Lincicome shoots 61 to lead CVSpharmacy - COPIED
Lincicome had 11 birdies at the 6,185-yard Blackhawk Country Club, posting the second-lowest score in relation to par in tour history. The 61 also was a career best for Lincicome, who entered the week 62nd on the money list.
Wendy Ward was four shots back after a bogey-free 65. Moira Dunn had a 66 and Jin Young Pak, Michele Redman, Amy Hung and Katherine Hull were at 5 under following the first round.
Lincicome used her power off the tees and a soft touch around the greens to avoid trouble all afternoon, finishing with just 24 putts. Her lone mistake came on the par-5 No. 5, when she pushed her tee shot right into the rough and had to scramble to save par.
Lincicome set the course record and came within two shots of matching Annika Sorenstam’s LPGA-record 13-under 59 at the Standard Register PING in 2001.
“The only time I looked at the scorecard was when we made the turn,” said Lincicome, who started her round on the back nine. “I was making everything. It was pretty crazy, even more myself. I was making 30-footers, 5-footers. Just one of those days where everything was going my way and I couldn’t do anything wrong.”
It’s been an up-and-down season for Lincicome, a three-time winner on tour.
In her first four tournaments of the year, Lincicome placed outside the top 20 three times and missed the cut in the other. After finishing second at the Bell Micro Classic two months later, she tied for 14th at the LPGA Championship and tied for 25th at the U.S. Open.
She seems to be rounding into form once again.
After a runner-up finish at last week’s Navistar Classic in Alabama by one shot to Katherine Hull, Lincicome began Thursday with five birdies over her first nine holes.
Then the 25-year-old, who shot a stellar 65 in the final round of the Navistar, really warmed up. After her par on No. 5, Lincicome birdied her final four holes, including on the par-5, 505-yard No. 9. Her approach shot sailed past the green and onto a backside hill of rough but she chipped to within 12 feet and made her birdie putt to cap her big day.
Her reward? A doubles tennis match with friends later in the evening.
“We’ve played twice already this week,” Lincicome said. “It’s just more cardio, to get out and run around for an hour or two. I’ve taken two lessons now so I’m getting pretty good.”
Ward had five birdies over her first nine holes, then added two more on the back to stay close. She made a 40-foot putt on the par-4 No. 12, offsetting two short missed putts on Nos. 6 and 9.
“The pace of the greens is really good,” said Ward, who recently changed putters. “I’ve just been fine-tuning my stroke, and seeing putts go in the hole always leads to confidence.”
Ward, whose last win on tour came at the 2005 Takefuji Classic, teed off 4 1/2 hours after Lincicome. By then, the leader was already well on her way to the impressive round.
“It didn’t surprise me,” Ward said. “The fairways are playing pretty hard and fast, and she hits it 50 (yards) past me. It was fun trying to chase her. I thought, ‘Well, game on.”’
Cristie Kerr shot a 1-over 73. Kerr likely needs to place in the top five to overtake Ai Miyazato for the No. 1 ranking.
This is the tour’s only stop in Northern California and could be its last. CVS/pharmacy is not extending its agreement with the tournament, leaving the event without its primary sponsor.
Lincicome became the first player to post an 11-under round since Paula Creamer accomplished the feat in the 2008 Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.
Defending champion Sophie Gustafson shot an even-par 72.
Country singer Owen shoots 86 in Web.com debut
Country music star Jake Owen struggled in his Web.com Tour debut, shooting a 14-over 86 in the opening round of the Nashville Golf Open.
Owen, who played as a 1 handicap earlier this year while teaming with Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, put three balls out of bounds over his first nine holes, including two en route to a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 18th hole. After making the turn in 46, Owen came home in 40 without making a single birdie.
Owen is playing as an amateur on an unrestricted sponsor exemption, the same type used by NBA superstar Steph Curry on the Web.com Tour last year and by former NFL quarterback Tony Romo this year on the PGA Tour. Curry missed the cut after rounds of 74-74 at the Ellie Mae Classic, while Romo shot 77-82 at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship.
Owen tallied nine pars, six bogeys, two doubles and a quad in his opener and was the only player from the morning wave who failed to break 80. The closest player to him in the standings was two-time major champ Angel Cabrera, who opened with a 79.
While Owen struggled against a field full of professionals, he took the setback in stride and even took to Twitter in the middle of his round to fire back at some of his online critics:
No prob Doug. I’m +11 now and tweeting during my round. I’m playing as hard as I can. I have 8 holes left if you want to come out and kiss my ass. https://t.co/UMeFWFKLVP— Jake Owen (@jakeowen) May 24, 2018
New putter propels Hoffman to Fort Worth lead
After sitting at home last week, Charley Hoffman decided it was time for a change.
The veteran estimated that he has been using the same version of a Scotty Cameron putter for the last five years, but heading into this week's Fort Worth Invitational he wanted to shake things up.
"I had an idea on Sunday literally coming out here that I wanted to have a little more weight in my putter," Hoffman told reporters. "I went with one that was sort of in my bag of putters at home that I could add some weight here."
The swap provided immediate results, as Hoffman opened with a 7-under 63 while picking up more than two strokes over the field on the greens to take a one-shot lead over Emiliano Grillo, Jhonattan Vegas and Andrew Putnam. It was an all-around effort Thursday for Hoffman, as he missed only two greens in regulation and never faced a par putt longer than 5 feet.
"I was able to knock in some mid-range putts and played very solid," Hoffman said. "It was a nice, very stress-free round. It was fun to play."
Hoffman had one of the best seasons of his career in 2017, capping it with a Presidents Cup appearance and a runner-up finish at the Hero World Challenge in December. While he has made nine cuts in 12 starts this year, his T-12 finish at the Masters remains his best result as he has struggled to turn top-20s into opportunities to contend.
Hoffman is making his seventh straight appearance at Colonial, where he tied for 10th in 2015. But he had never shot better than 65 before Thursday, when his decision to switch to a heavier Scotty Cameron model seemingly put a magnet on the bottom of the cup.
"Putting is a fickle part of the game," he said. "So hopefully the good mojo continues."
McIlroy shoots 67, two off BMW PGA lead
VIRGINIA WATER, England – Rory McIlroy walked off the 18th green in disgruntled fashion, shaking his head and looking down at the ground.
Shooting a 5-under 67 at Wentworth can rarely have felt so unsatisfactory.
The four-time major winner pushed his approach shot from the middle of the fairway into the overhanging trees at the par-5 last, saw his chip clip the flag pole, then missed a 3-foot putt for birdie for a disappointing end to his first round at the BMW PGA Championship on Thursday.
McIlroy also missed out on a birdie on the par-5 17th, too. Hence his unhappiness immediately after his round, although he was only two shots off the lead held by Lucas Bjerregaard (65).
''Walking off the 16th green and going to No. 17 at 5 under par, it was good after being 1 over after three (holes),'' McIlroy said, before diverting away from revisiting the end of his round.
''I played really well, gave myself plenty of chances, drove it well, for the most part hit my irons a lot better than I have done, so it was nice to get off to a good start.''
McIlroy is playing the European Tour's flagship event for the first time since 2015. He won it in 2014, the year he won The Open and the PGA Championship – his most recent major victories.
After bogeying No. 3, the former top-ranked McIlroy reeled off seven birdies in 13 holes and later said the greens were in the best condition he'd seen them.
Bjerregaard, whose only win came in Portugal last year, made seven birdies in a bogey-free round – his last at No. 18 giving him the outright lead over South Africans Dean Burmester and Darren Fichardt.
Burmester earlier played his last eight holes in 6 under par – including making eagle at the 15th – to draw level with compatriot Fichardt, who was also bogey-free.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat finished 7-6 on the two par 5s to drop from the outright lead at the time to 4 under.
Stricker opens with 65 at Colonial despite back pain
After four holes of the Fort Worth Invitational, things were looking bleak for Steve Stricker.
The ageless veteran was already 1 over when he tweaked his back playing his approach to No. 13, his fourth hole of the day at Colonial Country Club. He ended up making another bogey, but at that point his score took a backseat to the health of his ailing back.
"I tried to hit a pretty solid 6-iron and got right into the impact area, and actually felt my lower back crack right where I had surgery back in 2014, pretty much right on the spot," Stricker told reporters. "Tried to walk to the green and that wasn't going so well. Kind of tightened up on me. I thought I was going to have to stop and just stand there for a minute, which I did a couple of times. It didn't look or feel very good for a while."
Slowly but surely, Stricker's back began to loosen up, and with it came a turnaround on the scorecard. Stricker had a four-hole stretch in the middle of his round that he played in 5 under, highlighted by a hole-out from the greenside bunker for eagle on the par-5 first hole. Despite the rocky start, he ended up shooting a 5-under 65 to sit two shots off the early pace set by Charley Hoffman.
"I just kept plodding along," Stricker said. "I knew there were some birdie holes out here if you can get it in the fairway. There are some short irons."
Stricker had a spot in one of the marquee early-round groups, but his score bettered both Jordan Spieth's 1-under 69 and defending champ Kevin Kisner's 2-over 72. Stricker told reporters that he planned to get his back checked after the round.
Stricker continues to straddle both the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions while crafting a unique schedule, and his appearance this week in Fort Worth came at the expense of skipping the Senior PGA Championnship, a major on the over-50 circuit. But Stricker won at Colonial in 2009 and has now played four straight years on what he described as one of his favorite courses.
"I like to play here. I know I'm going to play John Deere, another favorite tournament of mine, and FedEx St. Jude looks like I am going to try to play in a couple weeks, try to get in the U.S. Open," Stricker said. "So it's just kind of picking them as I go, and seeing where I want to go and seeing what feels good to me at the time."