Notes Love Bothered By Bad Back

By Associated PressMarch 25, 2004, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Davis Love's chances at defending his title at The Players Championship were in trouble before he finished warming up. They were almost nonexistent by the time he reached the fifth tee box.
Love tweaked his back hitting 1-irons on the driving range before his opening round Thursday, which helps explain how he shot a 5-over-par 77, 12 strokes behind leader Adam Scott and in jeopardy of missing the cut.
Love started with three bogeys and a double bogey over the first four holes and stood at 6-over before the clock struck 10 a.m.
I got off to a bad start,'' he said. I don't know if it's because of the back stuff, or if it's just because I got off to a bad start.''
Like a lot of players on Tour, Love is no stranger to back problems; he said they come and go'' all the time. He hoped he could walk off his pain on the way to the first tee, but it never went away. He checked with a trainer at the turn and the trainer told him to keep trying it.
I thought I was making some good shots. I just wanted to make a birdie,'' he said.
He did, but only one. Now, he's on the verge of missing the cut, which would guarantee there would still not be a back-to-back champion in the 31 years of this tournament. There's also a chance he could withdraw.
If it feels like it did out there today, I might not play, but I don't know,'' Love said. I'd like to get out there, get five birdies in a row like I did last year. If you can get to even-par before the weekend, you might have a chance.''
John Daly's quest to make the Masters got a boost when he shot 69 in a bogey-free opening round.
Bogey-free, that doesn't happen to many times for me out here,'' said Daly, who has never finished higher than 16th in this event. I made some good pars, and good putts. I didn't shoot myself in the foot, anyway.''
Daly saved a pair of tough pars on Nos. 11 and 13. On the par-5 11th, he drove into the rough and hit his layup shot too far, also into the rough. An indifferent chip left him 53 feet from the cup and he needed a 7-footer to save par.
On the par-3 13th, Daly hit the ball to the back of the long green, 60 feet away. His lag putt wasn't great, but he made a 6-footer to save par again.
Buoyed by his win last month at Torrey Pines, Daly came into the week ranked ninth on the 2004 money list. He qualifies for the Masters if he's in the top 10 after this week, or if he can move up from 53rd into the top 50 in the world ranking. He needs to finish in the top 19 this week to reach those goals.
Some 18-year-olds go to the beach for spring break. Others go home and veg. Justin Perry is working -- as a caddie for his father.
Kenny Perry hired'' his son this week, hoping to spend a little quality time with Justin before he heads off to college. Kenny figured it might change his luck at The Players Championship, too.
I've never played that well here,'' he said. So, I figured it was a win-win situation.''
This was the first time on the bag for Justin, who earned a golf scholarship at Lipscomb University, and will enroll in the fall.
I was a little nervous,'' Justin said. When he started off with a couple birdies, that helped things.''
With help of those two early birdies and a 32 over his first nine holes, Perry shot 3-under to stay well in contention.
The TPC boasts the biggest purse on the PGA Tour, which leads to the question, what is Justin's cut if his dad wins?
Kenny Perry played it coy: I think I've paid him enough,'' he joked.
Last year, it was Jay Haas. This year -- at least so far -- it's Craig Stadler who is showing that the old guys can still play.
The Walrus used his putting touch to overcome an erratic round and finish at 2-under, five off the lead and very close to the leaderboard.
The 50-year-old Stadler, who last year became just the second player to win on the PGA and the Champions Tours in the same season, said it shouldn't be a shock that the older guys can still hang a bit. Last year, at age 50, Haas finished tied for second.
Stadler credited his good round mostly to putting.
It seems like as you get older, the putter keeps getting better,'' he said. If you keep the putter hot, you have a chance.''
Of course, after an up-and-down round that included four bogeys and six birdies, Stadler wasn't predicting victory.
I'd like to be around on Sunday afternoon, but I'm not sure I can. I hit a lot of suspect shots today,'' he said.
There were 43 birdies made on the 18th hole, shattering the previous record of 24. No. 18 is the toughest hole in the 22 years the tournament has been played on the Stadium Course, playing at an average of .362 strokes over par. ... Mike Weir opened his round with 14 straight 4s, and closed with two more en route to a 74. ... David Peoples saw what could have been an excellent round get away from him when he hit his third shot on No. 10 into the pine straw near the cart path adjoining the 11th hole. With no clear shot to the green, he had to chip out, then hit his next shot off hardpan. He made a 7 and finished at 72. ... Craig Perks, the 2002 champion, shot 70. ... Fred Funk hit two balls into the water on No. 17, the island hole, for a 7.
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    Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

    By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

    Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

    She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

    Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

    After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

    “The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

    Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

    It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

    “I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

    Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    “The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

    Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

    It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

    “I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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    Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

    CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

    The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

    ''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

    She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

    ''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

    Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

    ''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

    Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

    Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

    Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

    ''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

    She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

    ''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

    Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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    DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

    AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

    Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

    “He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

    The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

    It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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    Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

    BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

    Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

    ''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

    He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

    Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

    ''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

    Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

    ''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

    Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

    ''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

    Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

    Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

    Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.