Positive vibes

By Rex HoggardOctober 10, 2011, 1:57 am

When Tiger Woods completed his week at CordeValle, some 10 strokes and 29 spots out of the lead, Briny Baird was plugging along in search of his first PGA Tour tilt in 348 starts and no end in sight.

So, by comparison, it’s only felt like an eternity since Woods’ last victory lap.

If ties for 30th in nondescript Fall Series events don’t exactly seem red shirt-worthy, consider Woods’ week at CordeValle. He got to watch his beloved Stanford roll over Colorado on Saturday, finished the Frys.com Open with three consecutive sub-70 rounds (68-68-68) – the first time he’s done that this year – and showed flashes of greatness that made him such a no-brainer pick for U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples, and new caddie Joe LaCava.

For the week Woods made 19 birdies, seventh in the field, and improved in almost every statistical category as the tournament progressed.

Although somewhat skewed by CordeValle’s version of comfort golf, Woods hit 70 percent of his greens in regulation despite a wayward week off the tee (he tied for 68th in fairways hit), and, with a little lead-tape surgery on his putter after Thursday’s round, managed to stave off calls for his conversion to a long putter.

Yet throughout the “comeback,” consistency has eluded Woods and Sunday’s final turn was a microcosm of that untidy truth.

“I got better every day, and unfortunately, a couple times where I kind of didn't get the momentum going when I had a couple of chances to make putts or I hit a bad shot,” said Woods, who teed off on the 10th hole. “Today, I was rolling there. I was 4 under (through six holes). And at 16 all you do is dump the ball to the left and I stuck (the club) in the ground and hit it to the right.”

He attributed his miscue at the 16th to rust or, in Tiger-speak, a lack of “reps,” which brings most observers back to Woods’ patchwork schedule for the remainder of 2011.

Woods is hosting his own Tiger Woods Invitational Tuesday-Thursday at Pebble Beach, which kept him out of the field at the Tour’s Sea Island, Ga., stop; said on Sunday he has “family obligations” the week of the season finale at Disney and is not qualified for the WGC-HSBC Champions in early November.

Much like Woods’ periodic miscues on the course, his sporadic schedule, which worked so well for more than a decade, seems to be stalling whatever momentum he can build on the golf course.

At best, he has four “game time” rounds at the Australian Open before he marches out for his first match at the Presidents Cup. Captain Couples can only hope that’s enough, and that he’s walking shoulder-to-shoulder with his ailing partner Steve Stricker.

Perhaps the most telling sign that Woods is trending in the correct direction came after Saturday’s 68 when he was asked his comfort level with that new-car-smell swing, “I'm able to fix it,” he said simply.

Fixing things on the fly was a hallmark of Woods pre-November 2009, but the new guy, slowed by injury and inactivity, has struggled mightily when things have gone sideways mid-round.

Maybe it’s not the ‘W (win)’ he had atop his “to do” list this week, but the player who finished two rounds at the PGA Championship at 10 over should be savoring victories of any kind right now, either real or symbolic.

“I felt very comfortable, and I just need to keep staying the course,” Woods said on Sunday. “The game's coming, and the shots, you know, I drove it great today, so that was one.”

If Woods needed more motivation to stay the course he only needed to glance over his shoulder on his way out of town late Sunday to Baird’s overtime thriller against Bryce Molder. After 347 tries the circuit’s prince of persistence was clipped on the sixth extra hole by Molder.

If Baird, who now has a dozen winless calendars on Tour, can keep plugging along, Woods and the rest of us can certainly have a little more faith in the current process.

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S.Y. Kim leads Kang, A. Jutanugarn in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:24 am

SHANGHAI  -- Sei Young Kim led the LPGA Shanghai by one stroke at the halfway point after shooting a 5-under-par 67 in the second round on Friday.

Kim made six birdies, including four straight from the sixth hole, to move to a 10-under 134 total. Her only setback was a bogey on the par-4 15th.

Kim struggled in the first half of the year, but is finishing it strong. She won her seventh career title in July at the Thornberry Creek Classic, was tied for fourth at the Women's British Open, and last month was runner-up at the Evian Championship.

''I made huge big par putts on 10, 11, 12,'' Kim said on Friday. ''I'm very happy with today's play.''

Danielle Kang (68) and overnight leader Ariya Jutanugarn (69) were one shot back.

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''I like attention. I like being in the final group. I like having crowds,'' Kang said. ''It's fun. You work hard to be in the final groups and work hard to be in the hunt and be the leader and chasing the leaders. That's why we play.''

She led into the last round at the Hana Bank Championship last week and finished tied for third.

Brittany Altomare had six birdies in a bogey-free round of 66, and was tied for fourth with Bronte Law (68) and Brittany Lincicome (68).

Angel Lin eagled the par-5 17th and finished with the day's lowest score of 65, which also included six birdies and a lone bogey.

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'Caveman golf' puts Koepka one back at CJ Cup

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:12 am

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Brooks Koepka, recently named the PGA Tour Player of the Year, gave himself the perfect opportunity to become the No. 1 player in the world when he shot a 7-under par 65 to move to within one shot of the lead in the CJ Cup on Friday.

At the Nine Bridges course, the three-time major champion made an eagle on his closing hole to finish on 8-under par 136 after two rounds, just one stroke behind Scott Piercy, who was bogey-free in matching Koepka's 65.

With the wind subsiding and the course playing much easier than on the opening day when the scoring average was 73.26, 44 players – more than half the field of 78 – had under-par rounds.

Overnight leader Chez Reavie added a 70 to his opening-round 68 to sit in third place at 138, three behind Piercy. Sweden's Alex Noren was the other player in with a 65, which moved him into a tie for fourth place alongside Ian Poulter (69), four out of the lead.

The best round of the day was a 64 by Brian Harman, who was tied for sixth and five behind Piercy.

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The 28-year-old Koepka will move to the top of the world rankings when they are announced on Monday if he wins the tournament.

Thomas, playing alongside Koepka, matched Koepka's eagle on the last, but that was only for a 70 and he is tied for 22nd place at 1 under.

Koepka's only bogey was on the par-5 ninth hole, where he hit a wayward tee shot. But he was otherwise pleased with the state of his ''caveman golf.''

''I feel like my game is in a good spot. I feel like the way I played today, if I can carry that momentum into Saturday and Sunday, it will be fun,'' Koepka, winner of the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, said.

''My game is pretty simple. I guess you can call it like caveman golf – you see the ball, hit the ball and go find it again. You're not going to see any emotion just because I'm so focused, but I'm enjoying it.''

Piercy, who has fallen to No. 252 in the world ranking despite winning the Zurich Classic earlier this year with Billy Horschel – there are no world ranking points for a team event – was rarely out of position in a round in which he found 13 of 14 fairways off the tee and reached 16 greens in regulation.

''Obviously, the wind was down a little bit and from a little bit different direction, so 10 miles an hour wind versus 20s is quite a big difference,'' said Piercy, who is looking for his first individual PGA Tour win since the Barbasol Championship in July 2015.

''It was a good day. Hit a couple close and then my putter showed up and made some putts of some pretty good length.''

Australia's Marc Leishman, winner last week at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, shot a 71 and was seven behind. Paul Casey's 73 included a hole-in-one on the par-3 seventh hole and the Englishman is nine behind Piercy.

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Koepka primed for CJ Cup win and world No. 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 6:00 am

Brooks Koepka wants a 2-for-1 at the CJ Cup. If he can collect his second non-major PGA Tour victory he can become world No. 1 for the first time in his career.

He’s in great position to accomplish his goal.

Koepka eagled the par-5 18th en route to a 7-under 65 in the second round at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea. At 8 under par, he is one back of 36-hole leader Scott Piercy (65).

"Obviously the wind didn't blow. It was a different golf course than it was yesterday, you were able to take advantage of these par 5s," said Koepka, who opened in 71 on Day 1. "Felt like it was a lot more gettable. I putted so well, great ball-striking day, great putting day and very pleased with it."

Koepka, currently ranked third in the world, began the day three shots off the lead, but rapidly ascended the leaderboard. He birdied four of his first eight holes before finding trouble at the ninth. Koepka hooked his tee shot out of bounds, but the ninth is a par 5 and he was able to salvage bogey.

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That was his only dropped shot of the day.

The reigning Tour Player of the Year birdied the 12th and 14th holes in his bid to keep pace with Piercy. Koepka was two back as he played his final hole, where he knocked his second shot to 10 feet. He deftly converted the eagle effort to tie Piercy and earn a spot in Saturday’s final twosome. Piercy later pulled a shot ahead with a birdie at the ninth, his final hole of the day.

Koepka has officially won four PGA Tour events, but three of those are majors (2017, ’18 U.S. Open; 2018 PGA). His lone non-major win was the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

"Just keep doing what I'm doing," Koepka said of his plan for the final two rounds. "I'm hitting it well and making putts. I felt like I probably could have shot about 7, 8 under on the front side there, missed a couple. You know, doing everything right and that's what you've got to do and hopefully this wind stays away."

He can still reach world No. 1 with a solo second place, assuming Justin Thomas, currently world No. 4, doesn’t win this week.

That will take a mighty weekend effort by the defending champ.

Thomas also eagled the 18th hole to go from 1 over to 1 under. He shot 2-under 70 in the second round and is seven shots off the lead.

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'Go in'? Yes, JT wants an ace at the par-4 14th

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 5:11 am

Justin Thomas didn’t hesitate after hitting his tee shot on the 353-yard, par-4 14th in Round 2 of the CJ Cup.

“Go in,” he immediately said.

“Please go in,” he added.

Thomas’ tee shot was on a great line, but it landed just short of the green. Surprisingly, it took three more shots for his ball to "go in." After birdies on Nos. 12 and 13, Thomas parred the 14th.