Duvals Return to Action Still a Mystery
So, the wait continues.
The former British Open champion and last player other than Tiger Woods to be No. 1 in the world ranking, Duval has not played on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut in the Las Vegas Invitational in October. He tried to play the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan in late November, but withdrew with a back injury.
The date of Duval's return has been a mystery.
He is said to be playing a lot of golf at his new home in Denver and working on his game.
Duval entered the U.S. Open (he is exempt through 2006 because of his British Open victory), although his absence from the Memorial raises questions about whether he will play in two weeks at Shinnecock Hills. Duval also beat the May 27 deadline to enter the British Open to ensure a spot in the field if he decides to return at Royal Troon.
Still, the best guess is that Duval won't return to the PGA Tour until the International the first week in August.
U.S. OPEN UPDATE
John Huston did not play the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, and it wound up costing him a free spot in the U.S. Open.
Joakim Haeggman closed with a 67 to finish third in the Volvo PGA Championship on the European tour, earning enough points to finish at No. 50 in the world ranking -- .03 points ahead of Huston. The top 50 after last week are exempt for the U.S. Open.
John Daly failed to crack the top 50 and has said he won't qualify for the U.S. Open, but the two-time major winner has one shot left. Daly, Tommy Armour III, Heath Slocum and Rory Sabbatini can become eligible by winning the Memorial, which would give them two PGA Tour victories in the last 12 months.
GIRL AMONGST MEN
The exemption into the U.S. Women's Open allows Michelle Wie to attempt qualifying for the men's U.S. Amateur Public Links in two weeks, part of a master plan to try to get into the Masters.
It also could be the first of several chances to compete against the boys.
B.J. Wie, her father, said the 14-year-old would try to qualify for the U.S. Amateur next year. He also said she likely would try to play other prominent men's amateur events, such as the Western Amateur and the North & South Amateur at Pinehurst.
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THIS ...
Charles Barkley said he turned down a chance to play golf with Tiger Woods in Las Vegas so he could appear on The Tonight Show'' with Jay Leno last week.
He was going to work on my game, but I didn't know how to break it to him,'' Barkley said. I said, ... 'You shouldn't be trying to help anybody.' He needs to be working on his own game.''
Woods has won only once this year, the Match Play Championship, although he finished one shot out of a playoff his last two tournaments. Some have suggested that Woods has lost his focus since getting engaged to Elin Nordegren.
No, I don't think it's her,'' Barkley said. Every man needs to be out of focus like that. ... I just think there's no sport you can really control all the time. His expectations are so high. That's probably what the problem is.''
After all the kind words, Barkley went on to predict that Woods will win the U.S. Open.
Then again, he also predicted the Los Angeles Lakers would sweep Minnesota.
WEE ICE FIJIAN
Vijay Singh has been compared with Ben Hogan in terms of work ethic, and finding the secret to the swing by digging it out of the dirt.
Nick Price went one step further in the comparisons.
I'll go out on a limb because I never played golf with Ben Hogan,'' Price said. I've played a lot of golf with Vijay the last year and a half. If Ben Hogan ever hit the ball as well as Vijay does week in and week out, I'd be amazed. I really would.''
Price is impressed with the shotmaking, but more with the way Singh drives the ball.
Vijay does hit every now and then a couple of pulls and pushes,'' Price said. But watching him pound ball after ball after ball ... he's such a great driver of the ball, it's ridiculous.''
OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES
Michelle Wie says playing in the Masters is her No. 1 goal in golf, higher than playing on the PGA Tour or winning an LPGA major.
After she raved about how beautiful the golf course looks on television, Wie was asked if she could settle for playing at Augusta National even if it wasn't the Masters.
Well, it's like you can eat a chocolate brownie or ice cream,'' she said. I love them both, but if you put them together, it's the best thing that ever happens to you. I would love to play Augusta National. Even if it's not the Masters, it still tastes good. But you're missing the ice cream.''
A 13-year-old Portuguese girl has become the youngest to pass the Royal & Ancient's rules test. Maria Joao Montenegro Moreira da Silva decided to study the Rules of Golf after being given an incorrect decision during a competition. She was among 56 delegates taking part in a rules seminar near Lisbon. ... Jack Nicklaus' annual golf calendar has the wrong dates for his Memorial Tournament. The calendar has it being played last week. ... Nick Price prefers to play at least once between the U.S. Open and the British Open, usually at the Western Open. But he's going river rafting with his kids and three other families, a trip that has been planned for more than a year. It ends on Wednesday of the Western Open. Instead, he will play in the John Deere Classic. ... Along with getting the 2007 Senior PGA Championship, Kiawah Island might get the UBS Cup this fall. The Ryder Cup-styled exhibition during the silly season made its debut at Kiawah Island in 2001, but switched to Sea Island the last two years.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Scott Drummond of Scotland became only the second player in the 50-year history of the Volvo PGA Championship to win on his first try. The other was Arnold Palmer in 1975.
I get up in the morning and turn on CNN. They turn on MTV.'' -- Elizabeth Janangelo, on what it's like playing on a Curtis Cup team with three girls still in high school.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Sweet 16
Here is how things played out in the Round of 16 on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The week began with 64 players taking on Austin Country Club,but the field is dwindling. Click here for Day 3 match results:
Match 97: Bubba Watson (35) def. Brian Harman (18), 2 and 1. Watson was 1 down going to the eighth hole, but he won four of the next five holes to turn around this battle of lefties. A 12-foot putt for eagle at the 12th dropped, giving him a 3 up lead coming home. It was Watson’s second eagle of the day. He looks as if he’s still riding the confidence from that Genesis Open victory last month. Watson will advance to play Kiradech Aphibarnrat in the quarterfinals.
Match 98: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28) def. Charles Howell III (59), 1 up. Aphibarnrat won in a late comeback, winning the final two holes. He holed a 9-foot putt for birdie at the 17th to square the match and won with an 8-foot birdie at the last. He had not led all day, not until that last birdie putt dropped. The 28-year-old Thai improved to 4-0 on this world stage after sweeping his group in the round-robin play. A four-time European Tour winner, Aphibarnrat is looking for his first PGA Tour victory. He will meet Bubba Watson in the quarterfinals.
Match 99: Kyle Stanley (45) def. Sergio Garcia (7), 3 and 1. Stanley birdied the eighth, ninth and 10th holes to go 3 up, and then he held off Garcia’s run at him, eliminating the world No. 10 with birdies at the 16th and 17th holes. With the victory, Stanley has a chance at a nice Texas two-step, a chance to eliminate the two highest ranked players left in the field, the only players left among the top 10 in the world ranking. But, there’s hard work to do in the quarterfinals, where Stanley will meet world No. 2 Justin Thomas.
Match 100: Justin Thomas (2) def. Si Woo Kim (50), 6 and 5. Thomas remains on fire in this format, steamrolling Kim a day after completing a round-robin sweep of his group by blowing away Francesco Molinari, 7 and 5. The Kim match felt like it was over shortly after it started, with Thomas making the turn 5 up. Thomas will advance to play Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals.
Match 101: Cameron Smith (46) def. Tyrell Hatton (12), 2 and 1. Smith found himself behind early, falling 2 down after Hatton opened with back-to-back birdies, but Smith quickly rallied to win one of the best matches of the day. He birdied four of the next five holes to go 1 up. Hatton lost despite making seven birdies on the round. He lost despite making birdies at the 15th, 16th and 17th holes to the red-hot Smith, who made eight birdies. Smith will meet Alex Noren in the quarterfinals.
Match 102: Alex Noren (13) def. Patrick Reed (19), 5 and 3. In this Fire vs. Ice match, Ice won, with Noren making easy work of Reed. Really, though, Reed never got a flame going, and Noren wasn’t going to help him the way Jordan Spieth did a day before. Reed was 2-over on his card before finally making his first and only birdie of the day at the 13th. Somewhere, European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn must have been smiling, watching Noren easily take down the formidable American match-play dynamo. Noren will meet Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals.
Match 103: Ian Poulter (58) def. Louis Oosthuizen (25), 2 and 1. Poulter’s match-play mojo is going strong again, with the Englishman summoning the intensity that has made him so formidable in the Ryder Cup over the years. He was on fire Saturday, making eight birdies over the first 15 holes, if you count the concession he received hitting a wedge to 18 inches at the 13th hole. Poulter put a special putter in the bag this week, using the same flat stick that helped him lead the Euros to their historic comeback victory against the Americans at Medinah in 2012. Though Oosthuizen made four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, he still couldn’t make it close. Poulter will meet Kevin Kisner in the quarterfinals.
Match 104: Kevin Kisner (32) def. Matt Kuchar (16), 1 up. Kuchar applied all kinds of pressure on Kisner on the back nine, but he couldn’t get Kisner to fold in the best match of the day. Kuchar was 2 down with four to go but managed to pull all square going to the last. After missing a 15-footer for birdie at the 18th, Kuchar watched Kisner sink a 12-footer for his birdie to win. Kisner will meet Ian Poulter in the quarterfinals.
JT advances to quarters, closing in on No. 1 ranking
AUSTIN, Texas – Justin Thomas continued his impressive run at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and finds himself another step closer to overtaking Dustin Johnson in the World Golf Ranking.
Thomas rolled past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the first knockout stage and will face Kyle Stanley in the Elite Eight. He must advance to Sunday’s championship match to overtake Johnson as the new world No. 1.
“It wasn't anything crazy or special. Just played solid golf tee to green. And it was forcing him to make a lot of putts,” said Thomas, who has played 61 holes this week, won 24, lost six and hasn’t trailed in four matches.
Stanley, who needed a playoff victory over Paul Casey on Friday to advance to the weekend, defeated Sergio Garcia, 3 and 1.
Bubba Watson also continued his solid play, rallying from an early deficit to beat Brian Harman, 2 and 1. He will play Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who defeated Charles Howell III, closing with back-to-back birdies for a 1-up victory.
But as impressive as Thomas has been, Sweden’s Alex Noren has quietly continued to impress, going undefeated in pool play and closing out Patrick Reed on the 15th hole for a 5-and-3 victory.
“He's such a tough competitor,” said Noren, who will face Australian Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals. “I managed to hole a few birdie putts. When we both had good chances, he just missed and I managed to make those.”
Former Match Play champion Ian Poulter also advanced with a 2-and-1 victory over Louis Oosthuizen. He will play Kevin Kisner, who converted a 10-foot putt at the 18th hole to defeat Matt Kuchar, 1 up.
Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond
Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.
She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.
Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.
After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.
“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.
Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).
It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.
“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”
Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.
“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”
Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.
It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.
“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”
Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic
CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.
The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.
''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''
She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.
''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''
Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.
''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.
Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.
Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.
Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.
Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.
''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''
She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.
''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''
Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.