Wie eyes another win

By Associated PressSeptember 10, 2010, 2:45 am

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ROGERS, Ark. – With a pair of wins in the last 11 months, Michelle Wie is finally turning potential into success.

This week, the big-hitting former prodigy will try for her second straight LPGA Tour victory, part of a loaded field at the P&G NW Arkansas Championship. The 54-hole event begins Friday and also includes money leader Jiyai Shin, the defending champion, and world No. 1 Ai Miyazato.

In fact, 14 of the top 15 players in the Rolex rankings are entered, with only 10th-ranked Paula Creamer (thumb injury) missing. Wie, ranked No. 7, is coming off a victory late last month in the Canadian Women’s Open.

“I felt like it was a frustrating season for me so far because I felt like I played a lot better than what my scores were,” Wie said. “I guess that happens when you win it – everything just kind of falls into place, and hopefully it will happen again this week. … I see all the top players are here. I think it’s really great for the tournament.”

Wie has made all but two cuts since the start of 2009, her official rookie season, and she earned her first career victory in November at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

She won in Canada by three strokes – her 12th top-10 finish in the last two seasons.

Last year in Arkansas, outlasting Angela Stanford and Sun Young Yoo in a sudden-death playoff. This is the fourth year for th4 event at Pinnacle Country Club, and with nothing else on the LPGA Tour schedule until Oct. 7, the sport’s top players have come to northwest Arkansas for the $2 million tournament, which is presented by Wal-Mart.

“First off, it’s a great purse and a great sponsor in P&G, and you know, great golf course and area, and those are all the things that you look for for a major golf tournament in drawing the top players in,” said Cristie Kerr, the world’s No. 2 player. “They have a good date on the schedule, for us – maybe not for the weather, but for us they have a good date on the schedule.”

Ah, yes. The weather.

In 2007, the tournament’s inaugural season, the event was called off after 18 holes because of rain. On Thursday, the 2010 edition got off to a rough start when the remnants of Tropical Storm Hermine forced the pro-am to be canceled.

“Wherever any cities have droughts, we’ve been fixing them wherever we go,” Wie said.

Shin said the greens seemed firm when she played earlier in the week, but that might change now.

“I was shocked and then really surprised, but today it’s getting soft,” she said.

Shin, Kerr and Miyazato have been battling to take over the mantle as the world’s top player since Lorena Ochoa retired in May. Miyazato has five victories this season, while Kerr has won twice and Shin once. In addition to being atop the world ranking, Miyazato trails only Shin on the money list.

“Really, all the top six or seven players on the money list is getting really close,” Miyazato said. “We have some tournaments like this, only three-day tournaments, so you need to be a little more aggressive and try to make some birdies out there.”

In addition to all the top players, former University of Arkansas star Stacy Lewis is in the field. She was leading when the 2007 tournament was called off because of bad weather, and although she’s still seeking her first career win, she’s No. 20 on the money list thanks to a runner-up finish (to Miyazato) in Mexico in May.

This event also includes another Razorback – current senior Kelli Shean, who received a sponsor’s exemption.

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Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

Poulter figures to undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.


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"Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

Perez, in that pack at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

"We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed the chase pack's predicament the best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

"You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."

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Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


"It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, given how his career has unfolded, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major.

"My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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Ahead by four, No. 1 ranking within Koepka's grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One behind overnight leader Scott Piercy to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

Best of the rest: Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama and Emiliano Grillo signed for 66. Casey went seven straight holes without a par, Matusyama was bogey-free, and Grillo did all his damage on the back nine after nine consecutive pars on the front.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.

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Watch: Koepka flies ball 330 yards, drives green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 4:44 am

It's a good thing par doesn't actually matter in tournament play, because if it did, the PGA Tour would have to consider 350-yard par-3s, and even those might not stop Brooks Koeopka.

Already ahead by two during Saturday's third round at the CJ Cup in South Korea, Koepka drove the green at the par-4 14th, carrying his ball 330 yards to the front edge.

The back-to-back U.S. Open champ would go on to two-putt for birdie and push his lead to three.

... The USGA is going to try that 350-yard par-3 idea, isn't it?