Japanese Teen Ties Record to Lead Ladies Masters

By Martin ParkFebruary 24, 2005, 5:00 pm
2004 Ladies European TourGOLD COAST, Australia -- The hype surrounding the arrival of Japanese sensation Ai Miyazato before the $800,000 ANZ Ladies Masters began proved to be entirely justified as she equaled the course record with a 9-under-par 63 during the early play of the first round at Royal Pines GC on Australias Gold Coast.
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)
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Garcia bounced in Austin: 'On to Augusta'

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 6:55 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – For the 16th time in his career, Sergio Garcia’s week at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play ended earlier then he would have hoped, but this time he has plenty of distractions to ease the sting.

Garcia lost his Saturday morning match to Kyle Stanley, 3 and 1, marking the 15th time in his Match Play career he’s failed to advance to Sunday, but at least he has plenty to keep him busy with a newborn at home and his return to the Masters looming in two weeks.

“On to Augusta,” said Garcia, who is not playing next week’s Houston Open. “It's exciting. Obviously when we get there, it's going to be interesting to see how we feel and everything. But it is definitely exciting.”

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Garcia defeated Justin Rose in a playoff to win last year’s Masters, his first major triumph, so his return to Augusta National will be unlike anything he’s ever experienced.

His duties as defending champion will include hosting Tuesday’s Champions Dinner. No word on Garcia’s menu for the event, but various sources have confirmed it will be something “Spanish.”

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Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Sweet 16

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 24, 2018, 5:40 pm

Here is how things played out in the Round of 16 on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The week began with 64 players taking on Austin Country Club,but the field is dwindling. Click here for Day 3 match results:

Match 97: Bubba Watson (35) def. Brian Harman (18), 2 and 1. Watson was 1 down going to the eighth hole, but he won four of the next five holes to turn around this battle of lefties. A 12-foot putt for eagle at the 12th dropped, giving him a 3 up lead coming home. It was Watson’s second eagle of the day. He looks as if he’s still riding the confidence from that Genesis Open victory last month. Watson will advance to play Kiradech Aphibarnrat in the quarterfinals.

Match 98: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28) def. Charles Howell III (59), 1 up. Aphibarnrat won in a late comeback, winning the final two holes. He holed a 9-foot putt for birdie at the 17th to square the match and won with an 8-foot birdie at the last. He had not led all day, not until that last birdie putt dropped. The 28-year-old Thai improved to 4-0 on this world stage after sweeping his group in the round-robin play. A four-time European Tour winner, Aphibarnrat is looking for his first PGA Tour victory. He will meet Bubba Watson in the quarterfinals.

Match 99: Kyle Stanley (45) def. Sergio Garcia (7), 3 and 1. Stanley birdied the eighth, ninth and 10th holes to go 3 up, and then he held off Garcia’s run at him, eliminating the world No. 10 with birdies at the 16th and 17th holes. With the victory, Stanley has a chance at a nice Texas two-step, a chance to eliminate the two highest ranked players left in the field, the only players left among the top 10 in the world ranking. But, there’s hard work to do in the quarterfinals, where Stanley will meet world No. 2 Justin Thomas.

Match 100: Justin Thomas (2) def. Si Woo Kim (50), 6 and 5. Thomas remains on fire in this format, steamrolling Kim a day after completing a round-robin sweep of his group by blowing away Francesco Molinari, 7 and 5. The Kim match felt like it was over shortly after it started, with Thomas making the turn 5 up. Thomas will advance to play Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals.

Match 101: Cameron Smith (46) def. Tyrell Hatton (12), 2 and 1. Smith found himself behind early, falling 2 down after Hatton opened with back-to-back birdies, but Smith quickly rallied to win one of the best matches of the day. He birdied four of the next five holes to go 1 up. Hatton lost despite making seven birdies on the round. He lost despite making birdies at the 15th, 16th and 17th holes to the red-hot Smith, who made eight birdies. Smith will meet Alex Noren in the quarterfinals.

Match 102: Alex Noren (13) def. Patrick Reed (19), 5 and 3. In this Fire vs. Ice match, Ice won, with Noren making easy work of Reed. Really, though, Reed never got a flame going, and Noren wasn’t going to help him the way Jordan Spieth did a day before. Reed was 2-over on his card before finally making his first and only birdie of the day at the 13th. Somewhere, European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn must have been smiling, watching Noren easily take down the formidable American match-play dynamo. Noren will meet Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals.

Match 103: Ian Poulter (58) def. Louis Oosthuizen (25), 2 and 1. Poulter’s match-play mojo is going strong again, with the Englishman summoning the intensity that has made him so formidable in the Ryder Cup over the years. He was on fire Saturday, making eight birdies over the first 15 holes, if you count the concession he received hitting a wedge to 18 inches at the 13th hole. Poulter put a special putter in the bag this week, using the same flat stick that helped him lead the Euros to their historic comeback victory against the Americans at Medinah in 2012. Though Oosthuizen made four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, he still couldn’t make it close. Poulter will meet Kevin Kisner in the quarterfinals.

Match 104: Kevin Kisner (32) def. Matt Kuchar (16), 1 up. Kuchar applied all kinds of pressure on Kisner on the back nine, but he couldn’t get Kisner to fold in the best match of the day. Kuchar was 2 down with four to go but managed to pull all square going to the last. After missing a 15-footer for birdie at the 18th, Kuchar watched Kisner sink a 12-footer for his birdie to win. Kisner will meet Ian Poulter in the quarterfinals.

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JT advances to quarters, closing in on No. 1 ranking

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 5:40 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Justin Thomas continued his impressive run at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and finds himself another step closer to overtaking Dustin Johnson in the World Golf Ranking.

Thomas rolled past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the first knockout stage and will face Kyle Stanley in the Elite Eight. He must advance to Sunday’s championship match to overtake Johnson as the new world No. 1.

“It wasn't anything crazy or special. Just played solid golf tee to green. And it was forcing him to make a lot of putts,” said Thomas, who has played 61 holes this week, won 24, lost six and hasn’t trailed in four matches.

Stanley, who needed a playoff victory over Paul Casey on Friday to advance to the weekend, defeated Sergio Garcia, 3 and 1.

Bubba Watson also continued his solid play, rallying from an early deficit to beat Brian Harman, 2 and 1. He will play Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who defeated Charles Howell III, closing with back-to-back birdies for a 1-up victory.

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But as impressive as Thomas has been, Sweden’s Alex Noren has quietly continued to impress, going undefeated in pool play and closing out Patrick Reed on the 15th hole for a 5-and-3 victory.

“He's such a tough competitor,” said Noren, who will face Australian Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals. “I managed to hole a few birdie putts. When we both had good chances, he just missed and I managed to make those.”

Former Match Play champion Ian Poulter also advanced with a 2-and-1 victory over Louis Oosthuizen. He will play Kevin Kisner, who converted a 10-foot putt at the 18th hole to defeat Matt Kuchar, 1 up.

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”