Low Scores Reign in Spain

By Sports NetworkApril 25, 2003, 4:00 pm
COSTA ADEJE, Canary Islands -- Paul Casey and Miles Tunnicliff shot matching 65s to share the 36-hole lead of the Canarias Open de Espana. The duo moved to 15-under-par 129 with a two-shot lead over the field.
Jose Maria Olazabal, who has never won this event, posted a 67 to finish in a tie for third at 13-under-par 131 along with fellow Spaniard Santiago Luna, Simon Khan of England and Ireland's Peter Lawrie.
Casey, who earned his second career victory on the European Tour at the ANZ Championship in February, put together a solid round amid the friendly confines of Golf Costa Adeje.
The Englishman played the back side first and picked up four birdies over his first nine holes to make the turn at 12-under. Casey added a birdie at the first and then birdied the sixth to grab a share of the lead at minus-14.
The 25-year-old found trouble on the green at the par-3 seventh en route to a bogey but responded well over the closing holes. Casey two-putted for birdie at the par-5 eighth and drained a 15-foot putt at the ninth to enter the clubhouse in the lead.
'I've not usually performed well after a break before, but I've been playing a lot at home in Arizona. It's kept me sharp,' said Casey. 'It was almost a relief when last season ended because I was tired, but then I played with Justin Rose in the World Cup and finished third and possibly that was the turning point.'
Casey was soon joined by fellow countryman Tunnicliff, who completed a stellar round of his own moments later. Tunnicliff started on the front nine and birdied four of his first six holes until a bogey at the seventh.
Tunnicliff countered with back-to-back birdies from the eighth and reached 14- under with a birdie at the 11th. The 34-year-old dropped his second shot of the round with a bogey at the 12th but bounced right back with a birdie at the following hole.
He coasted at even par down the stretch until a birdie at the last granted him a share of the halfway lead.
'I've never been 15-under par after two rounds before,' said Tunnicliff, who earned his first career victory at last year's Great North Open. 'But I feel comfortable with my game and I'm looking forward to the weekend.'
Olazabal started on the back nine with a burst. The two-time Masters champion birdied five in a row from the 11th before a bogey at the 16th. Olazabal picked up two birdies and a bogey the rest of the way to finish two shots back.
'The way this course is playing, anyone who plays well from tee to green is going to have chances to make birdie and that is what it will be all about this weekend,' said Olazabal. 'The guy who makes the most putts will win.'
Marten Olander, who held a share of the opening-round lead with Charl Schwartzel, carded a 69 to finish three shots off the pace at 12-under-par 132. Olander was joined by Andrew Marshall, Paul McGinley, Julien Clement, Nicolas Vanhootegem, Soren Hansen, Kenneth Ferrie and Mikko Ilonen.
Schwartzel was one shot further back in a group at 11-under-par 133.
Defending champion Sergio Garcia shot a 5-under 67 to finish in a tie for 45th at 8-under-par 136.
A total of 82 players survived the 36-hole cut which fell at 6-under par, a new low on the European Tour.
Three-time champion Seve Ballesteros came close to playing the weekend but ultimately fell short with a round of 71. Ballesteros finished one shot off the cut line at 5-under-par 139.
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    Kerr blows big lead, heads into Kia Sunday one back

    By Associated PressMarch 25, 2018, 1:55 am

    CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr blew a five-stroke lead Saturday in the Kia Classic to set up a final-round showdown at Aviara Golf Club.

    A day after shooting an 8-under 64 to open the big lead, Kerr had a 75 to drop a stroke behind playing partner Lizette Salas, Eun-Hee Ji and In-Kyung Kim. Kerr was tied with Caroline Hedwall, Wei-Ling Hsu and Cindy LaCrosse, and four players were another shot back.

    The 40-year-old Kerr had a double bogey on the par-4 15th after snap-hooking a drive into the trees. The 2015 winner at Aviara, she also had two bogeys and two birdies.

    Ji had a 67 to match Salas (69) and Kim (69) at 11-under 205. Salas had a chance to pull away, but missed birdie putts of 1 1/2 feet on the short par-4 16th and 2 1/2 feet on the par-5 17th.

    Anna Nordqvist had a 66 to top the group at 9 under.

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    Match Play Final Four set to bring the excitement

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 11:55 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Sunday’s Final Four at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play will include a pair of Georgia Bulldogs, a two-and-done phenom from Alabama and a Swede from Stockholm via Stillwater, that would be Oklahoma.

    Just like that other tournament, right?

    Actually, for all the volatility in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, it’s not even in the same league as this year’s Match Play, where just a single player who began the week seeded inside the top 10 is still playing.

    But what the event may lack in star power it’s certainly made up for with stellar performances, starting with Justin Thomas who is the PGA Tour’s most avid Alabama fan and the tournament’s second-seeded player.

    After not losing a match in three days of pool play, Thomas again cruised through his morning Round-of-16 bout with Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5; but found himself in an unfamiliar position early in his quarterfinal match against Kyle Stanley.

    Having not trailed during any point in his matches this week, Thomas bogeyed the second hole to fall behind.

    “I was hoping to never trail this whole week. I thought that was unbelievable that [2017 champion Dustin Johnson] did it last year,” Thomas said. “I'm going out there this afternoon, and I was like, ‘Man, I have got a chance of doing this, too.’ Then I missed a 3-footer on 2 and shot that out the window.”

    The world’s second-ranked player was nearly perfect the rest of the way, regaining the lead with three birdies in four holes starting at No. 5 and closing Stanley out with a bogey-free finish.

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

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

    It’s all part of an impressive turnaround for Thomas, who had been slowed in recent weeks by dental surgery followed by a bout with the flu, which nearly prompted him to miss the Match Play.

    “I had a pretty serious conversation with my dad on Monday if I was going to play,” said Thomas, who can unseat Johnson atop the Official World Golf Ranking if he advances to the championship match. “I never want to play in a tournament, first off if it's going to hurt my health. If I was sick or really sick, me trying to play this week wasn't going to do me any good.”

    His improved health has dovetailed with his increasingly better play at Austin Country Club and he’s now two matches away from winning his first World Golf Championship.

    Like the NCAA tournament, however, being one of the last four standing only means more work, and Thomas will have plenty to keep him busy when he sets out early Sunday in a semifinal match against Bubba Watson.

    Although Watson hasn’t been as dominant as Thomas, his ability to overpower any course, any time, has been evident this week following victories over Brian Harman, 2 and 1, and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, 5 and 3, on his way to the Final Four.

    “When you're hitting an 8-iron and another guy is hitting a 7- or another guy is hitting a 6-iron, obviously that's going to change everything,” said Watson, who played his college golf at Georgia. “It's like LeBron James, when he jumps, he jumps higher than I do, so it's an advantage. When you're hitting the driver good and those guys you're naming, they're known for hitting the driver pretty well, just like Thomas is doing right now, he's been hammering it. Anytime that you're hitting the driver somewhat straight, it's an advantage.”

    But if Bubba is a familiar foe for Thomas, he may want to do a quick Google search to fill in the blanks on one of his potential final opponents.

    While Alex Noren is still a relatively unknown player to many American fans (and that’s certain to change in September at the Ryder Cup), it’s only because they haven’t been paying attention. The Swede, who attended Oklahoma State, has been dominant this week, sweeping the group stage followed by a 5-and-3 victory over Patrick Reed in the Sweet 16 and a 4-and-2 triumph over Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals.

    “I've always liked match play because the outcome is quite direct,” said Noren, who will face Kevin Kisner in the semifinals. “In match play, you've just got to be really focused all the time and anything can happen. And then you have to play good each round. You can't just give up a round and then think you've got three more.”

    But if a JT vs. Noren final would be the perfect Ryder Cup primer, the dream match up for Thomas in the championship tilt might be Kisner.

    Kisner lost a friendly wager to Thomas earlier this year at the Sony Open when Alabama defeated Georgia in the NCAA National Championship football game and he had to wear an Alabama jersey while he played the 17th hole on Thursday.

    Kisner would certainly appreciate the chance at a mulligan. And the way the duo have been rolling in birdie putts this week, it has the potential to be just as entertaining as that other tournament.

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    Up one, Stricker hunting second Champions title

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 11:48 pm

    BILOXI, Miss. - Steve Stricker moved into position for his second straight PGA Tour Champions victory, shooting a 3-under 69 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead in the Rapiscan Systems Classic.

    Stricker won the Cologuard Classic three weeks ago in Tucson, Arizona, for his first victory on the 50-and-over tour. He tied for 12th the following week in the PGA Tour's Valspar Championship.

    Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

    Stricker had a 7-under 137 total at Fallen Oak, the Tom Fazio-designed layout with big, speedy greens.

    The 51-year-old Wisconsin player bogeyed Nos. 2-3, rebounded with birdies on Nos. 6-7, birdied the par-4 12th and eagled the par-5 13th. He has six top-three finishes in eight career senior starts.

    First-round leader Joe Durant followed his opening 66 with a 72 to drop into a tie for second with Jeff Sluman (67).

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    Thomas can take world No. 1 with win over Watson

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 11:29 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – On March 7, Justin Thomas had his wisdom teeth removed, and just when he was recovering from that, he was slowed by a bout with the flu.

    In total, he estimates he lost about seven pounds, and he admitted on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play that he wasn’t sure he’d be able to play the event.

    “I had a pretty serious conversation with my dad on Monday if I was going to play,” Thomas said. “I never want to play in a tournament, first off, if it's going to hurt my health. If I was sick or really sick, me trying to play this week wasn't going to do me any good.”

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

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

    Thomas went on to explain he was “50/50” whether he’d play the World Golf Championship, but decided to make the start and it’s turned out well for the world’s second-ranked player.

    After going undefeated in pool play, Thomas cruised past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the round of 16 and secured himself a spot in the semifinals with a 2-and-1 victory over Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals. If Thomas wins his semifinal match against Bubba Watson on Sunday, he’s assured enough points to overtake Dustin Johnson atop the Official World Golf Ranking.

    “I don't care when it happens; I just hope it happens and it happens for a while,” Thomas said when asked about the possibility of becoming world No. 1. “I don't know what to say because I've never experienced it. I don't know what's going to come with it. But I just hope it happens tomorrow.”