Dueling Aussies Add Intrigue

By Randall MellJune 12, 2009, 4:00 pm
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McDonalds LPGAHAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' They may not be related by blood, but theyre sibling rivals just the same.
Katherine Hull and Lindsey Wright are sisters in spirit.
Theyre Australian golfs version of Brady Bunch sisters.
That would be Hull in the role of Marcia Brady, Wright in the role of Jan Brady.
Lindsey Wright
Lindsey Wright is seeking her first LPGA victory. (Getty Images)
As teammates at Pepperdine University for three-and-a-half seasons, the Aussie duo competed intensely to be the teams No. 1 player.
Guess who was No. 1 their senior season and named the NCAA Player of the Year in 2003?
Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.
So here we are after two rounds of the McDonalds LPGA Championship, and everythings unfolding nicely for a possible LPGA breakthrough for Wright. Her 4-under-par 68 Friday equaled the days low round. It catapulted her into a tie for third, just two shots off the lead in a bid to make her first LPGA victory a major championship triumph.
With a fourth-place at the Kraft Nabisco in the seasons first major, and last months tie for third at the Michelob Ultra Open in a test that felt major championship caliber, Wrights game seems strongly positioned to deliver something big.
But look whos on the leaderboard right there with her?
Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.
Hulls 69 Friday moved her into a tie for third with Wright.
Guess whos paired together in Saturdays third round?
Yeah, Marcia and Jan Brady.
Hull was asked if seeing Wright on the leaderboard made her think:
A) Cool, my old teammate.
B) Cool, I get to kick Lindseys behind.
Both, Hull said. We had a healthy rivalry in the three-and-a-half years there. I think we both pushed each other. We are both pretty competitive and made each other better players. We had a great team our senior year.
Katherine Hull
Katherine Hull has shot 69-69 over two rounds at Bulle Rock. (Getty Images)
With the Aussie duo leading the way, Pepperdine gained the No. 1 ranking in womens golf for the first time in school history.
We had some good times and some tough times, Wright said. But it was great. We pushed each other and the team as well. Were friends, and being Aussies away from home, we leaned on each other.
Hull, 27, broke through to win her first LPGA event at the Canadian Womens Open last year. Shes ranked No. 11 in Rolex Womens World Golf Rankings, the second highest ranked Australian woman in the world behind No. 10 Karrie Webb. Surpassing Webb in the rankings would be a big deal Down Under, where Aussie women grew up idolizing Webb and her Hall of Fame career.
Wright, 29, has a career best third-place finish in LPGA events. Shes the third highest ranked Australian woman in the world at No. 29. Wright, who was born in England and became an Australian citizen after moving there as a young child, may be chasing Hull still, but shes a respected talent pushing for more.
Asked if she feels a rivalry with Hull, Wright shakes her head.
Not really, not for me, because now Ive got 144, 143 other Katherine Hulls I play against, Wright said. Im just playing against the golf course and myself.
Its really exciting, though, to see Katherine playing well, and, to an extent, its encouraging for me. Being an Aussie, its good to see.
Colombias Carolina Llano, who missed the cut Friday, was a freshman at Pepperdine when Hull and Wright were seniors. She said they both took her under their wings, but in different manners.
Katherine and Lindsey were very different personalities, but they were both very good people, Llano said. Katherine was more the mom-type, steering me, helping me pick classes, wanting to know what I was doing. Lindsey was more reserved. You had to go to her, but when she let you in, she was a great. She helped me with my English. They were both very good teammates and it was sad to see them leave.
If Hull and Wright end up turning Sunday into an Aussie duel to win the McDonalds LPGA, it will ignite new interest in their careers Down Under.
Womens golf in Australia is not overly popular, Hull said. We dont get a lot of publicity. For a country that does so well in other sports, I think its actually a little disappointing that we dont have more top female golfers. Obviously, Karrie had done a lot for the sport back home, and Jan Stephenson, but I think we certainly need a few other players to step up now and raise the profile back home.
The Brady sisters are poised to do that.
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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.”

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    Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

    CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

    The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

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

    She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

    ''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

    Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

    ''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

    Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

    Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

    Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

    ''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

    She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

    ''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

    Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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    DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

    AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

    Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

    “He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

    The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

    It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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    Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

    BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

    Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

    ''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

    He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

    Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

    ''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

    Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

    ''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

    Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

    ''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

    Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

    Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

    Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.