Emotional Jang ends drought in pouring rain

By Randall MellFebruary 7, 2016, 1:31 am

OCALA, Fla. – It was poetic that Ha Na Jang won the Coates Golf Championship Saturday in the rain.

In its two short years hosting an LPGA event, Golden Ocala is becoming the place where victory droughts end.

It’s already a virtual oasis for South Koreans.

A year after Na Yeon Choi got emotional ending her two-year victory drought at Coates, Jang couldn’t hold back tears as she broke through to win her first LPGA title.

It was emotional for Choi because she was under so much pressure to end her winless spell. She said she was so overwhelmed by fan and media criticism, she nearly switched to a 2G cell phone so she couldn’t connect to the Internet and see all the venom.

“I got hurt from reading that stuff,” Choi said.

Jang, 23, faced similar pressure, failing to win in her LPGA rookie season last year with young South Korean rivals Sei Young Kim, Hyo Joo Kim and In Gee Chun all winning in the United States. Jang beat out all three of those players for the Korean LPGA Player of the Year Award in 2013 but the best Jang could do on the American-based tour last year was four frustrating second-place finishes. Those near misses included her runner-up finish at Coates last year in her LPGA debut.

“Finishing second four times, it’s been heartbreaking,” Jang said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself, but I worked very hard. Finally, I got there and have the win.”

Jang’s animated personality, with her array of fist pumps and quick smile, has caught the attention of fellow pros. With her victory Saturday, she got the attention of a lot of golf fans outside Korea who may not have known who she was.

Coates Golf Championship: Articles, photos and videos

When Jang’s last putt fell sealing her victory Sunday, she let loose what she called a “Samurai Lasso” victory celebration. It was even more elaborate than Chi Chi Rodriguez’ sword-sheathing routine.

“I’m just talking the Samurai, the Japanese Samurai,” Jang said.

Jang said she was inspired by Japanese players and a YouTube video of the “Ideal Golf Swing Follow Through” that she saw a couple weeks ago.

“So I try lasso after my putt,” Jang said. “I think it looks like really fun.”

Jang won going wire to wire, leading or sharing the lead after every round. She outdueled Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko to get this first victory. Jang and Ko shared the lead going into the final round, but Jang pulled away from the 18-year-old early Saturday, as Ko uncharacteristically struggled. Even Ko was enamored with Jang’s bubbly personality. Jang said she was emboldened with Ko pushing her on.

“She’s like, 'Ha Na, you can do it! Keep going, keep going,'” Jang said.

Jang had to hold off a pair of gifted phenoms in the end with 18-year-old Brooke Henderson making a strong final-round charge. Jang headed to the 18th tee one shot ahead of Henderson, who was in the clubhouse waiting to see how Jang closed.

“Too much pressure in my mind,” Jang said of stepping over a wedge 110 yards from the flagstick at the 18th.

Jang confidently stuck that last wedge to 6 feet, setting up a closing birdie that gave her a two-shot victory over Henderson.

“She played great right from the start,” Henderson said. “I’m happy for her to win out here.”

Ko enjoyed Jang’s celebration like everyone else.

“Yeah, I’ve never seen that before,” Ko said. “I don’t know how anyone can beat that. It was almost like James Hahn’s Gangnam Style a few years ago. I don’t know who would think of that.”

Ko was impressed at how Jang handled the steady and sometimes heavy rain through the second half of the round.

“Ha Na finished really, really close to winning so many times,” Ko said. “Everyone is happy for her, someone who really deserves it. She’s super talented, and she so deserved this.”

Jang got teary eyed leaving the 18th green looking for her father, Chang Ho Jang. She said even through some recent disagreements and struggles over changes to her game, her father has always encouraged her.

“My dad, every day, every week, is there for me,” Jang said.

Kevin Kim is Jang’s new swing coach. They didn’t begin working together until six weeks ago.

“We’ve made a lot of changes,” Kim said. “We’ve been together almost every day since Dec. 23, from sun up to sun down. It’s been stressful making changes in that short time. Taking them into competition, that’s not easy, but she pulled it off.”

Jang’s caddie, Graeme Courts, was impressed at how his player’s ball striking held up under so much pressure and in such adverse conditions with all the rain.

“She just doesn’t miss a shot,” Courts said. “Her wedge control is excellent. She hits the ball pin high a heck of a lot, and she hits it down the middle of every fairway. She’s obviously good now, but she’s going to be really good.”

Jang was the best at Coates this week.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”