Scott looks to shut the door at Bay Hill in Round 4

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2014, 11:39 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Be it a coronation or collision course, Adam Scott simultaneously added a level of intrigue to the upcoming Masters and a dollop of suspense heading into what was shaping up to be a victory lap on Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Unlike his swing, silver screen looks and financial portfolio, Scott’s Saturday wasn’t picture perfect like it had been for his first two trips around Arnie’s place. The Australian bogeyed his opening hole, just his fourth misstep of the week, and added another at the fifth.

Before Scott reached the halfway hut his seemingly insurmountable lead had been trimmed from a touchdown (seven strokes) to start the day to a single shot.

The tournament, and the tantalizing prospect of overtaking Tiger Woods atop the World Golf Ranking before the year’s first major championship in a fortnight, which seemed a foregone conclusion, finally had a measure of drama.

Scott, however, would birdie Nos. 6, 10, 13, 15 and 16 for a 1-under 71 and a field goal advantage over a resurgent Keegan Bradley heading into Sunday’s finale.

The world No. 2, 3 up and cruising is not the best-case scenario for Bradley, et al, but at least the pack has a reason to consider a second option.

“I like the underdog role,” said Bradley, whose 66 tied for the round of the day with Matt Every and put him in the hunt for his first title since the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

It wasn’t Mercer stunning Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but given the alternative Bradley will take what he can get.

“My goal was to go out and cut into the lead. I like being in this position,” said Bradley, who will be paired with Scott on Sunday. “I knew Adam wouldn’t come back to me. I knew I had to shoot a really low number today.”

It may take another really low number and some help from Scott to deny him his 11th Tour title.

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, videos and photos

Even on his worst day of the week, Scott hit 12 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens in regulation. The difference on Day 3 was his putter (31 putts) and a golf course that had played like the softer side of Bay Hill for the first 36 holes.

And if the defending Masters champion was disturbed by his suddenly sloppy play he wasn’t letting on. If anything, Scott figured to use his door-opening 71 as a reason to improve.

For too long, Scott figured, he’s let victory chances slide and now, in the self-described prime of his career, he has no plans to go quietly into any more Sunday nights without a trophy.

“I’m hungry to win,” he said. “I just don’t think you get the chance that much, because there are so many guys playing well. If I only win one tournament in the peak time in my career it’s no different than the rest of my career so far.

“I’ve got to start closing at a better rate.”

This from a player who has collected four international titles in the last 12 months, including 2 of 3 during his victory lap through Australia last fall, and established himself as the game’s most consistent player.

As if that wasn’t enough, Scott also has experience on his side. Of the six players within five strokes of the lead only Bradley and Chesson Hadley (T-5), who claimed his first Big League title at the opposite-field Puerto Rico Open earlier this year, have won on Tour.

Still, for an event devoid of drama for much of the first 36 – that is other than Kevin Na’s run in with father time and a few overly expressive fans on Friday (In an aside, when asked on Saturday if he drives fast, Na replied, “Oh, I drive fast. I have a Lamborghini.”) – the alternative would be a Sunday sans any excitement.

On Saturday, Bradley, with an assist from Scott, breathed life into an event that had the forlorn look of a boat race when the Australian opened with a course-record-tying 62 on Friday.

But on Sunday Bradley & Co. will likely need more help from Scott – another slow start, more missed opportunities, more daylight – to make a game out of it, and for a player who in another life was considered by some too soft, those types of gifts no longer seem realistic.

“My mindset is to go out there and put the foot down early, unlike today, and extend the lead and make it very difficult for anyone to catch me,” Scott said.

It’s not over at Bay Hill, but it’s very close.

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.