Karine Icher takes two-shot lead at LPGA Corning - COPIED

By Associated PressMay 23, 2009, 4:00 pm
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2006 Corning ClassicCORNING, N.Y. ' Karine Icher isnt used to this. She would be happy to make it a habit.
 
The 30-year-old native of Chateauroux, France shot a 6-under 66 on Friday to gain a two-shot lead over Hee-Won Han of South Korea after two rounds at the LPGA Corning Classic.
 
Karen Icher
Karine Icher has 13 birdies, one eagle and one bogey through two rounds. (Getty Images)
Icher, the first-round co-leader at 8 under with Hee Young Park of South Korea, was at 14-under 130. That broke the 36-hole record for the tournament by one shot and equaled the best back-to-back rounds in Corning history.
 
Seon Hwa Lee (67), Soo-Yun Kang (69) and Na Yeon Choi (68) of South Korea were tied for third at 10 under with Mikaela Parmlid of Sweden (67), Sandra Gal (69) of Germany, and Sarah Kemp (68) of Australia.
 
Park (73) was seven shots back and the cut fell at 3 under (the tournament record was 1 under in both 2003 and 2007) as the players again took advantage of the near-ideal scoring conditions.
 
You can go low 60s out here, said Parmlid, who has never finished higher than 10th in five-plus years on tour. If you have a good iron day ' Oh my gosh! ' you can light it up.
 
Icher certainly did. She eclipsed the 36-hole record of 131 held by Michelle Estill (2004) and Beth Bader (2007) and matched the lowest back-to-back rounds set by Juli Inkster on the final two rounds of her 2003 Corning triumph.
 
If the other players can make birdies, I can do it, too, said Icher, whose best career finish was a second in 2005 at the Corona Morelia Championship. I know you learn more from your mistakes. I did a lot in the past. I was short to win some tournaments in 05 and 06. I hope right now its going to help me go forward and I dont make the same mistakes.
 
Icher had only one slip-up Friday, at the par-4 first hole, statistically one of the most difficult on the 6,223-yard Corning Country Club course. She drove the right rough, then hit into a greenside bunker and two-putted for her lone bogey of the tournament.
 
Icher averaged nearly 260 yards off the tee and continued to excel with her short game on the narrow, tree-lined layout. Of her seven birdies, four came on putts inside 10 feet, and she also displayed a deft stroke from a tough lie. Her final birdie putt was uphill on the undulating green at the par-3 seventh hole, and she smiled broadly when the ball curled into the hole on its final rotation.
 
Over the two rounds, Icher hit 32 of 36 greens and 19 of 28 fairways, did not have a three-putt green, and needed just 56 putts.
 
My driving was not so good as yesterday, I missed some fairways, said Icher, who hit 8 of 14 on Friday. But I had good putts. Right now what is working is my driving and my putting. If you drive in the middle and you putt well, youre going to make some birdies. This is the key. But this course still demands a lot of thinking. You can be five feet from the hole and be dead.
 
Han (67), who won at Corning three years ago, continued to take advantage of the four generous par-5s. Over the first two rounds, she had six birdies and two pars on those holes and briefly tied Icher at 14 under with a birdie at the par-4 sixth hole before dropping back with a pair of bogeys on her final three holes.
 
It was pretty important, Han said of her scoring on the par-5s. But there are lots of good players out there. Someone tomorrow can come out and go 10 or 11 under.
 
This is the final Corning Classic, and Lee is accustomed to playing in this atmosphere. She won the final Shoprite LPGA Classic in 2006, the final HSBC Womens World Match Play Championship in 2007, and the final Ginn Tribute last year.
 
I didnt think about that, Lee said. If I win, its another.
 
The summerlike weather continued, with partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-80s, and attendance swelled. Parking lots adjacent to the course were full by 10 a.m. and another downtown at the Corning Museum of Glass also was full as fans were being encouraged to park at a nearby mall and take shuttle buses.
 
The Corning Classic, the smallest event on the LPGA and the only one thats had the same title sponsor and been staged at the same venue every year since its inception (1979), will not be staged next year. Tournament officials announced in April that they could not afford to renew their contract with the LPGA because of financial problems after title sponsor Corning Inc. pulled out.
 
Divots: Kristy McPherson aced the par-3 third hole with a 4-hybrid from 189 yards. It was her second career ace and 21st in the history of the Corning Classic. Sun Young Yoo, Hee-Won Han and Meena Lee each eagled the par-4 10th hole and Cristie Kerr eagled the par-4 13th hole with an 8-iron from 139 yards. Rookie Michelle Wie, who tied for third a week ago at the Sybase Classic, rebounded from her opening 73 with a 5-under 67 to make the cut.
 
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    Watch: Tiger 'drops mic' in long drive contest

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 20, 2018, 12:44 am

    Tiger Woods is in Las Vegas this weekend for the 20th annual Tiger Jam charity event that benefits his foundation.

    During the tournament on Saturday afternoon, Woods challenged World Long Drive competitor Troy Mullins to a long drive contest.

     

    A post shared by TROY MULLINS (@trojangoddess) on May 19, 2018 at 1:25pm PDT

    Safe to say it looks like Tiger won.

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    Sunday showdown for Wise, Leishman at Nelson

    By Will GrayMay 19, 2018, 11:40 pm

    DALLAS – While the swirling Texas winds may still have their say, the AT&T Byron Nelson is shaping up to be a two-horse race.

    With a four-shot gulf between them and their closest pursuers, co-leaders Marc Leishman and Aaron Wise both stepped up to the microphone and insisted the tournament was far from over. That it wouldn’t revert to a match-play situation, even though the two men didn’t face much pressure from the pack down the stretch of the third round and have clearly distanced themselves as the best in the field through 54 holes.

    But outside of an outlier scenario or a rogue tornado sweeping across Trinity Forest Golf Club, one of the two will leave with trophy in hand tomorrow night.

    That’s in part because of their stellar play to this point, but it’s also a byproduct of the tournament’s new and unconventional layout: at Trinity Forest, big numbers are hard to find.

    Even with the winds picking up during the third round and providing the sternest challenge yet, the field combined for only 16 scores of double bogey, and nothing worse than that.


    Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

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    There’s irony in a course called Trinity Forest offering a tree-less test, sure, but there are also no water hazards in play here. For the most part, players have been maxing out with bogey – and Leishman and Wise have combined for only six of those so far this week.

    If someone from the chase pack is going to catch them, the two sharing the pole position aren’t going to do them any favors.

    “I don’t really want to give them a chance,” Leishman said. “I’d love to go out and shoot a low one and make Aaron have to shoot a good score tomorrow to beat me, which, I fully expect him to shoot a good score.”

    While Leishman has been somewhat of a late bloomer on the PGA Tour, with only one win across his first eight seasons, he now has a golden opportunity to add a third trophy in the last 14 months. He has felt right at home on a sprawling layout that reminds him of a few back in his native Australia, and he’s part of a Down Under invasion on a leaderboard that also includes Matt Jones (-13) and Adam Scott (-9).

    While Wise briefly held sole possession of the lead, Leishman has seemingly held an iron grip on the top spot since opening his week with a blistering 61.

    “Before last year, I was a pretty slow starter. I always got off to a slow start Thursday, or I’d be fighting to make the cut and have a good weekend to slide into the top 10,” Leishman said. “Getting into that round straight away on the first tee rather than the ninth green or something, which sounds like a really basic thing, but it’s something I didn’t do very well until last year.”

    But as Leishman acknowledged, he likely can’t count on a stumble from Wise to help finish off a wire-to-wire victory. As the youngest player to make the cut this week, Wise is facing a challenge of taking down a top-ranked Aussie for the second time in as many starts.

    While he came up short at the Wells Fargo Championship, tying for second behind Jason Day, he remains supremely confident that he can put those hard-earned lessons to use this time around.

    “I feel like it’s a great opportunity,” Wise said. “It will obviously be a huge day for me. I feel like having one go at it already, I’m a little more confident going into it this time.”

    Even among the landscape of the Tour’s promising next wave, Wise stands out as a particularly young gun. Still only 21, he could feasibly be heading to Karsten Creek next week with his Oregon Duck teammates to close out his senior season with another NCAA championship appearance.

    But Wise turned pro after winning the NCAA individual title as a sophomore, and he steadily worked his way through the professional ranks: first a win on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada, then one last summer on the Web.com Tour.

    Now he’s poised to turn what he described as a “lackluster” season before his Quail Hollow runner-up into one that defies even his own expectations.

    “Absolutely, I am way ahead of the curve. It’s pretty hard to do what I’ve done at such a young age. Only a few have done it,” Wise said. “I feel like I’m getting some great experience for a kid this young. It’s only going to serve me well down the road.”

    An unpredictable Coore-Crenshaw layout will have one more day to star, and outside of Wise the top six names on the leaderboard have at least one Tour win to their credit. But after the two men traded punches on a firm and fast afternoon, it sure feels like the final round is shaping up to offer more of the same.

    For Leishman, it’s a chance to add another notch to some quickly expanding credentials; for Wise, it’s an opportunity to win on the one level he has yet to do so.

    “It’s golf, at the end of the day. If you play better than everyone else, you’re going to win,” Wise said. “That’s why I play it. That’s why I love this sport, and tomorrow is nothing different.”

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    5 thoughts from NCAA Women's Championship Day 2

    By Ryan LavnerMay 19, 2018, 11:35 pm

    The field is almost halfway through stroke-play qualifying at the NCAA Women’s Championship. Here are some thoughts on the first two days at Karsten Creek:

    1. UCLA is on a mission. Just a year ago, the Bruins were headed home from regionals after becoming the first No. 1 seed that failed to advance out of the qualifying tournament. This year, with the core of the team still mostly intact, the Bruins have opened up a five-shot lead on top-ranked Alabama and a comfortable 16-shot cushion over Southern Cal in third place. On one of the most difficult college courses in the country, UCLA has received contributions from all four of its usual counters – standout Lilia Vu shot 68 on Saturday, while Mariel Galdiano posted a 69. Freshman Patty Tavatanakit and junior Bethany Wu also broke par. This is a strong, deep lineup that will pose issues for teams not just in stroke-play qualifying, but also the head-to-head, match-play bracket.

    2. What happened to Arkansas? Riding high off their first SEC Championship and a dominant regional performance, the Razorbacks were considered one of the top threats to win the national title. But entering Sunday’s third round of stroke play, they need to hold it together just to ensure they make the top-15 cut. Arkansas is 32 over par through two rounds. The Razorbacks had shot in the 300s just once this season in the play-five, count-four format. Here at Karsten Creek, they’ve now done so in consecutive rounds.

    3. The Player of the Year race is heating up. With a decent showing at nationals, Arkansas’ Maria Fassi should have been able to wrap up the Annika Award, given annually to the top player in the country. She has six individual titles, plays a difficult schedule and is well-liked among her peers. But through two rounds she’s a whopping 15 over par while spraying it all over the map. If the Razorbacks don’t survive the 54-hole cut, neither will Fassi. That’d open the door for another player to steal the votes, whether it’s UCLA’s Vu or Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho. There’s a lot still to be decided.

    4. Stanford has steadied itself. One of the biggest surprises on Day 1 was the horrendous start by the Cardinal, one of just two teams to advance to match play each of the three years it’s been used to determine a national champion. They were 19 over for their first nine holes Friday, but instead of a blowup round that cost them a shot at the title, they’ve found a way to hang tough. Stanford has been just 4 over par over its last 27 holes. Andrea Lee made only one bogey during her second-round 69, Albane Valenzuela eagled the 18th hole for a 73 and senior leader Shannon Aubert – who has been a part of each postseason push – carded a 74. And so, even with its early struggles, coach Anne Walker once again has Stanford in position to reach match play.

    5. Karsten Creek is identifying the best teams. The top teams in the country want a difficult host venue for NCAAs – it helps separate the field and draws an unmistakable line between the contenders and pretenders. Only one team (UCLA) is under par after 36 holes. Fewer than a dozen players are under par individually. The dearth of low scores might not be the greatest advertisement for how talented these players are, but the cream has still risen to the top so far: Five top-10 teams currently sit inside the top 7 on the leaderboard (and that doesn’t even include last year’s NCAA runner-up Northwestern). This is all any coach wants, even if the scores aren’t pretty.

    Quick hits: Cheyenne Knight, part of Alabama’s vaunted 1-2-3 punch along with Lauren Stephenson and Kristen Gillman, shot rounds of 70-69 to figure in the mix for individual honors. The junior will turn pro after nationals. …  Arizona’s Bianca Pagdanganan made a hole-in-one on the 11th hole Saturday en route to a 68 that tied the low round of the day. She’s at 5-under 139, same as Knight. ... Defending champion Arizona State, which lost star Linnea Strom to the pro ranks at the halfway point of the season, is 35 over par after two rounds. … Play was delayed for nearly an hour and a half Saturday because of inclement weather.

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    Wise (21) makes Leishman (34) feel a little old

    By Will GrayMay 19, 2018, 10:55 pm

    DALLAS – With the final round of the AT&T Byron Nelson likely to take on a match-play feel, Marc Leishman likes his chances to close out another win – even if his opponent makes him feel a little old.

    Leishman, 34, shares the lead at Trinity Forest Golf Club with 21-year-old Aaron Wise, who was the youngest player to make the cut at the tournament’s new venue. The two men will start the final round at 17 under, four shots clear of their next-closest pursuers.

    Leishman played the third round alongside Wise and Brian Gay, and he originally didn’t realize just how fresh-faced his fellow co-leader is.


    Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

    AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


    “He’s a solid player for, I heard this morning he’s only 21. I didn’t realize that,” Leishman said. “I guess I was in high school before he was born, so that’s – I don’t know. You hear guys talk about that all the time but I’ve never said that, I think. Yeah, he’s a good player.”

    Wise won the 2016 NCAA individual title while at Oregon, and he opted to turn pro after his sophomore season. While he could have been capping his senior season with a return to the NCAAs next week, Wise is pleased with the career choice and remains eager for a chance to close out his first career PGA Tour win against a seasoned veteran.

    “I feel like I’m in a great spot for tomorrow,” Wise said. “I feel like I’m getting some great experience for a kid this young. It’s only going to serve me well down the road.”