Love shares FedEx St. Jude lead; Lefty over par

By Associated PressJune 7, 2013, 12:23 am

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Davis Love III is busy still trying to play his way back into shape after back surgery in February. Playing with Brandt Snedeker and Dustin Johnson, he did a bit better than just keep up.

The 49-year-old Love shot a 4-under 66 for his best round of the year on Thursday for a share of the lead with five other players after the first round of the St. Jude Classic, the final event before the U.S. Open next week at Merion in Ardmore, Pa.

''I still hit some bad shots,'' Love said.

''At the Players and Memorial, I felt like I was playing better than I was scoring. I think it's rust. I'm excited to be back, and I'm anxious and I want to play better than I'm playing. I'm a little bit tired from the two 36-hole qualifiers as well. You got to be a little bit more patient and polished. That's going to take some rounds of golf to get back.''


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Stuart Appleby, Harris English, Nathan Green, Martin Flores and Glen Day also pushed their way into the lead on a day where at least three others had a piece of the top spot at some point.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson was 5 under through six holes, taking advantage of near perfect conditions at TPC Southwind with a temperature in the low 80s and only a slight breeze early. But Johnson finished with a 67 and was tied with 10 others including David Toms, a two-time winner here, and Shawn Stefani, who was tied for the lead before he hit into a fairway bunker and bogeyed No. 18.

Snedeker, currently No. 6 in the world, opened with a 70. Boo Weekley, who won at Colonial, shot a 68 and was tied with seven others. Phil Mickelson had a 71.

Mickelson struggled on Nos. 15-17 with two bogeys and a double bogey on the par-5 16th, where he hit into a greenside bunker, into the rough and into another bunker before finally holing out. He said he wasn't sharp with his short game on small, fast greens that don't hold shots well in his first competitive round in a month.

''This is great because it's a great test,'' Mickelson said. ''The guy that strikes it well is going to have a big advantage, but when you do miss greens, you've got to be pretty sharp with your short game because the lies around the greens are some of the most difficult that we get.''

But for someone who hadn't played in so long, Mickelson said he was happy with how he hit the ball.

''It's about as good as I've been striking it, and I feel like there's a good round in me,'' Mickelson said.

Love took off in February for surgery to relieve numbness and weakness caused by spinal stenosis and bone spurs. He didn't play at all in March or April, and this is his fourth tournament back on the PGA Tour. He tied for 29th at Memorial last week and tied for third here a year ago in what wound up being his best finish of 2012.

He credited his good start to being grouped with Johnson and Snedeker, who also like to play fast.

''I tried to keep up with Dustin and Brandt,'' Love said.

Love made the turn at 2 under and birdied Nos. 10 and 11 to move into a five-way tie at 4 under with six others, a stroke back at that point. He bogeyed No. 12 and bogeyed the par-3 14th. But Love birdied two of his final three holes to finish with a piece of the lead.

Appleby had five birdies and a bogey for his best round this year. The Australian with nine victories hasn't won since The Greenbrier Classic in 2010, and his best this year was a tie for 35th at the RBC Heritage. He said he was surprised the scores weren't lower on a day where there wasn't any wind.

''I thought there were some more birdies out there,'' Appleby said. ''I think just with the pace of the greens if you're above the hole it's tricky. I'm happy with the way I played today. Anybody who got under par today, the scoreboard, certainly fought to get there.''

English, a 23-year-old from Georgia, got to 5 under on his back nine only to bogey his next hole at No. 5. Flores also got to 5 under when he birdied No. 13 to take the lead by himself only to double bogey the 14th after hitting into a bunker. He birdied No. 16 to get back into the lead group.

Green, who lost his card last year, was the clubhouse leader at midday. The Australian, who won the 2009 Canadian Open, has been busy rebuilding his chipping and putting. This is his best round this year, but it had been a while since Green had seen his name at the top of a leaderboard.

''I was starting to get nervous seeing my name on the board and made two good up and downs to finish off the round, which is nice,'' Green said after hitting into bunkers on Nos. 17 and 18 on his way in.

Notes: Paul Goydos, who shot a 73, may have re-injured his left wrist hitting out of some deep rough on No. 15. This was his first event in more than a year after extensive surgery on his wrist. He wrote on Twitter that he got some therapy after his round and planned to ice every hour but will not know how bad it is until he warms up on Friday morning. ... Guan Tianglang, the 14-year-old from China who made the cut at the Masters, opened with a 73. ... Matt Bettencourt withdrew because of illness after shooting a 39 on the front nine.

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Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

Ciganda is attempting to win her third LPGA title and first since the 2016 season, when she won two tournaments in a one-month span. Kim is chasing her eighth career LPGA win and second title of the 2018 season.

''I want to win because I didn't win last year,'' Ciganda said. ''I love playing in Asia. It's good for long hitters, playing quite long, so I'm quite comfortable.''


Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

Yin and Altomare have yet to break through for their first LPGA win. A win in Shanghai would make either player the ninth first-time winner of the 2018 season, which would tie 2016 for the third highest number of first-time winners in a season in LPGA history.

''I love competing,'' Yin said. ''That's why I'm playing, right? I'm excited to be in contention again going into Sunday.''

Local favorite Yu Liu was seventh after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.


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"Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

"We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

"You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."

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Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.


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"It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, considering his status a three-time major winner and an impending No. 1, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major; his only regular Tour win to date was his first, at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

"My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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Koepka ahead by four, with No. 1 ranking in his grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Piercy (-9), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One off the lead to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: After contending last week at the CIMB, Shubankhar Sharma rebounded from opening rounds of 74 and 75 with a nine-birdie, 8-under 64 to move up 45 spots into a tie for 26th through 54 holes.

Best of the rest: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.