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Ko starts season with new coach, new caddie

By Randall MellFebruary 13, 2018, 2:41 pm

Lydia Ko is making her 2018 debut this week with more changes to her team and game.

Ko, who will make her start Thursday at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, is working with a new coach and a new caddie, the LPGA confirms.

Ted Oh replaces Gary Gilchrist as swing coach, becoming the fourth coach to lead Ko. She left David Leadbetter at the end of 2016 and moved to Gilchrist last year. Guy Wilson was her original coach growing up in New Zealand.

Oh was a Southern California phenom who grew up competing with Tiger Woods. He qualified for the U.S. Open at 16 and is a Los Angeles-based teacher now.

Jonny Scott is her new caddie. He has toted the bags of some big name LPGA pros as a former caddie to Laura Davies, Azahara Munoz and, most recently, Karrie Webb. He replaces Peter Godfrey.

Ko made sweeping changes to start last year, with a new coach, new equipment and a new caddie.

Already a 14-time LPGA winner, Ko, 20, is coming off her first winless year since she began playing LPGA events as a 15-year-old amateur. Her run of 85 consecutive weeks atop the Rolex Women’s World Rankings ended in June. Overall, she has reigned atop the world rankings for 104 weeks, the third longest spell in the history of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She is No. 10 in the world rankings this week.

“I took time off to regroup and rest physically and mentally,” Ko told The Advertiser in Adelaide, South Australia, on Tuesday. “The past month, I have been in training back in the states.”

Ko said last year that she lost some confidence in the middle of the season. She reiterated that to the Australian newspaper.

“Talent wise, it does not change, week in, week out,” she said. “It is really confidence and how positive you are.”

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Quiros takes 1-shot lead in Morocco

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 8:22 pm

RABAT, Morocco - Alvaro Quiros shot a solid 2-under 70 in windy conditions to push into a one-shot lead after two rounds of the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco on Friday.

Quiros fought the elements, carding seven birdies and five bogeys to move to 7 under overall and take the outright lead at the halfway point of the European Tour event.

The Spaniard was one clear of Andrew Dodt, who moved into contention with a 4-under 68 at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course. Dodt dropped two shots in his first six holes but the Australian recovered from that shaky start to collect four birdies and an eagle.


Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II


Erik van Rooyen of South Africa was another shot back in third on 5 under after his 71.

Bradley Dredge of Wales, who shared the first-round lead with Quiros, slipped off the pace with a 1-over 73. He's tied for fourth with Austin Connelly of Canada (71), 4 under par and three shots behind Quiros.

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Bogey-free Moore shares Valero lead

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 8:20 pm

Amid the swirling winds on a difficult track at the Valero Texas Open, Ryan Moore has yet to blink.

Moore was one of only two players among the 156-man field to go bogey-free during the opening round at TPC San Antonio, and he's now the only player still boasting a clean scorecard after a second-round 67 that included five birdies and the rest pars. At 9 under, the veteran shares the lead with Zach Johnson and was three shots clear of any other player at the end of the morning wave.

"Really, around this golf course what matters is the right distance," Moore told reporters. "You can get in some pretty tough spots if you're long and short. So I kind of hit it the right distance all day, gave myself plenty of good birdie opportunities and didn't stress myself out too much with too many up-and-downs."

While many players struggle to find a true offseason, Moore took nearly three months off between starts at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba and Waste Management Phoenix Open. During that time he shed nearly 20 pounds thanks to changes to his diet and teamed up with a new swing coach, Drew Steckel, in December.

The results have been solid if not spectacular, as Moore tied for fifth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and finished T-16 last week at the RBC Heritage.

"It's been solid golf, especially the last few weeks. I haven't got a ton out of it," Moore said. "The putter just wasn't there. So this week, just got a little more comfortable with the putter and knocked a few putts in that kind of matter early in my rounds, and it's going in. That's kind of what's been missing lately."

Moore had a breakthrough season in 2016 that included his victory at the John Deere Classic and spot on the Ryder Cup team, but he hasn't sniffed career win No. 6 since a T-3 finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions 16 months ago. Should he keep a clean card this weekend in San Antonio, his chances to end that victory drought appear bright.

"I played some really nice golf yesterday, I just controlled the ball nicely all the way around and was bogey-free yesterday, so thought, 'Let's go try and do that again,'" Moore said. "So to play in tough, windy conditions, to go bogey-free (again), it was some good solid golf."

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Former champ Z. Johnson surges at Valero

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 7:31 pm

Midway through his opening round at the Valero Texas Open, Zach Johnson appeared far closer to a missed cut than a spot on the leaderboard.

Johnson initially struggled in the winds at TPC San Antonio, playing his first 13 holes in 3 over. But he eagled No. 14 and closed with three more birdies to post a 2-under 70, then went unconscious during a second-round 65 where he made six birdies over his first 10 holes.

It added up to a 9-under total at the halfway point, and instead of packing his bags the two-time major champ now shares the lead with Ryan Moore.

"You just never know. That's the beauty of this game," Johnson told reporters. "I didn't have anything going putting-wise. I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. Shoot, I made some good pars all while being 3 over. You just never know."

Johnson won this event in both 2008 and 2009, but that was when it was held across town at La Cantera Golf Club. Since the switch to TPC San Antonio in 2010, he has only one top-10 finish and two missed cuts, including last year's early exit with consecutive rounds of 74.

But Friday he played like a man unaware of the venue shift, with four straight birdies on Nos. 12-15 and a hole-out eagle from the greenside bunker on the par-4 fifth hole. His closing bogey on No. 9 was his first dropped shot in the last 25 holes.

"The confidence is there, and when you can step on the tee with this kind of wind, you trust your clubs and trust your ball, that's pretty important," Johnson said. "I felt good. It was hard, I'm not going to deny that. That was one of the better 27-hole stretches that I've had in a long time."

Johnson's 65 was his first sub-70 score since an opening-round 69 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a span of 12 stroke-play rounds. The veteran has made every cut in 11 starts this season, but his T-8 finish at the RSM Classic in November remains his only top-10 finish.

"I felt really good coming into the week," Johnson said. "Confidence was there, it just wasn't showing up on the scorecard."

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U.S. Open champ Koepka (wrist) to return at Zurich

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 7:04 pm

U.S. Open champ Brooks Koepka will make his first start in nearly four months at next week's Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Koepka injured his left wrist late last year, finishing last at both the 18-man Hero World Challenge and 34-man Sentry Tournament of Champions. He hasn't played since Kapalua, having been diagnosed with a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU) tendon in his wrist, and earlier this month missed the Masters for the first time since 2014.

But according to an Associated Press report, Koepka will return to action at next week's team event where he will pair with veteran Marc Turnesa, who lives near Koepka in South Florida and whose lone PGA Tour win came at the 2008 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

"It feels like I've been out for six months," said Koepka, who reportedly didn't touch a club for 91 days. "I still have confidence. I feel like I can win next week."

Koepka's return means TPC Louisiana will be the first course to host all four current major champions since the Tour Championship in September. Patrick Reed will make his first start since winning the Masters when he pairs with Patrick Cantlay, while Open champ Jordan Spieth will team with fellow Texan Ryan Palmer and PGA champ Justin Thomas joins with his former Alabama teammate, Bud Cauley.