Park takes lead at British after penalty to Ahn

By Doug FergusonJuly 12, 2014, 5:33 pm

SOUTHPORT, England -- A late ruling took Inbee Park from one shot behind to leading the Women's British Open on Saturday, the slightest head start in her quest to become only the seventh player to win four of the LPGA Tour's major championships.

Park handled the tough opening stretch at Royal Birkdale with three birdies and shot a 4-under 68, giving her a one-shot lead over fellow major champions Suzann Pettersen of Norway (68) and Shanshan Feng of China (69), along with Ahn Sun-Ju of South Korea.

Ahn appeared to be the player to chase after what she thought was a 69 for a one-shot lead.

She was summoned to the rules trailer, where officials determined she used her left foot to build her stance in a pot bunker left of the 18th green. Ahn was assessed two shots for violating Rule 13-3. Her par turned into a double bogey. Her 69 became a 71. And she went from a one-shot lead in the final group to having to make up ground against Park, the LPGA Tour's reigning player of the year.

The penalty also created a wide-open final round at Royal Birkdale.

Park was at 4-under 212, though a dozen players were within three shots of the lead.

One of them was Charley Hull, the go-for-broke English teenager who made nine birdies early Saturday for a tournament-best 66 that suddenly put her into contention to become the youngest major champion in LPGA Tour history. She was at 1-under 215.

Also in the mix was Mo Martin, the 31-year-old American done in by a four-hole stretch on the back nine that sent her to a 77. She also was at 215, along with former U.S. Women's Open champion So Yeon Ryu, who made one bad decision and one bad swing, both leading to double bogey.

Defending champion Stacy Lewis had a 70 and was three shots behind.

Park has been virtually ignored all week, a huge change from a year ago.


Women’s British Open: Articles, videos and photos


The 26-year-old South Korean had a chance at St. Andrews last summer to become the first player, male or female, to win four straight majors in one season. The pressure and attention was enormous, and she wound up in the middle of the pack.

''I didn't have much pressure,'' she said of her week at Royal Birkdale. ''Really just try to play my own golf. Yeah, I start to feel a little bit of pressure from now and tomorrow. But I'd rather be having the pressure than not being in contention.''

Ahn took the outright lead with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole, and was poised to stretch the margin. Her approach into the par-5 17th was a yard too far to the right and barely tumbled into a bunker, forcing her to stand on the edge and stoop over to player shot from the sand. She made par.

And her penalty on the 18th began with a photographer who took a sequence of pictures at the top of her swing on her second shot. She caught it heavy and pulled it left, into the bunker, as she and her caddie looked back to see who was the culprit.

She blasted out of the sand and over the green, and did well to get down in two putts. Only later did officials determine she had built her stance.

''It's disappointing, but it's my mistake and I have to follow the rules of the game,'' Ahn said through an interpreter. ''I still have a day to go and I have to stay focused and try my best tomorrow.''

She said the ball was on the slope of the bunker and it was hard to make a stance.

''So what I was trying to do was fix a stance,'' she said. ''But after the review, it was determined that I used my feet to try to make an even lie. My intent wasn't to break the rules. It was just to set my feet firm in the sand just to be able to make the shot. But that's the rule. There was no intent and I can't do anything about it.''

A one-shot lead is next to nothing in golf. Three shots can disappear quickly. And what could make this Women's British Open go down to the wire is the finish at Royal Birkdale - three par 5s over the last four holes.

''You can make a double so quick on this golf course that you've just got to keep hanging in there,'' Lewis said. ''I you get in trouble, get out, and just stay patient. If you make a bogey, it's OK, because you've got some par-5 finishing holes here.''

Martin opened with two bogeys, got them back with a pair of birdies, and then imploded with a double bogey at No. 12, followed by three straight bogeys. Ryu also squandered a good chance. She tried to hit a hybrid out of the rough on No. 13 and pulled it into a burn. From 118 yards out in the 16th fairway, she hit a poor wedge right of the green, knocked that 35 feet away and three-putted for another double bogey.

All of them are still very much in the hunt.

Getty Images

Furyk remains coy about Ryder Cup picks

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 9:01 pm

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk sounds like a man champing at the bit to officially fill out his American team and accelerate final plans for the matches in Paris next month.

With eight automatic qualifiers secured last Sunday, all that’s left are his four captain’s picks.

“At times it felt like it was dragging on,” Furyk told Amanda Balionis during CBS TV’s rain delay Saturday at the Wyndham Championship. “I’m excited to get to this point.”

But still in no hurry to commit to naming Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as two of his captain’s picks.

“We have some great choices and certainly Tiger and Phil look like they are in great form,” Furyk said.

Furyk, when specifically asked about Tiger’s chances as a pick:

“He’s played great,” Furyk said. “I’m in such a great position right now with so many players playing well and so many great players to choose from. The difficult part is going to be, `How do we pluck four guys out of there?’ Certainly, Tiger is in great form and has put himself in a great position.”

And on Mickelson’s chances:

“Phil does provide a lot of veteran leadership,” Furyk said. “He hasn’t missed one of these in a long time. He’s had a good season, and he’s putting extremely well. I want to say he’s second in putting stats right now. All good stuff, and we’ll see how the next few weeks kind of play themselves out.”


Wyndham Championship: Full-field scores | Full coverage

Current FedExCup points list


Furyk doesn’t have to make his first three picks official until Sept. 4, with the final pick to be named six days later. While Woods and Mickelson may be locks, Furyk won’t be rushed.

“There’s still time.” Furyk said. “We are in an exciting part. We have eight guys. I’m still talking to them, gathering some information. The vice captains have been talking a lot. It’s been fun seeing the banter and the texts going back and forth.

“We’ll see how the next few weeks play themselves out.”

Furyk, by the way, is in contention at the Wyndham Championship. He was tied for 11th, six shots off the lead when interviewed in the weather delay.

So, if he wins, would he resurrect talk of being a playing captain?

“The odds are about zero right now,” Furyk said. “Now that I’m kind of knee deep, and we’re getting that close to the Ryder Cup, I really don’t think it’s possible to do both, be a player and a captain. The duties would be too great. And my game, I haven’t played well the last couple years. I’ve been battling injuries and battling myself. I’m excited, I have been feeling a lot better here the last few months and I’ve started playing some good golf.”

Getty Images

Aiken, Waring tied at Nordea; Olesen three back

By Associated PressAugust 18, 2018, 5:45 pm

MOLNDAL, Sweden – Paul Waring of England and Thomas Aiken of South Africa share the lead, three shots clear of their rivals, after the third round of the Nordea Masters on the European Tour on Saturday.

Waring was tied for first place with Scott Jamieson after the second round and shot a 1-under 69.

While Jamieson (75) slipped down the leaderboard, Aiken caught up Waring after shooting 67 - despite three straight bogeys from No. 15. He bounced back by making birdie at the last.

Thorbjorn Olesen (67) and Marc Warren (66) are tied for third.

Getty Images

Koepka: 'Surreal' Woods waited to say congrats at PGA

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 3:47 pm

Brooks Koepka was moved by the respect shown when Tiger Woods waited for a half hour at scoring last Sunday to congratulate Koepka for his PGA Championship victory at Bellerive.

While Koepka stands as an example of the new athletes Woods has attracted to the game, he laughs hearing people compare his body to an NFL player’s.

Those were among the observations Koepka shared Friday on "The Dan Patrick Show."

“That was surreal,” Koepka said of Woods waiting to congratulate him. “To hang around on 18, I wasn’t expecting it. It was probably the coolest gesture he could have done.”

Koepka credits Woods for drawing him to the game.

“He’s the reason I am playing,” Koepka said.

Koepka said playing with Woods in contention was a noisy experience that went beyond the roars Woods created making birdies in front of him.

“Even when he makes contact, you know what shot he’s hitting,” Koepka said. “That’s how loud people are.

“When they are putting [his score] up on the leaderboard, you hear it three holes away.”

About those NFL player comparisons, Koepka said his parents wouldn’t let him play football when he was growing up.

“I wasn’t big enough,” he said.

Koepka said he marveled meeting former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

“To be compared to them, it makes me laugh,” Koepka said. “I’m about the size of a cornerback, maybe a free safety.”

Koepka said he’s just over 6 feet tall and weighs 208 pounds.

“I saw Brian Urlacher give an interview,” Koepka said. “It was kind of funny. He said he was impressed at how big I wasn’t ... If I stand next to Justin Thomas, I’m going to look big. Golf doesn’t really have many big guys.”

Koepka told Patrick he is impressed at the athletes just now coming into golf.

“I see the young guys coming out of college,” Koepka said. “They are bombing it past me. They hit it so far, they are leaving me in the dust. It’s hard to think of, because I’ve been one of the longest hitters on tour.”

Getty Images

McIlroy skipping first FedExCup playoff event

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 3:19 pm

Rory McIlroy committed to playing the FedExCup Playoffs opener at The Northern Trust, the PGA Tour announced after The Open Championship last month.

But McIlroy left the PGA Championship last week saying he might need to skip the opener to regroup, and that’s just what he is doing.

McIlroy wasn’t on The Northern Trust field list published Friday on the PGA Tour’s website.

“I need to assess where I'm at,” McIlroy said leaving Bellerive last week. “I think the best thing for me to do right now is just sort of take a couple days off, reflect on what I need to do going forward.

“The best thing might be to take that first FedExCup week off and work on my game and come back, hopefully, in a better place for Boston.”

McIlroy also skipped the FedExCup opener in 2015, choosing to make his start in the playoffs at Boston that year. It appears he will do the same this year.

“Historically, the first FedEx playoff event hasn't been my best event of the four,” McIlroy said. “I've played well in Boston. I've played pretty well in the other two.”

McIlroy left Bellerive saying he would do some work on his game and see if he felt ready for the playoffs opener as part of a run of big events leading into the Ryder Cup.

“There's a lot of room for improvement,” McIlroy said. “My swing really hasn't been where I want it to be. It was pretty good at the start of the year. I had a couple of months to work on it, but it's just sort of regressed as the season went on and you start to play tournaments, you start to fall back into some of the habits that you don't want to fall back into."

McIlroy has won once over the last two seasons – at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last March – but he has given himself other chances this year with some frustrating finishes. Overall, he has five finishes of third or better in 2018. He got himself in the final pairing with Patrick Reed at the Masters but stumbled to a T-5 finish. He tied for second at The Open last month.

“Inconsistency with the swing has been the big area,” McIlroy said. “If you look at my statistics, especially with approach play on my irons, and even my driving, even though it's been OK, there's been a two-way miss, with sort of everything throughout the bag, and that obviously isn't a good thing. So that's something I need to work on.”