Kim on Fire at State Farm

By Sports NetworkSeptember 3, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 State Farm Classic SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Christina Kim posted a 6-under 66 on Friday to cruise to a four-shot lead midway through the State Farm Classic at The Rail Golf Course.
Kim opened the tournament with a course-record-tying, 10-under 62 on Thursday and now put her name further into the tournament's record book. Her 36-hole total of 16-under-par 128 smashed the former record by three strokes. Laura Davies established the old mark in 1994 and was later equaled by Annika Sorenstam in 2001, Patricia Meunier-Lebouc in 2002 and by Candie Kung last year.
'I just know it could have been better,' said Kim. 'I was not really feeling anything today. I just hit ball after ball. I was noticing how many under I was and who was on the leaderboard. That's definitely why I didn't shoot another 62 today.'
Cristie Kerr missed matching the course record by a single shot on Friday. She fired a 9-under 63 and is alone in second place at 12-under-par 132.
Jennifer Rosales shot a 7-under 65 in the second round and is in third at minus-11, followed by Suzann Pettersen, who shot her second 67 in as many days. Petterssen is alone in fourth place at 10-under-par 134.
Kim parred her first two holes then hit a 9-iron to 12 feet to set up birdie at the third. She collected her second birdie in a row at four, but it should have been eagle as she two-putted from 2 feet.
Kim ran home a pair of 15-foot birdie putts at seven and eight to extend her lead. At the 10th, Kim hit a sandwedge to 8 feet and drained the birdie putt. She hit a 5-iron to 10 feet at the par-3 11th and made that birdie to pull well ahead of the field.
She kept rolling with birdies at 14 when her eight-iron approach stopped 16 feet from the hole. Kim converted that birdie putt and LPGA Tour scoring records looked to be in jeopardy.
But, at the par-5 15th, Kim hit her drive left. It took two punch shots to get her back into play and she wedged her fourth to 23 feet. Kim took two putts for a bogey, then parred out to still have a commanding lead in pursuit of her first win on the LPGA Tour.
'I'm just here focusing on the moment,' said Kim. 'I'm not the kind of person that sits and mulls things over. There are so many things that can happen in a round that a fraction of a second can change winning to losing.'
Kerr wasted little time in breaking into red figures. She sank a 9-foot birdie putt at the first, then collected a pair of 5-foot birdie putts at four and seven to make the turn at 3 under.
Kerr, a two-time winner this season, caught fire on the back nine. She holed a 4-foot birdie putt at the 10th, and made it back-to-back birdies with a 9-footer at No. 11.
She reached the green with a 7-iron at the par-5 15th and made the eagle putt. Kerr knocked her 6-iron tee shot to three inches at the par-3 16th and kicked in the birdie putt. She then hit a 9-iron to four feet to set up birdie at the last and match her career low round on the LPGA Tour.
'It was a really good back nine for me,' said Kerr, who shot 63 four times before Friday, including the third round of this year's Women's British Open. 'I had some good holes. I have to play my own game, and approach the next two days like I approached the last two days.'
Rosales, who held the 54-hole lead at the U.S. Women's Open, started on the back nine Friday and tallied three birdies in her first four holes. She missed the green with her second shot at the par-5 15th, but chipped to 8 feet and holed the putt for birdie. Rosales made it two in a row with a 12-foot birdie putt at the 16th.
Rosales hit a spectacular approach to the first that stopped a foot from the hole. She two-putted for birdie from 18 feet at the fourth, but found trouble later in her round.
At the par-3 seventh, Rosales hit a 5-iron into a greenside bunker. She blasted out to 10 feet, but missed the par save. Rosales reclaimed the lost stroke one hole later with a 12-foot birdie putt.
'I didn't have any fives on the scorecard today, so I'm happy about that,' said Rosales. 'I've put myself in a good position, so I'm pretty happy about that.'
Lorena Ochoa, who won last week's Wachovia LPGA Classic, shot a 5-under 67 and is tied for fifth place with Mikaela Parmlid (71), Chris Johnson (65) and Hee-Won Han (66). That group came in at 9-under-par 135.
Kung, who went on to victory in last year's event, carded a 3-under 69 and shares ninth place at minus-8 with Young-A Yang (67), Marcy Hart (68), Laura Diaz (71) and Candy Hannemann (68).
The 36-hole cut fell at 1-under-par 143 and among the notable players who made the cut on the number are: Davies, Se Ri Pak, Carin Koch, Aree Song and Natalie Gulbis.
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    Casey in line to make Ryder Cup after Travelers T-2

    By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:30 am

    Despite coughing up a four-shot lead at the Travelers Championship, England's Paul Casey moved into a qualifying position to make his return to the Ryder Cup this fall in Paris.

    Casey struggled Sunday at TPC River Highlands, shooting a 72 as Bubba Watson raced to victory with a 63. But a four-way share of second place was still good enough to lift Casey into fourth place among those not already qualified on the World Points list, with the top four Europeans from that list in August punching their tickets to Le Golf National.

    Casey has played in three Ryder Cups before, but none since 2008. After renouncing his European Tour membership a few years ago, he reinstated it for the 2018 season in order to be eligible to return to the biennial matches.

    Here's a look at the updated standings for Europe, with the top four players from each points list ultimately joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn:

    European Points

    1. Tyrrell Hatton

    2. Justin Rose

    3. Tommy Fleetwood

    4. Francesco Molinari


    5. Thorbjorn Olesen

    6. Matthew Fitzpatrick

    World Points

    1. Jon Rahm

    2. Rory McIlroy

    3. Alex Noren

    4. Paul Casey


    5. Matthew Fitzpatrick

    6. Ian Poulter

    On the American side of the ledger, Watson jumped two spots to fifth with his third win of the year and seemingly locked up his spot on the squad, while Bryson DeChambeau moved inside the top eight with a top-10 finish in Connecticut.

    Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship earning automatic bids:

    1. Brooks Koepka

    2. Dustin Johnson

    3. Patrick Reed

    4. Justin Thomas

    5. Bubba Watson

    6. Jordan Spieth

    7. Rickie Fowler

    8. Bryson DeChambeau


    9. Webb Simpson

    10. Phil Mickelson

    11. Matt Kuchar

    12. Brian Harman

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    Watson cracks top 15 in world with Travelers win

    By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:15 am

    After his third win in the last five months, Bubba Watson is back on the cusp of the upper echelon in the world rankings.

    Watson started the year ranked No. 89 in the world, but after a three-shot victory at the Travelers Championship the southpaw moved up seven spots to No. 13 in the latest rankings. It marks his best position since a missed cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February 2017.

    Watson stayed one spot behind Paul Casey, who was one of four runners-up in Connecticut and rose one position to 12th as a result. Beau Hossler's T-2 finish helped him jump 24 spots to No. 64, while J.B. Holmes went from 93rd to 75th with the same result. Stewart Cink, who grabbed a share of second with a final-round 62, went from No. 149 to No. 95 and is back inside the top 100 in the world rankings for the first time since September 2011.

    Updated Official World Golf Ranking

    Matt Wallace, who won the BMW International Open on the European Tour, went from 91st to 66th.

    There was only one change among the top 10 in the rankings, as an idle Jon Rahm moved past Jordan Spieth at No. 5 despite Spieth's T-42 finish at TPC River Highlands. At No. 6, Spieth is at his lowest point in the rankings since before last summer's victories at Travelers and The Open.

    Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Rahm. Spieth slid to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Poised to return to competition this week at the Quicken Loans National, Tiger Woods fell three spots to No. 82 in the latest rankings.

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    After Further Review: Spieth needs a break

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 1:11 am

    Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On Jordan Spieth's much-needed break ...

    Jordan Spieth is heading for a break, and that’s probably a good thing.

    Spieth just wrapped a run of six events in seven weeks that featured largely underwhelming results. A third-place finish at the Masters that stemmed from a nearly-historic final round deflects attention away from the fact that Spieth has yet to enter a final round this year less than six shots off the lead.

    A return to his home state didn’t work, nor did a fight against par at Shinnecock or a title defense outside Hartford where everything went so well a year ago. His putting woes appear to have bottomed out, as Spieth finished 21st in putting at Travelers, but now the alignment issue that plagued his putting appears to have bled into other parts of his game.

    So heading into another title defense next month at Carnoustie, Spieth plans to take some time off and re-evaluate. Given how fast things turned around last summer, that might prove to be just what he needs. - Will Gray

    On the difference between this week and last week ...

    There wasn’t a single outraged tweet, not a lone voice of descent on social media following Bubba Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, a 17-under par masterpiece that included a closing loop of 30.

    Nobody declared that golf was broken, no one proclaimed the royal and ancient game a victim of technology and the age of uber athletes. The only response was appreciation for what Watson, a bomber in the truest form, was able to accomplish.

    At 6,840 yards, TPC River Highlands was built for fun, not speed. Without wild weather or ill-advised hole locations and greens baked to extinction, this is what the best players in the game do, and yet no one seemed outraged. Weird. - Rex Hoggard

    On the emergence of another LPGA phenom ...

    Add another young star to the favorites list heading to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes outside Chicago next week.

    Nasa Hataoka, the 19-year-old Japanese standout who needed her rookie season last year to acclimate to the LPGA, broke through for her first LPGA title Sunday at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

    This wasn’t a surprise to LPGA followers. Hataoka won the Japan Women’s Open when she was 17, the first amateur to win a major on the Japan LPGA Tour, and she has been trending up this year.

    Her tie for 10th at the U.S. Women’s Open three weeks ago was her fourth consecutive top-10 finish. She won going away in Arkansas, beating a deep field that included the top nine in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She outplayed world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 Lexi Thompson on Sunday. - Randall Mell

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    Bubba waiting for Furyk's text about Ryder Cup

    By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 12:39 am

    CROMWELL, Conn. – After winning his third PGA Tour title in the span of five months, Bubba Watson is now waiting by his phone.

    Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, his third at TPC River Highlands since 2010, accompanies recent victories at both the Genesis Open and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play from earlier this year. It also moved the southpaw from No. 7 to No. 5 in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically.

    After serving as an assistant captain at Hazeltine despite ranking No. 7 in the world at the time, Watson made it clear that he hopes to have removed any doubt about returning to the role of player when the biennial matches head to Paris this fall.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “It still says in my phone that (U.S. captain) Jim (Furyk) hasn’t texted me yet. So I’d really like for him to say I’m going to pick you no matter what,” Watson said. “The motivation is I’ve never won a Ryder Cup, so making the Ryder Cup team and trying to win a Ryder Cup as a player would be another tournament victory to me. It would be a major championship to me just because I’ve never done it, been a part of it.”

    Watson turns 40 in November, and while he reiterated that his playing career might not extend too far into the future as he looks to spend more time at home with son Caleb and daughter Dakota, he’s also hoping to make an Olympic return in Tokyo in 2020 after representing the U.S. in Rio two years ago.

    “Talking about the Olympics coming up, that’s motivating me,” he said. “It was the best experience of my life to watch all the other events, and then the golf tournament got in the way. I’d love to do it again. I’d love to watch all the events and then have to play golf as well.”