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LPGA on Mozo incident: Player safety 'paramount'

By Randall MellOctober 2, 2017, 2:48 pm

LPGA chief of tour operations Heather Daly-Donofrio said the weather that blew through the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open during Sunday’s play turned more serious than expected and that the tour never intended to put players in danger.

“It was clearly a serious situation,” Daly-Donofrio said Monday on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive. “We had an unexpected squall come through, and that happens. Wind patterns are very difficult to predict.”

Belen Mozo was leading the tournament through 54 holes at Windross Farm Golf Club in Auckland. She was caught in the hard gusts that roared through Sunday’s final round, wind that ripped loose large signs that tumbled toward her while she putted. It was caught on television. Play was suspended after that, with Brooke Henderson winning when the final round was concluded on Monday.

Mozo was upset that players were put in harm’s way.

“This tour, we are like sheep,” Mozo can be heard saying on a TV clip shortly after the signs tumbled past her.

Mozo later backed up her complaint with tweets:

 

 

 

 

Daly-Donofrio addressed those complaints on Morning Drive.

“Clearly, we did not want to put players in danger,” Daly-Donofrio said. “We typically will get calls about balls moving on the green before we will see signage fall, and we had one call for a ball moving on the green prior to that. As soon as the squall hit, we suspended play and got players off the course as quickly as possible.”

Daly-Donofrio said she has already reached out to Mozo about her concerns.

“We welcome the input of our players,” Daly-Donofrio said. “We solicit the input of our players. I shot her a note again last night saying,`When you get back home, let’s talk. I want your feedback as we move forward.’

“We don’t always make the right decision. It’s a difficult job on the field of play, when to call suspensions, when to send players out, and sometimes Mother Nature just has a mind of her own and things happens, but, certainly, safety is paramount for our players.”

Two weeks ago, the LPGA also received criticism for how it reacted to bad weather at the Evian Championship, a major championship. The event was shortened to 54 holes before the first round was completed, with the Sunday conclusion coming in bad weather that included hail.

Daly-Donofrio was asked if finances are a factor in deciding to shorten events.

“Our goal is always to finish 72 holes, but there are a lot of factors that go into that decision, primarily course conditions and weather,” Daly-Donofrio said. “So, we were in a situation [at the New Zealand Women’s Open] where we felt like we had a good weather day on Monday. It was the last tournament for a lot of players for their 2018 status . . . If we had a nice, clear day for Monday, we felt like going to 72 holes was the right decision for the competition.”

About Evian . . .

“I think what a lot of people don’t see at home, if they were not at a championship like that, they don’t have a full grasp of the circumstances. I did an interview with a journalist a couple days after that, and I told them, it’s one of those situations if you were not there in the middle of it, you couldn’t fully appreciate how bad it was. At the time, we had rain in the forecast through the weekend and through Monday and through Tuesday. It felt like we had to give players a plan of attack for a major championship, and, honestly, at that point, we felt like we needed Monday to finish 54 holes.”

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Haas nearly shoots age in taking Champions playoff opener lead

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 10:05 pm

RICHMOND, Va.  -- Jay Haas shot a 7-under 65 - missing his age by a stroke - to take a two-shot lead Saturday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Trying to become the oldest winner in tour history, the 64-year-old Haas birdied the par-5 16th and 18th holes to get to 11-under 133 on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''I've been out here too long to know that I can learn to expect anything,'' Haas said. ''While I'm hopeful every day and I've been playing OK, the last couple weeks have not been very good, but this week has been much better. I love this golf course and it looks good to my eye. Most of the holes look like I'm going to hit a good shot, so I enjoy playing here.''

Mike Fetchick set the age record of 63 years to the day in the 1985 Hilton Head event. Haas is second on the list, taking the 2016 Toshiba Classic at 62 years, 10 months, 7 days for his 18th senior title.

''That's a good way to say I'm old, 'experience,''' Haas said. ''I think I'm very nervous most of the time when I play and today was no exception, but I continued to hit good shots and, hopefully, I can put one foot in front of the other, one shot at a time, do what I tell my son to do every time, you know? See if I can put some of those adages to work tomorrow.''


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


Stephen Ames and Scott Dunlap were tied for second after the round that started in light rain. Ames had a 67, and Dunlap shot 68.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer had a 66 to join Billy Mayfair (67) and Woody Austin (68) at 9 under. Langer won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the season points lead. The 61-year-old German star has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, was tied for 23rd at 4 under after a 71.

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Sergio leads by 4 entering final round at Valderrama

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 9:26 pm

Sergio Garcia closed with three straight birdies to shoot a 7-under 64 on Saturday, taking a four-shot lead into the third and final round of the Andalusia Valderrama Masters.

The tournament, which Garcia has won  twice (2017, 2011), was reduced to 54 holes because of numerous weather-related delays.

With his bogey-free round, Garcia moved to 10 under, four shots clear of Englishman Ashley Chesters, who shot a 1-under 70.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


"Hopefully we'll be able to play well tomorrow and get another win at Valderrama," Garcia said. "Hopefully I can finish it in style."

Chesters, however, is conceding nothing. "There's always a chance," he said. "There's not a lot of pressure on me."

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Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

Ciganda is attempting to win her third LPGA title and first since the 2016 season, when she won two tournaments in a one-month span. Kim is chasing her eighth career LPGA win and second title of the 2018 season.

''I want to win because I didn't win last year,'' Ciganda said. ''I love playing in Asia. It's good for long hitters, playing quite long, so I'm quite comfortable.''


Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

Yin and Altomare have yet to break through for their first LPGA win. A win in Shanghai would make either player the ninth first-time winner of the 2018 season, which would tie 2016 for the third highest number of first-time winners in a season in LPGA history.

''I love competing,'' Yin said. ''That's why I'm playing, right? I'm excited to be in contention again going into Sunday.''

Local favorite Yu Liu was seventh after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


"Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

"We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

"You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."