Notes: Tianlang, 14, likely to make Memorial cut

By Associated PressMay 31, 2013, 1:36 am

DUBLIN, Ohio – Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old Chinese amateur, continues to add to his scrapbook of incredible feats.

The eighth-grader shot an even-par 72 on Thursday in the opening round of The Memorial Tournament on one of the toughest and most respected courses on the PGA Tour, Muirfield Village.

''I think I played a pretty good round today,'' he said. ''It's a pretty tough course. The greens got pretty bumpy in the afternoon.''

Playing in one of the final groups of the day, Guan turned in 2 under and bogeyed two of the final three holes.

He burst onto the scene in April when he became the youngest player ever to make the cut at a major championship while finishing 58th at the Masters. He also made the cut in New Orleans.

''After the Masters and a couple of PGA Tour events, I guess I got more comfortable with it,'' he said when asked how a teenager could avoid being overwhelmed. ''It's helped a lot the first couple of events I played.''

He has no plans to leave early, either.

''A couple under would be great,'' he said of his goal in the second round. ''I'm planning to make the cut if I hit a couple under.''

FAST AND FURIOUS: The club logo at Muirfield Village is not a greenskeeper squeegeeing a putting surface.

In 146 rounds over the last 37 years coming into this year's Memorial Tournament, 39 have been delayed, interrupted or canceled by inclement weather. That's about one round per year.

Despite a cool spring, the course is relatively fast and dry – just the way tournament founder and host Jack Nicklaus prefers it.

The greens have been like, well, lightning.

''The greens are really tough,'' said Michael Thompson, who put up an early 69. ''You have to be careful on the downhillers.''

Most tournaments, professional tours and courses use a measuring device called a stimpmeter to determine the speed of greens. According to the U.S. Golf Association, Edward S. Stimpson, the 1935 Massachusetts Amateur champion, invented a device to determine a number which represents the relative speed of a ball on a putting green.

It's an aluminum bar, 36 inches long, with a V-shaped groove from top to bottom. When a ball is placed in the groove and the bar is at a certain angle, it rolls down and the distance it travels can be measured. A fast green on a public course might measure a 10 on the eponymous stimpmeter. Major championship greens edge toward a 13 or 14.

The numbers can be used to reflect how fast a ball rolls on a green.

''On Tuesday they were like 12 1/2 and they're trying to get them to 13 1/2 or 14,'' Scott Piercy said after shooting a 66. ''They've got some speed to them.''

Tiger Woods has played well all over the world on all types and speeds of greens, particularly ones that are akin to a marble table top. He recognizes that the Memorial, set up to the standards of 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus, strains to meet or exceed the pace that players will see on the greens at Merion in the U.S. Open in two weeks.

''Last year they stimped it in the morning at 14 on Sunday,'' Woods said before the tournament. ''And I can tell you that it wasn't 14 when we played. It was faster than 14. Jack has it right there where he wants it now. And if we get the weather to hold up and no storms, it will be one hell of a test.''

SPEAKING OF WHICH: The weather report for the remainder of the week includes temperatures in the high 70s and mid-80s with a 50 percent chance of rain Friday and Saturday afternoons. Sunday will be cloudy with thunderstorms likely through the morning hours.

QUOTABLE: Woods bogeyed the last hole to shoot a 1-under 71, one shot worse than 53-year-old playing partner Fred Couples.

Asked how Couples played, Woods replied, ''Kicked my (butt).''

When a reporter added that teen amateur Guan Tianlang was then ahead of him on the leaderboard, Woods smiled and said, ''Perfect! Perfect!''

Still grinning, he waved and headed for the door while saying, ''Have a good one, guys.''

CELL PHONE PATROL: A year after Phil Mickelson was frustrated by the distractions of cell phones clicking and ringing in the galleries, the Memorial Tournament had bands of volunteers accompanying the marquee groups during the first round to prevent a recurrence.

Tournament director Dan Sullivan said eight people dressed in light-blue shirts went out with the four most popular threesomes, plus there was heightened awareness among marshals on every hole. Each of the volunteers carried paddles which said, ''Please! No phones, videos or pictures!''

''The sense I got was that it was nice and calm out there today – the early rounds especially,'' Sullivan said. ''I'll have to get some more details on how it was for Tiger's group, but I didn't get any emergency notices.''

RORY'S ADVENTURE: Heading into the 38th Memorial Tournament, Rory McIlroy was in a good place.

''I feel like the golf course sets up well for me. You can stand up and be aggressive off the tee,'' he said. ''It's a good golf course, a golf course that I really enjoy playing and one that I feel I can do well on.''

That was then, before he shot a 6-over 78 in Thursday's opening round.

Among the many lowlights on his card was a four-putt, double-bogey 5 at the signature 13th hole. He hit his iron to the back left edge of the green and faced a 58-foot birdie putt that he left 12-feet short. Then he ran a 3-foot putt past the hole and hit the come-backer.

The world's No. 2 player sounded calm after the round.

''The last four weeks have been the same,'' he said. ''I've missed a lot of short putts. It's probably lack of confidence more than anything else. Those are the sort of putts that are important to keep the momentum of the round going. And they're the putts that I'm not making.''

McIlroy had started out fast. He birdied the difficult 10th. But the double at 12 was followed by bogeys at 13, 16 and 18 and he turned in 40 before picking up three more bogeys against one birdie on the front side.

Just two weeks away from the U.S. Open, McIlroy is still searching for answers.

''I'm pretty frustrated. I'm trying not to let it get to me,'' he said. ''A few bad rounds of golf isn't going to ruin anything. But I'd definitely like to start playing (well). I don't really have any explanations for this.''

FREDDIE AND BARACK: As captain of the U.S. side in the Presidents Cup, which will be played in October at Muirfield Village, Fred Couples was invited to the White House on Wednesday. Joining him in meeting with President Obama were International team captain Nick Price, Price's wife and Couples' girlfriend.

''We got to spend 20 minutes with (the President) in his busy schedule,'' Couples said.

After a brief chat and a photo op, Couples even tapped a few putts on the White House putting green.

Couples and Price asked Obama if he could attend the Presidents Cup, to be held Oct. 3-6.

''We asked him to come here in October and he said he couldn't,'' Couples said. ''And we asked him again and he said he couldn't do it. We said we'd check in a couple of months from now.''

The pros didn't offer any advice to the President, on golf or any other subject.

''No, no tips,'' Couples said. ''He had a couple of funny stories. It was really a very special 20 minutes.''

DIVOTS: Greg Chalmers played 17 holes in 2 over but had a quadruple-bogey 8 on one, hitting his drive on No. 3 into the creek running along the left side of the fairway and then slowly chopping his way through deep rough until he finally got to the green. ... As he came to the 18th green, Couples was introduced. His 15 PGA Tour wins were mentioned, as was being on the U.S. Ryder and Presidents Cup teams five times and that he was captain of the American side in October at the Presidents Cup. Someone forgot to mention he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame three weeks ago. ... Nick Watney, who had only the third albatross in U.S. Open history a year ago while finishing in a tied for 21st, didn't exactly tune-up in style for Merion in two weeks. He had triple- and double-bogeys and no birdies in a round of 82 that left him last in the field.

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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.