Wie just one stroke back of leader Kim

By Associated PressJuly 18, 2008, 4:00 pm
State Farm Classic Logo 2007SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Christina Kims second-round 68 at the LPGA State Farm Classic looked ordinary compared with her opening 63, but it included a birdie putt on her last hole that gave her a one-stroke lead over the charging Michelle Wie and three others.
 
Kim was the first-day leader, but said Friday was, by comparison, a fight.
 
She bogeyed the par-5 sixth hole and saved par on her opening hole only after finding the green with her second shot from behind a line of trees well off the fairway.
 
It was quite a struggle, I thought, said the pigtailed Kim. I shot a 9 under (Thursday) and its always hard to follow that.
 
Right behind her is the 18-year-old Wie, playing easily her best golf of the year while shooting a 65 that pulled her to 12 under for the tournament.
 
Wie, who has never won an LPGA tournament, is playing only part time this year after enrolling at Stanford. She played aggressively and counted on her short game and the forgiveness of the wide-open Panther Creek Country Club course.
 
Ive had two solid rounds but Im still a shot behind. I need to go lower over the weekend, she said. Theres a lot of birdie opportunities out there today that I missed. So tomorrow and Sunday I just need to get the rest.
 
Wie opened her round with an eagle on the par-4 10th hole, dropping her second shot just past the cup and then watching it roll back in before trading high fives with caddie Tim Vickers and playing partner Allison Hanna-Williams. A similar shot Thursday landed her an eagle, too.
 
I hit a really good shot and it was like wow, it went in again, she said. This makes my life really easy.
 
The gallery following her, the tournaments largest, oohed and ahhed over her long drives, and her ability to bail herself out of the rough.
 
On the par-5 13th hole, Wie drove for the green on her second shot, finding instead deep rough 20 feet to the right and down a hill. A soft pitch to within a few feet of the cup helped her save par.
 
She landed just off the fairway on 14 and 15, too, only to salvage par on both.
 
Kim finished second last year at the State Farm to Sherri Steinhauer, losing on Steinhauers birdie putt on her last hole.
 
She said that on Thursday it seemed like she would just blink and the ball would fall in the cup.
 
Teeing off late on Friday, Kim said she watched the leader board and felt the pressure when Sherri Turner charged out to 12 under and, for a time, the lead.
 
You knew that yesterday wasnt a fluke, Kim said.
 
Turner and Yani Tseng, a second-year pro from Taiwan who won the LPGA Championship this year, finished the day tied with Wie at 12 under.
 
At 51, Turner is the tournaments oldest player and plans to retire at the end of the season. She hasnt won an LPGA event since 1989, has had only two top-10 finishes in the past six years, and said she considered skipping the State Farm.
 
I havent been in this position in a while and it might be the last time I am in this position, she said. I knew that I could do it, but thinking you could do it and actually doing it are two completely different things.
 
Turner shot a bogey-free round Friday that included an eagle on 13 and a stroke of luck on No. 8. Her errant drive landed a few short yards shy of the green after bouncing off the cart-path and tournament volunteer Steve Jacobson, who said the ball brushed his hat.
 
I hit a good tee shot, but the wind was going left to right and I hit the cart path, Turner said. The ball ended up like 45 yards from the green. I was pretty excited about that.
 
Tseng on Friday matched her opening-round 66, sinking birdie putts on five of her last eight holes before bogeying her last to fall back to 12 under.
 
I think I was too aggressive, Tseng said of her last putt. I just couldnt control the speed and I passed the hole by 4 or 5 feet.
 
Last years State Farm Champion, Steinhauer, shot a 71 in the second round but couldnt overcome her first-day 75 and didnt make the cut.
 
Related Links:
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    Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

    Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

    While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.


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    “It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

    Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

    “I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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    Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

    McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

    “I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”


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    The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

    “There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

    He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

    “I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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    Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

    Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

    Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.


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    It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

    “If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

    Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

    “It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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    Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

    Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

    Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

    “It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”


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    Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

    “I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

    Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

    “If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”