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Korda smiling again, closing in on world top 10

By Randall MellFebruary 28, 2018, 5:28 pm

Jessica Korda says she had to learn to smile all over again with 27 screws in her skull holding together the reconstruction doctors did in a complex offseason surgery on her jaw.

She’s getting a lot of practice smiling this week in Singapore, where she will be trying to follow up last week’s remarkable victory in Thailand with another at the HSBC Women’s World Championship.

Korda, 24, leaped 14 spots in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings claiming her fifth LPGA title, moving her close to cracking the top 10 for the first time in her career. She’s No. 12 now, the highest she has ever ranked.

It’s a testament to more than her skill that she won in her first start coming back from surgery, a procedure that has alleviated headaches caused by the misalignment of her jaw.

Korda shared in an interview Wednesday on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” how there were so many challenges in her return, beyond hitting a ball. There were personal issues that made her question herself beyond the game.

Full-field scores from the HSBC Women’s World Championship

“I think the biggest shock of all was looking in the mirror,” Korda said. “You don’t know who you are looking at. That brings a lot of doubts and a lot of mixed emotions.

“It was a total shock to me, just trying to learn how to smile again, trying to learn how to move my top lip and bottom lip. Just being myself again is difficult.”

Korda missed the season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas and the year’s second event at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open while recuperating from the December surgery. The difficulty in that was exasperated by the fact that she has won both of those events.

“It was really motivating to me to get my butt back out there,” Korda said. “I’m really glad just to miss two tournaments after that big of a surgery.”

Korda’s jump to No. 12 in the world is important in her bid to win one of the four spots on the U.S. International Crown team that will tee it up in South Korea in October.

Before the victory, she was sixth on the American rankings list. She’s third now. If the American team were finalized today, she would be on the team.

Korda shattered tournament scoring records in Thailand, shooting a 62 in the second round on her way to a tournament record 25-under total.

With the intense heat in Thailand, Korda is spending the week in Singapore re-energizing the best she can. She’ll be looking to take advantage of her momentum.

“I’ll just be trying to do the same things,” Korda said. “It’s obviously a totally different golf course. I played today, and it’s very, very firm and fast.”

Korda showed there may not be much she cannot adapt to inside and outside the ropes.

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Ryu thriving again after simple advice from Inbee Park

By Randall MellJune 21, 2018, 7:07 pm

So Yeon Ryu shared Rolex Player of the Year honors last year.

She reigned as world No. 1 for almost five months.

So when she couldn’t keep her momentum going at year’s start, she got frustrated. She wasn’t happy with two top 10s in her first 11 starts.

“I lost a lot of confidence at the beginning of the year,” Ryu said Thursday as she prepared to lead a strong field as the defending champion in Friday’s start of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. “My expectation level was way too high.”

So she sought the counsel of her pal, world No. 1 Inbee Park, who gave her some plain-spoken advice.

Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

“Get over it,” Park told her. “You know what to do. You’ve done it, so it’s not really a big deal. Don’t worry about it. You were No. 1. You’ve achieved a lot of things as a professional golfer. Just don’t be too hard on yourself.”

Ryu got over it winning the Meijer LPGA Classic last week, the sixth LPGA title of her career, her third in 15 months. She’s feeling good again leading a stellar field this week at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark., a strong tune up before next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the year’s third major championship.

World No. 1 Park, No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 Lexi Thompson are among the top nine players in the world scheduled to compete this week. Twenty-four of the top 30 are in the field.

“When you come to defend your title, you obviously have a lot of pressure, but after I won last week, now I sort of think, maybe I have a chance to defend my title,” Ryu said. “So I've got total confidence, by last week.”

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Watch: Spieth, JT hole bunker shots in back-to-back groups

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 21, 2018, 6:57 pm

Jordan Spieth has a thing for holing bunker shots at the Travelers Championship, where he made one in a playoff to win last year.

He did it again in Round 1 at TPC River Highlands, knocking in this shot for eagle at the par-5 sixth to reach 4 under par for the tournament

In the next group, Justin Thomas did the same thing to reach 1 under. Keep an eye out for the best part of this highlight, when Thomas' caddie Jimmy Johnson tries to hand him his putter.

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River Highlands a 'breather' for Zach Johnson (63)

By Will GrayJune 21, 2018, 6:43 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – After enduring the pressure-cooker of the U.S. Open, Zach Johnson was more than happy to drift north to the friendly confines of TPC River Highlands.

Birdies were rare last week at Shinnecock Hills, but they’ll be plentiful all week long at the Travelers Championship. Browned-out and crispy conditions transitioned to lush and verdant, and players can attack flags without fear of turning a possible par into a struggle to avoid triple.

Johnson did just that in the opening round, carding eight birdies against a single bogey to take the early lead with a 7-under 63.

“It’s a different kind of breathing. It’s a different kind of exhaling, if you will, but they’re both good,” Johnson said. “You can put some red on the board here. We know that. We’ve seen it. You can go the other way in a hurry if you press it; it can keep going in the other way. So you kind of have to let it happen. This is one of those courses where you have to let it happen.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Like many in this week’s field, Johnson took it easy after a grueling major championship, staying away from the course Monday and easing into his prep over the next two days. Those decisions paid off quickly as he rattled off six straight birdies on Nos. 11-16 to take sole possession of the lead.

While Johnson tied for 12th last week at Shinnecock Hills, that was just his second top-15 finish since the Sony Open in January. But the veteran is no stranger to fast starts at TPC River Highlands, having now opened with 65 or better four times in his last eight appearances dating back to 2011.

It’s a course where he continues to have success, even if his past consistency hasn’t lived up to expectations.

“I feel like every time I get here it feels like I should shoot nothing, and it bites me,” Johnson said. “The last couple years I’m like, ‘All right, you can’t have any expectations in that regard. You’ve just got to go out and execute, you know, put the ball in the fairway and you will have opportunities.’” 

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First photos from Norman's 'Body' shoot

By Grill Room TeamJune 21, 2018, 6:35 pm

It was revealed earlier this week that Greg Norman would be one of the athletes showcased in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features the models stategically posed in the nude.

Well, the first photos are out from Norman's shoot and ... here they are, if you want them.