Annika Trails Frenchwomand by a Stroke

By Associated PressMay 28, 2005, 4:00 pm
Karine Icher of France completed her second round Saturday with a 6-under 66 to take sole possession of first place at the LPGA Corning Classic.
 
Icher was one of 62 players who did not complete their rounds on Friday because of a four-hour delay caused by a series of thunderstorms. Despite the short turnaround - play was halted around 8:30 p.m. Friday and resumed at 7:15 a.m. Saturday - Icher birdied the first two of her four remaining holes to move past Annika Sorenstam and Sherri Turner by one stroke. Icher was at 8-under 136.
 
Moira Dunn was alone in fourth at 6 under. Sung Ah Yim and Jimin Kang of South Korea, and first-round co-leader Sophie Gustafson were all another shot back. Yim had birdied No. 2, aced the third hole, and birdied the next two holes for a stunning rally that moved her to 6 under before play was halted, but she bogeyed her final hole of the round on Saturday to fall back.
 
When Sorenstam completed her second round tied for the lead, the horn sounded ending play as darkness fell.
 
That wasn't exactly what the rest of the field needed to hear. While 62 players would have to think about completing their rounds early Saturday, the best player in women's golf would have a good night's rest.
 
As if trying to beat Annika wasn't difficult enough.
 
'That's the good news. It's been a long day for a lot of us,' Sorenstam said Friday. 'For me to be able to finish will give me a peaceful evening and I can sleep in. It'll be nice. It should be a really long weekend for some players.'
 
Sorenstam shot a 4-under 68 to tie Turner. Seeking her fifth win in six starts this year, Sorenstam soared to the top of the leaderboard after a delay. She had a string of four straight birdies, but consecutive bogeys halted her momentum.
 
'I hit a lot of good shots at times, and then all of a sudden I hit a bad one,' said Sorenstam, who had two eagles, three birdies and four bogeys in her opening 69. 'I made a few bad swings coming in. Just a few swings got away from me.'
 
The 48-year-old Turner, the Corning winner 17 years ago, was appreciative of her early start, and not only because of the bad weather she missed. In her first four tournaments this year, she missed three cuts and tied for 51st.
 
'I definitely was glad I had an early start today because when you play well and you haven't played well in a while and you have more time to think about what you did, you don't really want to do that,' said Turner, whose opening 66 tied Gustafson for the lead and was her first under-par round of the year. 'I feel good about where my game is now. It's really nice, especially being here. I'm looking forward to the weekend. I think it will be fun.'
 
Sorenstam birdied the first two par-5s to move to 5 under, the second coming after a nice chip-and-roll to 3 feet as the rain began to fall. Play was halted after she parred No. 6, and when she emerged from the locker room after the stoppage, she made two pars before rolling in a 16-foot birdie putt at No. 9.
 
A fan yelled 'You go girl!' as the putt dropped, and that's exactly what Sorenstam did. A thundering drive at the 364-yard 10th, which she bogeyed in the opening round, and a soft second shot that landed 6 feet from the pin set up her second straight birdie.
 
At the par-3 11th, she drove within 5 feet and made the putt to reach 8 under. She rolled in a curving 9-foot putt for another birdie at the par-5 12th hole to take sole possession of the lead at 9 under.
 
Then came the bogeys. At the par-5 14th, she had to lay up in front of the elevated green with her second shot instead of going for the pin as she did when she eagled the hole on Thursday. She chunked her third shot and it spun back off the front edge of the green into the rough, then mis-hit a chip and two-putted from 12 feet.
 
At the 125-yard, par-3 15th hole, one of the easiest on the Corning Country Club course, Sorenstam's drive landed in the sand trap to the right of the green and she two-putted from 11 feet after blasting out of the sand. 'There's been some streaks in there,' Sorenstam said. 'Once I get a birdie or an eagle, I keep on going, but then it seems like when I make a bogey, I do the same thing.'
 
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Els eyeing potential Prez Cup players at CJ Cup

By Will GrayOctober 16, 2018, 6:55 pm

Ernie Els is teeing it up this week in South Korea as a player, but he's also retaining the perspective of a captain.

While the 2019 Presidents Cup in Australia is still more than a year away, Els has already begun the process of keeping tabs on potential players who could factor on his International squad that will face an American contingent captained by Tiger Woods. Els played in last week's CIMB Classic in Malaysia, and this week received one of eight sponsor exemptions into the limited-field CJ Cup on Jeju Island.

Els played a Tuesday practice round with Presidents Cup veteran and Branden Grace and India's Shubankhar Sharma, who held a share of the 54-hole lead last week in Malaysia.

"It's going to be a very diverse team the way things are shaping up already," Els told reporters. "We've got another year to go, so we're going to have an interesting new group of players that's going to probably make the team."

In addition to keeping tabs on Grace and Sharma, Els will play the first two rounds with Australia's Marc Leishman and South Korea's Si Woo Kim. Then there's Sungjae Im, a native of Jeju Island who led the Web.com Tour money list wire-to-wire last season.

"There's so many Korean youngsters here this week, so I'm going to really see how they perform," Els said. "Still a long way to go, but these guys, the young guys are going to be really the core of our team."

Els, who will turn 49 on Wednesday, made only five cuts in 15 PGA Tour starts last season, with his best result a T-30 finish at the Valero Texas Open. While it's increasingly likely that his unexpected triumph at the 2012 Open will end up being his final worldwide victory, he's eager to tackle a new challenge in the coming months by putting together the squad that he hopes can end the International losing skid in the biennial matches.

"The U.S. team is a well-oiled team. They play Ryder Cups together, they obviously play very well in the Presidents Cups against us, so they're a very mature team," Els said. "We are going to be a young team, inexperienced. But that doesn't scare me because I know the course very well down in Melbourne, I've played it many, many times. I feel I have a very good game plan to play the golf course strategy-wise and I'm going to share that with my players."

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CIMB champ Leishman hopes to improve on CJ runner-up

By Will GrayOctober 16, 2018, 6:29 pm

Marc Leishman is back in Korea with momentum on his side, hoping to fare a little better than a year ago.

Leishman nearly took home the trophy in the inaugural CJ Cup, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force a playoff with Justin Thomas. But the Aussie put his approach into the water on the second extra hole, allowing Thomas to wrap up the win a few minutes later.

"Excited to be back in Korea. I have a lot of good memories here at this golf course," Leishman told reporters. "Hopefully I can play well again and go one better than last year."

Leishman's playoff loss kick-started a strong opening stretch to his wraparound season, but he closed it without a victory. That drought ended in emphatic fashion last week, as he cruised to a five-shot win at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia for his fourth career PGA Tour win and his third since March 2017.


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Leishman told reporters last week in Malaysia that before the week started, his driving was so crooked that he feared his equipment reps might need to add a few golf balls to his locker. Instead, he found his groove en route to shooting 26 under par at TPC Kuala Lumpur and leaving the field in his wake.

"Golf's a funny game. It can change very quickly from bad to good or from good to bad," Leishman said. "It was certainly a goal of mine to win this season, and to win my first event of the season is great. Also to be going back to Maui puts me in a different frame of mind for the whole year. For a lot of reasons, I'm really happy with what last week brought."

Leishman played on the Korean PGA Tour in 2006 while getting his pro career off the ground, but even with that experience he expects a learning curve while going from the steamy conditions of Malaysia to the cool and wet climate that has greeted players this week on Jeju Island.

"It's a big adjustment going from so hot and humid last week to fairly cold and hopefully not wet, but it was wet this morning," Leishman said. "The ball goes different distances, your body's not quite as loose as what it is when it's hot. Just little things like that that you have to adjust to."

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Bowditch eyes same fusion surgery as Tiger

By Will GrayOctober 16, 2018, 6:03 pm

After struggling through a couple lean years on the course, Steven Bowditch is ready to go under the knife.

Bowditch has won twice on the PGA Tour, and the Aussie was a member of the International Team at the 2015 Presidents Cup in South Korea. But his game fell apart shortly thereafter, as Bowditch has made just two cuts in his last 40 starts dating back to July 2016 while putting up some eye-popping scores.

Bowditch's exemption for his win at the 2015 AT&T Byron Nelson expired in August 2017, and he spent last season without full-time status on Tour for the first time since 2010. He made eight starts, notably finding a caddie via Twitter search before missing the cut at the John Deere Classic in July.

But the 35-year-old revealed Tuesday that his on-course struggles have been tied to some health concerns that have been difficult to pinpoint. Having finally received the appropriate diagnosis, he is preparing for a spinal fusion surgery next month between the L5 and S1 vertebrae - the same two that Tiger Woods successfully fused last year:

Bowditch's estimate of a "late 2019" return likely means he'll miss the entire 2018-19 season. When he returns he would do so with past champion status based on his wins, which also included the 2014 Valero Texas Open.

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Thomas, Koepka grouped as both vie for No. 1 in Korea

By Will GrayOctober 16, 2018, 1:44 pm

The PGA Tour remains in Asia this week, where another star-studded field is gathered for a no-cut event. Here's a look at some of the marquee, early-round groupings at the CJ Cup in South Korea, where Justin Thomas will look to retain his title as the tournament's lone champion with the action getting started Wednesday night for American viewers (all times ET):

7:15 p.m. Wednesday, 8:15 p.m. Thursday: Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Sungjae Im

Thomas won the inaugural edition of this event last year in a playoff, and he returns to defend his title with hopes of supplanting idle Dustin Johnson as world No. 1. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Koepka, who is making his first start since being named PGA Tour Player of the Year and, like Thomas, could move to world No. 1. Rounding out the group is Im, a Korean native who went wire-to-wire leading the Web.com Tour money list in 2018 and nearly won his first event as a PGA Tour member in Napa.


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8:15 p.m. Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. Thursday: Marc Leishman, Si Woo Kim, Ernie Els

Leishman lost to Thomas in overtime at this event last year, but he returns to Jeju Island with plenty of momentum after dusting the field last week en route to a five-shot win at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia. Joining him will be Kim, who won the 2017 Players Championship and will have plenty of support from the Korean fans, and Els, playing this week on a sponsor invite as he continues to keep an eye on potential stars for the Presidents Cup team he will captain next year.


8:25 p.m. Wednesday, 7:15 p.m. Thursday: Jason Day, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama

They're two Aussies who teamed on plenty of Presidents Cup squads and have both reached the top of the world rankings, and now they'll play together for the first two rounds in Korea. Day is making his first start since East Lake, while Scott made a rare appearance at the Japan Open last week where he tied for 50th. Rounding out the trio will be Matsuyama, another Presidents Cup fixture who tied for fourth at the Tour Championship to end last season.


8:35 p.m. Wednesday, 7:25 p.m. Thursday: Kevin Tway, Austin Cook, Xander Schauffele

Tway finished T-27 last week in Malaysia in his first start as a PGA Tour winner, having taken the trophy two weeks ago in Napa. He'll be joined in Korea by Cook, who contended throughout last week en route to a T-13 finish, and Schauffele, the former Rookie of the Year who shot 65-68 over the weekend in Kuala Lumpur.