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Sutherland, Day share Champions lead in Japan

By Associated PressSeptember 8, 2017, 12:31 pm

CHIBA, Japan – Kevin Sutherland and Glen Day shot 7-under 65 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the Japan Airlines Championship, the first PGA Tour Champions event in Japan.

''The greens are fabulous,'' Sutherland said. ''It's not even just good shape, it's in great shape. So as a result of that, it lends itself to some good scoring.''

Winless on the 50-and-over tour, Sutherland has had at least a share of the first-round lead in three of the last four events. He ended up losing to childhood rival Scott McCarron - a stroke back Friday - the previous two times, finishing second three weeks ago in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open in upstate New York and tying for third last week in the Shaw Charity Classic in Calgary, Alberta.

Sutherland closed with a bogey, three-putting the par-4 ninth at Narita Golf Club.

''Early in the round I hit the ball really, really well,'' Sutherland said. ''I drove the ball very well. On the back side, I made a bunch of long putts and unfortunately I three-putted the last hole. But I left myself a lot of long putts and that's going to happen eventually. If I drive the ball a little bit better tomorrow, I'm going to like my chances.''

He's making his first trip to Japan.

''It's been fabulous,'' Sutherland said. ''I've never been to Tokyo before. It's an amazing city. I've had just a great time. The people can't be nicer. It makes you want to come back.''


Full-field scores from the Japan Airlines Championship


The only player to shoot 59 in tour history, the 53-year-old Sutherland has five straight top-10 finishes. His lone PGA Tour victory came in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat fellow Sacramento, California, player McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final.

The 51-year-old Day also bogeyed his last hole - the par-4 18th.

''I didn't play great, but I scored great,'' said Day, also winless on the senior tour after winning one PGA Tour title. ''I'm not hitting the ball on the button by any means. I missed the 18th fairway by 50 yards. But I putted great and so, hey, they don't draw pictures.''

McCarron has won three of the last six events to tie Bernhard Langer for the tour victory lead with four.

''I had a nice round today,'' said McCarron, also visiting Japan for the first time. ''I missed some putts I should have made and I made some putts I shouldn't have made. So today was kind of a Jerry Seinfeld day, even steven. Just one of those things. I missed a couple of short ones and some easy birdie putts and all of a sudden I make putts that break 8 feet.''

Japan's Massy Kuramoto was two strokes back at 67 along with Paul Goydos, Billy Mayfair, Carlos Franco, Wes Short Jr., Gene Sauers and Steve Flesch. Kuramoto has seven victories on the Japan Senior Golf Tour after winning 34 times on the Japan Golf Tour. Goydos, the 3M Championship winner last month in Minnesota, parred the final 10 holes after playing the first eight in 5 under.

Fan favorite John Daly, playing alongside McCarron, opened with a 69.

Tom Watson, at 68 years old, shot a 70.

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Wise: 'No hard feelings' over Nelson missed kiss

By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 10:18 pm

Aaron Wise left the AT&T Byron Nelson with his first PGA Tour trophy and a seven-figure paycheck. But lost in the shuffle of closing out his breakthrough victory in near-darkness was his failed attempt for a celebratory kiss with his girlfriend on the 18th green.

Wise appeared to go in for a peck after his family joined him on the putting surface, but instead he and his girlfriend simply laughed and hugged. After the moment gained a bit of online notoriety, Wise told reporters at the Fort Worth Invitational that the young couple simply laughed it off.

"Yeah, I have been giving her some s--- about that," Wise said. "A lot has been made about it. It's really nothing. Like I was saying, she was just so excited to surprise me. I was kind of ruining the surprise a little bit that she was shocked, and she didn't even see me going in for the kiss."

At age 21, Wise is now one of the youngest winners on Tour. He explained that while both his girlfriend and mother flew in to watch the final round at Trinity Forest Golf Club, where he shared the 54-hole lead and eventually won by three shots, he took some of the surprise out of their arrival in true millennial fashion - by looking up his girlfriend's location earlier in the day.

Still getting used to his newfound status on Tour, Wise downplayed any controversy surrounding the kiss that wasn't.

"No hard feelings at all," Wise said. "We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was."

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Giving back: Chun creates education fund at site of Open win

By Randall MellMay 23, 2018, 8:04 pm

South Korea’s In Gee Chun is investing in American youth.

Chun broke through on the largest stage in women’s golf, winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago, and she’s making sure Lancaster, Pa., continues to share in what that brought her.

Chun is preparing for next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek outside Birmingham, Ala., but she made a special stop this week. She returned to the site of her breakthrough in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Wednesday, launching the In Gee Chun Lancaster Country Club Education Fund. She announced Tuesday that she’s donating $10,000 to seed the fund. She’s expected to raise more than $20,000 for the cause in a fundraising dinner at the club Wednesday evening. The fund will annually award scholarships to Lancaster youth applicants, including Lancaster Country Club caddies and children of club employees.

“I’m excited to be back here,” said Chun, who put on a junior clinic during her stay and also played an outing with club members. “Winning the U.S. Women’s Open here in Lancaster gave me the opportunity to play on the LPGA and make one of my dreams come true.”

Chun also supports a fund in her name at Korea University, where she graduated, a fund for various “social responsibility” projects and for the educational needs of the youth who create them.

“Education is very important to me,” Chun said. “I would like to help others reach their goals.”

Chun made donations to the Lancaster General Health Foundation in 2015 and ’16 and to Pennsylvania’s J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust last year. Lancaster Country Club officials estimate she has now made donations in excess of $40,000 to the community.

“We are grateful In Gee’s made such a wonderful connection to our community and club,” said Rory Connaughton, a member of Lancaster Country Club’s board of governors. “She’s a special person.”

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Spieth admits '16 Masters 'kind of haunted me'

By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 6:38 pm

Two years ago, Jordan Spieth arrived at Colonial Country Club and promptly exorcised some demons.

He was only a month removed from blowing the 2016 Masters, turning a five-shot lead with nine holes to play into a shocking runner-up finish behind Danny Willett. Still with lingering questions buzzing about his ability to close, he finished with a back-nine 30 on Sunday, including birdies on Nos. 16-18, to seal his first win since his Augusta National debacle.

Returning this week to the Fort Worth Invitational, Spieth was asked about the highs and lows he's already experienced in his five-year pro career and candidly pointed to the 2016 Masters as a "low point" that had a lingering effect.

"Even though it was still a tremendous week and still was a really good year in 2016, that kind of haunted me and all the questioning and everything," Spieth told reporters. "I let it tear me down a little bit. I kind of lost a little bit of my own freedom, thoughts on who I am as a person and as a golfer."


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Spieth went on to win the Australian Open in the fall of 2016, and last year he added three more victories including a third major title at Royal Birkdale. Given more than two years to reflect - and after nearly nabbing a second green jacket last month - he admitted that the trials and tribulations of 2016 had a lasting impact on how he perceives the daily grind on Tour.

"I guess to sum it up, I've just tried to really be selfish in the way that I think and focus on being as happy as I possibly can playing the game I love. Not getting caught up in the noise, good or bad," Spieth said. "Because what I hear from the outside, the highs are too high from the outside and the lows are too low from the outside from my real experience of them. So trying to stay pretty neutral and just look at the big picture things, and try and wake up every single day loving what I do."

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Spieth offers Owen advice ahead of Web.com debut

By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 6:22 pm

As country music sensation Jake Owen gets set to make his Web.com Tour debut, Jordan Spieth had a few pieces of advice for his former pro-am partner.

Owen played as a 1-handicap alongside Spieth at this year's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and this week he is playing his own ball on a sponsor invite at the Nashville Open. Owen joked with a Web.com Tour reporter that Spieth "shined" him by not answering his text earlier in the week, but Spieth explained to reporters at the Fort Worth Invitational that the two have since connected.

"We texted a bit yesterday. I was just asking how things were going," Spieth said. "I kind of asked him the state of his game. He said he's been practicing a lot. He said the course is really hard. I mean, going into it with that mindset, maybe he'll kind of play more conservative."

Owen is in the field this week on the same type of unrestricted sponsor exemption that NBA superstar Steph Curry used at the Web.com's Ellie Mae Classic in August. As Owen gets set to make his debut against a field full of professionals, Spieth noted that it might be for the best that he's focused on a tournament a few hundred miles away instead of walking alongside the singer as he does each year on the Monterey Peninsula.

"Fortunately I'm not there with him, because whenever I'm his partner I'm telling him to hit driver everywhere, even though he's talented enough to play the golf course the way it needs to be played," Spieth said. "So I think he'll get some knowledge on the golf course and play it a little better than he plays Pebble Beach. He's certainly got the talent to be able to shoot a good round."