Players brace for blustery weather at Senior PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2010, 4:45 am

PARKER, Colo. – Not only can Tom Watson play well in the wind, he can imitate the sound, too.

When asked about the course conditions following his practice round on a blustery Wednesday afternoon, Watson grabbed the microphone and began blowing into it.

As if there wasn’t enough wind already.

The gales again gusted through the course at Colorado Golf Club, site of this year’s Senior PGA Championship. At one point in the afternoon, the winds reached nearly 40 mph, making the day quite difficult for those on the course.

And this was a light day compared to Monday, when the winds reached the vicinity of 60 mph, forcing some of the golfers to pass on playing.

“It’s howling out there,” Watson said Wednesday. “It was really pretty calm in the morning for the first six holes. And then somebody turned the fans on.”

The winds are expected to gust again Thursday when play begins.

Not exactly a recipe for low scores.

“It was blowing so hard out there (Wednesday), I wouldn’t say it was much fun,” said Fred Couples, who admitted his balky back is giving him trouble. “It’s a hard course anyway, but when it’s like this it’s hard to hit a good shot.”

Watson is hoping the officials consider that when determining the course. Keeping it at 7,490 yards would be almost cruel in this breezy climate.

“They’re going to have to use some good judgment setting up the golf course, if they know the winds are going to be coming and blowing this way,” Watson said. “It’s a wonderful golf course. … I would like to see it just not blow this hard.”

That’s surprising since Watson typically thrives in windier weather, winning five British Open titles on courses usually known for blustery breezes.

So, what’s the secret?

“You throw the yardage somewhat out the window and you play by feel,” Watson said.

About then, a burst of wind banged against the side of the interview area.

“I hope this tent survives,” Watson said, smiling.

KITCHENAID DEAL: The Senior PGA Championship announced Wednesday that KitchenAid will be a presenting sponsor beginning next year at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.

The four-year agreement also includes bringing the 2012 and 2014 championships to The Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich., the home of KitchenAid.

The Michigan course is designed by Jack Nicklaus and will officially open Aug. 10 with a charity event that features Nicklaus, Watson, Arnold Palmer and Johnny Miller.

ON THE MARK: The last time Mark O’Meara’s swing felt this crisp, this solid, he won two major championships, capturing the Masters and British Open in 1998.

That’s how locked in he is right now, how comfortable he feels over the ball.

He’s hoping it translates on the course this week.

“Do I think I’m there yet? I don’t think in golf you ever arrive,” O’Meara said. “But I think at times I’m a much better player now than I was, ball-striking wise, in 1998. That doesn’t give you the right (to think) that you’re going to all of a sudden play well. I’d like to play well here.”

FAST LANE: Fuzzy Zoeller will stick to driving a golf ball and leave driving a race car to the pros.

Although Zoeller is sponsoring a car in this weekend’s Indianapolis 500, he has absolutely no desire to test one out – ever.

“I’m a speed-limit man – right lane all the time,” Zoeller said. “I’m a 45-to-50 (mph) man, not 245, not 250.”

Zoeller leaves the driving on the track to Ed Carpenter, who will be behind the wheel of Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka car on Sunday. Carpenter will start in the third row, sandwiched between Graham Rahal and Hideki Mutoh.

“That’s amazing to see those kids drive those cars and the skill they have to drive them,” said Zoeller, who won the Senior PGA Championship title in 2002. “Speed just doesn’t do nothing for me.”

But promoting his product at a venue like Indy certainly appeals to him.

“Where else do you have 350,000 screaming idiots? It works,” chuckled Zoeller, who launched his burgeoning spirits business around a year ago. “This is an outstanding car, too. It’s got a lot of speed.”

BIG FAN: With his steady nerves and poise, 16-year-old Jordan Spieth of Dallas caught the nation’s attention as he finished tied for 16th place at the Byron Nelson Championship last weekend.

He also impressed fellow Texan Ben Crenshaw, who happened to catch glimpses of Spieth’s play on television.

“Great performance,” Crenshaw said. “Reminds you of a 16-year-old Jack Nicklaus.”

Lofty praise, indeed.

“He’s good,” Crenshaw said.

Not only that, but Crenshaw appreciated his choice in schools. Spieth is planning to attend the University of Texas, the same school where Crenshaw once was a star. Crenshaw won three straight NCAA championships at Texas, sharing the title with teammate Tom Kite in 1972.

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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.