Ko beats Pressel in playoff to defend in San Fran

By Doug FergusonApril 27, 2015, 1:57 am

DALY CITY, Calif. – Lydia Ko twice thought someone else would leave Lake Merced with the trophy this year.

She was on the putting green listening for a cheer if Morgan Pressel were to make a 15-foot birdie putt in regulation to win the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.

Ko heard nothing.

In a playoff, she could only watch as Pressel stood over a 10-foot birdie putt for the win.

It grazed the edge of the cup.

With the tournament finally in her capable hands, Ko rolled in a 5-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to beat Pressel on the second playoff hole and cap off another birthday week in style. She turned 18 on Friday and is only getting better.

She played the par-5 closing hole at Lake Merced three times and made birdie twice, the first one an 8-foot putt in regulation for a 2-under 70 that set up the playoff. Pressel played it three times and made par. Knowing that Ko was in tight for a likely birdie on the second playoff hole, Pressel missed from 8 feet.

The finish was inevitable. If the South Korean-born Kiwi isn't winning, she's always around the top of the leaderboard. Given one too many chances, Ko converted.

''It's always a close one whenever I play this event,'' Ko said. ''Last year was the first time that every little shot counts.''



A year ago, Ko had to make a 6-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th to hold on for a one-shot victory. This one was even tighter, and Ko had reason to believe this wouldn't be her week when she followed a 40-foot birdie putt on the par-3 15th by making a sloppy bogey on the 16th and missing a 6-foot birdie putt on the 17th.

''I said, 'If I want to put some pressure, I need to make a birdie or better on 18,''' Ko said. ''Ended up being good for that. But yeah, this tournament always makes my heart clench. I got so nervous. It's a good thing they're going in the hole.''

It was a tough loss for Pressel, whose last victory was in 2008 at the Kapalua LPGA Classic. She had a two-shot lead with four holes to play until making back-to-back bogeys, and then failing to make a birdie on the 18th.

The par-5 closing hole could not be reached in two, so it effectively came down to a wedge and a putt.

''I just couldn't convert the putts,'' Pressel said. ''It all comes down to putting. She birdied it twice and I didn't.''

Brooke Henderson, the 17-year-old Canadian, holed a bunker shot for eagle on the par-5 14th to stay close to the lead and she had a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole to join the playoff. It missed on the low side and she had to settle for a 74.

Ko, already the No. 1 player in women's golf, moved to the top of the LPGA Tour money list with her second LPGA Tour win this year. But it was hard work. She opened with a pair of bogeys. She never had the lead until making her winning putt on the 20th hole of the day.

''At the start of the day, I didn't know how it was going to go,'' Ko said. ''It's been a great birthday week again.''

Ko, who matched Pressel at 8-under 280, earned $300,000.

She played slightly more aggressively the third time around on the 18th, going with a 3-iron hybrid on her second shot that allowed her to close the face on a 54-degree wedge and swing hard, instead of easing off a pitching wedge the previous two times. It paid off for her.

Henderson made two bogeys in three holes to fall out of the lead for the first time since Friday morning. The Canadian never caught up, though she was never out of it until missing her birdie putt on the final hole.

''It was one of the least nervous putts I had all day,'' Henderson said. ''I could see it going in in my mind, but it didn't happen in real life.''

She headed for Texas to try to Monday qualify for the next LPGA event. Finishing in the top 10 only makes a player eligible for the next tournament if she is an LPGA member. Henderson last year was denied a waiver to the LPGA's minimum age requirement of 18.

Pressel took the lead by making pars, and she started to seize control when she rolled in a 45-foot eagle putt on No. 6 for a two-shot lead. But she missed three short putts on the front nine - two for birdie, one for par - that kept her from getting a little more separation.

The final hour took shape with three big shots. Henderson holed her bunker shot for eagle on the 14th to reach 8 under and get within one shot of the lead. Moments later, Pressel got up-and-down from behind the green to get to 10 under and, in the group ahead of them, Ko made her big birdie putt to reach 8 under.

But then it got messy.

Pressel dropped shots on the next two holes. Henderson chunked a chip on the 15th and made bogey. Ko went well long on the 16th and missed a 10-foot par putt.

Ko said she was nervous. It just doesn't show.

''At her age, she plays with so much poise and calmness I don't think you see from other kids her age,'' Pressel said, pausing before she added with a smile, ''I guess she's not a kid anymore.''

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Kang 'going with the flow,' one back of A. Jutanugarn

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 am

SHANGHAI – Ariya Jutanugarn shot a 6-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Buick LPGA Shanghai tournament on Thursday.

The Thai player had six birdies in a bogey-free round, including three straight on Nos. 4, 5, and 6.

''I always have so much fun when I play in Asia,'' said Jutanugarm, who added her key was ''just not to expect anything. Just go out have fun and enjoy everything.''

Sei Young Kim and Danielle Kang (both 67) were one shot back, with six other players only two shots off the lead.


Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

Kang credited her improved play to new coach Butch Harmon.

''We just kind of simplify the game a lot,'' the American said. ''Just trying to calm it down and get back to how I used to play. Just more feel golf. Thinking less mechanics and going with the flow.''

Kang tied for third last week at the KEB Hana Bank championship in Incheon, South Korea.

''Today's round went very smooth,'' Kang said. ''Coming off very good momentum after last week, and I've been hitting the ball really well, playing great. I've just been trusting my game and just keep giving myself birdie chances. They kept rolling in.''

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Sharpshooting Reavie (68) leads tough CJ Cup

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:34 am

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Chez Reavie overcame cool, windy conditions for a 4-under 68 and a one-stroke lead after the first round of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges on Thursday.

In the breezy conditions, the back nine of the course posed the most difficulty, but the 36-year-old American made two birdies and negotiated it in 35 after starting on the 10th tee, and then picked up three shots on his final nine.

Danny Willett and Si Woo Kim shot 69 while the large group at 70, and tied for fourth, included Ian PoulterNick Watney and Michael Kim.

Brooks Koepka, playing in his first tournament since being voted PGA Tour Player of the Year, shot 71 and was in a group three strokes behind and tied for 11th, which included Paul Casey and Hideki Matsuyama.

Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Defending champion Justin Thomas had a 73, as did Jason Day, Ernie Els and J.B. Holmes.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


Marc Leishman, who won last week's CIMB Classic in Malaysia, and Adam Scott had 75s.

Reavie's only PGA Tour win came at the 2008 Canadian Open, and he finished second in back-to-back starts last year in Phoenix and Pebble Beach, losing at Phoenix in a playoff.

''It was a great day, I hit the ball really well,'' Reavie said of Thursday's round. ''The wind was blowing really hard all day long so you had to really start the ball well and keep it out of the wind. Luckily, I was able to do that.''

Despite the windy conditions, Reavie found all 14 fairways off the tee and hit 15 out of 18 greens in regulation, which he felt was the key to a good score.

''It's tough because once you get above the hole with this wind, it's really hard to chip it close,'' he said. ''The more greens you can hit, the better and that was key to my game.''

Willett, who has struggled with injuries and form since winning the 2016 Masters and has dropped to No. 342 in the world, made five birdies and two bogeys in his 69. Willett has just one top-five finish since finishing second in the Italian Open in September 2016.

Having committed to play on the PGA Tour by taking up membership this season, Willet said it was important to make a quick start to the season.

''I've done two tours for a couple of years, and it's very difficult,'' Willett said. ''We committed to play on the PGA Tour, to play predominantly over here this year and next. It's nice to kind of get in and get some points early if you can.''

The second of three PGA Tour events in three weeks in Asia has a 78-player field and no cut. Only 19 players broke par on Thursday.

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Koepka takes edge over Thomas in race for world No. 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:50 am

Brooks Koepka got the inside track against Justin Thomas in their head-to-head battle this week for world No. 1.

Koepka shot 1-under 71 on Thursday at the CJ Cup, while Thomas shot 1-over 73.

Chez Reavie leads after 18 holes at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea, following a 4-under 68.

Koepka, currently world No. 3, needs to win this week or finish solo second [without Thomas winning] in order to reach the top spot in the rankings for the first time in his career. Thomas, currently No. 4, must win to reclaim the position he surrendered in June.

One week after 26 under par proved victorious in Malaysia, birdies weren’t as aplenty to begin the second leg of the PGA Tour’s Asian swing.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


In chilly, windy conditions, Koepka and Thomas set out alongside one another – with Sungjae Im (73) as the third – on the 10th hole. Koepka bogeyed his first hole of the day on his way to turning in even-par 36. Thomas was one worse, with two bogeys and a birdie.

On their second nine, Koepka was steady with two birdies and a bogey to reach red figures for the day.

"I felt like I played good. I hit some good shots, missed a couple putts early and kind put myself in a little bit of trouble on the back nine, my front, but rallied pretty nicely," Koepka said. "I felt like I found a bit of rhythm. But it's a difficult day, anything under par, level par is a good score out there today. I'm pleased with it."

Thomas, however, had two birdies and a double bogey on his inward half. The double came at the par-4 fourth, where he four-putted. He nearly made up those two strokes on his final hole, the par-5 ninth, when a wild approach shot [as you can see below] traversed the contours of the green and settled 6 feet from the hole. But Thomas missed the short eagle putt and settled for birdie.

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Watch: Thomas' approach takes wild ride on CJ Cup green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:17 am

Two over par with one hole to play in Round 1 of the CJ Cup, Justin Thomas eyed an eagle at the par-5 ninth [his 18th].

And he nearly got it, thanks to his ball beautifully navigating the curves of the green.

Thomas hit a big draw for his second shot and his ball raced up the green's surface, towards the back, where it caught the top of ridge and funneled down to within 6 feet of the hole.



Unfortunately for Thomas, the defending champion, he missed the eagle putt and settled for birdie and a 1-over 73.