Pioneers, peers amazed by Ko

By Randall MellMarch 20, 2015, 3:01 am

PHOENIX – Even the game’s pioneers are buzzing over Lydia Ko.

With the 17-year-old phenom climbing yet another leaderboard Thursday at the JTBC Founders Cup, Hall of Famer Patty Sheehan was marching out of the Marriott Wildfire clubhouse to catch some of the action.

“She’s amazing,” said Sheehan, who won 35 LPGA titles, six of them major championships. “The way she handles herself, she’s so mature and relaxed and in control. You just don’t see that in 16- and 17-year-olds like you see it in Lydia. It’s astonishing.”

With her 6-under-par 66 Thursday at the JTBC Founders Cup, Ko is back in contention yet again, tied with Sophia Popov, Kim Kaufman and Tiffany Joh as the leaders in the clubhouse at the weather-delayed event.

Founders Cup: Articles, videos and photos

Ko hasn’t stopped making news this season. At the LPGA season opener, she wrested the Rolex world No. 1 ranking from Inbee Park, becoming the youngest player to hold that distinction in the history of professional golf. Ko went on to win back-to-back titles at the Women’s Australian Open and New Zealand Women’s Open and is coming off a second-place finish at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore in her last start.

Ko’s 66 on Thursday marked her 21st consecutive round under par in an LPGA event. Her run of sub-par scores goes back to the first round of her victory at the CME Group Tour Championship in November.

Ko hit all 14 fairways she looked at Thursday. She hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation. She outplayed a couple U.S. Women’s Open winners in her grouping with Na Yeon Choi shooting 70 and Michelle Wie a 73.

It’s getting to be a stunner now if Ko isn’t on a leaderboard. She’s seeking her 11th worldwide title in a professional event, her seventh LPGA title.

“You know who Kathy Whitworth is, right?”

Sheehan tweeted that question to Ko after Ko won in Australia last month.

Does Sheehan really think Ko could challenge Whitworth’s LPGA record 88 career victories?

“She has the potential, but I’m not sure she has the ambition,” Sheehan said.

Sheehan says that because she knows Ko recently revealed that she would like to retire at 30 and start another career. Ko is enrolled at Korea University, where she begins her studies this month with psychology as her major field of study. She said after Thursday’s round that she might also be interested in a career in broadcasting.

What did Ko think of Sheehan’s suggestion that she is good enough to break Whitworth’s record?

“It’s pretty cool to be compared in that way,” Ko said. “I've had six victories, so I've got 82 more to reach there. It’s a long way, and I’ve said I would like to retire when I'm 30 ... I'm trying to concentrate on one tournament at a time and that's all I can do.”

The Founders Cup was created to honor the LPGA’s founders and pioneers. So many of them are here this week. Hall of Famers Nancy Lopez, Pat Bradley and Betsy King are here. So are founders Marilynn Smith and Shirley Spork. The special honorees this week are Judy Rankin, Donna Caponi and Sandra Palmer, who will be recognized in a dinner on Friday.

With Ko doing things no teenager has ever achieved in the game, the pioneers are being treated to history in the making.

“I’ve got to work hard on my game to get halfway near their records,” Ko said.

Ko’s peers are just as abuzz over what they’re seeing as the game’s pioneers. They can’t believe Ko doesn’t even have a driver’s license yet.

“Lydia is awesome,” said Kaufman, a co-leader. “It's great to watch and great to watch her demeanor. I love to play with her. I don't think she realizes how good she is and what she's doing yet. I mean, she's so young. We are out there talking about if she's going to get her driver's license. That's all she's thinking about. She's so innocent.”

Amy Anderson, four shots off the lead, isn’t surprised seeing Ko contending yet again.

“She's incredible,” Anderson said. “I actually get asked about her a lot, like what's going on there. She is the real deal. I've never seen her hit the ball bad. Every part of her game is her strength, and it's really fun to watch. It's really fun to be part of the tour when she's here.”

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.”