US Bent On Major Comeback

By Sports NetworkDecember 14, 2002, 5:00 pm
PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico -- The Japanese team of Shigeki Maruyama and Toshi Izawa fired a 14-under 58 Saturday to take the lead after the third round of the WGC-EMC World Cup. Their 54-hole total of 30-under-par 186 was one better than Fiji's Vijay Singh and Dinesh Chand.
South Africa's Tim Clark and Rory Sabbatini finished alone in third at 28-under-par 188. The top-seeded American team of Phil Mickelson and David Toms were one shot further back after a sizzling 15-under 57 at Vista Vallarta Golf Club's Nicklaus Course.
'We were quite a ways back heading into today, and we needed to have a good day to make up some ground,' said Mickelson, who took advantage of Saturday's better ball format. 'I think we made up half or so of the seven shots we were after.'
Mickelson and Toms jumped out of the gate with birdies on each of the first four holes. They added back-to-back birdies starting at the seventh and reached 20-under after Mickelson drained a 25-foot eagle putt at the par-5 10th.
'We even talked about it right after he made it because there was a scoreboard right there,' said Toms. 'Kind of like, hey, we are here, hopefully those guys started trying harder to make birdies and maybe they wouldn't make so many coming in.'
That eagle started another run by the Americans and they cruised with four consecutive birdies starting at the 11th. They added a birdie at the 16th and Mickelson dropped his tee shot inside eight feet for a birdie at the par-3 17th.
At the par-4 18th, Mickelson hit his approach to 10 feet and made the putt to complete the phenomenal round.
'It was fun. It was a great day,' said Toms. 'We got off to a good start. I think that was the difference from the first couple of days. We got off to a roaring start and we just kind of maintained that throughout the day.'
Mickelson and Toms, who played together at the Ryder Cup, have put themselves in position to bring home a 24th World Cup title for the United States.
'If we can post a score tomorrow, put something up there, at least get it going where those guys know that we are going to be there in the end, I see no reason why we can't come back and win this thing,' said Toms.
Maruyama and Izawa moved into contention with six birdies on the front side to make the turn at 22-under. They birdied 11 and 12 and took the outright lead at the following hole.
With a clear view of the green at the par-four 13th, Izawa holed out from the fairway for an eagle. Izawa then hit his second shot to 12 feet for birdie at the 14th and Maruyama carried the momentum onto the following hole with a birdie of his own to move to minus-29.
'We had a very good first nine holes, with six birdies, and then the turning point was probably the 13th hole, when Izawa made eagle,' said Maruyama. 'That was the shot of the day. Afterward, my play was getting better and so overall, it was a very enjoyable round.'
Izawa hit his approach within 14 feet at the last but his partner did him one better. Maruyama knocked his second shot to four feet and ran home the putt to grant Japan the 54-hole lead.
'We are not really surprised with the score, with the conditions and everything,' said Maruyama. 'We discussed this, and maybe it's not an every day score, but to play the golf, we are aiming for a good score.'
Overnight leaders Singh and Chand birdied six of the first 10 holes and picked up back-to-back birdies starting at the 12th to move to 27-under. They birdied 16 and Chand recovered from an errant drive with a birdie at the last to put his team alone in second place.
'Tomorrow is a very difficult format,' Singh said of the final-round foursomes. 'Anything is possible tomorrow, and even guys way back, five or six shots, can come up and win. So we just have to play our own game and not worry about the rest.'
England's Justin Rose and Paul Casey had five birdies and an eagle on the front nine to make the turn at 23-under. They collected three more birdies on the back side to finish four strokes off the lead at 26-under-par 190. They were joined the Canadian tandem of Mike Weir and Ian Leggatt and Scotland's Paul Lawrie and Alastair Forsyth in a tie for fifth.
The Australian duo of Adam Scott and Craig Parry shot a 7-under 65 to finish two shots further back at 24-under-par 192 along with Korea's K.J. Choi and S.K. Ho.
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Simpson WDs from RSM, tweets his father is ill

By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:45 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Following rounds of 67-68, Webb Simpson was in 12th place entering the weekend at the RSM Classic before he withdrew prior to Saturday’s third round.

On Saturday afternoon, Simpson tweeted that he withdrew due to an illness in his family.

“Thanks to [Davis Love III] for being such a great tournament host. I [withdrew] due to my dad being sick and living his last days,” Simpson posted on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.

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Simpson’s father, Sam, caddied for his son during amateur events, and Webb Simpson started playing golf after following his father to the course on family vacations to North Carolina.

“My dad is probably the kindest man I know. He’s always been the guy who knew everyone, everyone knew him, everyone wanted to be around him,” Simpson said in a 2015 interview with David Feherty. “He taught me the game. He’s always been one of those dads who loved to be active with their kids.”

Before play began on Thursday, Luke Donald withdrew after being hospitalized with chest pain. Tests indicated the Englishman’s heart was fine and he returned home to undergo more tests.

New old putter helps Kirk (64) jump into contention

By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:43 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Chris Kirk’s ball-striking has been nearly flawless this fall. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for his putting.

In four events this season, Kirk ranks 143rd in strokes gained: putting, but his fortunes have changed this week, thanks at least in part to a return to something familiar.

Kirk switched to an older style of putter similar to the one he used on the Tour in 2010 to earn his PGA Tour card.

“It's nice to be back in contention again,” said Kirk, who is alone in second place, three strokes behind front-runner Austin Cook. “It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow.”

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Kirk is 25th in strokes gained: putting this week and has converted several crucial putts, including a 30-footer for birdie at the 17th hole on his way to a third-round 64.

His putting is similar to 2013 when he won the RSM Classic, and his improved play on the greens has given the 32-year-old confidence going into Sunday’s final round.

“I'll probably be relatively comfortable in that situation, and thankfully I've been there before,” Kirk said. “It's still not easy by any means, but hopefully I'll be able to group together a bunch of good shots and see what it gives me.”

Rookie Cook (66) handling RSM like a pro

By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:24 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Of all the impressive statistics Austin Cook has put up this week at the RSM Classic – he is first in strokes gained: tee to green, strokes gained: approach to the green and scrambling – the one number that stands out is 49.

That’s how many holes Cook went this week without a bogey or worse, a moment that prompted his caddie, Kip Henley, to joke, “The dream is over.”

That loss of momentum at the 14th hole didn’t last long, with the PGA Tour rookie making birdie at the next hole on his way to a third-round 66 and a three-stroke lead.

“Bouncing back from any bogey with a birdie is nice and helps get the number right back. Being my only bogey of the week so far, it was really nice to be able to get that back on the next hole,” said Cook, who leads Chris Kirk at 18 under par. “Going into tomorrow with a three-shot lead instead of a two-shot lead I think is crucial.”

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Although this is the first time Cook has held a 54-hole lead on the Tour, in fact it’s just his fourth start as a Tour member, he has experienced Sunday pressure before. In 2015, he began the final round at the Shell Houston Open one stroke off the lead held by Jordan Spieth.

“Back then my game was good as well, but mentally I've grown a lot and matured a lot and been able to kind of just let small things on the golf course roll off my shoulder instead of getting tied up in one little small mistake,” said Cook, who closed with a 75 at the ’15 Shell Houston Open to tie for 11th.

Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME

By Nick MentaNovember 18, 2017, 8:47 pm

Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.

Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)

What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.

Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.

Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.

Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.

Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.

Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.