Notes Kite in Contention at Congressional

By Associated PressJune 10, 2005, 4:00 pm
BETHESDA, Md. -- Sure enough, just as his 31-year streak of U.S. Open appearances is about to come to an end, Tom Kite goes out and shoots his best back-to-back rounds of the year.
The 55-year-old Kite shot rounds of 68 and 69 Thursday and Friday to put him at 5 under par and four shots off the lead midway through the Booz Allen Classic.
'I'm pleased with how I'm playing, pleased with how I'm putting,' said Kite, whose trademark straw hat is the perfect attire for the sticky weather this week at Congressional Country Club. 'Got a lot more to go.'
Kite won the 1992 U.S. Open but failed to make this year's field in qualifying at nearby Rockville. He's concentrating more on the Champions Tour these days and has made just two PGA Tour cuts in nine tournaments.
Asked if playing well this week would take away the string from missing the Open, Kite said, 'A good week here is always nice.'
Kite said Congressional is playing easier than expected, but he's still not a fan of the setup that has the course ending with a par-3 18th hole.
'That's probably the one drawback to the golf course,' Kite said. 'The 17th hole is a great finishing hole. Unfortunately, with that lake behind the green, there's not room for all the spectator amenities you need in a finishing hole. So I can understand why they did it, but finishing on a par 3 is kind of a strange feeling.'
Three Australians - Robert Allenby, Adam Scott and Steve Elkington - are within two shots of the lead after two rounds, the latest sign of the Down Under invasion of the PGA Tour.
'We have so many,' Elkington said. 'I haven't gotten around to introducing myself to all of them yet. ... As a rule, Australian sportsmen travel really well. They've always done well in the Olympics and big events for some reason. Australians can leave their home and compete and do well.'
Elkington is among the elder statesmen of the group, and he's happy to be playing well after a spate of injury problems a couple of years ago.
'I'm like a giant mutual fund,' he said. 'My stock went up, went down. Maybe I'm kind of coming up a bit more now.'
Second-round leader Allenby's only bogey of the day came at the par-5 ninth hole, when his attempt to reach the green in 2 landed short and on the steep slope of a huge gully.
'Just before I went to hit my 3-wood,' Allenby said, 'my caddie did say, 'Oh, what about laying up?' So I hit the 3-wood and I looked at him and said, 'Thank you very much. Thanks for the vote of confidence.''
It seems like a stretch, but Phil Mickelson said it. Asked how this week's tournament will help him prepare for next week's U.S. Open, Lefty instead thought ahead to the next time that the major will be held at Congressional.
'I think the great thing about this is the more rounds we get out here at Congressional before the 2011 U.S. Open,' Mickelson said. 'We'll still remember some shots, some putts we hit on these greens that will carry over into the performance in 2011.'
No one expected first-round leader Matt Gogel to match the course record of 63 he set Thursday, but he certainly wasn't satisfied with a 72.
'I knew I wasn't going to shoot a really low score again today like a 65 or so,' Gogel said, 'but I fully expected to play better than I did.'
Gogel's problem was off the tee - he missed seven of 14 fairways - but he also had a 3-putt from 45 feet at No. 16 after he and playing partners Glen Day and Tom Pernice Jr. were warned for slow play.
'We were being timed the last four or five holes,' Gogel said. 'I didn't have much time to look at the putt, rushed the putt.'
Still, Gogel is just two shots behind Allenby headed into the weekend.
'If I can get the ball on the fairway over the weekend, I'll be a factor,' he said.
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    Goal for new world No. 1 Koepka: Stay healthy

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

    Last season Brooks Koepka bagged a pair of majors en route to the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award. He started the new wraparound season with an emphatic win at the CJ Cup to reach world No. 1 for the first time.

    But amid the best form of his career, Koepka has a simple goal in mind as he gets ready to turn his attention to the new year.

    "Stay healthy," Koepka told reporters. "That's been the big thing. I need to be healthy to be able to play all these events, play all the majors."

    Koepka's breakthrough year comes despite the fact that he missed four months in the spring, including the Masters, while recovering from a wrist injury. He hit the ground running once he returned, with strong finishes at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial preceding wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

    Now Koepka has added a third trophy after cruising to a four-shot win in South Korea on Sunday that allowed him to move past Dustin Johnson at world No. 1.

    "I'm 1-for-1 this year, which is nice," Koepka joked about his undefeated record in the new wraparound season.

    Koepka will be in the field next week in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions before putting the clubs on the shelf. With Justin Thomas paving the way by making the goal-setting process more public in recent years, Koepka explained that even after summiting the world rankings he plans to wait until 2019 to adjust his expectations for himself.

    "I keep the same goals through the calendar year," Koepka said. "On Jan. 1 I go to the beach in the morning and go write down my goals and figure them out for the calendar year, but I just need to finish this year off. I've got next week and I would like to, coming out the first week as No. 1, I'd like to play well."

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    Birdie binge for Woodland comes up short at CJ Cup

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 12:52 pm

    Gary Woodland mounted an impressive rally at the CJ Cup, but in the end even 11 birdies weren't enough to catch Brooks Koepka.

    Woodland started the final round in South Korea five shots behind the new world No. 1, but he made the biggest move of the day amid chilly conditions on Jeju Island. With six birdies over his first nine holes, including four in a row on Nos. 6-9, he briefly caught Koepka at the top of the leaderboard.

    But Woodland bogeyed No. 10, and even with five more birdies coming home to finish a 9-under 63 he still finished alone in second, four shots behind Koepka who closed with a bogey-free 29 to put the trophy out of reach.

    "Yesterday I didn't get any putts to go in, and today I saw a lot of putts go in," Woodland told reporters. "Brooks with the lead, not much fazes him. So you knew you had to make a lot of birdies, and I made a lot today. But I was just too far behind."

    It's the second straight strong performance from Woodland to start the new wraparound season, as he tied for fifth at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia after holding a share of the 54-hole lead. A closing 63 would have gone a long way last week, but he was still pleased to be able to make Koepka sweat a little on a day when even the bad holes resulted from good shots.

    "I made two bogeys on the back and I said, 'Be right' on both shots," Woodland said. "I was just maybe a little too amped up, a little excited. I hit them both perfect. All in all, I would have liked for a couple more putts to go in yesterday and been a little closer going into today."

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    Kang (69) wins Buick LPGA Shanghai by two

    By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:11 am

    SHANGHAI - Danielle Kang shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday to win the LPGA Shanghai by two strokes for her second career title.

    Kang, who started the final round one stroke off the lead, offset a lone bogey on the par-5 fourth hole with four birdies after the turn to finish at 13-under 275 and hold off a late charge by Lydia Ko, who had the day's lowest score of 66.

    ''I hope I win more,'' Kang said. ''I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.''

    Ko, who had seven birdies and a lone bogey, tied for second at 11 under with a group of seven players that included Brittany Altomare (71), Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and overnight co-leader Sei Young Kim (72).

    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos

    Carlota Ciganda, who also held a share of the lead after the third round, shot a 73 to fall into a tie for ninth with Bronte Law and local favorite Lu Liu.

    Paula Creamer carded three birdies against a pair of bogeys for a 71 to finish in sole possession of 12th place.

    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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    New world No. 1 Koepka already wants more

    By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 8:48 am

    If there is a knock on Brooks Koepka, it’s that he’s a little too cool.

    Gary Woodland, who threw 11 birdies at Koepka on Sunday and still finished four shots back, inadvertently captured that exact sentiment after Saturday's third round.

    “You know," he said, "Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much."

    Woodland meant that there was little anyone in the field could do to rattle the 54-hole leader. (He proved himself right, by the way.)

    But the also comment fits the general narrative surrounding Koepka. That he’s just detached enough for fans to have trouble attaching themselves to him. That he’s just a jock here to cash checks and collect trophies, to kick ass and chew bubblegum.

    But for a few moments Sunday in South Korea, it became clear that Brooks Koepka does care. Crouched on the 72nd green with some time to stop and think as Ian Poulter lagged a bit behind, Koepka finally let a moment get to him. Cameras caught the three-time major champion appearing unusually emotional.

    Of course, less than a minute later, those same cameras caught him yawning. The contrast was almost too perfect. It was as if he knew he had just been found out and needed to snap back into character – which he did.

    He promptly poured in an eagle putt to cap off a final-round 64, to win the CJ Cup by four, and to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.

    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

    “To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid,” Koepka said on the 18th green, moments after closing out his fifth PGA Tour victory and third this year. “I don't think this one's going to sink in.”

    What is beginning to sink in is that Koepka now unequivocally belongs in the conversation, the one golf fans and analysts have been having over and over since Tiger Woods fell from golf's greatest heights.

    Who’s the best at their best?

    In the two years between his first PGA Tour win and his first U.S. Open victory, Koepka was touted as having the kind of talent to compete with the game's elites. It took a little while for him to get here, but Koepka has taken over as the latest player to look like he’ll never lose again. Just as it was for Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas before him, this is Koepka's moment. This is his run of dominance.

    It’s a run that will have to end at some point. Every one of the guys just mentioned did cool off eventually. Koepka will, too. Maybe it'll be fatigue, maybe it'll be injury, and maybe it’ll just be golf. This talent pool is  too deep for anyone to remain on top for too long.

    But what Koepka has done this year – in defending his U.S. Open title, in staring down Tiger at the PGA, in claiming the Player of the Year Award, in ascending to the top of the world rankings – is put his name at the forefront of the conversation. If he was unappreciated at times before, those days are behind him. He's already accomplished too much, proven himself too good to be overlooked any longer.

    And he’s far from done.

    “For me, I just need to keep winning,” the new world No. 1 said Sunday. “I feel like to win a few more regular Tour events and then keep adding majors. I feel like my game's set up for that. I've gotten so much confidence off winning those majors where, it's incredible, every time I tee it up, I feel like I really have a good chance to win whether I have my A-game or not. It's something I'm so excited [about] right now, you have no idea. I just can't wait to go play again.”