Sorenstam Shares Lead With Saiki at PING
Sorenstam, coming off victories in her first two events of the year, shot a 2-under 70 in cold conditions Friday for a share of the lead with Kim Saiki.
Sorenstam had three birdies and one bogey during a second-round 70 on Friday. Sorenstam won last year with LPGA Tour-record scores of 59 in the second round and 27-under 261 for four rounds. She made two late birdies this time for a 36-hole score of 137 and at least a share of the lead in Phoenix for the fifth consecutive round.
'I'm content with my score, not really with my game,' Sorenstam said. 'I think I drove the ball well. I didn't miss the fairway, but I missed some greens with my irons, which ... I was quite surprised. And I worked on my swing a lot. I couldn't really find the rhythm out there.'
Saiki thrived in the same conditions, firing a 67.
'I feel great,' said Saiki, who went seven months between tournaments after developing medical problems. 'I haven't competed for quite a while.'
Wind was the problem in the first round. In the second, early starters had to contend with unseasonable cold. The start was delayed 20 minutes by frost on the greens, and four players were stranded on the Moon Valley Country Club course by darkness.
A threesome including Jackie Gallagher-Smith, one of five first-round leaders, had two holes to make up Saturday morning before the cut.
Akiko Fukushima was alone at 138 after a 70 that included three straight birdies from Nos. 14-16.
'I had really good concentration today. I didn't worry about results,' she said.
Cristie Kerr and Rachel Teske were two shots back after 69s. Emilee Klein and Kelly Robbins, two other first-day leaders, each carded a 73 to finish at 140.
Karrie Webb, who won the Australian Open on March 3 in her last tournament, was on the cut line at 4-over 148, positioned to make her 48th consecutive cut since Sept. 25, 1999. She improved on Thursday's 77 with a 71.
But Nancy Lopez (149), 1998 Phoenix champion Liselotte Neumann (149), 2000 winner Charlotta Sorenstam (151) and Laura Davies (157) all were getting the weekend off.
Davies, who won four straight titles in Phoenix (1994-97), left herself little room to recover after an opening 81.
Saiki, a non-winner in nine full seasons, took medical leave at the end of July to cure a viral inner-ear infection, spent extra time off the tour to allow ankle and shoulder injuries to heal and didn't get back until the season-opener in Hawaii two weeks ago.
Despite feeling that her game had improved under the tutelage of new teacher Greg Labell, Saiki missed the cut there -- her 13th second-round departure in 16 events since 2000.
'I think it was just because I took such a long break,' she said. 'Quite honestly, I didn't think I would be progressing this quickly.'
She was in rare form this time, coming within one stroke of her career-best round with eight birdies to compensate for bogeys on Nos. 6, 9 and 15.
It took her two holes to respond to the first bogey, but she birdied immediately after each of the next two, reaching 6-under at the 16th hole and sinking one of four birdie putts of more than 12 feet on No. 17.
Sorenstam, who started later, was bothered more by the cold and had a simpler scorecard -- a bogey on the 12th hole after a back-nine start, followed by birdies on the 17th, sixth and eighth.
She saved par at the finish, getting a 55-foot putt from the fringe to stop within four feet of the hole, then glanced at the leaderboard where Saiki's score stood out.
'I'm a leaderboard watcher,' Sorenstam said. 'I mean, I know where I was standing. I try to make birdies on every hole, even if I'm five ahead or five behind. I felt more in the groove on the back nine, kind of slowed down my tempo a little bit, got a little warmer.'
Full-field scores from the PING Banner Health
Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head
But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.
One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.
It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.
And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.
Hey, whatever works.
Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'
AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.
Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.
The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.
“I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”
Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.
“I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”
Curry jokes about Romo's 77: 'Got him by a stroke'
This just in ... professional athletes are competitive. Even when they're playing their secondary sport.
Playing in the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship on a sponsor exemption Thursday, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo started hot with an even-par 36 on his opening nine holes, but faded down the stretch to open with a 5-over 77.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Ron Kroichick, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry couldn't help but crack a smile when informed of the score, saying, "I got him by a stroke."
Just told @StephenCurry30 that Tony Romo finished 5-over in PGA Tour event in Dominican Republic. Curry smiled and said, "I got him by a stroke." He shot 4-over (twice) in https://t.co/gZ56s2K2Mk start last August.— Ron Kroichick (@ronkroichick) March 22, 2018
Curry was referencing his brief foray into pro golf last August, when he shot back-to-back 4-over 74s at the Web.com's Ellie Mae Classic.
So just in case Romo needed another reason to go low tomorrow when he tees off at 1 p.m. in the second round, he's got one.
Group standings at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
Here are the group standings for pool play at the 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas. The player with the most points in each pool advanced to Saturday's Round of 16 in Austin, Texas. Click here for scoring and click here for the bracket.
|Group 1||Group 2||Group 3||Group 4|
|(1) D. Johnson: 0-2-0||(2) J. Thomas: 1-0-0||(3) J. Rahm: 0-1-1||(4) J. Spieth: 2-0-0|
|(32) K. Kisner: 0-0-1||(21) F. Molinari: 1-0-0||(28) K. Aphibarnrat: 2-0-0||(19) P. Reed: 2-0-0|
|(38) A. Hadwin: 1-0-1
||(48) P. Kizzire: 0-1-0||(43) C. Reavie: 1-1-0||(34) H. Li: 0-2-0|
|(52) B. Wiesberger: 1-0-0
||(60) L. List: 0-1-0||(63) K. Bradley: 0-1-1||(49) C. Schwartzel: 0-2-0|
|Group 5||Group 6||Group 7||Group 8|
|(5) H. Matsuyama: 1-0-0||(6) R. McIlroy: 1-1-0||(7) S. Garcia: 1-0-0||(8) J. Day: 1-0-0|
|(30) P. Cantlay: 0-1-0
||(18) B. Harman: 0-0-1||(20) X. Schauffele: 1-0-0||(25) L. Oosthuizen: 1-0-0|
|(46) C. Smith: 1-0-0||(44) J. Vegas: 0-1-1||(41) D. Frittelli: 0-1-0||(42) J. Dufner: 0-1-0|
|(53) Y. Miyazato: 0-1-0||(51) P. Uihlein: 1-0-0||(62) S. Sharma: 0-1-0||(56) J. Hahn: 0-1-0|
|Group 9||Group 10||Group 11||Group 12|
|(9) T. Fleetwood: 1-1-0||(10) P. Casey: 2-0-0||(11) M. Leishman: 0-2-0||(12) T. Hatton: 1-0-0|
|(26) D. Berger: 0-2-0||(31) M. Fitzpatrick: 0-1-0||(23) B. Grace: 1-1-0||(22) C. Hoffman: 0-1-0|
|(33) K. Chappell: 1-1-0||(45) K. Stanley: 1-1-0||(35) B. Watson: 2-0-0||(36) B. Steele: 1-0-0|
|(58) I. Poulter: 2-0-0||(51) R. Henley: 0-1-0||(64) J. Suri: 1-1-0||(55) A. Levy: 0-1-0|
|Group 13||Group 14||Group 15||Group 16|
|(13) A. Noren: 2-0-0||(14) P. Mickelson: 1-1-0||(15) P. Perez: 0-0-1||(16) M. Kuchar: 1-0-1|
|(29) T. Finau: 2-0-0||(17) R. Cabrera Bello: 1-1-0||(24) G. Woodland: 0-0-1||(27) R. Fisher: 1-1-0|
|(39) T. Pieters: 0-2-0||(40) S. Kodaira: 0-2-0||(37) W. Simpson: 0-0-1||(47) Y. Ikeda: 1-1-0|
|(61) K. Na: 0-2-0||(59) C. Howell III: 2-0-0||(50) S.W. Kim: 0-0-1||(54) Z. Johnson: 0-1-1|