Power Rankings: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

By Will GrayJuly 30, 2013, 11:12 pm

The third WGC event of 2013 is upon us as an elite field descends upon Akron, Ohio for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Firestone Country Club plays host to 73 of the world's best players, each looking to notch a victory before heading to Oak Hill for the PGA Championship next week.

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Keegan Bradley returns to defend the title he won last year with a rally on the 72nd hole to overtake Jim Furyk. Here are 10 players to watch this week in Ohio:

1. Tiger Woods: Outside of Bay Hill, Woods has dominated no other course as he has Firestone. Seven wins, the most recent coming in 2009, and a tie for eighth last year create an unrivaled set of credentials this week. Injury concerns were (largely) answered with his T-6 finish at Muirfield, and Woods' placement this week as an overwhelming favorite is justified.

2. Adam Scott: Teeing it up for the first time since a T-3 finish at the British Open, Scott returns to Firestone where he scored a resounding victory in 2011. Clearly in the midst of a breakthrough campaign, Scott ranks third on the PGA Tour in scoring average, 13th in total driving and 17th in the all-around ranking.

3. Keegan Bradley: The defending champion quietly notched a T-15 result in Scotland and also tied for 15th in this event in 2011. Bradley has yet to enter the winner's circle yet this year, but his solid 2013 campaign includes 10 top-25 finishes in 19 starts. Expect more of the same this week in Akron.

4. Matt Kuchar: Ho-hum, another top-10 finish. Kuchar's runner-up in Canada was his seventh top-10 finish in just 17 starts this year, a season in which he is one of only four players with multiple PGA Tour titles to their name. He's been equally consistent at Firestone, posting three top-20 finishes in three starts highlighted by his tie for eighth a year ago.

5. Phil Mickelson: His record in this event is less than stellar, but then again, the same was said of his British Open credentials before his three-shot win at Muirfield. On either side of the Pond, Mickelson is in the midst of an incredible year, with three wins in addition to four other top-three finishes. Clearly oozing with confidence, Mickelson leads the PGA Tour in birdie average and currently sits eighth in the all-around ranking.

6. Henrik Stenson: While Mickelson received credit for his two wins in Scotland, Stenson quietly compiled a T-3 at the Scottish Open and a runner-up finish at Muirfield. The Swede is in the midst of a steady comeback to the form that won him the 2009 Players Championship, as Stenson now leads the Tour in driving accuracy and sits second in GIR percentage.

7. Lee Westwood: The Englishman is making his first start since his near-miss at the British Open, and time will tell whether that wound has begun to heal. There's reason to think he'll bounce back in Akron, though, as Westwood has notched top-10 finishes at Firestone in three of the last five years, including a runner-up finish in 2008.

8. Jason Day: The Aussie has recorded a solid finish in each of his three starts in this event, most notably a tie for fourth in 2011. With top-three finishes at each of the first two majors this year, Day clearly enjoys performing on the game's biggest stages; though he's been battling minor injury over the past few weeks, it hasn't stopped him from notching solid finishes at both the AT&T National (T-21) and British Open (T-32) since his runner-up at Merion.

9. Hideki Matsuyama: The Japanese sensation has been in the rankings three straight weeks and there is no reason to take him out now. Matsuyama chased a T-6 finish in Scotland with a T-16 result in Canada, continuing his impressive early form across a wide variety of course layouts. Though his early-round pairing with Woods could prove problematic, expect the 21-year-old to turn some heads this week with his solid play.

10. Jim Furyk: Amid a disappointing season, Furyk showed signs of life with last weeks top-10 finish at the RBC Canadian Open, his first such result since April. A runner-up here last year, the former major champion has eight top 10s at Firestone in 13 career starts and has not been shy about sharing just how much he wants to win this event specifically. Slipping in the U.S. Presidents Cup standings by the day, a good showing this week would certainly be timely.

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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

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

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.