Jones becomes first American winner in 01

By Sports NetworkApril 30, 2001, 4:00 pm
Austin, TX - Rosie Jones sank a four-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to defeat Korea's Mi Hyun Kim and win the Kathy Ireland Championship on Sunday. Jones captured the 11th title of her 20-year career and ended a victory drought for the Americans on the LPGA Tour in 2001.
Dottie Pepper was the last U.S. player to win an LPGA event when she triumphed at the Arch Wireless Championship last November of 2000. Each of the first 10 events of the 2001 campaign were won by international players, with Sweden's Annika Sorenstam winning four straight tournaments prior to last week's victory by Se Ri Pak of Korea.
Jones needed a birdie at the par-five 18th hole to tie Kim, who was already in the clubhouse at 12-under-par 268 after closing with a 66. Jones proceeded to plant her third shot with a sand wedge within a foot of the pin and tapped in for a final-round 67, forcing the playoff.
They returned to 18, where Kim's eight-foot birdie attempt broke left before reaching the cup. Jones, who had half the distance and the same line, rolled in her putt for her first win since 1999.
'I take a lot of pride in that win,' said Jones, who earned the first-place check for $135,000. 'And I am just happy to have done it and pulled it out.'
Jones, tied for the lead with Columbia's Marisa Baena at the start of the day, traded birdies with her playing partner at the first hole but soon fell a shot back when Baena birdied the sixth to get to 11-under. Jones drew even with a 25-foot birdie putt at the seventh, and Baena slipped back to 10-under when she bogeyed No. 9.
Meanwhile Kim, trailing by one stroke when she teed off Sunday, bogeyed the fourth hole when she failed to get up and down out of a bunker. Fine iron play helped fuel her mid-round burst, however, as she birdied four of five holes from the seventh, three with putts inside five feet.
Jones briefly claimed the lead at the 12th, where she holed an 18-foot birdie putt. But a bogey at 13 dropped her into a tie with Kim at 11-under par.
Kim sank a 10-foot birdie putt at the 17th to seize the lead, and Baena moved alongside of Jones with a birdie at 16. Baena, who would fall from contention with a bogey at 17, finished up with a birdie for a 68 and solo third at 11- under 269, her best showing since joining the LPGA Tour in 1999.
Then Jones, who could manage only two pars and a bogey at 18 over the first three rounds, fashioned a blind pitch with a sand wedge 40 yards uphill to the last green. The roar of the crowd let her know she was in easy birdie range.
'I knew it was close, but I couldnt wait to see how close. I was hoping that it was like that close because I dont have to putt anything,' Jones said as she held her hands a foot apart. 'I was pretty nervous.'
After Jones knotted things up in regulation, she won with a second straight birdie on the hole that vexed her all week.
The 41-year-old Jones admitted she won't miss having to field questions about the Americans' failure to win this year.
'There has been a lot of hype, the media has been taking about it a lot,' she said. 'And we as players, as American players, take a lot of heat for it. Let's get beyond that. There are a lot of great Americans that have been playing good golf, and they are going to be playing great golf the rest of the year.'
For Kim, a three-time LPGA winner, it was her second playoff loss in the last three events. She also fell to Sorenstam at the The Office Depot tournament in Los Angeles two weeks ago.
Jones improved her playoff record to 5-4, while Kim dropped to 1-3 in extra holes.
Pepper shot 67 to finish alone in fourth place at eight-under, three shots ahead of Canada's Lorie Kane, who closed with a two-over 72 at the par-70 Onion Creek Club.
2000 Rookie of the Year Dorothy Delasin tied for sixth place with Scotland's Catriona Matthew and Mhairi McKay, and French rookie Patricia Meunier-Lebouc. The group finished at three-under 277.
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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.