Ko caps a magical April with win

By Randall MellApril 28, 2014, 3:36 am

Not a bad week for Lydia Ko.

She celebrated her 17th birthday, was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people and won the inaugural Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.

Ko’s monumental week in San Francisco didn’t stop there. She also built her own golden gate. She built a nice little bridge to give herself a chance to get to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She jumps to No. 2 in the world with her third LPGA title, leaping over Stacy Lewis and Suzann Pettersen to get within striking distance of overtaking No. 1 Inbee Park.

“I don’t think I could have a better birthday week,” Ko told media. “It’s just a really special week for me.”

Ko’s triumph was her sixth in a professional event. She builds on a month to remember for the LPGA.

Adding to an April of fantastic finishes, Ko joins Michelle Wie and fellow teen Lexi Thompson in a trifecta of marketing gifts to the women’s game. The trio brings dynamic storylines for the LPGA to build upon.

Ko won Sunday coming from one shot behind Lewis. She won in a dramatic back-nine struggle that didn’t end until she closed out with a birdie at the final hole, beating Lewis by a shot and a hard-charging Jenny Shin by two.

Ko did all of this a week after Wie came from four shots behind in the final round to beat Angela Stanford at the Lotte Championship in Wie’s Hawaiian hometown and after Thompson opened the month beating Wie in a Sunday duel to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Beating Lewis wasn’t easy, but Ko made her move with a birdie at the ninth, pulling even going to the back nine. She made another move at the 13th. When Lewis pulled her drive into the rough, Ko took advantage, carving her approach to 10 feet to make birdie, taking a two-shot lead with Lewis making bogey. Ko never gave the lead back, even as Lewis and Shin pressed her.

With another birdie at the 14th, Ko maintained her two-shot lead.

“She hit every shot she needed to hit from the 13th on,” Lewis said. “I made three birdies in that stretch and she still got me.”

It was another tough finish for Lewis, who recorded her seventh second place without winning in her last 16 worldwide starts.

“Every time Lydia needed to hit a shot, she did,” Lewis said.

Lewis witnessed this before. When Ko won the CN Canadian Women’s Open at 15, becoming the youngest winner of an LPGA event, Lewis played alongside her in that final round. Lewis started a shot behind Ko in Canada but Ko never gave her an opening.

Ko closed hard again Sunday at Lake Merced. A shot ahead going to the 18th, Ko pulled her second shot at the par 5 left, into some thick rough. Lewis looked poised to force a playoff after stiffing her approach to 4 feet, but Ko answered, carving a wedge to 5 feet to set up her closing birdie for the win.

Beyond her birthday, and the Time magazine honor, Ko found the week especially satisfying with her father, G.H., there to watch her win. It’s just the second time he has watched her play in an LPGA event. He was also at the Lotte Championship last week and even caddied for his daughter there.

“It’s really special him being here,” Ko said. “Tears nearly ran down my face after I made the putt and also during my speech.”

It was the perfect ending to her perfect week.

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Fleetwood, with his fancy umbrella, fires 65 on Day 2

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 12:34 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood looked like an Open rookie when he set out on Friday under gray skies and a cold, steady rain.

Because the Englishman doesn’t have an equipment sponsor he made a quick turn through the merchandise tent for an umbrella – but at least he didn’t have to pay for it.

“We stole it,” he laughed when asked about his Open-brand umbrella. “We got one given for free, actually. We didn't steal it. We don't always carry an umbrella. So it just so happens this week that we've got a nice Open Championship [umbrella]. It looked quite nice, the yellow and the course.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

It was Fleetwood’s only rookie move on Day 2 at Carnoustie, posting a flawless 65 to move into an early tie for second place at 5 under par.

Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, a 9-under 63 he shot last fall during the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, but given Friday’s conditions and the difficulty of this course during The Open, his 65 on Friday might have been better.

“It's not a course record, but it's pretty good,” said Fleetwood, who was stroke behind leader Zach Johnson. “If you went out, you wouldn't really fancy being 6 under out there. So I think that's a good indication of how good it was.”

It was a dramatic turnaround for Fleetwood on Friday. He said he struggled with his ball-striking, specifically his tee shots, on Day 1, but he was able to turn things around with an hour-long session on the range following his opening round.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.

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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.