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Despite no wins since, Hull ready to defend CME title

By Associated PressNovember 15, 2017, 12:44 am

A year has passed since Charley Hull, the toast of English golf and one of the world's up-and-coming players, captured the CME Group Tour Championship at the age of 20 to claim her first LPGA victory.

Since that breakthrough triumph at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., Hull has not returned to the winner's circle, but her 2017 campaign has still been a success.

Hull has finished in the top 10 three times this season - most recently forging a tie for sixth at the LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship in South Korea. She also had three top 20 showings in the Tour's recent Asia swing.

Last year, Hull played brilliant golf when she turned in back-to-back 66s in the final two rounds to claim the championship. She finished at 19-under-par to defeat South Korea's So Yeon Ryu by two strokes.

"I was really buzzing to get my first win on the LPGA at the end of 2016," Hull said. "The field at the CME Group Tour Championship was really strong and I had a great week from start to finish and a lot of good shots that paid off."

Given her recent form, Hull has a lot of confidence as she heads back to Naples and the LPGA Tour Championship to defend her crown. She has a matter-of-fact strategy that allows her to play golf and compete at the highest level with minimal pressure.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


"I don't really like to set too many goals," Hull said. "I will keep focusing on good shots, as each good shot leads to a good hole and lots of good holes lead to a good round, which leads to a good tournament. This is my second full year on the LPGA, and it means I've had a bit more flexibility about which events I wanted to play in."

Hull has been a force in the women's game since before she turned professional at the age of 17. She was first introduced to golf when she was 2 years old and began playing with her father at Kettering Golf Club in England. She left school when she was 13 to be home schooled and started playing in amateur tournaments.

She made her professional debut in March 2013 and reeled off five consecutive second-place finishes on the Ladies European Tour. With five additional top-10 finishes that season, Hull finished sixth on the tour's Order of Merit despite playing in just 15 official events and won the LET Rookie of the Year award.

In August 2013, Hull was selected by European Solheim Cup captain Liselotte Neumann to compete in the 2013 edition of the event. Then 17, she became the youngest person ever to play in the tournament.

The team was the first European Solheim squad to win on United States soil, with a final score of 18-10. Hull contributed two points, including a 5 & 4 singles win over Paula Creamer.

On March 16, 2014, four days shy of her 18th birthday, Hull won her first professional title at the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco. She overcame a five-shot deficit to the overnight leader, Gwladys Nocera of France, via a bogey-free round of 62 that forced a playoff. Hull birdied the first sudden-death hole to secure the victory.

Hull has battled a wrist injury for her entire career and learned earlier this season that it's a situation that can't be repaired.

"I saw a guy who works with a lot of NFL players and he told me my wrist is fractured," Hull explained. "It's more like a chip is out of the bone and it's been there a while. He told me it's always going to be there, but that I will be able to play with it."

Hull must now obey a strict routine to protect her wrist.

"I sleep with a brace on my wrist and do everything else with it strapped up," Hull said. "That way I can take it off when I play golf."

Hull is blessed with the ability to leave her profession at the golf course and practice range, spending most of her time away from the course doing things that most other women enjoy.

"Honestly, I don't even think about golf, not even when I'm playing in competition," Hull claimed. "Sometimes I will be thinking about the dress I'm going to wear out next weekend or something to do with my friends and stuff.

"It's cool because I got to the point a few years ago where all I did was golf and all I thought about was golf, golf, golf, and it made me kind of ill - it was really weird. After that, I kind of loosened up and it's helped me."

While only 21 years old, Hull has already competed in three Solheim Cups representing Team Europe (2013, 2015 and 2017), and feels the best is yet to come.

"I'm happy with the way my game is progressing," Hull said. "I will just keep taking it one step at a time. I want to be playing and enjoying competitive golf for as long as possible. I know I have many more successes ahead of me."

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Wise wins first Tour title at AT&T Byron Nelson

By Nick MentaMay 21, 2018, 1:22 am

On the strength of a final-round 65, 21-year-old Aaron Wise broke through for his first PGA Tour victory Sunday, taking the AT&T Byron Nelson at Trinity Forest. Here's how Wise beat the field and darkness following a lengthy rain delay:

Leaderboard: Wise (-23), Leishman (-20), Branden Grace (-19), J.J. Spaun (-19), Keith Mitchell (-19)

What it means: This is Wise’s first PGA Tour win in just his 18th start as a member. Tied with Leishman to start the final round, Wise raced ahead with six birdies in a seven-hole stretch from Nos. 4-10 and never looked back. He'd make eight straight pars on his way into the clubhouse and the winner's circle. The 2016 NCAA Division I individual champion just locked up Tour status through 2019-20 season and guaranteed himself a spot in the PGA Championship.

Best of the rest: Leishman reached 20 under par but just couldn’t keep pace with Wise. This is his second runner-up of the season, following a solo second in the CJ Cup in October.

Round of the day: Grace carded a 62 – where have I heard that before? – with eight birdies, an eagle and a bogey to end up tied for third, his best finish of the season on Tour.

Biggest disappointment: Adam Scott looked as though he had done enough to qualify for the U.S. Open via the Official World Golf Ranking when he walked off the golf course. Unfortunately, minutes later, he’d drop from a four-way tie for sixth into a three-way tie for ninth, narrowly missing out on this week's OWGR cutoff.

Break of the day: Wise could very well have found the hazard off the tee at No. 9 if not for a well-placed sprinkler head. Rather than drop a shot, he took advantage of his good fortune and poured in another birdie putt to extend his lead.

Quote of the day: "It's a dream come true to win this one." - Wise

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Otaegui wins Belgian Knockout by two

By Associated PressMay 21, 2018, 1:20 am

ANTWERP, Belgium – Adrian Otaegui beat Benjamin Hebert by two shots in the final of the Belgian Knockout to win his second European Tour title.

The hybrid format opened with two rounds of stroke play on Thursday and Friday, before the leading 64 players competed in nine-hole knockout stroke play matches.

Otaegui and Hebert both finished three shots off the lead at 5 under after the first two days and worked their way through five matches on the weekend to set up Sunday's final at the Rinkven International Golf Club.


Full-field scores from the Belgian Knockout


''I'm very happy, very relaxed now after the last nine holes against Ben that were very tight,'' Otaegui said. ''I'm just very proud about my week.

''I just tried to play against myself. Obviously your opponent is just next to you but I just tried to focus on my game.''

Scotland's David Drysdale beat James Heath of England by one shot in the playoff for third spot.

Herbet said he was ''just a little short this week.''

''Adrian is a very good player, especially in this kind of format,'' he said. ''He's already won one tournament in match play last year. This format is fun, it puts you under pressure almost every hole because everything can happen. I think it's a great idea.''

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Spieth looking forward to Colonial after T-21

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:10 am

DALLAS – Jordan Spieth finally got a few putts to drop at the AT&T Byron Nelson, but after a frustrating week he’s looking forward to heading across town.

Spieth shot a 4-under 67 amid soggy conditions at Trinity Forest Golf Club, his lowest score of the week but one that still left him in a tie for 21st at 11 under par. His frustrations had a common theme throughout the week, as he ranked seventh among the field in strokes gained: tee to green but 72nd in strokes gained: putting.

“Felt like I played better than I scored,” Spieth said. “Just burned the edges or barely missed, and I misread a lot of putts, too. Overall just struggled a little bit matching line and speed and kind of getting it all together out here.”


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


Spieth remains in search of his first win since The Open in July, but his results in the interim haven’t exactly been a struggle. This marks his seventh top-25 finish in his last nine starts as an individual.

Spieth is in the midst of a busy part of his schedule, and will play his third of four events in a row next week at the Fort Worth Invitational. With runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2017 sandwiched around a victory there two years ago, Spieth did little to contain his excitement for a return to venerable Colonial Country Club.

“It’s one of those courses where whether I have my A game or not, I seem to find my way into contention, which is really cool,” Spieth said. “It’s one of four or five places I go into, no matter where the game is at, I’m excited to get started and feel like I have a chance to win.”

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Razorbacks, Fassi scrambling to recover in NCAAs

By Ryan LavnerMay 21, 2018, 12:56 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – We’re not even halfway through this NCAA Championship, and the top women’s player in the country is already worn out.

Indeed, it’s been three rounds of hard work for Maria Fassi as she tries to claw herself and second-ranked Arkansas back into contention at Karsten Creek.

“I haven’t been able to create momentum of any kind,” she said after a third-round 73 left her at 16-over 232, 23 shots off the individual lead and outside the top 90. “I’ve been fighting every single hole. It’s just been exhausting.”

It’s been that way for her teammates, too.

Arkansas entered nationals as one of the pre-tournament favorites. The Razorbacks won the SEC Championship for the first time. They won seven events, including a regional title in which they shot 26 under par on the University of Texas’ home course. They were comfortable knowing that they not only had Fassi, the top-ranked player and a six-time winner this season, but also a strong supporting cast that includes Baylor transfer Dylan Kim and Alana Uriell.

And then the first two rounds happened. The Razorbacks had shot a team score in the 300s just once all season, but they posted two in a row here at Karsten Creek (308-300).

Fassi’s play has been even more of a mystery. In the opening round she shot 81 – with two birdies. She followed it up with a second-round 78, then birdied her last two holes just to shoot 73 on Sunday. She thought she had a smart game plan – taking fewer drivers, putting the ball in play on arguably the most difficult college course in the country – and it just hasn’t worked out.

“I just need to stay really patient, be true to myself and keep fighting,” she said. “I know what I’m capable of doing, and if I play my game it’s going to be plenty good.”

So what’s been the conversation among teammates the past two nights?

“It involved a lot of cuss words,” Fassi said. “We know this is not Arkansas golf. We know this is not the game that we play.”

The top-15 cut line should have been an afterthought for a team as talented as the Razorbacks, and yet they needed a 1-over 289 just to play Monday’s fourth round of stroke-play qualifying.

“Backs against the wall, they had to go get it done and they did an awesome job,” said Arkansas coach Shauna Taylor. “In our locker room we call it ‘Do the Possible.’ It’s doing what you’re capable of doing.”

And now the Razorbacks sit in 11th place, just six shots off the top-8 cut after their two worst rounds all season. They still have a chance to advance.

“You can’t panic,” Taylor said. “We’ve played great golf all year. We’ve put ourselves in a hole and it was time to go to work and dig yourselves out of it.”