Big Names Big Week at Wachovia

By Associated PressApril 30, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Wachovia ChampionshipCHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Wachovia Championship has become known for its numerous perks. Its what made Tiger Woods absence stick out even more on Wednesday.
 
There was no sign of the Buick pitchmans vehicle among the sea of Mercedes courtesy cars in the players parking lot. The tournament known for its pampering of players is the first scheduled event Woods will miss since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
 
But as the PGA TOUR prepares for life without the worlds No. 1 golfer this week and next at THE PLAYERS Championship, not everyone is bummed out.
 
At least I wont have to deal with all his fans, Rory Sabbatini said.
 
It was a year ago here at Quail Hollow Club that Sabbatini said he was looking forward to being paired with Woods in the final round. Woods shot a 3-under 69 to win the tournament, while Sabbatini shot 74 and finished tied for third.
 
A week later, Sabbatini said Woods looked beatable as ever. Woods responded by noting he had as many wins in 2007 as Sabbatini had in his career.
 
Sabbatinis been hearing it from the galleries ever since.
 
There were a couple of times I wanted to bury a few clubs in a couple of people, Sabbatini said. Now you just have to realize that, you know what, half of them are drunk and the other half'everyone is entitled to their opinion.
 
Sabbatini is part of a loaded field'even with Woods going through injury rehab'for Thursdays start to the six-year-old Wachovia Championship.
 
Phil Mickelson, armed with a new putter, will play his first tournament since the Masters. Last years runner up, Steve Stricker, is here. So is Adam Scott, 2006 champion Jim Furyk, 2005 winner Vijay Singh and Masters champion Trevor Immelman. In all, 18 of the worlds top 25 will play after Lee Westwood withdrew on Wednesday.
 
Sabbatini is ranked 12th, but struggling. He missed the cut at the Masters and at last weeks Byron Nelson Championship. Hes finished no better than 33rd in his past six tournaments.
 
But the outspoken South African, who tried to convince reporters that he didnt know Woods wasnt here, thinks his return trip to Charlotte might change his luck.
 
It was this time last year that the media butchered me, Sabbatini said. So maybe itll be a new year. Can we do a Tigers New Year? Weve got the Chinese New Year, we got our New Year. How about a Tiger New Year?
 
Sabbatini and the rest of the field will face a course beloved by most golfers, but still waterlogged from Mondays 3 inches of rain. Groundskeepers were busy sucking moisture out of the greens during Wednesdays pro-am. The plan was to have shorter rough and faster greens than a year ago when Woods won by two shots over Stricker.
 
I love how progressive this tournament is in having the two-layered cuts of rough, Mickelson said. I thought that was a terrific idea, the way you could hit some shots if you miss the fairway, but if you go in the deep stuff, youre wedging out.
 
Mickelson has spent the past two weeks working on his struggling putting. He said his recent fitness routine, which included extensive stretching, has caused him to grow up to an inch. Its why he switched to a 35-inch putter from a 33 1/2 -inch model.
 
I spent two weeks working on it and trying to get it dialed in, Mickelson said. I putted great today. I thought I hit a lot of good putts, and Im excited.
 
Immelman remained busy this week, shooting a magazine cover at a nearby course, his life forever changed after winning at Augusta. But Immelman acknowledged all the interviews, the autograph signing and travel has affected him. He missed the cut last week in his first event since winning the green jacket.
 
I think my mind has probably just slipped from my game at this point, Immelman said. Its something Im addressing and something Im hoping to fix as soon as possible.
 
Woods absence combined with the otherwise strong field gives this tournament, with the PGA TOUR's toughest closing three holes, a unique feel. Still, there wasnt anywhere the near the buzz of last year, when Woods played his pro-am with Michael Jordan with a gigantic crowd that rivaled Sundays final round.
 
The game of golf always suffers when hes not playing, Mickelson said. We all benefit when he does. This tournament here has led all the other Tour events into quality and what a Tour event should be. I wish this tournament was rewarded with this participation.
 
Its the first time in three years on the PGA TOUR that a player hasnt returned to defend his title. Maybe his fans will take it easy on Sabbatini.
 
There are times when you have to bite your tongue pretty hard and not say anything, Sabbatini said. Its funny that the media can create something and people can then take that to almost create your personality of who you are because of something the media has created. Its sad.
 
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    Ko part of 5-way tie for Mediheal lead

    By Associated PressApril 27, 2018, 3:20 am

    DALY CITY, Calif. - Lydia Ko was back on top at Lake Merced.

    Ko shot a 4-under 68 on a chilly Thursday morning at the LPGA Mediheal Championship for a share of the first-round lead. Jessica Korda, Caroline Hedwall, In-Kyung Kim and Su Oh joined Ko atop the leaderboard in the LPGA's return to Lake Merced after a year away.

    ''This is a golf course where you need to drive the ball well and putt well,'' said Ko, the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic winner at the course in 2014 and 2015.

    Ko eagled the par-5 fifth and had four birdies and a bogey. The New Zealander has 14 LPGA wins, the last in July 2016.

    ''It's nice to come back to a place where you feel super-welcomed,'' Ko said. ''It just brings back a lot of great memories. ... My family and friends are here this week, so I'm hoping that I'm going to continue the solid play.''

    She turned 21 on Tuesday.

    ''I don't think I feel a huge difference, but I know turning 21 is a huge thing in the U.S.,'' Ko said, ''So, I'm legal and I can do some fun things now.''

    Korda, playing alongside Kim a group ahead of Ko, also eagled the fifth and had four birdies and a bogey. Korda won in Thailand in February in her return from reconstructive jaw surgery.


    Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship


    ''The score says one thing and my hands say another,'' Korda said. ''It was really cold out there today, so it was good that I stuck to kind of my process. ... Actually, this is still some of the nicer conditions that we've played in compared to the past. I'll take the cold as long as there's no rain.''

    Hedwall and Kim each had five birdies and a bogey.

    ''I just love the city. It's really nice,'' said Hedwall, from Sweden. ''It's sort of a European-style city with all the shopping going on downtown and stuff. I love it here. I even like this weather, suits me really well, too.''

    Oh had a bogey-free round. The Australian was the only one of the five players tied for the lead to play in the afternoon.

    ''It was cold and pretty windy out there and, because it's got a lot of elevation, it kind of swirls in the middle like in the low areas, so it was tough,'' Oh said. ''I hit the ball really solid today. Then the ones I missed, I made really good up-and-downs.''

    Lexi Thompson, Sei Young Kim, Charley Hull and Celine Herbin shot 69.

    ''This course is very challenging, especially when the wind picks up,'' the third-ranked Thompson said. ''It's chilly, so it's a little longer of a course. Some of the par 5s are reachable, so you try to take advantage of that, but pars were good and just take the birdie chances as you can get them.''

    Moriya Jutanugarn, the winner Sunday in Los Angeles for her first LPGA title, had a 71 playing with former Stanford student Michelle Wie and ANA Inspiration winner Pernilla Lindberg. Wie had a 74, and Lindberg shot 79. Ariya Jutanugarn matched her sister with a 71, playing in the group with Ko.

    Top-ranked Inbee Park matched playing partner Brooke Henderson with a 72. The third member of the afternoon group, second-ranked Shanshan Feng, shot 73.

    Juli Inkster shot 72. The 57-year-old Hall of Famer grew up in Santz Cruz, starred at San Jose State and lives in Los Altos. She won the last of her 31 LPGA titles in 2006.

    Stacy Lewis had a 74 after announcing that she is pregnant with a due date of Nov. 3. She plans to play through the Marathon Classic in July and return for a full season next year.

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    Glover, Reavie share Zurich lead with Chinese pair

    By Associated PressApril 27, 2018, 3:04 am

    AVONDALE, La. - Chez Reavie had quite a few good moments at TPC Louisiana on Thursday. So did teammate Lucas Glover.

    In best-ball format, the most important thing was those moments came on different holes.

    Reavie and Glover teamed to shoot a 12-under 60 for a share of the Zurich Classic lead with China's Zhang Xinjun and Dou Zecheng.

    ''Chez started well and I picked it up in the middle of the back nine,'' Glover said. ''He closed it off and then we both played really well on the front. Just kind of ham and egged it, I guess, as they would say.''

    Reavie and Glover each had six birdies in the best-ball format, pushing through soggy weather early in the round before conditions cleared at TPC Louisiana. Six teams are two shots back in a tie for third after shooting 62.

    ''We were just rolling,'' Reavie said. ''I think we're comfortable. We like to laugh and have a good time when we're playing golf, and it definitely helps.''

    Zhang and Dou birdied four of their final five holes. Dou made a 31-foot putt on No. 9 to cap the impressive rally and jump into the lead with Reavie and Glover.


    Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

    Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


    Tony Finau-Daniel Summerhays, Chris Paisley-Tommy Fleetwood, J.J. Henry-Tom Hoge, Michael Kim-Andrew Putnam, Kevin Kisner-Scott Brown and Troy Merritt-Brendon de Jonge shot 62. Jason Day and Ryan Ruffels shot 64.

    It's the first time since last year's Tour Championship that the reigning champs of all four majors have been in the same field. None of them were among the leaders after the first round.

    Masters champion Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantlay had a 65, and British Open winner Jordan Spieth and Ryan Palmer were at 66.

    ''I didn't feel like there was really any rust,'' Reed said. ''I felt like I hit the ball all right today. I felt I hit some good quality putts. A couple of them went in, a couple of them didn't.''

    This is the second year that two-player teams have competed at the Zurich Classic. The unusual tournament features best-ball play in the first and third rounds and alternate shot in the second and final rounds.

    U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka and Marc Turnesa shot a 67. PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas and Bud Cauley shot a 70.

    There are 80 teams in the tournament and the top 35, along with ties, will make the cut after Friday's second round.

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    Lewis says she's expecting first child in November

    By Randall MellApril 27, 2018, 2:18 am

    Stacy Lewis is pregnant.

    The 12-time LPGA winner confirmed after Thursday’s first round of the Mediheal Championship that she and her husband, University of Houston women’s golf coach Gerrod Chadwell, are expecting their first child on Nov. 3.

    Lewis learned she was pregnant after returning home to Houston in late February following her withdrawal from the HSBC Women’s World Championship with a strained oblique muscle.

    “We're obviously really excited,” Lewis said. “It wasn't nice I was hurt, but it was nice that I was home when I found out with [Gerrod]. We're just really excited to start a family.”

    Lewis is the third big-name LPGA player preparing this year to become a mother for the first time. Suzann Pettersen announced last month that she’s pregnant, due in the fall. Gerina Piller is due any day.


    Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship


    Piller’s husband, PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, withdrew from the Zurich Classic on Thursday to be with her. Piller and Lewis have been U.S. Solheim Cup partners the last two times the event has been played.

    “It's going to be fun raising kids together,” Lewis said. “Hopefully, they're best friends and they hang out. But just excited about the next few months and what it's going to bring.”

    Lewis, a former Rolex world No. 1 and two-time major championship winner, plans to play through the middle of July, with the Marathon Classic her last event of the year. She will be looking to return for the start of the 2019 season. The LPGA’s maternity leave policy allows her to come back next year with her status intact.

    “This year, the golf might not be great, but I've got better things coming in my life than a golf score.” Lewis said. “I plan on coming back and traveling on the road with the baby, and we'll figure it out as we go.”

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    Coach scores in NFL Draft and on golf course

    By Grill Room TeamApril 27, 2018, 1:47 am

    To say that Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had a good day Thursday would be an understatement. Not only did his team snag one of the top defensive players in the NFL Draft - Georgia outside linebacker Roquan Smith, who the Bears took with the eighth pick of the first round - but earlier in the day Fangio, 59, made a hole-in-one, sinking a 9-iron shot from 125 yards at The Club at Strawberry Creek in Kenosha, Wis.

    Perhaps the ace isn't so surprising, though. In late May 2017, Fangio made another hole-in-one, according to a tweet from the Bears. The only information supplied on that one was the distance - 116 yards.