupples is bogey-free for the tournament and for the second week in a row, owns the 36-hole lead. At last week's Evian Masters, Stupples stumbled and came in fourth and this is her first reasonable chance at one of the majors.
'It's worked very well the last couple days,' said Stupples, referring to her strategy. 'I'll just be patient and see how it all pans out.'
Laura Davies needs a victory this week to become eligible for the Hall of Fame. She posted a 3-under 69 and is tied for fifth with Sorenstam, Laura Diaz (69), Jung Yeon Lee (72), Rachel Teske (69), Natalie Gulbis (71), Heather Bowie (69) and Paula Marti (66). That group is through two rounds at 5-under-par 139.
The 36-hole cut fell at 2-over-par 146 and among the notable players who will sit out the weekend are: Rosie Jones (148), Mi Hyun Kim (148) and reigning U.S. Open champion Meg Mallon (150).
Related Links:
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    Stenson one clear of loaded leaderboard at Bay Hill

    By Nick MentaMarch 17, 2018, 10:10 pm

    Four of the top 15 players in the world and two men with stellar amateur resumes will do battle Sunday to win Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here’s how things look through 54 holes at Bay Hill, where Tiger Woods sits five back at 7 under par.

    Leaderboard: Henrik Stenson (-12), Bryson DeChambeau (-11), Rory McIlroy (-10), Justin Rose (-9), Ryan Moore (-9), Charley Hoffman (-8), Rickie Fowler (-8), Talor Gooch (-8), Ben An (-8)

    What it means:  For the second straight day, Stenson (71) will go off in the final pairing with DeChambeau (72), after both players failed to separate themselves from the field in Round 3, shooting a combined 1 under. Stenson really should have a win at Bay Hill by now. He finished in the top-10 four years in a row from 2013-2016, with three top-5s. The closest he came to victory was in 2015, when he lost to Matt Every by one shot after being put on the clock and three-putting the 15th and 16th greens. If he’s finally going to close the deal Sunday, the world No. 15 will need to hold off challenges from three of the top 13 players in the OWGR – No. 5 Rose, No. 7 Fowler and No. 13 McIlroy – and two men who won both the NCAA individual championship and the U.S. Amateur – DeChambeau and Moore.

    Round of the day: John Huh and Austin Cook both made the 1-over cut on the number and shot 66 Saturday to move into a tie for 18th at 5 under.

    Best of the rest: McIlroy, Rose and Jason Day (-5) all signed for 67. McIlroy remains in search of his first worldwide win since he walked away from East Lake with the Tour Championship and the FedExCup in 2016.

    Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

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    Biggest disappointment: Fowler was 11 under for the week but dropped three shots in his last two holes. He failed to get up and down from the front bunker at 17 and then had his ball almost fully bury in the lip of a greenside trap at 18. With only a small portion of the ball visible, Fowler took two to get out of the sand and two-putted his way to a double-bogey 6, dropping him to 2 under for the day and 8 under for the championship.

    Shot of the day: Woods’ 210-yard 5-iron from the fairway bunker at the par-5 16th:

    Quote of the day: "I'm going to have to shoot a low one tomorrow, and probably get a little bit of help. But my responsibility is to go out there and shoot a low one first." – Woods

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    TT postscript: Many birdies, but not much momentum

    By Tiger TrackerMarch 17, 2018, 10:09 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. – There were plenty of cheers for Tiger Woods during the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but there’s also still plenty of ground to make up on the leaders. Here are some thoughts and observations after walking and tracking on a steamy afternoon at Bay Hill:

    • Let’s start with the good. Tiger birdied a third of the holes Saturday, including a 12-footer on the final green that nearly blew the roof off the place. On a day when he didn’t appear to be firing on all cylinders, it’s yet another encouraging sign that he’s able to put up circles by the handful on a course where he once dominated.

    • There is, however, a reason that we’re not talking about a vintage Saturday charge from Woods. His six birdies were countered by three bogeys, including a wobbly effort on the second hole and another dropped shot on the 17th when his ball became plugged in a bunker. It added up to a 3-under 69, and at 7 under he trails Henrik Stenson by five shots heading into the final round.

    • The unquestioned shot of the day came on the par-5 16th hole, where Woods found himself up against the lip in a fairway bunker. After initially pulling out a sand wedge to lay up, he went back to the bag and grabbed a mid-iron after deciding he had found a way to skirt the lip on the right side. His shot carried the grass face by inches before flying over a greenside creek and running out 15 feet behind the hole. While he failed to convert on the eagle putt, it’s a risk-reward shot that brought a smile to his face after the round. “I tried to pull it off, and I hit a good one,” he said.

    • Heading into what’s likely his final competitive round before the Masters, Woods believes one of the strengths of his sudden resurgence has been his ability to once again rely on feel rather than swing thoughts. “I’m just playing shots, playing the holes, playing angles, where to miss the golf ball,” he said. “All these things are becoming more intuitive.”

    • Woods was largely optimistic after the round, explaining that in his mind he both played well and scored well. But the strokes gained numbers indicate he actually lost nearly a half shot to the field around the greens after going only 1 for 4 on sand saves. He converted a tricky up-and-down on No. 5, but couldn’t make mid-range saves on Nos. 2 and 17 and failed to get up and down for birdie on the par-5 12th after a birdie on the previous hole.

    • Ever the numbers guy, Woods expected to be trailing by five or six shots after posting 7 under. The deficit is officially five, and while he still holds out hope of a ninth API victory he knows that a strong close may not be enough. “I’m going to have to shoot a low one tomorrow and probably get a little bit of help,” he said.

    • Overall, it felt like a middling performance, and a round largely devoid of momentum. But that in and of itself is a testament to how far Woods has come in the last three weeks. Perhaps he’s become a victim of his own hype after a runner-up finish at Valspar turned him into the tournament favorite this week, to the point where anything short of a drought-breaking win will seem disappointing. But a largely solid 54-hole stretch that has him inside the top 10 heading into Sunday would have seemed like a Herculean achievement as recently as a month ago.

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    Rose thrives in Tiger's group, shoots 67 at Bay Hill

    By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 10:05 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose has played plenty with Tiger Woods over the years.

    Saturday’s round was just … louder.

    The Englishman had a feeling that the third round might be a little different when he was waiting to be introduced on the first hole at Bay Hill.

    “Hurry up, Justin!” a fan hollered. “We want to see Tiger!”

    That spectator was roundly booed, and Rose proceeded to stripe his fairway wood down the center. In fact, even with the decidedly pro-Tiger crowds, Rose barely missed a shot in shooting a 67 that put him just three shots back of Henrik Stenson.

    “It focused your mind,” he said afterward. “I was definitely more nervous today – it took me a hole or two to settle into my round 100 percent, just because there’s more energy out there on the course.

    “But for me, Ryder Cups and major championships, those are the types of atmospheres you’ve got to play well in and I enjoy it, so it focuses your mind.”

    Rose beat Woods by two shots Saturday, 67-69, in their first Tour round together in five years.

    “People are more into this comeback this time around, I think,” Rose said. “It’s fun to play out there, for sure.”  

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    Lesson with Faxon gets McIlroy's putting on track

    By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 9:53 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Two tweaks have Rory McIlroy in position to earn his first PGA Tour title in 18 months.

    The first was to McIlroy’s long game.

    One of the game’s preeminent ball-strikers and most prodigious drivers, he has struggled over the past few weeks, including a missed cut at last week’s Valspar Championship.

    The fix was “a feeling” with his backswing. He said that he’s trying to feel as though he’s making a three-quarter backswing, because when he’s too long he misses both ways.

    “I’m just bunting it around,” he said with a smile, but actually he’s ranked first in driving distance this week.

    The second fix was to his maligned putting stroke.

    Ranked 124th on Tour in putting, McIlroy met with former PGA Tour player and putting savant Brad Faxon for a few hours Monday at the Bear’s Club in South Florida.

    Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

    Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    “I didn’t really hit many putts,” McIlroy said. “It was more of a psychology lesson than anything else.”

    The goal was to making McIlroy’s putting more instinctive and reactive, instead of being bogged down with mechanics.

    It has worked so far. Through three rounds, he is ranked second in strokes gained-putting, gaining more than seven-and-a-half shots on the field on the greens.

    McIlroy’s third-round 67 put him in the penultimate group, just two shots back of Henrik Stenson.

    “I can’t really ask for much more,” McIlroy said.