Sweet Success for Sauers in Canada

By Sports NetworkSeptember 1, 2002, 4:00 pm
SURREY, British Columbia -- Gene Sauers posted a bogey-free, 2-under-par 69 in Sunday's final round to win the Air Canada Championship by one shot at Northview Golf & Country Club near Vancouver. The victory was Sauers' third on the PGA Tour and his first since the 1989 Hawaiian Open.
'It's a dream come true,' said Sauers, whose 13-year, seventh-month span between wins ranks as the third longest in PGA Tour history. 'I've been hitting the ball really well the last couple of months. I was hoping for this opportunity to come up.'
The 40-year-old Sauers, who hasn't been fully exempt on the PGA Tour since 1996, earned the winner's check worth $630,000 -- nearly $200,000 more than he made in 1992, his previous best season money-wise.
But the native of Savannah, Ga., said the big key was gaining a two-year exemption on tour.
'Six rounds of torture,' Sauers said of PGA Tour Qualifying School he'll get to bypass this fall. 'That is a big monkey off my back.'
Sauers secured the title by converting a tricky two-putt par at the 18th hole and finished at 15-under 269.
Steve Lowery, who missed an eight-foot birdie attempt at 18 that would have forced the first playoff in the seven-year history of the event, closed with a 3-under 68 for a 72-hole total of 14-under-par 270. The second-place finish was his third in his last six events.
'I didn't lose the golf tournament. I played all the way to the end,' said Lowery, who was also the Air Canada runner-up last year. 'I tried to hit some aggressive shots coming in. I just couldn't quite get the putts to go in.'
Sauers began the final round with a one-stroke lead at 13-under. He remained at that number with six pars in a row out of the gate before pushing two shots ahead with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 seventh.
Another four pars -- including a clutch 15-foot save at the ninth -- left Sauers at 14-under. Then Lowery, who was two back at the start and fell even further off the pace with a bogey at the second hole, tallied his fourth birdie in six holes at the par-5 12th to match Sauers atop the leaderboard.
Sauers, playing in the group behind Lowery, regained the lead with an eight-foot birdie putt when he came through the 12th. Lowery drew even again thanks to a 12-footer for birdie at the 14th, but he gave the stroke back at the par-3 16th when his bunker shot skipped across the green and he failed to get up and down to save par.
Steady Sauers finished the same way he started, with six straight pars. He made only two bogeys all week, tied for first in fairways hit (11 of 14 each day) and was ranked No. 1 in putting with an average of 26 putts per round.
'Obviously I'm happy for Gene,' said Lowery, who has collected over $1 million in his last four starts. 'He's been a good player. He had a dry spell and now he is back, so you have to be happy for him.'
Sauers, who was playing in his only his fourth PGA Tour event of the season and just his sixth in the last two years, didn't have the benefit of a practice round at Northview, a course he played once before when he tied for 51st at the 1997 Greater Vancouver Open.
The seventh alternate coming into this week, Sauers didn't learn he was in the field until Monday. He flew in from Georgia on Tuesday, but would be without his clubs until the following afternoon due to a luggage mix-up.
Sauers captured his first PGA Tour title at the 1986 Bank of Boston Classic, where he defeated Blaine McCallister in a three-hole playoff. He won the 1989 Hawaiian Open by one stroke over David Ogrin, then a year later posted an unofficial victory at the Deposit Guaranty Golf Classic.
In recent years Sauers played on the Buy.Com Tour, winning the South Carolina Classic in 1998. His win this week came on the heels of back-to-back top-10 finishes on the Buy.Com Tour in August, while his last top-10 on the PGA Tour came at the 1997 Texas Open.
Vijay Singh, the highest ranked player in the field this week at No. 9 in the world, made six birdies and no bogeys in a 65. He shared third place at 271 with second-round leader Craig Barlow (68) and Australian Robert Allenby (70).
Tom Scherrer matched the low round of the day with a 65 to finish alone in sixth at 12-under 272. It was his first top-10 on tour since he finished fourth at the 2000 Michelob Championship.
Peter Lonard, just one shot out of the lead with fellow Aussie Allenby when the day began, stumbled from the start with a double-bogey at the second hole and bogeys at the third and fifth. Three birdies on the back nine helped him to a 1-over 72 and a tie for seventh at 11-under with David Gossett (68), who double-bogeyed the final hole after he hit his approach into the water.
Rounding out a trio of Australians in the top-10 was John Senden, who climbed to 12-under with a 32 on the front nine followed by three consecutive birdies on the back. But like Gossett, he rinsed his second shot in the water at the 430-yard, par-4 home hole and closed with a double-bogey.
Senden, who still managed a 5-under 66, tied for ninth with Harrison Frazar (66) and Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke (69) at minus 10.
Final results from the Air Canada Championship
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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.