Woods co-leads PGA through 36 holes

By Doug FergusonAugust 11, 2012, 1:02 am

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – The major known as ''Glory's Last Shot'' turned into one last chance for Tiger Woods.

On the toughest scoring day in PGA Championship history, Woods made putts from one end of Kiawah Island to the other Friday for a 1-under 71 that gave him a share of the lead with Vijay Singh and Carl Pettersson going into the weekend.

''It was tough out there – wow,'' Woods said.

Wow, indeed.

In relentless wind that began at sunrise and whipped up the Atlantic waters with 30 mph gusts, par never looked better in this championship. There were more rounds in the 90s - two of them by club pros - than in the 60s. There were 41 players who failed to break 80, a list that included Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan.

Singh, a three-time major champion who hasn't won in nearly four years, scratched out five birdies in a remarkable round of 3-under 69. Only three other players managed to break par in the second round - Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland at 70, and Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ian Poulter at 71.

It's the second time this year that Woods has had a share of the lead in a major going into the weekend. He missed one chance at Olympic Club in the U.S. Open, when he stumbled to a 75-73 to tie for 21st. He was in the penultimate group at the British Open until a triple bogey on the sixth hole of the final round took him out of the mix.

One last major, one last shot.

''I've been in this position many times over my career,'' he said. ''Again, we're just at the halfway point. We have a long way to go.''

Six players were atop the leaderboard on this day of survival. Singh was the first to post at 4-under 140, and it didn't look as though anyone would be able to even match that as the wind never let up on The Ocean Course.

Pettersson stayed in the lead as long as he could until a few errant tee shots cost him at the end of his round and he had to settle for a 74. Woods, playing on the opposite side of the course, showed early on that he figured out something with his putter.

Along with birdie putts of 15 feet and 40 feet on the opening two holes, there was a collection of big par saves - from 20 feet on the third hole, a pair of 8-foot par putts a few holes later. There were even two short par putts that swirled 360 degrees around the cup and dropped.

The only disappointment was the way it ended. After hooking a tee shot that rattled around the corporate tents and allowed him a shot into the 18th, he ran his birdie putt about 6 feet by the hole and three-putted for bogey.

It cost him his first outright lead in a major in three years, but this was not a day to complain.

''It was fun, but it also was tough,'' Woods said. ''You were getting blown all over the place. It was just a very difficult day.''

Poulter was tied for the lead until a bogey on his last hole, though he showed again that he can thrive in windy, demanding conditions. The last time he was in serious contention at wind-swept Royal Birkdale in 2008, when he was runner-up to Padraig Harrington.

''The golf shots this golf course asks you to hit time and time and time and time again ... you really have to hit phenomenal golf shots,'' Poulter said. ''The room for error is so tiny, and when you get it wrong, you can be 15 feet below the level of the green in a bad lie with not much of a shot.''

The course played so difficult that the afternoon groups were delayed 20 minutes, and one player failed to finish - Joost Luiten of the Netherlands, who was 1 over for the tournament and will return Saturday morning to complete his round. The scoring average was 78.11. The previous record for the PGA Championship was 76.8 in the opening round at Llanerch Country Club in 1958.

Singh is 49 and without a PGA Tour win in nearly four years. He stood tall in the wind, however, even as he kept his head down.

''After a while, you don't really think about your score,'' said Singh, whose last major victory was at the 2004 PGA on the first visit to Whistling Straits. ''You just think about each hole, each shot and just try not to mess up. It was one of my better rounds. I didn't strike the ball as good, but I scored really, really well. And I think that was the key.''

There were 44 players under par after the opening day. Going into the weekend, there were only 10.

Rory McIlroy didn't make a birdie until his 14th hole – a tough par 3 that he has birdied both rounds – and had a 75. He was at 2-under 142, along with Jamie Donaldson of Wales, who had a 73 and was thrilled after his morning round. ''That's the best I can do,'' he said.

Adam Scott also had a 75 to join the group at 143 that included Aaron Baddeley (75), Blake Adams (72) and former Masters champion Trevor Immelman (72).

''I thought 2 over today was like shooting 2 under yesterday,'' Pettersson said. ''I hit some squirrely shots, which is typical when it's blowing 30 mph. But I hit some really good ones, too.''

Mickelson, who is No. 8 in the Ryder Cup standings going into the final week of qualifying, came out firing into the wind with a 4-iron to about 2 feet and then a driver off the fairway to give himself a decent chance at birdie on the 11th. He didn't advance any further up the leaderboard. He also didn't fall too far back, and that was just as important. He was in the group at even-par 144, not knowing what the weekend will hold.

Graeme McDowell had a 76 and was tied with Mickelson, still only four shots behind.

''I was very happy to get off that golf course, I have to say,'' McDowell said. ''I'm trying to think of the last time I remember a golf course playing this difficult, because it's a links wind, blowing across a golf course which is super soft, with some of the most difficult pins on the course out there. It's brutal.''

Woods was not immune to the windy conditions. With a sand wedge in his hand on the third, he knocked it over the green and appeared headed for bogey until his 20-foot par putt was true all the way. He looked solid on par putts at No. 5 and No. 7, and his chip from below the ridge on the ninth stopped a turn from falling.

He never looked as if he would miss, even rolling in a 12-foot par putt on the 17th. The only big blip came at the 18th, his second bogey of the round. Already this week, the PGA statisticians have Woods for 23 one-putt greens. Asked if there was a putting performance that stood out among his 14 majors, he cited the 1997 Masters and 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He won those two by a combined 27 shots.

Then again, he had put some distance between him and the field.

This PGA Championship remains wide open, and so much depends on whether the wind continues to blow, and the scores continue to soar.

Doug Wade, a club pro from Dayton, Ohio, had a 93. That was one shot away from the PGA Championship record for the worst score. Michael Frye, a club pro from Sedona, Ariz., finished par-birdie-par on three of the tougher holes for a 90.

They weren't alone, of course. Mahan and Fowler had 80, Kuchar an 82, Nick Watney an 81. It was a long list of suffering, so difficult that no one would embarrassed or angry. Most were just happy to be off the golf course.

''If you had a golf course like this and you asked me to go and play golf in windy conditions, I'd say, 'No, I'm not going to play.' I guess nobody is going to go out and play in conditions like this,'' Singh said. ''But it's a major, and we have to go out there and just struggle and manage yourself the best you can.''

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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.