Ko moves into LPGA mix Friday despite wrist injury

By Randall MellAugust 15, 2014, 9:30 pm

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Lydia Ko betrays no weakness behind those librarian’s glasses.

She plays with an inscrutable game face that belies her 17 years, 3 months and 21 days on this planet.

There’s no better evidence than the stoic way she’s making her run this weekend at trying to become the youngest winner of a major championship and the youngest world No. 1 in the history of professional golf.

Ko got herself in the hunt to win the Wegmans LPGA Championship Friday with a troubled, sore left wrist that she never let on was hurting until she was asked about it after the round. She shot 3-under-par 69 at Monroe Golf Club showing no visible effects of the pain the wrist is causing.

After the second round, Ko acknowledged her wrist began hurting on the range when she started hitting drivers before the first round, but she opened with a 70 and never mentioned any physical issue after.

“It definitely feels much better today,” Ko said. “I felt much less pain than when I was on the range, because I got it taped up, and that's been supporting my wrist.”

The supporting wrap wasn’t visible under Ko’s long sleeves. She sought treatment at the LPGA medical trailer after the first and second rounds.

Ko also saw Tom Graham, a hand specialist and orthopedic surgeon with Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, a couple weeks ago – according to David Leadbetter, Ko’s swing coach. Ko is being evaluated for whether an issue in her left wrist will require surgery at season’s end.

Ko betrayed no concern about any serious issue.

“It felt OK during my round yesterday, and I think if it stays like this I'm definitely playable with it,” Ko said.


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Playable? Ko appears equipped to win this championship despite Monroe Golf Club looking as if it sets up better for long hitters. Ko isn’t short, but she isn’t a long hitter. Still, she birdied three of the four par 5s in the second round and was within one shot of the lead when she signed her scorecard.

“Lydia hits hybrids like other players hit short irons,” Leadbetter said. “She also has a wonderful short game.”

There’s so much history that can be made for Ko this weekend.

If Ko wins, she will become the youngest winner of a major championship. She would be six weeks younger than Young Tom Morris was when he won the British Open in 1868. She could also become the youngest world No. 1 in the history of men’s or women’s golf. A victory will move her to No. 1 as long as current No. 1 Stacy Lewis finishes worse than solo second place.

Speaking of Lewis, there’s something about her that brings the best out of Ko.

Ko got herself in contention over the first two rounds at Wegmans playing alongside Lewis (71-73), who has battled a balky putter this week. When Ko won the CN Canadian Women’s Open, becoming the youngest winner of an LPGA title at 15 years old, she was paired with Lewis in the final round. When Ko won the Swinging Skirts Classic in San Francisco in April of this year, she played all four rounds with Lewis.

“When I go out there and see my name next to her name on the pairing sheet, I'm pretty excited to play with her, because I learn a few things playing alongside her,” Ko said. “She's just a great person to play with.”

Leadbetter believes Ko’s stoic temperament suits her for the rigors of major championship tests.

“She has the perfect temperament,” Leadbetter said. “You never know what she’s shooting by looking at her. She never gets too high or too low.”

Leadbetter says there is no need to address the pressure that might build on Ko this weekend because of the way she approaches the game.

“Lydia never gets ahead of herself,” Leadbetter said. “She never mentions making history, becoming No. 1. She’s like, `Ho-hum, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and we’ll see where the chips fall.’ There’s maturity beyond her years.”

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DJ, McIlroy, Spieth listed as PGA betting favorites

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 1:38 pm

Three majors are in the books, but there's still one more trophy up for grabs in two weeks' time.

While next year The Open will signal the end of the 2019 major season amid a revamped calendar, this is the final year that the PGA Championship will be held in August. The tournament returns next month to Bellerive Country Club outside St. Louis, which last hosted the PGA when Nick Price won in 1992 and hasn't hosted a PGA Tour event since Camilo Villegas won the 2008 BMW Championship.

Oddsmakers at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published PGA betting odds shortly after the final putt dropped at Carnoustie and Francesco Molinari left with the claret jug. Topping the board are a trio of major champions: Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, all listed at 12/1.

McIlroy won the PGA in both 2012 and 2014, while Spieth needs only the Wanamaker Trophy to round out the career Grand Slam. Johnson has recorded four top-10s in the PGA, notably a T-5 finish at Whistling Straits in 2010 when a few grains of sand kept him out of a playoff with Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson.

Fresh off a T-6 finish in Scotland, Tiger Woods headlines the group listed at 16/1, behind only the three co-favorites as he looks to win a 15th career major.

Here's a look at the betting odds for a number of contenders, with the opening round of the PGA just 17 days away:

12/1: Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth

16/1: Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

18/1: Justin Rose

20/1: Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Jason Day

30/1: Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama

40/1: Henrik Stenson, Alex Noren, Paul Casey

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Webb Simpson

80/1: Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, Kevin Kisner

100/1: Ian Poulter, Thomas Pieters, Tyrrell Hatton, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Daniel Berger, Kevin Chappell, Brian Harman, Brandt Snedeker, Charley Hoffman

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Molinari moves to No. 6 in world with Open win

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:31 pm

After breaking through for his first career major title, Francesco Molinari reached some rarified air in the latest installment of the Official World Golf Rankings.

The Italian's two-shot win at Carnoustie moved him up nine spots to No. 6 in the world, not surprisingly a new career high. But it's also a quick ascent for Molinari, who has now won three of his last six worldwide starts and was ranked No. 33 in the world after missing the cut at The Players Championship two months ago.

A share of second place helped Xander Schauffele jump from No. 24 to No. 18 in the updated standings, while the same result meant Kevin Kisner went from No. 33 to No. 25. Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy both went up one spot after T-2 finishes to No. 2 and No. 7, respectively - a new career high for Rose.

The drama in the rankings unfolded at No. 50, as Tiger Woods moved up 21 spots to exactly No. 50 following his T-6 finish. While some projections had him moving to 51st, Woods was able to sneak into the top 50 just in time to qualify for a return to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, as the top 50 in the rankings both this week and next qualify for Akron.

That includes Zach Johnson, last year's runner-up who was not yet qualified but moved from No. 52 to No. 49 this week. It also includes Kevin Chappell, who went from 61st to 47th with a T-6 finish in Scotland.

Despite missing the cut at Carnoustie, Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for another week followed by Rose, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Molinari is now at No. 6, with McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day rounding out the top 10.

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Simpson overtakes DeChambeau in Ryder Cup race

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:09 pm

A T-12 finish at The Open allowed Webb Simpson to move past Bryson DeChambeau into the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot in the U.S. Ryder Cup points race with just three weeks to go.

Simpson finished the week at 3 under, five shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. Adding another strong result to his win at TPC Sawgrass and T-10 finish at the U.S. Open, he's now edged in front of DeChambeau by less than 41 points. But with players earning one point per $1,000 each of the next two weeks and 1.5 points per $1,000 at the PGA Championship, the race is far from over.

Jordan Spieth's T-9 finish strengthened his position at No. 6, as the top six players are essentially assured of qualifying automatically. Rickie Fowler held onto his spot at No. 7, while Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner both moved onto the bubble following T-2 finishes at Carnoustie. After a T-6 finish, Tiger Woods jumped from 31st to 20th.

Here's a look at the updated American standings, with the top eight after the PGA qualifying automatically and captain Jim Furyk adding four picks in September:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Bubba Watson

6. Jordan Spieth

7. Rickie Fowler

8. Webb Simpson

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9. Bryson DeChambeau

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Xander Schauffele

12. Matt Kuchar

13. Kevin Kisner

14. Tony Finau

15. Brian Harman

On the European side, Molinari was already in position to qualify automatically but is now assured of a spot on Thomas Bjorn's roster this fall. Fellow major champs Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy also solidified their footing with runner-up performances.

Here's a look at how things look for the Europeans, with the top four from each list after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

European Points

1. Francesco Molinari

2. Justin Rose

3. Tyrrell Hatton

4. Tommy Fleetwood

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Thorbjorn Olesen

Russell Knox

Eddie Pepperell

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Alex Noren

3. Rory McIlroy

4. Paul Casey

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Matthew Fitzpatrick

Sergio Garcia

Ian Poulter

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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.