Westwood fires 66 Tiger shoots 68 in Shanghai

By Associated PressNovember 4, 2010, 2:49 pm

WGC-HSBC ChampionsSHANGHAI -- Lee Westwood didn’t feel as though he had to prove why he was No. 1 in the world. With one quality shot after another Thursday in the HSBC Champions, he sure served up a reminder.

Westwood closed with two strong birdies for a 6-under 66, leaving him one shot behind Ryder Cup teammate Francesco Molinari in pristine weather at Sheshan International.

Tiger Woods, no longer No. 1 for the first time in more than five years, made one improbable par and three straight birdies on his way to a 68 that left him very much in the mix of this World Golf Championship.

The surprise, to some degree, was Westwood.

It was only his second stroke-play competition in three months, and only his second round of golf since Oct. 10. His mistake wasn’t even his own doing, as he found a clump of mud on his ball in the seventh fairway, leading to a bogey.

Otherwise, it was the kind of round expected from the world’s No. 1 player.

“I don’t think I need to reinforce why I’m No. 1 in the world,” Westwood said. “I think you get there as a result of having good performances. But it’s nice to go out there and show everybody that there is a particular reason why I got to that stage.”

The Asian influence in the tournament regarded as “Asia’s major” shone through behind Yuta Ikeda of Japan, who bogeyed his last hole and shot 67, and rising Korean star Seung-Yul Noh, who also had a 67. They were joined by Henrik Stenson, coming off his worst season and seeing some signs of progress.

Luke Donald of England joined Woods at 68, while defending champion Phil Mickelson had a 69. PGA champion Martin Kaymer, who has gone to No. 3 in the world, opened with a 72.

Westwood, Woods, Kaymer and Mickelson all can go to No. 1 in the world this week.

Molinari tried to take some of the spotlight off the battle of the world ranking. He turned a potential bogey into a birdie on the third hole when his approach went over the green, leaving him a quick chip down the hill. He chipped in, the start of four straight birdies that carried him to the opening 65 that put him atop the leaderboard.

“Everything seems in the right place at the moment,” Molinari said.

Perhaps most inspiring for Woods is that he was coming off his longest layoff—four weeks—since he returned to golf at the Masters. It looked as though he had never left. In his previous competition, Woods was 9 under through 15 holes in his victory over Molinari in Ryder Cup singles at Celtic Manor.

He wasn’t that sharp, but he was a little lucky.

Already 1 over for the tournament, he drove into a cluster of trees and bushes on the 15th. He figured he had no hope until caddie Steve Williams told Woods when he got to his ball, “I think we might have a shot.”

The ball was behind some hedges, with sprigs sticking up around his ball. With a 4-iron, Woods played away from the sprigs, through a gap in the hedges, shaping the ball from left to right to get it just left of the green. From there, he navigated a tricky, downhill chip to about 3 feet for the most unlikely par.

“I was able to build some momentum from there,” Woods said.

He birdied the next hole with a sand wedge to 2 feet, then turned it on over the back nine, starting with a 5-wood form 247 yards that settled about 18 feet from the cup for a two-putt birdie. He birdied the next two holes, added a 20-foot birdie on the seventh and ended his round with a 6-foot par save.

“I hit a lot of good golf shots,” Woods said. “I felt like I was able to control my distance well coming into the greens, and also putted really well today.”

Westwood, still trying to manage an injury to his calf that affects his right ankle, had not played a round of golf since Oct. 10 at the Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews. His expectations were nil. The golf was quite good.

“I just went out there with a pretty clear mind,” Westwood said. “I was a little rusty in places with my scoring, but I putted nicely. All in all, I think I probably deserved about a 66.”

He did just about everything well. Westwood hit a solid drive and a 6-iron to 15 feet for birdie on the 15th hole, one of the strongest holes at Sheshan. He hit driver on the par-4 16th that pitched about 10 feet from the hole and trundled over the green, but escaped with birdie by holing an 18-foot putt.

And like Woods, he was helped by a par. Westwood pulled his 5-wood into the water on the par-5 second, but hit a nice pitch and made the par putt, then finished in style with a 5-wood just left of the green on the par-5 eighth, and a 25-foot birdie putt on his last hole.


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Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.

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Jutanugarn sisters: Different styles, similar results

By Associated PressMay 23, 2018, 10:20 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

The sisters from Thailand do have the same goal in the LPGA, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

''Everybody has a chance to win every weekend,'' Moriya said. ''That's how hard it is on tour right now.''

Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analyzing each shot patiently.

That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

''It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different,'' she said. ''But we pretty much end up with the same idea.''

Off the course, they're also different.

The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. They sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

''He doesn't travel anymore,'' Moriya Jutanugarn said.

Even if he is relegating to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon Jutanugarn must be proud of the way his daughters are playing.

Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

Moriya won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA victories.

On the money list, Ariya is No. 1 and her sister is third.

In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya Jutanugarn has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

''It's not that bad, like 10 week in a row,'' Moriya said.

The LPGA is hosting an event about five miles from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it doesn't have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he's confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

''I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that,'' Whan acknowledged.

LPGA and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to persuade them to put their name on the tournament.

Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

''We're coming back,'' said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. ''We just don't know in what capacity.''

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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."

Mmm Visuals / Lancaster Country Club

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.”