Notes Sutton recalls classic battle with Tiger

By Associated PressMay 6, 2010, 2:22 am

The Players ChampionshipPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Hal Sutton beat Tiger Woods at his very best, a victory at The Players Championship that still resonates 10 years later.

Sutton was at TPC Sawgrass on Wednesday to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of his second and more memorable win on the Stadium Course. He recalled his famous “be the right club today” phrase, which he still gets asked about all the time, and weighed in on Woods’ recent struggles on and off the course.

Sutton made it clear he believes Woods is better equipped than anyone to overcome his problems and get back to playing the kind of golf that helped him dominate the PGA Tour.

“Tiger’s facing the greatest challenge,” said Sutton, who also won here in 1983. “Tiger meets every challenge with his head held high and knowing that he will overcome. He’s had better control of his mind than almost any player I’ve ever watched play the game.

“It’s very difficult and distracting to be able to take out of your mind things that are very important to you and do what he’s got to do right now. I think he’s facing his greatest challenge. I think he’s probably got more equipment to do this with than anybody else.”

Woods, playing in his second tournament since rampant extramarital affairs shattered his image, missed the cut at Quail Hollow by eight last week. He shot a 79 in the second round, the second-highest score in his 14 years on Tour. He has never missed consecutive cuts.

Sutton expects Woods to find a way to balance the selfishness needed to play well at this level and the humility needed to get his personal life straightened out.

“I’m sure Tiger will figure that out,” he said. “He’s figured everything else out.”

Woods didn’t figure out a way to beat Sutton in 2000. He needed a birdie on No. 18 for a chance at a playoff, but hit his approach into a swale near the green and chipped up for par.

Sutton hit next and knew the shot was good.

“Be the right club today,” he said as the ball took aim at the flag. It landed about 8 feet in front of the hole.

“The phrase … was just a moment of passion,” said Sutton, who once counted 36 times that he was asked about it one day. “It was never practiced or anything else. It was just what came out of my mouth when I saw it in the air.”

MILLER BASHING: As usual, NBC Sports analyst Johnny Miller had some advice for Tiger Woods: Ditch the driver for The Players Championship, then ditch swing coach Hank Haney.

Miller said the Stadium Course doesn’t require power off the tee, which is why past champions Woods and Phil Mickelson have had to “throttle way down with their games.”

“If I were caddying for Tiger on the first tee, I’d probably break the driver and just say, ‘Let’s go play,”’ Miller said. “Phil when he won was really throttling down with that baby cut and playing very conservative.”

Then came the dig at Haney.

“This might be a little harsh, but I really believe he needs to – every night – watch the U.S. Open in the year 2000 in Pebble and just copy that swing and forget the Haney stuff,” Miller said. “That was the best golf anybody has ever played in history.”

Woods, who was working with Butch Harmon at the time, won by a record 15 shots at Pebble Beach, where the U.S. Open returns next month.

SHUTTER TROUBLE: Tiger Woods isn’t the only player who has to deal with cameras.

Hunter Mahan stood over his tee shot on the 16th hole Wednesday morning when a fan with a professional camera – cameras are allowed during practice rounds – fired the shutter in the middle of his swing.

“Did you get that?” Mahan’s caddie, John Wood, said to the man.

“Do you prefer me not to do that?” the man responded.

“No, it’s perfect,” Mahan said sarcastically.

Apparently, the sarcasm was lost on the man, for when Woods stepped to the tee, he was at the top of the swing when the man took more pictures. Woods stopped and started laughing, along with the rest of the group.

“Thanks, Wood,” he said to Mahan’s caddie.

EXTRA PRACTICE: Ian Poulter played the Stadium Course hundreds of times before he ever walked it in person. Poulter said Wednesday he learned the layout by playing PlayStation.

“The island green, I’ve probably played more rounds of it on PlayStation as a kid than I ever have now,” he said. “I don’t play anymore, but I’m just saying as a kid, I mean, hours in a pro shop.”

He believes video games helped him learn the course faster than he would have normally. However, he’s more familiar with the back nine than the front.

“When you set it up, you always set it up to play the back nine, I guess, with the island green,” he said.

How did he fare on No. 17, the famed island green?

“I’ve made birdie there all the time on the computer,” he said.

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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

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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.