Pettersen shares Titleholders lead

By Doug FergusonNovember 15, 2012, 9:46 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Suzann Pettersen wasn't the least bit worried that it took her eight months into the LPGA season before she finally won, saying on the eve of the season-ending Titleholders that ''it takes some time to get this machine going.''

The engine was purring Thursday at TwinEagles, where Pettersen birdied two of her last three holes for a 6-under 66. That gave her a share of the lead with So Yeon Ryu, who already has clinched rookie of the year, and Sun Young Yoo.

Yoo had a five-shot lead until giving up three shots on the last two holes with a pair of three-putts, one of them a double bogey on the par-3 eighth when her tee shot went long and down a steep slope at the back of the green.

Stacy Lewis, the LPGA player of the year, needs to win the Titleholders to have any chance of winning the money title. She was within two shots of the lead after an eagle on the par-5 13th, but the 27-year-old American dropped two shots coming in and had to settle for a 70.

Pettersen went 20 tournaments to start the year without a win until she broke through with back-to-back victories in Asia. She's playing as if she doesn't want the season to end, even though she already has one eye toward next season. She can't win player of the year, the money title or even the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average. Pettersen might have to settle for being the hottest player in women's golf.

''I still feel like I have the best golf ahead of me,'' she said. ''I'm not too worried if it's season 2012 or season 2013. My big goal now is to prepare and be well for 2013 and hopefully come out strong the way I finish, and hopefully get another three rounds together and see where that takes me for this tournament.''

She played in the same group with Cristie Kerr, whose win last week in Mexico was her first in two years. Kerr opened with a 67 and was one shot behind, along with U.S. Women's Open champion Na Yeon Choi.

''I played awesome last week and carried that into this week,'' Kerr said.

It was a long walk with a lot of rides at the TwinEagles Club, which winds through residential neighborhoods where several homes are under construction. Players had to ride in carts from green to tee on about half the holes, which was the easy part. The test came on the expansive greens, some shaped like boxes, others like crescent rolls.

The warm weather and only a gentle breeze allowed for good scores, with 48 players at par or better among the 73 in the field. There were a few exceptions, starting with Michelle Wie. She was wild with her first tee shot, and it finally caught up to her on the back nine. Wie had an 81.

Yani Tseng's struggles returned. After winning three times in her first four tournaments, the No. 1 player in the women's world ranking tapered off in a big way, and she didn't look capable of turning that around in the final event of the year. Tseng opened with a 75.

Pettersen suddenly looks unstoppable.

''We play the game to win, don't we?'' she said. ''I'm in it to win. That stays it all. I feel like my shoulders are fairly freed up after winning two in Asia. I don't feel like I really have to go out and do anything. That makes the game that much easier.''

Her biggest thrill Thursday was beating Kerr, with whom she has a friendly rivalry. They matched birdies on three holes until Pettersen got her at the end.

''I just tried to birdie the last so I didn't have to be paired with her tomorrow,'' Pettersen said. ''We're competitive. I know she probably wants to have the low round in the group. You just know it's going to annoy her when you kind of take it right at the end there. But we had a good day.''

Lewis and Ryu are gearing up for the awards dinner Friday night, with both having to give a speech - Lewis as the player of the year, Ryu as the top rookie. Ryu won the U.S. Women's Open last year, but she was not an LPGA member.

Yoo won a major this year, even if the runner-up was far more memorable. That was the Kraft Nabisco Championship, when I.K. Kim had a 12-inch putt to win at Rancho Mirage and missed it, and then lost to Yoo in the playoff.

This time, the stunning finish belonged to Yoo. She was on the verge of building a big lead until her 4-iron over the green, a fat chip that barely got onto the green and three putts for a double bogey. She compounded that with another three-putt on the ninth, which brought her back to the field.

''I hit the ball great all day, but I'm a little disappointed how I finished the last couple of holes,'' Yoo said. ''But still, 6 under was a good score. ... I still have 54 holes to play, so I feel good.''

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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

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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.