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Korean win delivers 'moment women’s golf deserves'

By Randall MellOctober 7, 2018, 9:58 am

INCHEON, South Korea – The Korean women rolled over everybody at the UL International Crown.

That includes LPGA commissioner Mike Whan.

“I actually got knocked over,” Whan said. “I almost got trampled. I love it.”

Whan got in the way of the Koreans chasing Sung Hyun Park to the first tee for the start of Sunday singles at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club. He got between the world No. 1 and the massive throng of fans rushing to see her play No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn.

“If I have to get knocked over because fans want to see their favorite players, that’s a good day for me,” Whan said.

It was a great day for the Koreans.

They have won just about everything there is to win in women’s golf as the most dominant force in the game, but there has been frustration trying to break through and officially lay claim to being “the best golfing nation.”

That’s the title bestowed upon the winner of the UL International Crown.

The Koreans watched the Spaniards claim the inaugural International Crown in 2014 and the Americans take it in ’16.

With the advantage of playing at home this time, expectations soared.

“The pressure is all on them,” American Cristie Kerr said at week’s start.

The Koreans felt it. So much so that So Yeon Ryu pleaded with their fans to refrain from excessive criticism.

“Really painful, sharp criticism can actually erode our confidence,” Ryu said.

In the end, Ryu, Park, In-Kyung and In Gee Chun rode the wave of national pride to the title.

“When you play in the U.S., you don't get to see crowds like this,” Park said. “So when I come to Korea, I really look forward to the gallery. Today, the fans were supporting every shot. I think that it's because of their support that our team won.”

Ryu said she believed the Korean fans were different watching them play under the South Korean flag. They were different seeing their favorite players together as a team, instead of individuals with their own intense fan clubs.

“I can’t really imagine [winning] without each one of us,” Kim said. “The teamwork was indescribable.”

The Koreans won with 15 points, four more than the United States and England.

Kim clinched the victory, defeating England’s feisty Bronte Law, 2 up. The title was secure when they halved the 17th hole.

Full-field scores from UL International Crown

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In Gee Chun defeated Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist, 1up.

Ryu halved her match with Lexi Thompson, with Park losing her match, 1 down, to Jutanugarn.

Whan called it a win for women’s golf, with the world getting to see just how much Korean fans love their female players. For the first time, this event began to feel like it really could rival the Solheim Cup someday.

Still, the week started with some trepidation. On Thursday, there couldn’t have been more than 20 fans in the stands with England opening play against Australia.

“Yeah, I was a little bit worried,” Whan said of the low voltage start. “But once the Korean players got here ...”

So did their fans.

Whan’s only regret is that Tropical Storm Kong-Rey’s approach brought in rain Friday and wiped out Saturday’s play.

“I think Saturday would have replicated what we saw on Sunday,” Whan said.

Sunday was a celebration of women’s golf. There was a hint of Tigermania in the air. With Korean players moving to the practice putting green before the start of singles, fans swarmed. They were 10-15 deep around the fencing.

“They were cheering when practice putts went into the hole,” Whan said. “I’ve never seen that before.”

He didn’t see the mob of fans that knocked him over coming, either, but he loved what he saw at the first tee. The two sets of bleachers there held 1,000 fans. They were bursting at the seams. The hillocks running from the first tee to the first green were swarming with chanting fans.

“It was a moment women’s golf deserves,” Whan said.

Lexi Thompson marveled over the devotion of Korean fans.

“They were unbelievable,” she said. “A lot more were people out today, knowing the weather was going to be perfect, but they were amazing cheering us on.”

Kerr marveled, too.

“The fans got what they wanted,” she said.

Kerr was impressed how the Korean players rode the wave of support.

“They looked like they enjoyed themselves,” Kerr said. “They embraced the fans and didn’t put the extra pressure on themselves that I thought they would.”

The Koreans relished showing the world what they do so well.

“I am fortunate to be Korean, and to have the support we have,” she said.

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Ahead by four, No. 1 ranking within Koepka's grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One behind overnight leader Scott Piercy to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under. Cabrera Bello will round out the final tee time with Koepka and Poulter.

Best of the rest: Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama and Emiliano Grillo signed for 66. Casey went seven straight holes without a par, Matusyama was bogey-free, and Grillo did all his damage on the back nine after nine consecutive pars on the front.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.

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Watch: Koepka flies ball 330 yards, drives green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 4:44 am

It's a good thing par doesn't actually matter in tournament play, because if it did, the PGA Tour would have to consider 350-yard par-3s, and even those might not stop Brooks Koeopka.

Already ahead by two during Saturday's third round at the CJ Cup in South Korea, Koepka drove the green at the par-4 14th, carrying his ball 330 yards to the front edge.

The back-to-back U.S. Open champ would go on to two-putt for birdie and push his lead to three.

... The USGA is going to try that 350-yard par-3 idea, isn't it?

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Bend it like Garcia? Sergio scores in player-caddie soccer match

By Grill Room TeamOctober 20, 2018, 2:44 am

Sergio Garcia has always been able to work his golf ball from left to right, but he's also - apparently - proficient at playing a draw with a soccer ball.

This year's Adalucia Valderrama Masters is suffering through some weather issues. But the highlight of the week - and, according to the Felipe Aguilar, "the year" - was always going to be the event's player-caddie soccer match, which you can see here:

The standout highlight? This bending, left-footed(!) strike from defending champion Sergio Garcia:

"Just a little bit of fun with the caddies and some of the players," Garcia nonchalantly says in the video. "Yeah, just a little bit of running and it was good fun."

Garcia, a diehard Real Madrid fan who kicked off El Clasico in his green jacket back in 2016, has previously appeared in professional matches for CF Borriol, a Tercera Division club in Spain. 

"It's good fun and whenever I'm around I get to practice with them a little bit and play a little bit here and there. This season, I've played probably five games, so not a lot, but I enjoy it," Garcia told CNN back in 2013.

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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.