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Henderson 4-putts, sees Lotte lead shrivel

By Associated PressApril 14, 2018, 4:03 am

KAPOLEI, Hawaii - Brooke Henderson kept giving herself chances to run away from the field Friday at the Lotte Championship.

Instead, she had to be satisfied with barely hanging onto the lead.

After two nearly flawless, bogey-free days at windy Ko Olina Golf Club, the 20-year-old Canadian looked all too human in a frustrating third round that saw the wind switch directions.

Then again, so did nearly every other player.

Henderson will take a one-stroke advantage over 2014 Women's British Open champ Mo Martin, whose eagle on the 13th kept her at even-par for the day, into the final round.


Full-field scores from the Lotte Championship


The leader was 3 over on the final three holes, four-putting the 16th for double bogey. Henderson, who has already won five times on the LPGA tour, finished with a 1-over 73 left her at 9 under.

She led by five early on the back nine, but 35 putts - she needed just 50 the first two days combined - had her trying to focus on the fact she still led at all.

''I've been kind of struggling with my putting all year,'' Henderson acknowledged. ''The first few rounds I had it going and I felt confident with it; then on the back nine I just kept missing. I just felt like that every single putt and kind of got a little bit down. That's always a terrible way to be, especially when you're still leading the tournament.''

Japan's Nasa Hataoka, who is a year younger than Henderson, had a 68 to climb into a tie for third with third-ranked Inbee Park, two shots back.

Hataoka won the 2016 Japan Women's Open Championship, becoming the first amateur - and youngest - to win a Japan LPGA major. Friday, she was one of the few to go low at Ko Olina, putting for eagle three times.

''The wind was totally the opposite. It was really confusing,'' said Park, who shot 71. ''Some holes I was going into the wind I couldn't really judge the distances. I don't think I ever played this wind before on this course in five, six years.''

Even top-ranked Shanshan Feng struggled. Her 74 was only her second over-par round of the year. She shares fifth with Lizette Salas, three back of Henderson. Salas, who lost a playoff at Lotte in 2013, shot 70 despite breaking her driver on the second hole.

She called it a ''big oops'' on Friday the 13th.

''I got a little frustrated for missing a short putt, and then I tossed, quote/unquote, my putter at my bag,'' Salas said. ''I guess the head landed on the shaft and when I took it out at the next hole, it went (bending noise).''

Daniela Iacobelli and Pernilla Lindberg, fresh off a major victory at the ANA Inspiration, share seventh at 5 under. Qualifier Julieta Granada and second-year player Peiyun Chien, from Taiwan, shot 67 - low round of the day - to join a group of six another shot back.

Jeongeun Lee, a Korean LPGA player here on a sponsor exemption, also shot 67 and is at 4 under. That's one ahead of Hawaii's Michelle Wie, whose 69 moved her up 13 spots, to 18th.

After Friday's frantic finish, who knows how many are in contention Saturday?

''I would've liked it (her lead) to be a lot more, but one shot is good,'' Henderson said. ''I know there are still a ton of really talented players really close behind me, so I'll have to go out and make a lot of birdies and hopefully it's my day.''

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Gooch chooses 'life over a good lie' with gators nearby

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:31 pm

AVONDALE, La. – A fairway bunker wasn’t Talor Gooch’s only hazard on the 18th hole at TPC Louisiana.

Gooch’s ball came to rest Thursday within a few feet of three gators, leading to a lengthy delay as he sorted out his options.

Chesson Hadley used a rake to nudge two of the gators on the tail, sending them back into the pond surrounding the green. But the third gator wouldn’t budge.

“It woke him up from a nap,” Gooch said, “and he was hissing away and wasn’t happy.”

The other two gators remained in the water, their eyes fixed on the group.


Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


“I’m sure we would have been fine, but any little movement by them and no chance I would have made solid contact,” he said.

A rules official granted Gooch free relief, away from the gator, but he still had to drop in the bunker. The ball plugged.

“I chose life over a good lie in that situation,” he said.

He splashed out short of the green, nearly holed out his pitch shot and made par to cap off an eventful 6-under 66 with partner Andrew Landry.

“It was my first gator par,” he said. “I’ll take it.”

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Koepka's game 'where it should be' even after injury

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:18 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Brooks Koepka didn’t look rusty Thursday while making six birdies in the first round of the Zurich Classic.

Making his first start in four months because of a torn ligament in his left wrist, Koepka and partner Marc Turnesa shot a 5-under 67 in fourballs at TPC Louisiana.

“It felt good,” Koepka said afterward. “It was just nice to be out here. I played pretty solid.”


Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


The reigning U.S. Open champion felt soreness in his wrist the week after he won the Dunlop Phoenix in the fall. He finished last at the Hero World Challenge in December and then the following month at the Tournament of Champions before shutting it down.

He only began practicing last week and decided to commit to the Zurich Classic after three solid days at Medalist. He decided to partner with one of his friends in South Florida, Marc Turnesa, a former PGA Tour winner who now works in real estate.

Koepka hasn’t lost any distance because of the injury – he nearly drove the green on the 355-yard 16th hole. He’s planning to play the next two weeks, at the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players.

“I feel like I’m playing good enough to be right where I should be in April,” he said. “I feel good, man. There’s nothing really wrong with my game right now.”

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Like a tattoo: Ko shares early Mediheal lead

By Randall MellApril 26, 2018, 10:45 pm

Lydia Ko put herself in early position Thursday to try to extend her birthday celebration through Sunday at the LPGA Mediheal Championship.

Ko, who turned 21 on Tuesday, is off to a strong start at Lake Merced Golf Club, where she has a lot of good memories to draw upon as she seeks to regain the winning form that made her the greatest teen phenom in the history of the women’s game.

With a 4-under-par 68, Ko moved into a four-way tie for the lead among the morning wave in the first round. I.K. Kim, Jessica Korda and Caroline Hedwall also opened with 68s.

All Ko has to do is look at her right wrist to feel good about returning to San Francisco. That’s where she tattooed the date April 27, 2014, in Roman numerals. That’s how she commemorated her Swinging Skirts victory at Lake Merced, her first title as an LPGA member. She won there again the following year.

“This is a golf course where I've played well,” Ko said. “The fans have been amazing. They’ve been super supportive every single time I've come here, even since I played the U.S. Juniors here.”


Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship


Ko made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Lake Merced in 2012.

“It just brings back a lot of great memories,” she said.

Ko got this week off to a good start with friends from South Korea and New Zealand flying to California to surprise her on her birthday. She was born in South Korea and grew up in New Zealand.

“Turning 21 is a huge thing in the United States,” Ko cracked. “I’m legal now, and I can do some fun things.”

Ko is looking to claim her 15th LPGA title and end a 21-month winless spell. Her ball striking was sharp Thursday, as she continues to work on improvements under her swing coach, Ted Oh. She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation.

“My ball striking's been getting better these last few weeks, which has been really nice,” Ko said at week’s start. “But then I've been struggling with putting, which was the aspect of the game that was going really well. I feel like the pieces are there, and just, sometimes, the hardest thing is to kind of put all those pieces together. Just have to stay patient, I know there are a lot of good things happening.”

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Watch: Rose drops trou despite gator danger

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 10:12 pm

We all know how fashion-conscious pro golfers are, and sometimes that even trumps modesty.

Take Justin Rose, whose tee shot on the par-3 third hole in Thursday's opening round of the Zurich Classic found the water. But the ball was close enough to shore for Rose to try to play it. Not wanting to get his light-colored pants dirty - what is up with all the white pants on Tour these days, anyway? - he took them off to play the shot.

If there were any gators in the water hazard - and this being Louisiana, there almost certainly were - they showed no interest in the Englishman.

It was only appropriate that Rose should strip down for a shot, as his partner, Henrik Stenson, famously did the same thing (to an even greater degree) at Doral in 2009.

Finally, just to provide some closure, Rose failed to get up and down.