Westwood Poulter lead Woods at Augusta

By Doug FergusonApril 10, 2010, 12:26 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tiger Woods still has his game. Now he finds out if his name high on the leaderboard means what it once did.

In a Masters that gets more compelling by the day, two faces of England's golf revival  – Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter  – handled a tougher Augusta National on Friday to share the lead as both chase their first major championship.

Poulter, who once boasted that it would be just him and Woods when he reached his potential, made his only bogey on the 18th hole for a second straight 68. Westwood had everything from an eagle to a double bogey in his wild round of 69.

They were at 8-under 136, the first time either of them has been in the lead in a major.

Two shots behind was Woods, a position that has surprised just about everybody except him.

Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter made his way to the top of the leaderboard Friday. (Getty Images)
'I usually put myself in contention most of the time here,' Woods said after a 2-under 70. 'And this year, I'm right there.'

If that's not enough, Phil Mickelson is along for the ride.

Mickelson needed a birdie on the 18th hole to be paired with Woods, just as they were in the final round last year. His 65-foot putt banged off the back of the cup before spinning away, giving Lefty a 71.

Woods and Mickelson were at 138, along with K.J. Choi, Ricky Barnes and Anthony Kim, the sassy young American coming off a victory last week in the Houston Open.

Woods has captured so much attention at this Masters because of his swift and spectacular downfall from a sex scandal that kept him out of golf the last five months. He has been humbled by confessions of cheating on his wife, and one of the lingering questions was whether his personal chaos would make him seem less invincible on the golf course.

He has won the Masters all three times when going into the weekend in a tie for third or better.

Y.E. Yang, who rallied to beat Woods at the PGA Championship eight months ago, had a 72 and was at 5-under 139.

'There's a great buzz on the golf course,' said Poulter, who played the first two days in front of Woods. 'I was happy to tee off when I did. The crowds are 10-deep. That's always good. I think the tournament is a good one.'

And it might get even better.

Westwood pulled himself out of a deep slump to regain his status as the best in Europe, and he has been closing in on an elusive major. He came within one putt of getting into a playoff in the U.S. Open in 2008 and the British Open last year.

'It makes me sort of feel that I can contend in these big events now that my game is up to this level,' Westwood said. 'All in all, I'm delighted the way things are going.'

It was a wild ride, for sure.

Westwood moved quickly to the top of the leaderboard with a 6-iron into 18 inches for eagle on the second hole, and he had two tries at an eagle at the par 5s on the back nine. But there also was a hook into the trees on the 14th that led to double bogey, and another tee shot into the pines on the 18th that kept him from the outright lead.

Westwood didn't seem the least bit concerned that Woods was lurking.

'I played with Tiger the last round of the U.S. Open (both shot 73 at Torrey Pines), so that's not really an issue,' he said. 'And I learned a few things, stuff I'm not going to share, because I think if you get into these situations and learn stuff, what's the point of passing it on? That's what going through these experiences is all about.'

Poulter began making his move on the par-3 12th with a shot over the bunker to about 8 feet for birdie. There was muted applause, partly because it's difficult for the fans to see the green, and partly because most of them weren't watching.

'Tiger was on the 11th green,' Poulter said with a grin.

Few players are as brash as Poulter, starting with his stylish, colorful clothes. He wore all pink in the final round of the 2006 U.S. Open, a bold move before a New York gallery, and once wore Union Jack trousers at the British Open.

Asked what would go best with a green jacket, Poulter didn't hesitate.

'Absolutely anything,' he said.

As for that boast about joining Woods atop the world ranking ranking one day?

'If I win this week, I'll probably go to No. 2, which would be lovely,' Poulter said. 'So I guess it's a work in progress. I'm working towards that. So we'll see.'


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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.