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Lexi looks to increase CME Globe lead in Japan

By Associated PressNovember 2, 2017, 12:17 pm

Eight of the top 10 players in the world, including top-ranked So Yeon Ryu of South Korea and No. 3 Lexi Thompson of the United States, will be among the select field this week at the LPGA tour's Toto Japan Classic.

The tournament is a three-day, 54-hole, no-cut event that begins competition on Friday at Taiheyo Club's Minori Course in Ibaraki, Japan.

The Toto Japan Classic, in its 44th year, is one of just three tournaments remaining in the LPGA's 2017 schedule and the penultimate stop in the tour's six-week run in Asia. This event marks the 31st tournament of the LPGA season, which has seen two first-time winners among its 22 different event champions.

The roster of 78 players, 43 of which compete regularly on the LPGA and 35 from the LPGA-J (Japan) circuit, will try to tame the par-72, 6,646-yard course. The players are vying for a total purse of $1.5 million, with $225,000 and 500 crucial Race to the CME Globe points going to the winner.


Full-field scores from the Toto Japan Classic


World No. 4 and defending champion Shanshan Feng of China is also in the field and one of the favorites this week. In 2016, Feng defeated Ha Na Jang of South Korea by one shot for what was then Feng's sixth career win (she now has seven). The Toto Japan Classic marks Feng's 12th start since her victory at the 2017 LPGA Volvik Championship in May in Michigan.

This event also has drawn fifth-ranked In Gee Chun of South Korea among the 13 winners from this year's LPGA season, a list that includes Anna Nordqvist of Sweden, Haru Nomura of Japan, Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, Brooke Henderson of Canada and Americans Danielle Kang and Michelle Wie, who is playing this event for only the second time.

Henderson has fared well on the tour's six-event Asia swing. She won the McKayson New Zealand Open on Oct. 1 to start the swing and will take a rare event off next week in China after playing in Japan.

"This stretch has been really good to me, and starting off with a win was awesome for me," Henderson said. "It gave me a lot of confidence, and to get my second win of the season really meant a lot to me. Now I'm just trying to climb leaderboards and get some Top-10 finishes, which hopefully that will happen this week."

Seven former champions of this tournament are in the field this week including former world No. 1 Jiyai Shin and Mi Hyang Lee of South Korea and American Stacy Lewis. Throughout the years, several of the LPGA's best have captured victories in Japan, including Nancy Lopez, Pat Bradley, Betsy King, and Annika Sorenstam of Sweden.

Ryu, who has held the top spot in the world for 19 straight weeks (since June 26), has had a strong season on tour with two wins and 12 top-10 finishes.

Thompson returns to action after taking a week off during the Malaysia event. She also has a pair of wins and nine top-10 finishes in a very calculated 19 starts and has a 237-point lead in the Race to the CME Globe standings over South Korean rookie Sung Hyun Park, who is taking this week off.

Sisters Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn are both competing this week in Japan as seven-figure earners this year. They are the first sisters in the history of the LPGA to earn over $1 million in the same season. Moriya ($1,070,466) currently ranks 12th on the LPGA money list while Ariya (last season's Player of the Year) ranks 14th ($1,018,699).

Two tournaments are all that separates LPGA players and fans from the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla. The top 12 at the Tour Championship have a mathematical chance to win the $1 million top prize.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."