C Sorenstam Five Behind Korean Phenom

By Martin ParkFebruary 4, 2005, 5:00 pm
Ladies European TourSINGAPORE -- Charlotta Srenstam from Sweden carded a course-record 8-under-par 64 during the second round of the $200,000 Samsung Ladies Masters and is the nearest challenger to runaway leader Bo Bae Song from Korea, who tacked on a 6-under-par 66 on to yesterdays 65 and extended her lead to five shots.
Song, who won the Korean LPGA Money list, Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in 2004 sits at 13 under par and is on course to add her third professional title at just 18-years-old.
Another Korean player, Mi Ye Na, is alone on 7 under par after a second round 69.
Lynnette Brooky from New Zealand is a shot further back in fourth spot on six under after her second round 70 and is tied with Englands Laura Davies, who after a 3-under 69, admitted her disappointment that she was probably playing for second place.
Three players are tied for sixth place, Linda Wessberg from Sweden, Libby Smith from the USA and 20-year-old Spanish rookie Elisa Serramia, who backed up her opening 68 with a level par 72.
But it was bad news for Minea Blomqvist from Finland, who was in second place after the opening round. The 19-year-old from Helsinki endured a day she would rather forget, racking up a 9-over-par 81, which included quadruple bogey on the second hole.
However Song, who has not dropped a shot in 36 holes, had an added stroke of luck on Friday with an eagle two at the fourth after dunking her 9 iron from 139-yards and will be the player to catch on Saturdays final round in search of the $30,000 first prize. The glimmer of hope for the field is that the teenage has never completed a professional tournament without dropping a shot. But that is a long-shot.
And there is plenty of incentive for the young Korean because should she win and join the Robe di Kappa Ladies European Tour as will be her opportunity, Song would be a fully exempt player all the way through to 2008 and qualify for this years Evian Masters and Weetabix Womens British Open.
Normally when you get a good start its very difficult to maintain momentum over the next few days, said Song, nicknamed BB by her peers.
Today, although I was very tired and my muscles ached, I was fortunate to start with an eagle, as I did yesterday. From there I had some luck and everything went my way and that put me up in the lead.
I played very well last year throughout the season, so tomorrow I am confident I can rely on my experience. Ill just let the round play out and hopefully that will be another victory.
However, high on Srenstams wish list is another victory as it has been almost five years since she won the Standard Register PING event, her only professional victory.
A win would mean a great deal, its been a while. Not only to win, but to play well again would be great, said Srenstam who was the epitome of consistency and played what many people would consider a perfect round.
I hit every fairway and every green and I hit a few tight to the pin and I reached three out of four par fives and that helped.
If I had hit 18 putts and been 18 under par, it would have been the perfect round!
She (Song) seems to be playing really well. I had a little slow start and well see what happens tomorrow. Ill play my own game and see if thats enough.
After struggling for two seasons with a nagging shoulder injury, Srenstam feels she has turned the corner and now that she can practice more and is beginning to find her confidence on the course, she has ambitious plans.
I want to get my card back on the LPGA Tour and hopefully play well enough in the European events I am going to enter and maybe have a chance for The Solheim Cup, she added.
Im planning on playing four or five events (in Europe) to try and qualify. I know thats a long shot but in 1998 when I played Solheim it was great and I really want to do it again. I had so much fun.
But pre-tournament favourite Laura Davies could not make a dent in Songs lead and will hope for a dramatic turnaround in results to give her any chance of lifting her 67th career title.
It was really hard work out there today and made a lot harder knowing that I was ten shots behind before I had even teed off, said Davies, who was playing in the afternoon matches.
Making up three shots is not enough in-roads and I think seven behind is too many to win it unless she has a blow-out, which she doesnt show any signs of doing. So I feel I am playing for second place right now, which is disappointing.
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Els: Tiger playing well validates his generation

By Doug FergusonMarch 21, 2018, 12:42 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Tiger Woods has come close to looking like the player who ruled golf for the better part of 15 years, and Ernie Els is happy to see it.

Never mind that Els was on the losing end to Woods more than any other player.

He speaks for his generation of Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh and others. Els keeps hearing about the depth of talent being greater than ever, and he has seen it. But he gets weary listening to suggestions that Woods might not have 79 PGA Tour victories if he had to face this group.

''I'm just glad he's playing like I know he can play to validate me – validate me, Phil and Vijay,'' Els said. ''We weren't bad players. This guy was a special player. To see him back, playing special stuff again ... is great for the game.''

Generational debates are nothing new.

Every generation was better than the next one. Then again, Jack Nicklaus used to lament that Woods was lacking competition from players who had more experience winning majors, such as Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, Tom Watson and Lee Trevino, Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros.

Mickelson, Els and Singh combined to win 12 majors. Els says Woods won 14 on his own because he was that much better.

Does it get under his skin to hear fans rave about this generation's players?

''It doesn't (tick) me off. Can you imagine how it must (tick) Tiger off?'' he said. ''He was leaps and bounds the best player. People forget very quickly, and then you see special players like we have now, the younger generation. But I know what I played against. You can't take anything away from anybody.''

Doug Ferguson is a golf writer for The Associated Press

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Recovering Thomas thinks Match Play could help cause

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 10:07 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – It’s been a tough couple of days for Justin Thomas, and he hasn’t played an event in three weeks.

The world’s second-ranked player had his wisdom teeth removed on March 7 following the WGC-Mexico Championship and has been recovering ever since.

“I'm feeling OK. As funny as it is, as soon as I got over my wisdom teeth, I got a little strep throat,” Thomas said on Tuesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. “I was pretty worried yesterday, to be honest, how I was going to be doing, but I feel a lot better today and just keep taking medicine and hopefully it will be good.”

Thomas, who is listed in the Tour media guide as 5-foot-10, 145 pounds, said he lost about 6 pounds when he had his wisdom teeth removed and has struggled to put that weight back on because of his bout with strep throat.

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As a result, his energy levels are low, which is a particular concern considering the marathon nature of the Match Play, which could include as many as seven rounds if he were to advance to Sunday’s championship match. Thomas, however, said the format could actually make things easier this week.

“I told my dad, I only have to beat one person each day. I don't have to beat the whole field,” said Thomas, who has won just one match in two starts at the Match Play. “If it was stroke play then I may have a little harder time. But hopefully each day I'll get better and better. Who knows, maybe that will help me win a match in this golf tournament, because I've had a pretty hard time in the past.”

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Spieth thought Mickelson blew him off as a kid

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 7:50 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Phil Mickelson is widely recognized as one of the PGA Tour’s most accommodating players when it comes to the fans and signing autographs.

Lefty will famously spend hours after rounds signing autographs, but sometimes perception can deviate from reality, as evidenced by Jordan Spieth’s encounter with Mickelson years ago when he was a junior golfer.

“I think I was at the [AT&T] Byron Nelson with my dad and Phil Mickelson and Davis Love were on the putting green. I was yelling at them, as I now get annoyed while I'm practicing when I'm getting yelled at, and they were talking,” Spieth recalled. “When they finished, Phil was pulled off in a different direction and Davis came and signed for me. And I thought for the longest time that Phil just blew me off. And Davis was like the nicest guy. And Phil, I didn't care for as much for a little while because of that.”

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Entering his sixth full season on Tour, Spieth now has a drastically different perspective on that day.

“[Mickelson] could have been late for media. He could have been having a sponsor obligation. He could have been going over to sign for a kid’s area where there was a hundred of them,” Spieth said. “There's certainly been kids that probably think I've blown them off, too, which was never my intention. It would have never been Phil's intention either.”

Spieth said he has spoken with Mickelson about the incident since joining the Tour.

“He probably responded with a Phil-like, ‘Yeah, I knew who you were, and I didn't want to go over there and sign it,’ something like that,” Spieth laughed. “I’ve gotten to see him in person and really see how genuine he is with everybody he comes in contact with. Doesn't matter who it is. And he's a tremendous role model and I just wasn't aware back then.”

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This week, let the games(manship) begin

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 7:47 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – The gentleman’s game is almost entirely devoid of anything even approaching trash talk or gamesmanship.

What’s considered the norm in other sports is strictly taboo in golf - at least that’s the standard for 51 weeks out of the year. That anomaly, however, can be wildly entertaining.

During Monday’s blind draw to determine this week’s 16 pods, Pat Perez was the first to suggest that this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is the exception to the stoic rule on the PGA Tour.

“Me and Branden [Grace] played a nine-hole match today and were chirping at each other the entire time,” Perez laughed. “Stuff like, ‘go in the trees.’ We were laughing about it, I didn’t get mad, I hit it in the trees.”

Although Perez and Grace may have been on the extreme end of the trash-talk spectrum, it’s widely understood that unlike the steady diet of stroke-play stops in professional golf, the Match Play and the Ryder Cup are both chances to test some of the game’s boundaries.

“There’s been a couple of different instances, both in the Ryder Cup. I can't share them with you, I'm sorry,” laughed Jordan Spieth, before adding. “I think they [the comments] were indifferent to me and helped [U.S. partner Patrick Reed].

Often the gamesmanship is subtle, so much so an opponent probably doesn’t even realize what’s happening.

Jason Day, for example, is a two-time winner of this event and although he was reluctant to go into details about all of his “tricks,” he did explain his mindset if he finds himself trailing in a match.

“Always walk forward in front of the person that you're playing against, just so you're letting them know that you're pushing forward and you're also letting them know that you're still hanging around,” Day explained. “People feed off body language. If I'm looking across and the guy's got his shoulders slumped and his head is down, you can tell he's getting frustrated, that's when you push a little bit harder.”

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Some moments are not so innocent, as evidenced by a story from Paul Casey from a match during his junior days growing up in England.

“I remember a player’s ball was very close to my line, as his coin was very close to my line and we were still both about 10 feet away and he kind of looked at me,” Casey recalled. “I assumed he looked at me to confirm whether his marker was in my line and it needed to be moved. I said, ‘That's OK there.’ So he picked [his coin] up. And then of course he lost his ability to understand English all of a sudden.”

While the exploits this week won’t be nearly as egregious, there have been a handful of heated encounters at the Match Play. In 2015 when this event was played at Harding Park in San Francisco, Keegan Bradley and Miguel Angel Jimenez went nose to nose when the Spaniard attempted to intervene in a ruling that Bradley was taking and the incident even spilled over into the locker room after the match.

But if those types of encounters are rare, there’s no shortage of mind games that will take place over the next few days at Austin Country Club.

“It's part of it. It should be fun,” Spieth said. “There should be some gamesmanship. That's the way it is in every other sport, we just never play one-on-one or team versus team like other sports do. That's why at times it might seem way out of the ordinary. If every tournament were match play, I don't think that would be unusual.”

It also helps heat things up if opponents have some history together. On Tuesday, Rory McIlroy was asked if he’s run across any gamesmanship at the Match Play. While the Northern Irishman didn’t think there would be much trash talking going on this week, he did add with a wry smile, “Patrick Reed isn’t in my bracket.”

McIlroy and Reed went head-to-head in an epic singles duel at the 2016 Ryder Cup, which the American won 1 up. The duo traded plenty of clutch shots during the match, with Reed wagging his finger at McIlroy following a particularly lengthy birdie putt and McIlroy spurring the crowd with roars of, “I can’t hear you.”

It was an example of how chippy things can get at the Match Play that when McIlroy was asked if he had any advice for Spieth, who drew Reed in his pod this week, his answer had a bit of a sharp edge.

“Don't ask for any drops,” laughed McIlroy, a not-so-subtle reference to Reed’s comment last week at Bay Hill after being denied free relief by a rules official, “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said on Sunday.

Put another way, this is not your grandfather’s game. This is the Match Play where trash talking and gamesmanship are not only acceptable, but can also be extremely entertaining.