Jimenez holds off Langer, wins Champions debut

By Associated PressApril 20, 2014, 10:51 pm

DULUTH, Ga. - Miguel Angel Jimenez quickly shifted his focus back to the Ryder Cup after winning his first Champions Tour event.

Jimenez held off Bernhard Langer to win the Greater Gwinnett Championship on Sunday, becoming only the third player to lead from start to finish in his debut on the 50-and-over tour.

Jimenez, coming off a fourth-place finish in the Masters, closed with a 67 to finish two strokes ahead of Langer. Jimenez finished the tournament with 32 consecutive holes without a bogey at TPC Sugarloaf.

The Spaniard said he can't make a commitment to the Champions Tour this year because his goal is making the European Ryder Cup team.

''To me it's not about money,'' Jimenez said. ''It's about some different goals to make me feel proud of myself. To me I would feel nice to play on the Ryder Cup once more.''

Langer, the defending champion, shot his third-straight 68. Jimenez and Langer were tied at 10 under before a two-shot swing on No. 8. Jimenez needed only a short putt for a birdie, and Langer fell two strokes behind with his bogey.

After that, Jimenez avoided mistakes down the stretch, leaving no opening for Langer or Jay Haas, who shot 67 and was third, four shots off the lead.

Jimenez insisted the win wasn't easy.

''When you hit the ball straight and you put the ball close to the hole it looks easy, but nothing is easy,'' he said. ''You need to keep calm yourself. ... I like to feel the pressure and ... the people that are coming behind bite me.''

Langer said his inability to make birdie putts kept him from putting pressure on Jimenez.

''I had a number of opportunities, just couldn't make any putts today,'' Langer said. ''And he played very, very solid all day.''

Jimenez stretched his lead to three strokes before he showed that on this day even his mistakes brought no harm. He hit his tee shot on No. 15 into a tree - but it bounced back into the fairway. From there, he hit his next shot into a bunker but still salvaged par.

The win assured, Jimenez tipped his visor to the fans as he walked up the 18th fairway. He then winked and blew a kiss to a TV camera.

He brought his victory cigar to his postgame press conference.

''I showed my game is in very good shape now,'' said Jimenez, who added he isn't complaining about life at 50.

''I'm very happy with my age and the way I'm doing,'' he said. ''The last 15 years is when my best golf is coming. It's nice. No complaint with 50.''

Langer said he doesn't expect to see Jimenez on the Champions Tour again this year.

''He said he wasn't going to play anymore this year because he wants ... to be the oldest European player to ever play on the Ryder Cup,'' Langer said. ''That's his goal. But, you know, goals can sometimes change. Who knows, maybe he makes the Ryder Cup team by July and he'll decide to come out for a couple of weeks.''

Fred Couples, in the final group with Jimenez and Langer, shot 70 and was fourth. Langer tied for eighth and Couples tied for 20th in the Masters. Jimenez said coming out on top of the high-profile group made the win even nicer.

''Of course it's satisfaction,'' Jimenez said. ''The better quality the field, the more satisfied you are with the victory. All three were playing very well in the Masters. We all were in contention. That's nice.''

Steve Pate, Duffy Waldorf and David Frost tied for fifth. Willie Wood shot 66 and was in a group tied for eighth.

Jimenez became the second straight player to win in his debut on the Champions Tour, following Jeff Maggert in last month's Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic.

Rod Funseth (1983 Hall of Fame Tournament) and Bruce Fleisher (1999 Royal Caribbean Classic) are the only other players to lead from start to finish in their first Champions Tour events.

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Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Sweet 16

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 24, 2018, 4:00 pm

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 the winner of the Kiradech Aphibarnrat/Charles Howell III match in the quarterfinals.  

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 the winner of the Sergio Garcia/Kyle Stanley match in the quarterfinals.  

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

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.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“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.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

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.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

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.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

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Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.