MOBILE, Ala. – When the LPGA birdiefest known as the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic was over, the last woman standing was Jennifer Johnson, a third-year player who quietly maneuvered her way up a packed leaderboard of all-stars. Go low or go home was the theme of the week, and 21-year-old Johnson delivered with a 21-under 267 on the RTJ’s Crossings Course.
Johnson played alongside defending champ Stacy Lewis, who had her own chance at making it three in a row in ’Bama but came up three shots short. Before the pair walked out of the scoring area, Lewis told Johnson to put her head down, walk straight to the range and talk to no one. There was a playoff possibility, and Lewis wanted Johnson to stay focused.
Johnson, however, obliged the Golf Channel’s interview request and stopped for a chat. In the end, it didn’t matter. No one caught the reserved Californian and she walked off the range all smiles, her father Mike there with a “Good job, champ.”
“I’m a little shocked,” said Johnson. “I didn’t even realize I shot 65.”
Johnson said she can’t remember playing on a Sunday with so much tension ...
MOBILE, Ala. – The scores are low and the calorie-count is high this week in Mobile, where the Crossings Course delivers all kinds of Southern comforts.
One day after Sydnee Michaels posted a course-record 62, Anna Nordqvist sauntered in with a 61. The only thing sweeter: the course’s legendary banana pudding.
Here at the RTJ Golf Trail at Magnolia Crossing, it’s a blur of red. Chella Choi leads at 17-under 199. The winning score last year after four rounds: 17 under.
“A 66 on this course this week is just kind of average,” said Stacy Lewis, the 2012 champion. Lewis made nine birdies in 12 holes on Saturday to shoot 63 and get back in the tournament. She’s currently tied for sixth and four shots back.
As a general rule, Lewis prefers a more difficult setup, but knows it’s fun for the fans.
“We picked up people kind of as the round went on,” said Lewis, “and it was fun to kind of give them a show.”
Nordqvist walked off the 18th green and declared this her first good day of putting in a couple years. And she wasn’t exaggerating.
“It just felt like I couldn ...
MOBILE, Ala. — Lexi Thompson birdied four of her last five holes for a 7-under 65 and a share of the first-round lead Thursday with Eun-Hee Ji in the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.
The 18-year-old Thompson, second last year behind Stacy Lewis, had eight birdies and a bogey on The Crossings course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail's Magnolia Grove complex.
"I definitely had it in mind, but it's a whole different year and a new day, so I was just trying to go out and make some birdies," Thompson said. "I knew my game was good, so just going to try to keep that going."
She hit to inches on the par-4 ninth to set up her closing birdie.
"That was a good shot to end on," Thompson said. "I just had a three-quarter pitching wedge and just committed to it. ... I was hitting it pretty close and I drained a few putts. I was just taking one shot at a time, not trying to get ahead of myself because it's golf, anything can happen."
She won the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic in Alabama for her lone LPGA Tour title.
"I'm glad to be back ...
The LPGA will return to Prattville, Ala., in 2014 after a one-year hiatus, the tour announced Tuesday. The LPGA will make two stops in the state as that event, named the Alabama LPGA Classic, returns to the Senator Course at Capitol Hill in Prattville, and the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic also returns.
The Mobile Bay event will be contested this week at Magnolia Grove, The Crossings. Both courses are part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. As part of Tuesday’s announcement, the Trail was named a presenting partner of both the Alabama LPGA Classic and the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, beginning in 2014.
The Alabama LPGA Classic will mark the tour’s seventh visit to Prattville, a suburb of Montgomery. Past winners are Stacy Lewis (2012), Lexi Thompson (2011), Katherine Hull-Kirk (2010), Lorena Ochoa (2008, '09) and Maria Hjorth (2007). The tournament, previously named the Navistar LPGA Classic, was not scheduled this year after Navistar dropped its sponsorship.
Lewis completed the “Alabama Slam” by winning both events in 2012, which helped her earn Rolex Player of the Year honors.
“I personally have a lot of great memories in the state of Alabama and am excited that we will ...
Local qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open, to be played June 27-30 at Sebonack Golf in Southampton, N.Y., has begun.
The U.S. Golf Association will conduct 20 qualifiers across the country over the next month. Those results will be available here.
(Note: a-amateur; alternates are listed in order of finish)
• • •
May 20 - Glendale, Ariz.
Arrowhead CC, Par 72
Oklahoma signee Alexandra Kaui took the lead at Arrowhead Country Club after shooting a 3-under 69 in the final round, leading fellow qualifier Elena Rovers by five strokes. Juniors Mikayla Harmon and Hannah O’Sullivan earned alternate spots after finishing at 147.
a-Alexandra Kaui . . . 72-69–141
Elena Robles . . . 71-75–146
a-Mikayla Harmon . . . 72-75–147
a-Hannah O’Sullivan . . . 73-74–147
• • •
May 20 – Daly City, Calif.
Lake Merced GC, Par 72
Oklahoma State signee Casie Cathrea took medalist honors after finishing as the only player under par. Amateurs Kathleen Scavo and Sara Banke finished in a tie for fifth, but Scavo cleaned up with a birdie on the first playoff hole and nabbed the second alternate position.
a-Casie Cathrea . . . 69-71–140
Emily Childs . . . 71-73–144
a-Elizabeth Schultz . . . 74-73–147
a-Hannah Suh . . . 75-75 ...
Don’t be surprised if Charley Hull makes this year’s European Solheim Cup team. The way she’s going, she looks like a lock to make the trip to Colorado this August.
There’s a good chance the Ladies European Tour rookie will turn up as a tournament winner, if not a multiple tournament winner on this year’s LET.
The 17-year-old English woman recorded a second-place finish in the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open in Belek, Turkey. Hull tied with Carlota Ciganda of Spain and Finland’s Minea Blomqvist on a 2-under total of 290, just one shot behind South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace.
It was Hull’s third consecutive second-place finish in just three starts on this year’s LET. She began the final round tied for the lead with Ciganda, but could only manage a 2-over 75.
“I’m pleased but just a bit annoyed,” Hull said. “At least I parred the last. I didn’t play very good on the first 11 holes. The back nine, I played a lot better. I seem to perform better when I’m under pressure and I have to chase, like the last couple of holes. I just edged my ...
Ariya Jutanugarn has secured another sponsor exemption on the LPGA tour. Jutanugarn, the 17-year-old who is leading the LET's Order of Merit, will play the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic in Mobile, Ala., May 16-19.
This marks the fourth sponsor exemption for Jutanugarn, whose appeal to attend 2012 LPGA Q-School one year before reaching the 18-year-old age qualification was denied. Jutanugarn has four starts so far this season on the Ladies European Tour – including a victory in Morocco. Her LPGA starts include the Honda LPGA Thailand, HSBC Women’s Championship and Kingsmill Championship, all played on sponsor exemptions. She Monday qualified into the LPGA Lotte Championship in Oahu.
Jutanugarn is allowed to accept two more sponsor exemptions into LPGA events this year, but her schedule is shaping up nicely without them.
Because she is inside the top 20 in the Rolex Rankings (No. 18), Jutanugarn has earned a spot in the next major, the Wegman’s LPGA Championship.
Thanks to her LET victory, Jutanugarn can play in two other majors, the Ricoh Women’s British Open and The Evian. She also is exempt into the U.S. Women’s Open by her world ranking, currently 18th. She missed only the ...
The biggest news out of the four NCAA Division II Women’s Super Regionals: Four-time defending national champion Nova Southeastern didn’t win one of them.
The Sharks, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., were topped by Lynn University, of Boca Raton, Fla., by four shots – 900-904 – May 7 at the South Regional at Lone Palm Golf Club in Lakeland, Fla.
“It feels amazing. It’s the payoff for all the work that we have done,’’ Lynn’s Irene Calvo told The Ledger in Lakeland.
All is not lost, though. Nova Southeastern still has a shot at NCAA history – a fifth consecutive national title – at next week’s NCAA Division II Women’s Championship at LPGA International’s Legends Course in Daytona Beach, Fla. Lynn has played three tournaments on the Legends Course this season, winning all three, including the Division II Fall Preview in September. Nova Southeastern, however, is the only team of the final 12 that has won a national title.
Barry University earned the third team spot to the finals out of the South region.
Nine other teams also qualified for the finals: Central Oklahoma (Central Regional winner), Augustana-South Dakota, Northeastern State, Indianapolis (East Regional winner), Ashland, California-Pa., St ...
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. Cristie Kerr hugged good friends Morgan Pressel and Irene Cho on the 18th green after claiming her 16th career victory at the Kingsmill Championship. And then called for her dad.
Michael Kerr emerged from the bar, where he’d been watching the playoff with his two bum knees, to give his only daughter a big hug. Tears fell.
“I wasn’t going to lose,” said Kerr. “Not today. Not with my dad here.”
It marked the first time in Kerr’s 17-year LPGA career that her father was on site for a victory. The last time he saw her hoist a trophy was junior golf. Some of it was due to bad timing, some of it due to the ebbs and flows of a complicated relationship.
Kerr turned pro as a teenager before it became fashionable, and Michael, a retired school teacher, traveled with her the first couple years on the LPGA. He’s even written a book about it.
“I’ve never been nervous, but today I was,” said Michael Kerr, who had watched regulation play on the River Course in a scooter.
Kerr and Suzann Pettersen battled in the final group from the start, with Kerr ...
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – History tells us that only the brightest stars win the Kingsmill Championship. There are no one-off winners here. No one-hit wonders. All seven Kingsmill champions have won majors. Three are in the Hall of Fame.
“There’s definitely no chickens to be counted,” said two-time champion Cristie Kerr, when asked to assess this year’s leaderboard.
Kerr leads by two strokes at the River Course heading into Sunday, after a third-round 66. She’s at 10-under 203, with 2007 champ Suzann Pettersen (68) and former World. No. 1 Stacy Lewis (69) at 8 under. Angela Stanford sits alone in fourth. Stanford is one of two players to never miss the cut at Kingsmill, along with Natalie Gulbis.
“It’s a ball-striker’s course,” said Pettersen. “It has produced probably the best ball-striking champions in the past.”
Grace Park won the inaugural LPGA event at Kingsmill in 2003. Se Ri Pak followed her in ’04, and then came Kerr, Karrie Webb and Pettersen. When Annika Sorenstam won the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill in 2008, she set a scoring record at 19-under par. It turned out to be a significant victory (72nd) for Sorenstam in that it was her ...
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. Cristie Kerr walked up to the ninth tee, her last hole of the day, tied for the lead at the Kingsmill Championship. She hit her driver into a fairway bunker and thinned a pitching wedge over the green. On her next shot, Kerr took out a 58-degree pitching wedge and fatted it 3 inches.
“I honestly think I fell asleep,” she said.
Kerr hit her next chip shot to 15 feet, and rolled in the putt for bogey. That’s what Kerr does; she makes putts. Through 36 holes at Kingsmill Resort's River Course, Kerr stands tied for fourth at 66-71–137, two shots behind Ariya Jutanugarn.
Last month Kerr put her Odyssey Marxman back in play after her trusty 2-Ball met its maker after the Kraft Nabisco Championship. The story on how Kerr came to dismantle her putter in the parking lot at the Kraft and hand it to the valet goes back to a coloring snafu.
Kerr marks her ball with a red Sharpie. In time, that red coloring got onto the face of Kerr’s 2-Ball. She typically uses a solution to take it off, but earlier this spring the solution leaked and the ...
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Angela Stanford has never missed the cut in nine trips to Kingsmill. She told a local reporter the LPGA could put this venue on the schedule five times in one season and she’d be happy.
“There’s absolutely nothing I don’t like about this place,” said Stanford, who currently shares the lead with Stacy Lewis, Cristie Kerr and 17-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn at 6 under. Stanford carded her second consecutive 3-under 68 on Friday at the Kingsmill Championship.
With the wind picking up in the afternoon, Stanford and Lewis, who have completed their rounds, have the advantage. Lewis also posted matching 68s.
“I was misreading some putts at the end,” said Lewis. “I don’t really know how to work on that. Maybe I’ll watch some of the coverage this afternoon and see if I can read the greens a little better.”
• • •
Familiar face: Yani Tseng wasted no time in rehiring caddie Jason Hamilton as soon as he became available. Tseng broke it off with Hamilton immediately after last year’s U.S. Women’s Open when she shot 45 on the back nine Sunday at Blackwolf Run. She tried to hire back Hamilton a few ...
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Juli Inkster was denied entry into the player locker room Friday morning at the Kingsmill Championship because she didn’t have her badge. Sophie Gustafson tweeted about the snafu, giving everyone a good laugh about the good-humored Hall of Famer, who happens to be two strokes off the lead here in chilly Virginia.
Inkster, 52, said she has been hitting the ball better than she has in a long time but wasn’t capitalizing on the greens. So last Sunday in Texas, Inkster tried the claw putting grip for the first time. She had never even practiced.
“Putting is all in your head,” Inkster said, “and I just got on a bad roll and needed to do something drastic to switch it up.”
Inkster carded back-to-back 69s at Kingsmill and needed only 26 putts on Friday. She’s currently tied for fifth, and two strokes off the lead.
Did she ever consider going to the Michelle Wie 90-degree putting posture?
“Table-topping?” Inkster said. “No, I wouldn’t be able to get up.”
It was announced on Thursday that Inkster received a special exemption to play in this year’s U.S. Women’s Open at Sebonack.
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. Moriya Jutanugarn stood on the 18th green and gazed up at the leaderboard. At the time, younger sister Ariya was 7 under and leading the Kingsmill Championship.
“I thought somebody put (up) the wrong number,” said Moriya, with a wry smile.
She knows better.
Ariya Jutanugarn, 17, boasts one of the best records in the world. In three tournaments on the LPGA and four events on the LET, she has five top-4 finishes. Ariya, a rookie on the LET, leads the Order of Merit thanks to a victory in Morocco and a T-2 at the Volvik RACV Ladies Masters. She has finished second, fourth and third in three events on the LPGA and would be ranked eighth on the money list with $328,643 if she were a tour member.
“Last night she’s like, ‘Moriya, I can’t putt. I can’t hit the ball,’ ” said 18-year-old Moriya.
Apparently, Ariya whines like this often in the hotel room.
“Sometimes, I say, ‘Shut up!’ ” Moriya said, and then laughed.
Moriya didn’t realize that while she was putting the finishing touches on her 2-over 73, a local reporter was out there snapping pictures. It wasn’t until later ...
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. Two things are certain this week: Inbee Park will remain No. 1 regardless of the outcome at the Kingsmill Championship. And no one will play the 18th hole eight consecutive times.
“I saw it so many times, I don’t think I need a practice round on that hole ever again,” said Paula Creamer, who lost to Jiyai Shin at Kingsmill Resort's River Course last year – in a nine-hole playoff that extended into Monday.
Tournament officials have made sure that won’t happen again, posting notices about a new playoff procedure, should one be needed: 18th hole three times, followed by Nos. 16, 17 and 18. If more holes are required, players would return to 16, 17 and 18.
“I think every tournament after this one now has a strategic plan for playoff holes,” Creamer said. “I think we changed a lot of ways that tournament directors and associations look at events.”
What still confuses Creamer about last year’s "Groundhog Day" performance was that after playing the 18th hole eight consecutive times and having the playoff suspended because of darkness, she and Shin returned the next day and resumed play on the 10th hole. Creamer three-putted ...
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