Branshaw Takes Four-Shot Lead

By Sports NetworkOctober 12, 2002, 4:00 pm
CHANDLER, Ariz. -- David Branshaw vaulted into the lead with a third round 64 Saturday as he paces the Buy.Com Gila River Classic by four strokes. His three round total of 23-under 190 sets a new Buy.Com Tour record for lowest 54-hole score.
Branshaw leads D.A. Points and overnight leader Jason Gore by four shots. Points fired a third round 61, to become the third player in two days to shoot the course-record. Gore and Branshaw had set the mark on Friday.
Branshaw's 23-under score also matches the 72-hole tournament record set by last year's winner Ben Crane. The Buy.Com Tour record of 26-under-par, first set by Chris Smith at the 1997 Omaha Classic and matched by Todd Barranger at last year's Dayton Open, is within reach.
Patrick Sheehan, who had set the old course record of 62 on Thursday, is alone in fourth place at 18-under-par 195. Brad Fabel, James McLean and Barranger are tied for fifth at minus 16.
The leader's round started slowly as he was just 1-under through five holes, thanks to a birdie at the third. Branshaw's round took off with a 30-foot eagle at the par-5 sixth. He then birdied the next two holes to help him make the turn at 5-under.
'That one got me going. It definitely kick-started my round,' said Branshaw of his eagle. 'Anything can happen tomorrow. Four shots could be gone in a couple holes.'
Branshaw's lone mistake was at the 10th, where he bogeyed due to an errant tee ball. He atoned for that mistake at the next. The former Arizona Wildcat later sank a 35-footer for birdie on 15 before a kick-in birdie at the par-5 17th.
'It feels good. I'm just having fun out there,' said Branshaw, who has made just 10 of 23 cuts this season. 'I didn't even know what I was shooting out there. On 17, I tried to figure out what my score might be. I do know I made my first bogey of the tournament. As for tomorrow, you just have to believe in yourself and believe you can hit the shots you need to hit.'
Points, who hasn't carded a bogey since Thursday, got his round going with a birdie at No. 5. He then eagled the par-5 sixth, before his final birdie on the front side at eight.
After making the turn, Points had a birdie explosion. He birdied the 10th, then started a string of three straight birdies on 12. He parred the 15th and 16th, before consecutive birdies starting at 17 to close out the round of 61.
'Not starting out with birdies was tough because those holes are fairly easy, but you have to be patient,' said Points the 2001 Inland Empire Open winner. 'All of a sudden something clicks in your swing and a few putts go in. You get a little confidence and it snowballs on you. I needed to do this just to have a shot at it. I'm going to try and keep it going tomorrow.'
Gore, who has won twice on the Tour this season, had an up-and-down round of 69. He carded three birdies on the front nine, but also had a pair of bogeys. On the back side, he posted three more birdies, but started with a double-bogey at the par-4 10th. It was his playing partners round that most impressed Gore.
'David (Branshaw) played great today,' Gore said. 'If he plays like that tomorrow, he's going to be tough to beat. Four shots isn't a lot out here. I didn't kill myself, but I didn't put myself in prime position either.'
Gore is one of the four two-time winners on the Buy.Com Tour this season. He and Patrick Moore, who is tied for 21st at minus 13, join Cliff Kresge, who is tied for 27th at 12-under, and Arron Oberholser, who missed the cut, as the two-time winners this season.
If one of those were to comeback and win to become a three-time winner, that person would get the automatic Battlefield Promotion to the PGA Tour. Four players have previously gained this promotion -- Smith in 1997 and Heath Slocum, Chad Campbell and Pat Bates in 2001.
Full-field scores from the Gila River Classic
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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

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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.