Els sticking with caddie plan

By Doug FergusonMarch 31, 2010, 3:28 am

ORLANDO, Fla.– Fresh off his second straight victory, Ernie Els headed to Augusta National for a quick practice round Tuesday and planned to take his caddie with him.

Only it’s not the caddie who has been on the bag for those two wins.

Els has been using two caddies this year– former NHL player Dan Quinn, whom he met in South Florida; and Ricci Roberts, his longtime looper from South Africa. Els plans to play 26 times this year, and each caddie gets half of the tournaments, including the majors.

Quinn was to caddie at the Masters. Even after two straight wins with Roberts on the bag, Els said that won’t change.

“I know a lot of guys said I should take Ricci, but we have made a decision,” Els said. “I’ve spoken to Ricci and Dan about it, and they are happy and we’ll stick with it. I don’t think anybody can tell me anything more about Augusta than I already know. I’ve had local caddies take me through there. I’ve had everybody take me through there. So I know exactly where everything goes.”

Els first used Quinn late last year, and he came within one 5-wood into the water of winning the HSBC Champions.

Quinn, a 44-year-old Canadian, spent 14 seasons in the NHL, scoring a career-high 40 goals with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1987. He took up golf when he retired and played on the Celebrity Tour.

Els met him a few years ago and started playing golf with him.

“Found out that he was a very good hockey player. I didn’t quite know that,” Els said. “And he played for such a long time, but he was retired for a while. Pretty easygoing guy, although he’s serious about what he does.”

Quinn caddied for Els before the Florida swing, and will work the Masters and the PGA Championship.

SHANGHAI CHANGE: The HSBC Champions in Shanghai, the fourth World Golf Championship on the calendar, now counts as an official PGA Tour victory – as long as it is won by a PGA Tour member.

The PGA Tour’s policy board decided last week to count as official the only WGC event overseas. However, it will only count as an official win and offer a three-year exemption on Tour if a member wins.

Phil Mickelson won the HSBC Champions last year, but only 24 players – just over one-third of the 67-man field – were PGA Tour members. PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said the decision is not retroactive, meaning Mickelson still has 37 tour victories.

Votaw also said prize money from the $7 million purse would not count toward the money list, even if a PGA Tour member wins. The HSBC Champions is held one week before the Tour’s final event at Disney.

STRONG START: J.P. Hayes disqualified himself from the second stage of Q-School in 2008 when he realized he used a a prototype golf ball that had not been officially approved on one hole.

That gave him limited status last year, and he finally regained his PGA Tour card at Q-School in December.

At this rate, Hayes might not be going back.

The 44-year-old Hayes tied for seventh at Bay Hill for his third top 10 of the year. He tied for fourth in Mexico, one week after he tied for fifth in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

He is 40th in the FedEx Cup standing and has $596,230.

“Very encouraging,” Hayes said. “I was looking for a good start on the West Coast, but I’ve never played well over there. To get off to a start like that is awesome. It’s quicker than I anticipated.”

Hayes is probably about $100,000 away from locking up his card for 2011, and the season is only three months old.

“It definitely makes the rest of the year … I wouldn’t say more enjoyable, but certainly from the standpoint of not having to play catch-up like I’ve been doing the last couple of years,” he said.

PEREZ ON TWITTER: Pat Perez is on Twitter (PatPerezGolf), but he had only eight tweets in seven months until finding a new purpose in social networking.

“Going to start using Twitter for random phrases that make no sense,” he posted a week ago, and he has not let up.

Among his questions:

— “What the hell does ‘lay it on the line’ mean? Lay what on the line and what line are we talking about?

— “I’ve been injured a bunch, but I’ve never ‘licked my wounds.’

— “I went to Arizona State. It’s in Tempe. Where the hell is the School Of Hard Knocks?”

STAT OF THE WEEK: There has not been a playoff on the PGA Tour this year, heading into the Houston Open. The last time there were no playoffs before the Masters was in 1974, and Lee Elder broke the string when he won the Monsanto Open a week later.

FINAL WORD: “I watch my friends play. I watch more Champions Tour golf this year.” – Davis Love III, who turns 46 next month.

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.