Southern Swing Can Still Lead to Masters Spot

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2004, 5:00 pm
The first two stops on the Florida swing felt like that old road to the Masters ' Craig Parry at Doral and Todd Hamilton at the Honda Classic both earned a trip to Augusta National by winning.
The difference now is that it requires a little math to figure out the world ranking, and both players have to wait two more weeks before it becomes official.
Before the criteria was changed five years ago, a PGA Tour victory was an automatic pass down Magnolia Lane.
But the last two weeks showed that March hasnt entirely lost its charm when it comes to the Masters.
Parry was No. 82 in the world when he holed a 6-iron from the 18th fairway to win the Ford Championship in a playoff, moving him up to No. 35.
Hamilton won four times in Japan last year and was No. 96. When he birdied the last two holes to win the Honda Classic, he shot up to No. 38 Monday.
The top 50 in the world after The Players Championship (March 29) are eligible for the Masters.
It means something to both of them.
Parry had a one-stroke lead going in the final round of the 1992 Masters, paired with Fred Couples, when he came unglued and shot 78.

If I had probably a bit more experience, I might have been able to go on and do the job, Parry said.
Hamilton has been to Augusta National once ' as a 17-year-old playing in a junior tournament at adjacent Augusta Country Club in late summer. Tournament organizers arranged a brief tour, which included a double-decker bus taking them down Magnolia Lane.

We were out on the 13th green. They had straw down to keep it cool, Hamilton said. The course was closed, but Ive actually set foot on it. But Ive never played it.
Six PGA Tour winners since the Masters are not yet eligible ' Rory Sabbatini, Peter Jacobsen, Tommy Armour III, John Huston, John Daly and Heath Slocum.
Because the top four players are at Bay Hill and ranking points will be high, a victory at Bay Hill by someone not already eligible might be enough to get into the Masters. And anyone who wins The Players Championship next week gets a three-year exemption to the Masters.

Most eyes will be on Daly, who had to skip last week after getting his hand slammed in a car door.

Daly is No. 63 in the world ranking. He also held his ground at No. 8 on the money list ' the top 10 after The Players Championship also get into the Masters.
Wedding Bliss
Fred Couples did not make it to David Duvals wedding last week, but he has spent time with Duval and his bride, Susie, and says the former British Open champ has never been happier.
My wife and I went to Sun Valley and met his wife and three kids, and theyre adorable. Shes a very, very great lady, Couples said. The first thing my wife said, Can you believe David? I mean, he was so different.
Couples said Duval plans to live in Colorado, where the children go to school, and they would travel with him.
No one is certain when Duval will return to the PGA Tour, where he last played in October.
I dont know if its going to help his golf game, Couples said. It doesnt really matter. The only thing that will help his golf game is if she can tell him, Just get the club a little inside or outside. Looks good to me.
Everyone gets married. And people dont get married, he said. Its not going to hurt him. Hes extremely happy.
Just because Vijay Singh has taken two weeks off, dont get the idea he is slacking off.
Singh recently completed an addition to his home in Ponte Vedra Beach. Its a two-story workout facility, with a weight room downstairs and a cardiovascular area upstairs.
Pretty much all the equipment to carry me through until Im 50, he said.

Along with all the optional extras in exercise, Singh gives much of the credit to his trainer, Joey Diovisalvi, who is with him every step of the way ' and then some.

He's the backbone. Hes pushed me so hard the last two years, Singh said recently. Hes in the gym with me in the mornings and in the evenings, every day, two times a day, five or six days a week. When I go home, hes there at home doing the same thing.
Singh said Diovisalvi used to tour with Bruce Springsteen and work as his trainer. When hes not working with the No. 2 player in golf, Diovisalvi competes in half-marathons and triathlons.
Davis Love III has fond memories of The Players Championship, and not just because he has won golfs richest tournament twice.

He was 17 when he took his wife, Robin, to the 82 tournament when it first moved to the TPC at Sawgrass. The winner was Jerry Pate, known for using an orange golf ball.

I took her out of town, watched golf, showed her what I wanted to do, Love said. It was the first time either of us had seen The Players Championship on that golf course. I was excited to be with her and to watch guys play this golf course, because I had heard so much about it.
Asked if his wife heckled anyone that day, Love laughed and said, (She) should have for the orange ball.

The latest trend on the PGA Tour is the success of 54-hole leaders, who have won nine of the 10 stroke-play events this year. The lone exception was Harrison Frazar, who gave up a one-shot lead at the Sony Open and lost to Ernie Els in a playoff. ... Tiger Woods (28) is the only player in his 20s to have won this year. ... This is a big week for Colin Montgomerie at the Singapore Masters. He is No. 51 in the world, and needs to crack the top 50 to qualify for The Players Championship. ... Woods picked up his sixth consecutive Mark McCormack Award for being No. 1 in the world the most weeks during the 2003 season. Woods has been No. 1 since winning the 1999 PGA Championship.

Todd Hamilton, 38, was the oldest PGA Tour rookie to win since the tour started keeping records in 1970.
When me and Tiger putt, I say, How much we putting for? He says, Whatever makes you nervous. So thats usually like $5. ' Chris Riley.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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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.