Japanese Teen Ties Record to Lead Ladies Masters
The 19-year-old phenomenon from Okinawa sits seven shots ahead of playing partner Karrie Webb, the joint record holder who carded a 63 in 1999 en route to setting the tournament record of 26-under par.
Miyazatos nearest challenger is one of Australias top prospects, 22-year-old Katherine Hull, winner of last weeks ALPG Championship, who notched up an impressive 6-under-par 66 of her own to sit in outright second place.
And after a glut of low scoring on a perfect day when 78 players finished at even par or better, three players share third spot on 5-under-par; Australias Nikki Campbell, Linda Wessberg from Sweden and Englands Kirsty S. Taylor, who made a fabulous up and down from the bunker at the final hole despite suffering from a migraine and pains from a stomach ulcer.
A shot further back are six players including Englands Lora Fairclough, who jumped to 4-under-par thanks to an eagle two at the par-4 17th where she holed a nine iron from 125-yards. Joining Fairclough is Nadina Taylor and Carlie Butler from Australia, Cecilia Ekelundh and Asa Gottmo from Sweden and Elisabeth Esterl from Germany.
But the story of the day was about the Japanese phenomenon.
With Miyazato, Webb and Hull drawn together, it was hardly surprising the gallery was the biggest ever on the first day of this tournament, which has been running for 16 years.
Not only was the gallery out in the thousands, but the Japanese media contingent was also out in force to follow their countrys most famous sporting star. After a straw poll of photographers, it is estimated more than 10,000 pictures were taken of the pint-sized prodigy during her first round in Australia.
Starting at the tenth hole, amid of flurry of shots from the Nikon and Canon camera brigade, Miyazato set the early pace with four birdies on her front nine to turn in 31. She stretched away from her playing partners with a blistering front nine making birdies at the first four holes, adding her final birdie at the eighth.
It was awesome to watch and thats probably the easiest 9-under Ive ever seen, said Webb.
But Miyazato claimed it was far from easy.
No, no way was it easy. I putted very good today and I felt very relaxed. I had a lot of support out there and it felt a little bit like Japan. There were too many Japanese out there today, she said, referring to the photographers.
I thought at the start of the week I could shoot 3-or-4-under-par each round, so 9-under is much better than I expected. I will try and shoot 3-or-4-under for the next three days.
Hull, a powerful 510 blonde who turns 23 on Saturday, admitted to riding on a wave of confidence after her performances over the last three weeks was also impressed by the 52 Miyazato.
She hits it long for her sizeshe really packs a punch, said Hull, who finished second at the ABC Learning Centres Classic and went on to win the ALPG Tour Championship at Club Pelican last week on the Sunshine Coast.
Ive had a huge confidence boost over the last three weeks and Im not going to put any pressure on myself, just play my own game and hopefully hole a few more putts.
Scores - Round 1
63 - Ai Miyazato (JPN)
66 - Katherine Hull (AUS)
67 - Linda Wessberg (SWE), Nikki Campbell (AUS), Kirsty S Taylor (ENG)
68 - Lora Fairclough (ENG), Nadina Taylor (AUS), Cecilia Ekelundh (SWE), Asa Gottmo (SWE), Elisabeth Esterl (GER), Carlie Butler (AUS)
69 - Nicole Stillig-Gogele (GER), Jenny Sevil (AUS), Laura Davies (ENG), Mi Sun Cho (Am) (AUS), Alison Munt (AUS), Jane Leary (AUS), Rachel Hetherington (AUS), Karine Icher (FRA), Shani Waugh (AUS), Iben Tinning (DEN), Georgina Simpson (ENG)
70 - Gwladys Nocera (FRA), Ya Ni Tseng (Am) (TAI), Rebecca Stevenson (AUS), Grace Lee (KOR), Karrie Webb (AUS), Diana Luna (ITA), Anne-Marie Knight (AUS), Amanda Moltke-Leth (DEN), Cherie Byrnes (AUS), Marta Prieto (ESP), Fiona Pike (AUS), Minea Blomqvist (FIN), Kylie Pratt (AUS), Stefania Croce (ITA), Rachel Bailey (AUS)
71 - Nicole James (AUS), Eleanor Pilgrim (WAL), Sophie Giquel (FRA), Laurette Maritz (SA), Sara Beautell (ESP), Nathalie David (FRA), Marine Monnet-Melocco (FRA), Ludivine Kreutz (FRA), Karen Stupples (ENG), Hsiao Chuan Lu (TAI), Maria Hjorth (SWE), Sophie Sandolo (ITA), Anja Monke (GER), Tamie Durdin (AUS), Martina Eberl (GER), Melanie Holmes-Smith (AUS), So-Hee Kim (KOR), Joanne Mills (AUS), Hyun Hee Moon (KOR), Maria Boden (SWE), Ursula Tuutti (FIN)
72 - Anna Rawson (AUS), Sarah Douglass (AUS), Tamara Johns (AUS), Mianne Bagger (DEN), Nicola Moult (ENG), Kathryn Marshall (SCO), Susan Parry (USA), Helen Beatty (AUS), Marlene Hedblom (SWE), Mardi Lunn (AUS), Miriam Nagl (GER), Denise Simon (GER), Tina Fischer (GER), Corinne Dibnah (AUS), Sarah-Jane Kenyon (AUS), Becky Brewerton (WAL), Rebecca Coakley (IRE), Gina Scott (NZ), Johanna Waldh (SWE), Vicky Uwland (AUS)
73 - Emma Zackrisson (SWE), Karen Lunn (AUS), Charlotta Sorenstam (SWE), Eun A Lim (KOR), Barbara Paruscio (ITA), Natalie Parkinson (AUS), Rachel Duncan (AUS), Riikka Hakkarainen (FIN), Tiffany Joh (Am) (AUS), Hea Kyung Son (KOR), Veronica Zorzi (ITA)
74 - Pam Sowden (NZ), Zuzana Kamasova (SVK), Lynnette Brooky (NZ), Jenni Kuosa (FIN), Heidi McCulkin (AUS), Louise Ferguson (AUS), Anna Highgate (WAL), Won Mi Park (KOR), Dale Reid (SCO)
75 - Valerie Van Ryckeghem (BEL), Carina Vagner (DEN), Virginie Lagoutte (FRA), Ana Larraneta (ESP), Loraine Lambert (AUS), Michelle Bristow (AUS), Bettina Hauert (GER), Helena Alterby (SWE), Jane Crafter (AUS), Nicole Lowien (AUS), Leah Hart (AUS), Margherita Rigon (ITA), Carmen Railton (AUS)
76 - Tanya Paterson (AUS), Wendy Hawkes (NZ), Katy Jarochowicz (AUS), Geraldine Brown (AUS), Katie Bakken (USA), Yuka Shiroto (JAP), Hazel Kavanagh (IRE), Lisa Jean (AUS), Natascha Fink (AUT), Elisa Serramia (ESP), Karen Pearce (AUS), Karen Margrethe Juul (DEN), Adele Bannerman (AUS), Joanna Whalley (AUS)
77 - Diane Pavich (AUS), Cecilie Lundgreen (NOR), Joanne Bannerman (AUS), Elizabeth McKinnon (NZ), Marousa Polias (AUS), Kris Lindstrom (USA)
78 - Angela Harris (AUS), Jane Evans (AUS), Tamara Hyett (AUS), Dana Lacey (AUS)
79 - Kerry Knowles (ENG), Katherine Leyshon (AUS), Sarah Heath (ENG), Janelle Smith (AUS)
80 - Nuria Clau (ESP), Karina Oerum (DEN)
81 - Catherine Knight (NZ)
85 - Amanda Vloedmans (AUS), Therese Hjertstedt (SWE)
Ko (68) off to best start of year at Kia Classic
Lydia Ko didn’t take long to put last week’s missed cut behind her Thursday at the Kia Classic.
She got off to her best start of the year.
With a 4-under-par 68, Ko was tied for seventh, just two shots off the lead, with the afternoon wave off at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, Calif.
“I would say I didn't hit the ball fantastic, but just being able to hole some good birdie putts was key,” Ko said.
Ko scrambled her way to her low opening round of the year in light rain. She hit just seven of 14 fairways and 11 greens, but only needed 25 putts.
“This is a pretty tough golf course,” Ko said. ”I think putting is a huge key around this course, where if you do miss a green, making those clutch par putts and then making those birdie opportunities that you get.”
Aviara’s poa annua greens have been known to give players fits, but Ko had her flatstick working. After making the turn at 1 over, she made five birdies on her second nine.
Ko, 20, won at Aviara two years ago but missed the cut there last year.
“I love Carlsbad,” Ko said “I would say it’s one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s nice to come back to a place where you’ve played well and love the area.”
Ko, seeking her first victory since July of 2016, has her new coach, Ted Oh, working with her in Carlsbad this week. Oh made the trip to Asia last month, helping Ko to her tie for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship. But, she missed the cut in Phoenix last week in her next start.
“All I can do is try my best,” Ko said. “Hopefully, I'll be able to keep this good momentum going.”
Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Day 2
Here is how things played out on Day 2 of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, as 64 players take on Austin Country Club with hopes of advancing out of pool play. Click here for Day 1 match results:
Group 1: Adam Hadwin (38) def. Dustin Johnson (1), 4 and 3: After a dominating performance at last year’s Match Play, where he never trailed in any match, Johnson is already mathematically eliminated. He got routed on Thursday by Hadwin, after the Canadian built a 2-up lead at the turn and then poured it on with wins on the 11th and 13th holes.
Group 1: Kevin Kisner (32) def. Bernd Wiesberger (52), 5 and 4: Kisner made three consecutive birdies midway through the front nine to set the tone, then kept the pressure on Wiesberger, who knocked off DJ on Wednesday, to earn the full point and stay in the mix to advance.
Group 2: Justin Thomas (2) def. Patton Kizzire (48), 3 and 1: After DJ’s early exit, Thomas now has a clear path to world No. 1, if he can win the Match Play this week. Thomas did his part, improving to 2-0 after taking a 3-up advantage and then making birdie on 16 and 17 to close out Kizzire. That sets up a winner-take-all match against Francesco Molinari on Friday.
Group 2: Francesco Molinari (21) def. Luke List (60), 3 and 2: Molinari dropped seven birdies on List and won the 13th, 14th and 16th holes to move to 2-0 this week.
Group 3: Chez Reavie (43) def. Jon Rahm, 1 up: On the verge of surrendering a big lead against Rahm, Reavie’s par on 18 was enough to secure a 1-up victory. He led 3 up with three to go, but Rahm birdied Nos. 16 and 17 to send the match to the last. But there, from just short of the green, Rahm hit his pitch shot well past the flag and couldn’t make birdie. Now 0-1-1, Rahm, last year's finalist, is now eliminated.
Group 3: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28) def. Keegan Bradley (63), 1 up: Bradley once again kicked away a late lead. One day after coughing up a 2-up lead with three to play, he squandered a 1-up lead with three to play against Aphibarnrat. Bradley made bogey on 17, then was stymied behind a tree after his drive on 18. Barnrat rolled in a 15-footer for birdie to improve to 2-0.
Group 4: Jordan Spieth (4) def. Haotong Li (34), 4 and 2: Spieth held up his end of the deal, winning the fifth hole with a birdie and never trailing from there. He poured it on late with the Chinese star, winning the 13th, 14th and 16th holes. He'll play Reed, his Ryder and Presidents Cup partner, on Friday in a winner-take-all match.
Group 4: Patrick Reed (19) def. Charl Schwartzel (49), 1 up: In a wild match that saw that only three halved, Reed hung on to defeat Schwartzel, 1 up. Two up with three holes to play, Reed lost the 16th, escaped with a bogey halve on the 17th and then was out of position on the final hole. But he nearly holed his wedge shot, rattling the stick and leaving his ball on the front edge for a conceded birdie and narrow victory.
Group 5: Cameron Smith (46) def. Hideki Matsuyama (5), 1 up: One down with five to play, Smith won the 14th with a par, then chipped in for birdie on 16 to take a 1-up lead. At 2-0, he’s now in control of the group.
Group 5: Patrick Cantlay (30) def. Yusaku Miyazato (53), 1 up: In control throughout, Cantlay bogeyed the 17th hole to return the match to all square. On the home hole, he busted a drive to the front-left corner of the green, then made birdie to win and improve to 1-1.
Group 6: Rory McIlroy (6) def. Jhonattan Vegas (44), 2 and 1: Needing a victory to avoid an early exit, McIlroy won two consecutive holes before the turn and then added a win on 13 to give himself the cushion he needed down the stretch, holing a 6-footer for par on 17 to close out Vegas. McIlroy now has a chance to advance with a victory over Harman on the final day of pool play.
Group 6: Brian Harman (18) def. Peter Uihlein (57), 4 and 2: Harman never trailed in knocking off Uihlein, who soundly defeated McIlroy on Day 1. With 1 ½ points, Harman is in the driver’s seat, but he needs at least a halve against McIlroy on Friday (and a Uihlein loss) to advance.
Group 7: Sergio Garcia (7) def. Dylan Frittelli (41), 2 up: All square with six holes to go, Garcia birdied 13, won 14 with a par and then drove the 18th green for a conceded birdie to close out Frittelli, the former Texas Longhorn, and improve to 2-0 this week. He'll play Schauffele in a winner-take-all match on Friday.
Group 7: Xander Schauffele (20) def. Shubhankar Sharma (62), 3 and 1: Schauffele improved to 2-0 this week by thoroughly handling Sharma, the darling of the recent WGC-Mexico event, never leading by fewer than 2-up on the back nine and playing 3 under.
Group 8: Jason Dufner (42) def. Jason Day (8), 3 and 1: Dufner took down one of the pre-tournament favorites with a steady closing stretch. Five of his six wins came after Day bogeys, but Dufner turned an all-square match on 14 tee into a 3-and-1 victory.
Group 8: James Hahn (56) def. Louis Oosthuizen (25), 3 and 1: Hahn jumped all over the South African, winning the first three holes and never holding less than a 2-up lead on the back nine. With his victory, each player in the group has a 1-1 record.
Group 9: Tommy Fleetwood (9) def. Kevin Chappell (33), 7 and 6: Avenging an opening-day loss, the Englishman won the first four holes and needed to make only three birdies in a monster rout of Chappell. The 2017 Presidents Cupper made five bogeys and conceded two other holes but still has a chance to win the group.
Group 9: Ian Poulter (58) def. Daniel Berger (26), 2 and 1: Playing this event for the first time since 2015, Poulter improved to 2-0 on the week with a solid victory over Berger, one of many young American up-and-comers. Using the same putter that he put in play at the epic 2012 Ryder Cup, Poulter won three of the first four holes and never backed down. He is guaranteed at least a playoff Friday.
Group 10: Paul Casey (10) def. Kyle Stanley (45), 4 and 2: A winner at the Valspar, Casey stayed hot in Austin, taking a 3-up lead at the turn and improving to 2-0 this week. He needs only a halve on Friday to advance.
Group 10: Russell Henley (51) def. Matthew Fitzpatrick (31), 2 and 1: Shaking off a narrow loss to Casey on Wednesday, Henley took control of an all-square match by winning the 12th and 14th holes and then rolling in a tricky 25-footer on the 17th green to put away Fitzpatrick. Still alive in pool play, Henley needs to beat Kyle Stanley, and hope Casey loses, to force a playoff.
Group 11: Bubba Watson (35) def. Marc Leishman (11), 3 and 2: Coming off an impressive opening victory, Watson erased an early deficit, then won Nos. 12-14 to put away Leishman, who is now eliminated. Watson is guaranteed at least a playoff Friday.
Group 11: Branden Grace (23) def. Julian Suri (64), 2 and 1: After a shaky start, Grace made four birdies over his last 11 holes to knock off the surprise Day 1 winner, Suri, who was the last man into the field. Watson is still in control of the group heading into the final day.
Group 12: Tyrrell Hatton (12) def. Brendan Steele (36), 3 and 2: All square through 12 holes, the Englishman made four birdies and an eagle over his last eight holes to improve to 2-0 this week. Hatton needs only a halve Friday to advance.
Group 12: Alexander Levy (55) def. Charley Hoffman (22), 1 up: Levy led from the sixth hole, but Hoffman slowly cut into the deficit and took the Frenchman to the final hole. Levy’s par was enough to notch his first point and stay alive in pool play.
Group 13: Alex Noren (13) def. Thomas Pieters (39), 5 and 4: Noren made quick work of Pieters in what could be a match of future Ryder Cup teammates. Noren built a 4-up lead after seven holes and then cruised from there, moving to 2-0 this week and eliminating Pieters. In 30 holes this week, Noren has made 12 birdies and no bogeys.
Group 13: Tony Finau (29) def. Kevin Na (61), 3 and 2: In a contrast of styles, the powerful Finau birdied the first three holes and never looked back against Na, setting up a battle of unbeatens in a winner-take-all match on Friday.
Group 14: Phil Mickelson (14) def. Satoshi Kodaira (40), 1 up: Four down through seven holes, Mickelson was on the verge of being eliminated before running off a series of wins, including on 16 and 17 to push the match to the final hole. Then, on 18, he pitched to 8 feet and drained the birdie putt to complete the remarkable comeback.
Group 14: Charles Howell III (59) def. Rafa Cabrera Bello (17), 3 and 1: After knocking off Mickelson on Day 1, Howell pulled away from Cabrera Bello late, winning the 14th, 15th and 17th holes – only one of which with birdies – to take control of the lead. At 2-0, Howell is assured of at least a playoff.
Group 15: Webb Simpson (37) def. Pat Perez (15), 3 and 1: Matched up against the fiery Perez, Simpson seized control of the match with wins on the 11th and 12th holes, sank a 20-footer on 15 and then won the 17th after Perez put his tee shot in the hazard. Now 1-0-1, he’ll have a winner-take-all match against Kim on Friday.
Group 15: Si Woo Kim (50) def. Gary Woodland (24), 5 and 3: Kim won the first hole and never looked back, grabbing a 3-up lead at the turn and leading by as much as 5 up after 12 holes. He is now 2-0.
Group 16: Matt Kuchar (16) def. Yuta Ikeda (47), 1 up: Though he wasn’t nearly as hot as in his opener against Johnson, Kuchar played solidly, going 3 under (including concessions) and making par on 17 to edge ahead of Ikeda and eke out a narrow victory.
Group 16: Ross Fisher (27) def. Zach Johnson (54), 2 up: After a remarkable comeback against Kuchar to earn a halve on Day 1, Johnson couldn’t summon the same magic on Thursday. Though he won the 15th to cut Fisher’s advantage to 1 up, Johnson couldn’t convert birdie putts on the last three holes.
Group standings at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
Here are the group standings for pool play at the 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas. The player with the most points in each pool advanced to Saturday's Round of 16 in Austin, Texas. Click here for scoring and click here for the bracket.
|Group 1||Group 2||Group 3||Group 4|
|(1) D. Johnson: 0-2-0||(2) J. Thomas: 2-0-0||(3) J. Rahm: 0-1-1||(4) J. Spieth: 2-0-0|
|(32) K. Kisner: 1-0-1||(21) F. Molinari: 2-0-0||(28) K. Aphibarnrat: 2-0-0||(19) P. Reed: 2-0-0|
|(38) A. Hadwin: 1-0-1
||(48) P. Kizzire: 0-2-0||(43) C. Reavie: 1-1-0||(34) H. Li: 0-2-0|
|(52) B. Wiesberger: 1-1-0
||(60) L. List: 0-2-0||(63) K. Bradley: 0-1-1||(49) C. Schwartzel: 0-2-0|
|Group 5||Group 6||Group 7||Group 8|
|(5) H. Matsuyama: 1-1-0||(6) R. McIlroy: 1-1-0||(7) S. Garcia: 2-0-0||(8) J. Day: 1-1-0|
|(30) P. Cantlay: 1-1-0
||(18) B. Harman: 1-0-1||(20) X. Schauffele: 2-0-0||(25) L. Oosthuizen: 1-1-0|
|(46) C. Smith: 2-0-0||(44) J. Vegas: 0-1-1||(41) D. Frittelli: 0-2-0||(42) J. Dufner: 1-1-0|
|(53) Y. Miyazato: 0-2-0||(51) P. Uihlein: 1-1-0||(62) S. Sharma: 0-2-0||(56) J. Hahn: 1-1-0|
|Group 9||Group 10||Group 11||Group 12|
|(9) T. Fleetwood: 1-1-0||(10) P. Casey: 2-0-0||(11) M. Leishman: 0-2-0||(12) T. Hatton: 2-0-0|
|(26) D. Berger: 0-2-0||(31) M. Fitzpatrick: 0-2-0||(23) B. Grace: 1-1-0||(22) C. Hoffman: 0-1-0|
|(33) K. Chappell: 1-1-0||(45) K. Stanley: 1-1-0||(35) B. Watson: 2-0-0||(36) B. Steele: 1-1-0|
|(58) I. Poulter: 2-0-0||(51) R. Henley: 1-1-0||(64) J. Suri: 1-1-0||(55) A. Levy: 0-1-0|
|Group 13||Group 14||Group 15||Group 16|
|(13) A. Noren: 2-0-0||(14) P. Mickelson: 1-1-0||(15) P. Perez: 0-1-1||(16) M. Kuchar: 1-0-1|
|(29) T. Finau: 2-0-0||(17) R. Cabrera Bello: 1-1-0||(24) G. Woodland: 0-1-1||(27) R. Fisher: 1-1-0|
|(39) T. Pieters: 0-2-0||(40) S. Kodaira: 0-2-0||(37) W. Simpson: 1-0-1||(47) Y. Ikeda: 1-1-0|
|(61) K. Na: 0-2-0||(59) C. Howell III: 2-0-0||(50) S.W. Kim: 1-0-1||(54) Z. Johnson: 0-1-1|
Players lament 'meaningless' Friday WGC matches
AUSTIN, Texas – The drawback of round-robin play at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is that 20 players will tee off on Friday with no chance to advance to the knockout stages.
Although those who haven’t won or halved a match heading into the final day of pool play can still improve their finish, which means more FedExCup points and earnings, they can’t make it to the weekend, which for many makes it somewhat meaningless.
“Knowing that you are playing a match that you might get 2 more FedEx points and $20,000 or whatever it is. It's tough. It's hard,” said Rory McIlroy, who is 1-1-0 and can advance to the weekend if he wins his match on Friday against Brian Harman.
“You try to go out with the mindset that I'm going to maybe try things or if you are working on your golf swing, it's a good round to take advantage of trying different things,” McIlroy said. “[But] there's going to be guys going out there tomorrow that would really just want to be on a plane tonight going home.”
Even more curious, there will be players with no way of moving on who will dictate who does make it to the weekend. Matthew Fitzpatrick, for example, is winless this week and will play Paul Casey on Friday. If Fitzpatrick wins it will set up a playoff scenario between Casey, who is 2-0-0, and either Russell Henley or Kyle Thompson, who both have one victory, to decide who advances out of the pod.
“It's not technically meaningless,” Casey said. “But it's frustrating when you know you can't possibly win the golf event. None of us turn up here to gain some points. It's to try and win an event.”