Ji leads LPGA field by 1; Creamer 3 back

By Associated PressJune 9, 2012, 10:03 pm

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Karrie Webb is in territory she used to take for granted – in contention for a win at a major on the LPGA Tour. She relishes the feeling like never before.

''I still get really excited for the majors and the importance they have on everyone's career,'' Webb said Saturday after a 4-under 68 moved her within one shot of the lead after the third round of the LPGA Championship. ''I probably want it more than I ever have in my career.''

Webb, who counts seven majors among her 37 career wins, hasn't won one since beating Lorena Ochoa in a one-hole, sudden-death playoff in 2006 for her second Kraft Nabisco Championship title. Here, she's chasing Eun-Hee Ji heading to Sunday's final round.

Webb had four bogeys en route to a 2-over 74 on the opening round. The Australian has come back into contention with two straight rounds under par, though Friday's 71 was punctuated by five birdies and four bogeys. She had five more birdies on Saturday and only one bogey - at the first hole - to match Ji for the lowest round over the first three days.

''I think my patience level has really been quite good – for me,'' said Webb, whose best finish in 10 tournaments this year was a tie for fourth at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic in late April. ''On Thursday, I started feeling sorry for myself. The fact that I overcame that early trouble really reinforced that. The stakes will be a lot higher (Sunday), but I've done a good job so far.''

Webb rallied with birdies on three of her final five holes, capping the rush with a 15-foot birdie putt from the fringe at No. 17.

''I want to have a chance to win,'' Webb said. ''It feels great to have a chance tomorrow.''

Ji, coming off her first top-10 in more than two years, was solid again off the tee on the unforgiving Locust Hill Country Club course, hitting 11 of 14 fairways and reaching 11 of 14 greens in regulation. That gave her an impressive total of 39 GIRs in 54 holes.

''I always trying hard,'' said Ji, who captured the 2009 U.S. Women's Open with a birdie putt on the final hole. ''My confidence is going lower last year. I'm a little bit nervous, but I'm trying to be hopeful and just playing my game.''

Giulia Sergas, who shared the first-round lead but had a 76 on Friday in the wind-swept second round, moved back near the top with four birdies on the front nine and also finished with a 69. Sergas was tied at 2 under with Stacy LewisSuzann Pettersen and Inbee Park. Lewis, a two-time winner in her last three events, had a 70, Pettersen shot a 71, and Park had a 72.

Paula Creamer was at or near the top most of the day, but faltered at the end and finished with a 73. She was in a seven-way tie at 1 under.

Defending champion Yani Tseng had her best round of the three days, finishing with at 74 after a 76 and a 75.

There were 24 players within four shots of the lead at the start of play. When the day ended, there were 13, including 2010 champion Cristie Kerr, within four shots of the top heading to the final round.

Jennifer Johnson was one of them after a 71. She hit her first six fairways and sank a pair of birdies on the front nine, eagled the par-5 17th hole to reach 3 under, then gave it back with a double bogey at the closing hole.

Still, Johnson was among five Americans – Sydnee Michaels was the other – in the hunt for the second major of the year.

Over the first two days, only 28 players broke par and only six scored below 70. Webb added her name to the latter list as the course played easier than it had the first two days.

The start of play on Saturday was delayed 2 1/2 hours by rain, adding tension to the moment, but the predicted storms held off. That allowed the players, who went in threesomes off both the first and 10th tees, to finish without another delay.

Ji, who won here at the Wegmans LPGA in 2008, was in a six-way tie two shots off the lead to start the day. She made four birdies and a bogey on the front nine and made the turn tied for the lead at 3 under. She took sole possession of the top spot with a birdie at the par-5 11th hole.

Creamer hit 10 of 14 fairways and reached 16 of 18 greens in regulation, but aside from a strong birdie to start the round, her putter deserted her all too often. She tied Ji at 4 under with a birdie at No. 12, but bogeyed the next hole and two of her final three to fall back.

Creamer's long birdie putt attempt at the par-5 eighth hole broke nicely toward the cup but didn't have enough behind it, leaving her shaking her head in frustration at a missed opportunity. She also missed another short birdie at No. 10 despite perfect pace on the ball as it came to a stop an inch or two to the left of the cup and slid another just past the hole at the par-5 11th hole.

''I've been working so hard with my golf swing, when things go wrong I kind of overanalyze,'' Creamer said. ''I made a great birdie putt on 12, and from there I didn't hit any good putts. I tried to stay positive, but. I was bummed. It's pretty disappointing. I kind of got in my way with my putter.''

Lewis missed a short birdie putt at No. 10 and did so again at the 12th hole, her 5-footer curling left of the hole as she, too, shook her head in dismay. A bogey at 13 dropped her back to 1 under, but a birdie at 17 put her in a position she relishes.

''It's a lot easier coming from behind,'' said Lewis, the top-ranked American. ''It's so hard to keep your focus. I almost like being at the back and kind of coming up and surprising someone.''

Se Ri Pak, still not fully recovered from a left shoulder injury suffered in April, had been the picture of consistency the first two rounds, shooting 70 and 71, and began the day with a one-shot lead.

The magic was gone, though, on this day, and it was evident after her first swing.

Pak drove the right rough at the opening hole and was unable to get up and down, making bogey to fall out of the lead. She followed that by making three more bogeys before the turn and added another at No. 10 to fall to 2 over, six shots behind Ji. Pak finished with a 76 and was five shots back.

Just how difficult were the conditions at Locust Hill over the first two rounds? For Tseng, they were insurmountable.

In winning the LPGA Championship by 10 shots a year ago, Tseng set a tournament record for most birdies with 26 and came back to defend her title leading the tour in birdie average (4.64). She managed only five over the first 42 holes to go with a whopping 14 bogeys as the narrow course proved the toughest of challenges with its extra-thick rough and swirling winds.

Divots: Jodi Ewart aced the 15th hole Saturday. It's the fifth time a hole-in-one has been made at the par 3 - Suzann Pettersen was the last to do it in 2004 – and the 15th ace in LPGA tournaments held at Locust Hill.

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Davies wins by 10 on 'best ball-striking round'

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 1:53 am

WHEATON, Ill. - Laura Davies immediately recognized the significance of having her name inscribed on the first U.S. Senior Women's Open trophy.

It might be a long time before anyone secures the title as emphatically as Davies did.

Davies went virtually unchallenged in Sunday's final round of the inaugural USGA championship for women 50 and older, claiming the title by 10 strokes over Juli Inkster.

''It's great seeing this (trophy) paraded down for the very first time and I get my name on it first, you know?'' Davies said. ''This championship will be played for many years and there will only be one first winner - obviously a proud moment for me to win that.''

The 54-year-old Davies shot a 5-under 68 to finish at 16-under 276 at Chicago Golf Club.

It was the English player's 85th career win, and she felt the pressure even though her lead was rarely in danger.

''I haven't won for eight years - my last win was India, 2010,'' Davies said. ''So that's the pressure you're playing under, when you're trying to do something for yourself, prove to yourself you can still win.

''So this ranks highly up there. And obviously it's a USGA event. It's hard comparing tournaments, but this is very high on my list of achievements.''

A 7-under 66 Saturday provided Davies with a five-shot lead over Inkster and what she said would be a sleepless night worrying about the pressure.


Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open


The World Golf Hall of Famer widened her advantage early Sunday when she birdied the par-5 second hole and Inkster made bogey. Davies said a par she salvaged at the 10th was another turning point.

''It wasn't the greatest hole I ever played, but I think that, to me, was when I really started to think I might have one hand on the trophy and just had to get the other one in there.''

Inkster shot an even-par 73. England's Trish Johnson also shot 73 to finish third, 12 shots back.

''I mean, she was absolutely spectacular this week,'' Johnson said about Davies. ''I've played against her for 35 years. Yesterday was the best I have ever seen her play in her entire career.

''She just said walking down 18 it was best ball-striking round she ever had. Considering she's won 85 tournaments, that's quite some feat.''

Danielle Ammaccapane was fourth and Yuko Saito finished fifth. Martha Leach was the top amateur, tying for 10th at 6-over 298.

Davies plans to play in the Women's British Open next month, and called this win a confidence-booster as she continues to compete against the younger generation. She finished tied for second at the LPGA's Bank of Hope Founders Cup earlier this year.

''You build up a little bit of momentum, and a golf course is a golf course,'' Davies said. ''Sometimes the field strength is a little bit different, but in your own mind if you've done something like this, 16 under for four rounds around a proper championship course, it can't do anything but fill you full of confidence.''

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Romo rallies to win American Century Championship

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:42 am

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. - Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo rallied from four points back to win his first American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe on Sunday.

Romo, who retired after the 2016 NFL season and is now an NFL analyst, had 27 points on the day to beat three-time defending champion Mark Mulder and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the the leader after the first two rounds.

''It's a special win,'' said Romo, who had finished second three times in seven previous trips to the annual celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. ''It feels like you're playing a tournament back home here. The day felt good for a lot of reasons.''

Romo tapped in for par, worth one point, on the 18th hole to finish with 71 points, three ahead of Mulder, the former major league pitcher. He then caught a flight to Berlin, Wis., where he was to compete in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament on Monday.

The American Century Championship uses a modified Stableford scoring system which rewards points for eagles (six), birdies (three) and pars (one) and deducts points (two) for double bogeys or worse. Bogeys are worth zero points.

Pavelski had a 7-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th that could have tied Romo, but it slid by. He finished with 66 points, tied for third with Ray Allen, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 7.


Full-field scores from the American Century Championship


''It feels like nothing went in for me today,'' Pavelski said. ''But I couldn't ask for more than to have that putt to tie on the last hole.''

Romo plays as an amateur, so his $125,000 first-place check from the $600,000 purse will go to local charities and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, the primary charitable arm of title sponsor American Century Investments.

Rounding out the top five were Trent Dilfer, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, and former tennis player Mardy Fish. Each had 62 points.

Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, who fell out of contention with a mediocre round Saturday, jumped into Lake Tahoe amidst much fanfare after losing a bet to his father, Dell. The elder Curry jumped into the lake last year, so he negotiated a 20-point handicap and won by two points.

Other notable players in the 92-player field included John Smoltz, the MLB hall of Fame pitcher who two weeks ago competed in the U.S. Senior Open and finished 10th here with 53 points; Steph Curry, who finished tied for 11th with retired Marine and wounded war hero Andrew Bachelder (50); actor Jack Wagner (16th, 47 points); Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (tied for 18th, 44 points); actor Ray Romano (tied for 71st, minus-26 points); comedian Larry the Cable Guy (tied for 77th, minus-33 points); and former NBA great Charles Barkley, who finished alone in last with minus-93 points.

The tournament drew 57,097 fans for the week, setting an attendance record for the fourth straight year.

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Singh tops Maggert in playoff for first senior major

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:10 am

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Vijay Singh birdied the second playoff hole to beat Jeff Maggert and win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday.

Singh knocked in a putt from about 2 feet after a nearly perfect approach on the 18th hole at Exmoor Country Club, giving an understated fist pump as the ball fell in. That gave him his first major title on the PGA Tour Champions to go with victories at the Masters and two PGA Championships.

Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) finished at 17 under.

Maggert had chances to win in regulation and on the first playoff hole.

He bogeyed the par-4 16th to fall into a tie with Singh at 20 under and missed potential winning birdie putts at the end of regulation and on the first playoff hole.

His 15-footer on the 72nd hole rolled wide, forcing the playoff, and a downhill 12-footer on the same green went just past the edge.


Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players


The 55-year-old Singh made some neat par saves to get into the playoff.

His tee shot on 17 landed near the trees to the right of the fairway, and his approach on 18 wound up in a bunker. But the big Fijian blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par.

McCarron - tied with Maggert and Bart Bryant for the lead through three rounds - was trying to join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this major. He came back from a six-shot deficit to win at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year and got off to a good start on Sunday.

He birdied the first two holes to reach 18 under. But bogeys on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes knocked him off the lead. His tee shot on No. 7 rolled into a hole at the base of a tree and forced him to take an unplayable lie.

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Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship

By Randall MellJuly 15, 2018, 11:26 pm

Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.

The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.

The week was more than nostalgic. 

It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.

In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.

“I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”

Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.

“It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”

Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.


Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open


The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.

“It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”

Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.

“Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”

She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.

“Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.

At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.

With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.

This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.

“A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”

Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.

“It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.

In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.