Baddeley sneaks past Couples and into lead

By Doug FergusonFebruary 20, 2011, 5:32 am

Northern Trust Open

LOS ANGELES – Aaron Baddeley played 22 holes Saturday in just about every kind of weather, and it hardly mattered. He hit just about every shot where he was aiming and wound up with a one-shot lead in the Northern Trust Open.

Baddeley birdied the 18th hole in the chill of the morning for a 69, then ran off three straight birdies around the turn just as the afternoon rain arrived. That led to a 4-under 67, giving him a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour for the first time in five years.

Now he just has to hold off a couple of guys nearly old enough to be his father.

Fred Couples and his 51-year-old aching back managed well enough in the cold and rain. Couples made only one blunder when he chipped too strong off the back of the 10th green for his lone bogey. He shot a 1-under 70 and was one shot behind as he tries to become the oldest PGA Tour winner in more than 35 years.

Kevin Na, who grew up in these parts and first came to Riviera as an 11-year-old in 1995, plodded along to a 67. He also was one back.

Vijay Singh turns 48 on Tuesday and is starting to play much younger. In the worst slump of his career, Singh felt like the world’s best putter in the third round as he turned in a 67 and was only two shots behind.

Singh last won in 2008 at the Deutsche Bank Championship on his way to the FedEx Cup title.

“I’m really fired up for tomorrow,” Singh said. “I’m in a good position to win tomorrow, so we’ll see what happens.”

Baddeley, winless in four years, is back with his old swing coach and starting to see some results. He was at 10-under 203 and will be in the final group Sunday with Couples and Na.

“It’s been a little bit of time since I’ve been in this position, so I’m excited for the challenge,” Baddeley said. “I’m excited to test out the new action, and I feel good. I feel like it’s going to be fun tomorrow.”

Baddeley was among those who went to the “Stack and Tilt” method taught by Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer, then decided to go back to his Australian coach, Dale Lynch.

“It’s funny because I feel like I’ve been actually making a lot of progress, but it was never really showing on the scoreboard,” Baddeley said. “So these last few weeks have really been nice to start to put some scores on the board. This week has been really nice.”

And there was one nice stretch in particular.

It started with a tough approach to the par-4 eighth, where Baddeley had to be careful not to be too aggressive and run off the slope on the other side of the pin. He put it to within 8 feet for birdie, then holed a 30-foot birdie putt on the ninth. He nearly drove the 10th green, leaving him a delicate pitch to tap-in range for his third straight birdie.

One of his few mistakes was a tee shot that led to an adventure through the trees on the par-5 11th. It looked as though he would escape with par when he hit a wedge out of the rough to 4 feet, but he missed the putt.

He finished with seven straight pars.

Ryan Moore (70) and John Senden (71) were at 6-under 207, while Stewart Cink (71) and Robert Allenby (71) were part of the large group another shot behind.

Defending champion Steve Stricker made the cut on the number, then had a 66. That still left him seven shots behind. Stricker is still closer than Phil Mickelson, who struggled to a 74 and was at 2-over 215. 

The gallery was with Couples, who first won at Riviera in 1990 when his hair was brown and he ambled along with California cool. Couples still has the cool factor to go with his graying hair, and he still has enough game.

He narrowly missed a 15-foot eagle putt on the opening hole. He made only one other birdie on the par-5 11th, and otherwise settled for pars except for his lone bogey. It was enough, though, to keep him in the game.

“I hung in there,” Couples said. “I didn’t hit the ball exceptionally well, but I hit it solid, which is what I said I needed to do. I just didn’t make enough birdies. So tomorrow I have to come out and fight and see what happens.”

Couples was one of the players Na wanted to watch when he came out to Riviera with his father in 1995. Now he will be playing with him in the final group, a chance for Na to get his first victory.

And it would be a special one at that.

Not only does he have childhood memories of Riviera, his father was diagnosed with leukemia last year and has returned home to his native South Korea for treatment.

“My mother is going to Korea next week,” he said. “And hopefully, I can give her a trophy so she can give it to him.”

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High school seniors win U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 1:44 am

TEQUESTA, Fla. - The 18-year-old Hammer, from Houston, is set to play at Texas next fall. Barber, from Stuart, Fla., also is 18. He's headed to LSU.

''Growing up watching U.S. Opens and U.S. Amateurs on TV, I just knew being a USGA champion is something that I desperately wanted,'' said Hammer, who qualified for a U.S. Open three years ago at 15. ''And to finally do it, it feels incredible. It feels as good, if not better, than I thought it would. And especially being able to do it with Garrett. It's really cool to share this moment.''

Hammer and Cole won the par-4 eighth with a birdie to take a 2-up lead. They took the par-4 10th with a par, won the par-5 13th with an eagle - Barber hit a 4-iron from 235 yards to 3 feet - and halved the next two holes to end the match.

''Cole didn't want me to hit 4-iron,'' Barber said. ''He didn't think I could get it there. I was like, 'I got it.' So I hit it hard, hit pretty much a perfect shot. It was a crazy shot.''

The 32-year-old Dull is from Winter Park, Fla., and the 42-year-old Brooke from Altamonte Springs, Fla.

''Cole Hammer is a special player,'' Brooke said. ''Obviously, he's going to Texas (and) I'm not saying he is Jordan Spieth, but there are certain things that he does.''

In the morning semifinals, Hammer and Barber beat Idaho high school teammates Carson Barry and Sam Tidd, 5 and 4, and Brooke and Dull topped former Seattle University teammates Kyle Cornett and Patrick Sato, 4 and 3.

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Arizona captures NCAA DI Women's Championship

By Jay CoffinMay 23, 2018, 11:56 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – Turns out this match play format provides fireworks. Almost always.

In the four years since the women’s NCAA Championship has switched from the stale, 72-hole stroke-play format the championship matches have been pure magic.

This year, again, the title came down to the last match and Arizona took home its third title with a 3-2 victory over Alabama when Haley Moore defeated Lakareber Abe by making a birdie on the 19th hole. The last time the Wildcats won the NCAA Championship was in 2000, when coach Laura Ianello was on the team.

Arizona def. Alabama, 3-2

Yu-Sang Hou (AZ) def. Lauren Stephenson (AL), 4 and 3

Kristen Gillman (AL) def. Gigi Stoll (AZ), 4 and 3

Cheyenne Knight (AL) def. Bianca Pagdanganan, 4 and 2

Sandra Nordaas (AZ) def. Angelica Moresco (AL), 1 up

Haley Moore (AZ) def. Lakareber Abe (AL), 19th 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.''