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Manulife LPGA Classic

Round 4 - Pettersen wins Manulife, ends long drought

June 07, 2015

Suzann Pettersen closed with a 3-under 69 in the final round and held off a charging Brittany Lang on Sunday to claim her 15th LPGA Tour victory at the Manulife LPGA Classic. Pettersen, who led by one shot heading into the final round, got off to a shaky start with two bogeys in her first five holes. The Norwegian didn’t record a single bogey in the first 55 holes of the week.

“I felt it was tougher today,” said Pettersen. “For me, some stupid mistakes early on but I kept digging deep and finished strong and I feel like I played really good golf this week. So I’m really excited for next week and it’s nice to be back.”

Back-to-back birdies on Nos. 8 and 9 got her back into a tie for the lead with playing partners Cristie Kerr and Mariajo Uribe at 19-under par.

“I made a good birdie on 8, backed it up with a tap in birdie on 9 and hit a great 4 iron to 10 and kind of felt like that set the pace a little bit,” said Pettersen. “Eagled 12, it was a little bit of a game changer. I knew the scores were not as low as it has been early in the week, but I was still trying to get to my number. I didn’t get there but it was good enough.”

After rolling in a 25-foot eagle putt on the 12th and extending her lead to two shots, Kerr responded with a short birdie putt to get back within one. Pettersen’s chip into the par 4 13th hole rolled away 15 feet past the hole and was unable to convert for par. Her third bogey of the day dropped her back into a tie with Kerr at 20-under par with five holes to play. But Kerr turned out to not be Pettersen’s main challenger down the final stretch. Brittany Lang, the 2012 winner of the event and playing two groups in front of Pettersen had the low round of the day by two shots, a 7-under 65.

“Yeah, feel great. I got a little nervous towards the back nine,” said Lang. “I played great all week and I really was in control of my shots and my emotions towards the end, so it’s all you can ask for, to be clutch and make birdies, so very proud.”

The 29-year old American birdied three of her final four holes to get within one shot of the lead at 21-under par. But Pettersen would close with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 to get to 22-under and had a tap-in par putt on the last to seal the win. She said she didn’t look at the leaderboard late in the round and thought she had a bigger cushion on her last two holes.

“I actually thought I was two or three clear standing on 17,” said Pettersen. “I was asked if I knew where I was and I said no. They said you need a couple more birdies. I think that made 17 a little easier because I thought I had much more of a cushion. Brittany had finished so strong. Very happy with the way I played and the way I handled myself.”

Pettersen said she will enjoy the victory for one night then turn her attention to Westchester Country Club where the Tour’s second major will take place next week for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. She said her win today is great motivation to continue her strong play leading into the summer stretch that includes three majors in six weeks.

“I hope I didn’t peak one week early,” Pettersen joked. “But this is just a start, this is what I’ve been working for. I’m starting to feel that the process is kind of coming together. This is a start of a big summer. Next week is obviously our second major of the year, but we also have other great majors lined up three or four out. There’s a lot to be done and you can’t sit and enjoy this week for too long because already we’ve got to go out and do some preparation on the new course.”

Thnaks, Butch!
Suzann Pettersen was looking for a fresh start at the beginning of the 2015 season and looked to swing coach Butch Harmon as the kick-in-the-butt she needed. Pettersen credited Harmon for getting her back to a less technical approach.

“I want to say compared to what I’ve had dealt with in the past, I think Butch is the most natural, probably less technical as I’ve ever been even though I’m trying to squeeze in some technical thoughts,” said Pettersen. “But he’s a great mentor more than anything and he makes you work hard. And hard work pays off and that’s kind of what I live for.”

Pettersen said her and Harmon’s personalities have meshed well during the partnership and said he’s given her an emotional boost too.

“I have only good things to say about Butch,” said Pettersen. “He’s been a great inspiration to me to take my game to a new level. He definitely has the belief, he’s no sugar coater. He gives me what I need every single time, and what we’ve done so far is good and this is hopefully just a start.”

Pettersen’s win drought dated over a year and a half ago at the 2013 Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship toward the end of a four-win season. She has battled injuries including a back injury last season and a shoulder injury that sidelined her at the Tour’s Hawaii stop this past April.

“There’s probably been some tears of pain and feel like I’m kind of bouncing my head against a wall with injuries and so forth,” said Pettersen. “So glad I made a move to go to Butch. I feel like it’s better than it’s ever been and thank Butch for believing in me and the rest of the team. This is a team effort, new caddie, new coach, this is a good feel, this is a start.”

Brittany Lang comes up just shy:
Brittany Lang did her best to chase down Suzann Pettersen shooting the low round of the day by two-shots, a 7-under 65, but eventually ran out of holes and fell a mere stroke out of a playoff.

“I didn’t look at the leaderboard all day,” Lang admitted. “I just stayed really, you know, calm inside what I was doing. I thought towards the last few holes when I made those two birdies, I kind of had a feeling that I was getting close. I didn’t look at the board so I didn’t know.”

Lang was sitting on the putting green when she heard a roar from the crowd and knew that Pettersen had locked up the victory and while she was disappointed to not be heading back out to the course she was happy with how she had played during the week.

“I’m going to take nothing but positives away from this week,” Lang said. “It was fantastic golf with three majors coming up. But the competition out here, it’s unbelievable. It’s really hard to win nowadays and it’s great, it’s great for women’s golf. The girls are just, there’s so much talent, so much depth.”

The week marked another solid event in Canada for Lang, whose lone victory came at the Manulife LPGA Classic in 2012.

“Everybody jokes that I should become a Canadian citizen,” Lang joked. “I love Canada and they love me. You know what, I may play good in Canada but I think I get good bounces as well, so it just all works out.”

Brotherly love:
Brittany Lang entered the week a bit down on herself coming off a pair of missed cuts and feeling down on herself but a talk with her brother and caddie Luke helped her turn things around.

“I missed two cuts and my brother just kept telling me you’re real close to playing good, just stay there,” Lang said. “When you have people that believe in you when you don’t, that’s what you need.”

“He’s everything,” Lang continued. “He’s there, I rely on him heavily for everything. And I told him on the back nine, I said I’m getting nervous, I’m kind of getting out of my comfort zone, and all day he just kept saying just keep seeing your target, just see it because you’re going to get nervous. He does a lot for me and I’m very glad to have him.

With Luke on the bag, Lang finished in solo second, her best finish on Tour since her win at Manulife in 2012, shooting a final round 65 to finish at 21-under for the week.

“It’s great,” Lang said of her play this week. “I’m trying to be more confident, and to finish like that when you’re near the lead to finish at 7 under, if that doesn’t give you confidence, I don’t know what does. It was great golf.”

European jumpstart:
Suzann Pettersen’s win this week made it two in a row for the European contingent on Tour and turned around a winless streak that has recently plagued the Europeans. Pettersen followed up Anna Nordqvist’s win last week at the ShopRite LPGA Classic and is very pleased to continue the trend. Before Nordqvist’s win last week, the last European to win on Tour was Nordqvist, 38 events prior at the 2014 Kia Classic in March.

“We Europeans, we obviously don’t care about the year in between the Solheims, we care more about the current year.

We want to build form. Obviously I read that we are super on the underdogs compared to like performance and wins so the last year and a half. Hopefully we can do a little bit about it, but it’s great for the Europeans.”

Pettersen said she’s aware the on paper and individually the Europeans look to be the underdogs heading into the Solheim Cup in Germany in September. But the seven-time European Solheim Cup team member said that her team’s focus has been turned on.

“I was glad to see Anna win last week and I’m happy to back it up this week,” said Pettersen. “Like I said, all the Europeans are starting to really play some good golf, which is important for us to build the confidence we need for our team. There’s a lot of golf to be played before we go to Germany.”

Wounded warrior weekends:
Twelve eagles were recorded on the weekend at the Manulife LPGA Classic with five coming during the final round on Sunday. The new season-long weekend eagle total is now 127 and the total money raised for the Wounded Warrior Project is $127,000.

Quote of the day:
“But I think we travel a lot around the world and every time we come to Canada we feel a generous response and support from the crowd and the public. I think it’s fun for us players but it also sets a great frame for a fantastic tournament. So I think I want to thank all the Canadian fans out here.” - Suzann Pettersen on the Canadian crowd support

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Round 3 - Pettersen takes solo lead heading into final day

June 06, 2015

Suzann Pettersen fired a 6-under 66 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead heading into the final round at the Manulife LPGA Classic. Pettersen, who is bogey-free through 54 holes at Whistle Bear Golf Club, leads Colombia’s Mariajo Uribe (67) by one shot and is playing for her 15th LPGA Tour victory. 17-time LPGA Tour winner Cristie Kerr (67) sank a 15-foot putt on the 18th hole to get to 17-under par and sits in solo third and two shots back.

Pettersen’s round of 66 tied four others for low round of the day and she said her aggressive mentality on Sunday will be front of mind. She said she intends to continue to set the pace with a large group of pursuers behind her.

“Oh, I can only look upwards, only I can set the pace,” said Pettersen. “Yeah, there’s a lot of people in the hunt for this and the course is playing great. I think it’s fun for the fans to see us shooting low scores and I’m excited to go back out there tomorrow and fight it to the very end.”

Pettersen has made it easy for herself with impeccable ball-striking this week and leads the entire field in greens in regulation (90.74%). The last time Pettersen held the lead heading into the final round was last season at the Portland Classic where she would close with a 74 and finish in a tie for 16th. She said she’ll feel comfortable out in front tomorrow and won’t feel any different than a practice round at home. She’s historically been solid on Sundays and has claimed eight of her 14 career victories when leading or co-leading before the start of the final round.

“Not really,” said Pettersen when asked if she’ll feel a difference with the lead on Sunday. “Probably be like a shootout at Bay Hill in Orlando. No, I’m playing good, I’m making putts and giving myself a lot of opportunities. I’ve had a couple of small mistakes, but I’ve managed to save myself. Overall pretty happy.”

Uribe, who won the unofficial HSBC Brasil Cup in 2011, is looking for her first official victory on Tour. The Colombia native said the scoreable setup this week has suited her assertive style of play.

“I’m a pretty aggressive player, so luckily I didn’t have to change my strategy here,” said Uribe. “On 13 today, Suzann and I both went for it. We didn’t birdie it but it’s just the way to go here. Eagles are going to come out, birdies are going to come out. I feel really confident right now, my driver’s pretty straight, so I like it.”

She’s coming off of two top-20 finishes (T20 at Kingsmill Championship and T16 at ShopRite LPGA Classic) and said her confidence has been riding high. Her best finish this year (T13) came in the first event at the Coates Golf Championship in February.

“I’ve been playing well this year but my putting has been on and off,” said Uribe. “So I’ve been coming from two top 20s, so obviously I know my game’s getting there, and coming into the summer I really want to peak right now. So it would be great to get a win or second place before the second major of the year and I’m really looking forward to Westchester.”

Defending champ Inbee Park (70) sits in a tie for 32nd alongside Rolex Rankings No. 1 Lydia Ko (68). After three rounds, Alena Sharp (68) is the low Canadian at T15 and 11-under par.

Fiesty trio:
The final group on Sunday will be a familiar one with all three players from the final group on Saturday playing together again in the final round. Suzann Pettersen, Mariajo Uribe and Cristie Kerr have reputations of fiery and competitive demeanor on the course and provided plenty of body English and ball chatter throughout the third round.

Uribe said her playing partners brought her competitive spirit out of her and looks forward to Sunday.

“I love playing with them,” said Uribe. “I played with Suzann when I won in Brazil a couple years ago, so she brings the competitive out of me even more, one of the players I really look up to because she has a pretty similar game to mine. So it’s been fun. We all played good and we’re going to have the same pairing tomorrow so it’s going to be pretty comfortable.”

Pettersen acknowledged the high intensity atmosphere of the group but that was the extent of having any influence on her game. The veteran said tunnel vision has worked out well for her.

“Yeah, I mean, two feisty competitors,” said Pettersen. “I don’t really pay too much attention to them. Mariajo played really well today and Cristie finished with a nice birdie. Like I said, I have more than enough to try to make enough birdies myself and try and get to my number.”

Late rally keeps Kerr close:
Cristie Kerr knew that she needed to dig deep and make some birdies coming in to stay within striking distance of the lead entering the final round. The 17-time winner did just that with birdies on two of her final three holes coming in, including a clutch 15-footer from the fringe on the last.

“That was a great birdie on the last hole, I think I jumped up in the air,” Kerr said. “I made a great putt on 16 and that was not an easy pin there, either. You know what, I was hitting so many good putts all day that nothing was dropping and I was getting a little frustrated, but my caddie Greg said stay patient and I just got really determined down at the end there to make up a couple so I stay win reach tomorrow.”

The birdies on 16 and 18 got helped Kerr to squeeze out a third round 67 to put her at 17-under for the week, two strokes back of leader Suzann Pettersen.

“I think you can’t get too far back on a course like this,” said Kerr. “You’ve got to be able to stay win sight.”

The second win of the season and 18th of Kerr’s career will clearly be in her sights tomorrow.

“I’ve just got to play my own game and just start walking some putts in and put some pressure on the other people.”

Lindberg hopes to learn from last week:
Pernilla Lindberg was in the third-to-last group and tied for third last week at the ShopRite LPGA Classic and struggled to a final round 77. The Swede is hoping to learn from that experience as she competes in the penultimate group on Sunday at Whistle Bear.

“I think every time you’re in that position it’s a great experience and I feel more and more comfortable every time I do it,” Lindberg explained. “That’s what we work hard for, to get there on a Sunday.”

Lindberg sits, three strokes behind Suzann Pettersen, in solo fourth this week as she looks to improve upon her best finish as a professional, a tie for third at the 2014 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.

“Just stay aggressive,” Lindberg said of her approach going into the final round. “I said yesterday the wind out here is the only thing that can really protect the course. But I don’t think we’re expecting any high winds, so I know that people are going to go out and shoot low scores and make birdies so I’m just going to go out and attack and try to do the same.”

Quote of the day:
“In Columbia they only follow soccer really, so the only way I can make it to the TV on prime time is if I win. I mean, Top 10 or anything like that, it’s not good enough for them back there. So I mean, it’s good. Camillo did it with the guys so I’m hoping I get a win and my goal for the Olympics is to get there as highly ranked as I can and I need a win for that.”- Mariajo Uribe on how much attention a win this week would get back in her native Colombia

Round 2 - Pettersen and Uribe head packed leaderboard

June 05, 2015

Fourteen-time LPGA Tour winner Suzann Pettersen and Colombia’s Mariajo Uribe sit atop a packed leaderboard at 13-under par and share the 36-hole lead at the Manulife LPGA Classic. The duo leads Cristie Kerr (65-66) by one shot and has a large group of pursuers with 16 players within four shots of the lead. The cut line fell at 4-under par 140, the lowest 36-hole cut in LPGA Tour history.

Pettersen, whose last victory came at the 2013 Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship turned in a bogey-free 7-under 65 and has been playing well since returning from a left shoulder injury that forced her to withdraw from the LOTTE Championship back in April. She tied for fifth in her first event back at the Kingsmill Championship and tied for 23rd last week at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

Pettersen only missed three fairways on Friday and hit every green.

“I think if you hit all the fairways you're going to give yourself a lot of chances with your irons, so tried to be aggressive,” said Pettersen. “The par 5s are very scoreable, you've just got to try and take care of business on those, and if you can squeeze in a birdie or two or three on the rest of the holes you're in good position. So I felt like I did that today. Hitting the ball pretty good. Hit 18 greens I think, 17 yesterday, so plugging along nicely.”

Pettersen hasn’t had many holes in her ball striking the past two days and hit 17 of 18 on Thursday and all 18 on Friday. She currently ranks 6th on Tour in greens in regulation. She said aggressive consistency on this course is key.

“Yeah, consistency usually pays off, you've just got to be patient,” said Pettersen. “I don't put too much into it. I'm playing solid golf and I'm enjoying myself out there.”

Uribe, who is in her sixth year on Tour, also turned in a bogey-free scorecard and had three birdies on both the front and back nine to finish at 6-under. The Colombia native is playing for her first LPGA Tour win and knows she’ll have to be ready for a shootout on the weekend.

“I mean, really, the girls are really good out here and last week it was windy and people were shooting low scores,” said Uribe. “So no matter the conditions are, people are going to go out there and shoot low. If it rains maybe it's going to be easier because the greens are going to receive a lot more. So I mean I'm just going to go have fun this afternoon and stay away from the game and hope for a good weekend.”

Notable players to miss the cut: Brooke Henderson (-3), Stacy Lewis (-2), Morgan Pressel (-2), Azahara Munoz (-2), and Karrie Webb (-1).

Low cut record:
The buzz the first two days of the Manulife LPGA Classic has been the scoreable conditions at Whistle Bear Golf Club and players continued to put up low numbers during Friday’s second round. 70 players made the cut at 4-under 140 which sets a new all-time LPGA Tour record for low cut at a par 72 course. The previous record was 3-under par which happened on five previous occasions. The previous low cut this season was 2-under 142 at the JTBC Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix.

LPGA All-Time Record, Low 36-hole, par 72

Getting cut:
140 (-4), 2015 Manulife LPGA Classic, Cambridge, Ontario, Can., 70 players, par 72 141 (-3), 1997 State Farm Rail Classic, Springfield, Ill., 70 players, par 72
141 (-3), 1998 State Farm Rail Classic, Springfield, Ill., 82 players, par 72
141 (-3), 2005 Wendy’s Championship for Children, Dublin, Ohio, 72 players, par 72 141 (-3), 2008 LPGA State Farm Classic, Springfield, Ill., 73 players, par 72
141 (-3), 2009 LPGA Corning Classic, Corning, NY, 73 players, par 72

Notable players to miss the cut include Brooke Henderson (-3), Stacy Lewis (-2), Morgan Pressel (-2 ), Azahara Munoz (-2), and Karrie Webb (-1). Lewis’ missed cut snaps a streak of 46 consecutive events that she has played the weekend since the Canadian Women’s Open in 2012, where she withdrew prior to the second round of play.

Wild'n out on the weekend:
Suzann Pettersen has a great track record when it comes to leading after 36 holes on the LPGA Tour. The Norwegian has led after the second round 13 times in her career and won eight of those times, including the last four occasions she’s led going into the weekend. The last time Pettersen held the 36-hole lead was at the 2013 Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship, her last victory on Tour.

Ko's made cut streak continues:
After a rough first day in Cambridge on Thursday, Rolex Rankings No. 1 Lydia Ko bounced back from a first-round 1-under, 71, with a bogey-free 4-under, 68. Ko’s second-round effort was good enough to get her inside the cut line which fell at 4-under par and extended her made cut streak to 53. Ko has made the cut in all 53 starts she has made on the LPGA Tour dating back to the 2012 Handa Women’s Australian Open. She birdied three of her last six holes to get to 5-under par.

The 18-year old from New Zealand hasn’t been in her normal top-level form as of late and didn’t finish inside the top 15 in her two starts after her last win in San Francisco back in April. But Ko said she still feels very confident in her game, just that the numbers haven’t been showing up on the scorecard.

“I feel like I’m playing good enough but just the scores aren’t there,” said Ko.

“Kingsmill, I knew I played good but it’s just a couple under and that wasn’t going to cut it. Dallas, that was a whole different week. When I know and I have the confidence that, hey, I am playing good, it’s just the scores aren’t coming, I’ve just got to keep the head high and just be confident for the next two days.”

Since Ko has played on the weekend in every LPGA event she has played in, she didn’t exactly know what she would do with her days if she did have the time off. Rest and relaxation would be her best guess.

“I mean, two days off, I’ll take my break. It’s a long season,” said Ko. “And last year obviously was my rookie season so I feel like I was working harder last year and I tried to get to tournaments early, tried to do this. I still kind of do that but now I’m more like, okay, we need that break, that kind of refreshes it. I don’t know, next week’s a hard course so I might be there if I wasn’t playing.”

Uribe tied for the lead:
Mariajo Uribe sits in a tie for the lead after following up an opening round 65 with a day two 66 to sit at 13-under for the week.

“Usually I don’t like courses that you have to go a lot really low, so I’m just having fun and stay patient and liking it,” Uribe admitted.

Uribe is tied for the lead after 36-holes for just the second time in her six year career. The last time Uribe was in the final group was the third round of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. She finished T8 in that event.

“I mean, I don’t really look at the leaderboard that much, especially this week,” Uribe explained. “People that are maybe 3 or 4 shots back can come back with a 10 under, 11 under, so I’ve just got to keep making birdies and see what’s the leading score at the end of the week.”

The Columbian is coming off consecutive top-20 finishes for the first time this season.

“I was working a little bit on my swing and swing changes are showing,” Uribe said. “My putting’s been pretty good the last two weeks. This week’s pretty nice, too. Today I had no bogeys so I’m really confident right now and hoping for a good finish this weekend.”

Kerr stays in the mix:
Cristie Kerr kept herself in the hunt with a second round 69 to keep put her at 12-under for the week, one back of Suzann Pettersen and Mariajo Uribe.

“I thought I played very well, Kerr said. “I actually thought I hit it better today than I did yesterday. Had kind of a magical opening nine holes yesterday. Just got to try to play as good as I can on the weekend, just pay attention to my own game and my feels and what I’m trying to accomplish out here on every shot and try not to worry about anybody else.”

Kerr knows with how scoring has been this week at Whistle Bear that she will need to go low in order to capture her second win of the season and 18th of her career

“I think you’re going to have to make birdies to win this tournament,” Kerr said. “I think it’s whoever’s going to play the most consistently over four days doing that.”

Late ace not enough for Min Lee:
Min Lee stepped to the par-3 8th, her 17th hole of the day, needing to make something happen in order to make the cut.

“I just hit it and then I saw the ball bounce and roll, and all of a sudden it disappeared and I saw the people just hands up,” Lee said. “It was like, oh, God, made it. Because I was thinking I have to make an ace and then I made it, so I pretty excited.”

The ace was the third in Lee’s life but her first in competition.

“The first two I was practicing by myself, so it’s only my dad or my friend with me,” Lee explained. “And then I make it and the people celebrate for me, I was very happy because, you know, there’s people see it.”

Lee ended up at 3-under for the event and missed the cut by a stroke.

Of note:
Se Ri Pak withdrew after the second round due to a back injury. MJ Hur also withdrew during the second round due to a rib injury.

Quote of the day:
“Just try to not thinking too much of outcomes. Like I say, try to like creating, like finding the way to get in the hole as fast as I can and not to worry about if I hit on the fairway or not because before I was trying to feel like, oh, I need to hit on the fairway. I just don’t care. It feel much better, you know. It’s easy to say, but actually you doing it, it actually feels pretty good.” - Yani Tseng on what’s led to her improved play

Round 1 - Trio post course record to share lead

June 04, 2015

LPGA Tour rookie Cheyenne Woods, 17-time winner Cristie Kerr and P.K. Kongkraphan tied the course record of 9-under 63 at Whistle Bear Country Club in Cambridge, Ontario and share the first-round lead at the Manulife LPGA Classic.

It was a banner day for all three players with Woods & Kongraphan carding career-low rounds and hold the lead after any round for the first time in their careers at am LPGA Tour event. Kerr made the turn in 29, her low score for nine holes in her 19-year career. The round of 63 was her lowest score since the final round of this event a year ago.

Woods put on a ball-striking clinic, hitting all 14 fairways, 16 greens and needed only 26 putts. She said the laid-back atmosphere with playing partners Jaye Marie Green and Canada’s Brittany Henderson helped her stay relaxed throughout the morning round.

“I played really solid all day,” said Woods. “I had one bogey, which was a stupid three‑putt, but overall I played solid. And I think the biggest thing, we were just having fun out there, Jaye Marie and I were talking the whole day and it was very relaxed, very relaxed atmosphere while we were playing. That's sometimes when I play my best and I guess it worked out.”

Perfect scoring conditions set up plenty of low scores on Thursday; Sandra Gal of Germany and Israel’s Laetitia Beck are in a tie for fourth and one shot back. Twenty-eight players are within four shots of the lead.

Woods had eight birdies and an eagle on the day with her only blemish coming on a three-putt bogey on No. 6. She had a mid-round tear starting with her eagle on the par 5 ninth hole and followed up with three-straight birdies to get to 7-under par. She then birdied 16 and 17 to get to 9-under and to take the outright lead.

Kerr went off later in the afternoon on the back nine and got off to a scorching start, birdieing seven of her first nine holes. Her lone bogey came on the par 4 fourth hole.

“I think you just know that the course is giving some birdies up and that if you're patient, you get a lot of opportunities and then get on a roll, which is what I did,” said Kerr. “You've just got to take it one day at a time. I mean, you know how golf is. I'm just going to enjoy the day, go finish with a little bit of practice and set some new goals.”

Kerr was runner-up in her first start at this event last season and already has a victory this year at the Kia Classic back in March.

Woods’ previous best finish at an LPGA Tour event was T23 at the 2014 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open as a non-member and is currently coming off a stretch of five-consecutive missed cuts. Her best showing so far in her rookie season was T24 at the JTBC Founders Cup in Phoenix in March. Asked if she’ll be as relaxed on Friday holding the lead as she was at the start of Thursday’s first round, Woods said the reason she plays is to be in this position.

“Yeah, I think so. It's just another day of golf,” said Woods. “It's great to be in this position, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. So for me I'm just going to go out there, it's a new day, and go into it with the same mindset and just go play golf.”

Kongraphan finished the day with three birdies on her final three holes including a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 9 to get to 9-under par. The short but powerful Thai player is ranked 10th on Tour in driving distance and was averaging 305 yards in the first round on Thursday.

“I hit the ball very solid today,” said Kongraphan. “My tee shot is working very well and I tried to work on my wedges and worked very good today.”

Defending champ Inbee Park finished with a 3-under 69 and is tied for 43rd. World No. 1 Lydia Ko struggled in her first event back from a two-week break with a 1-under par and is currently sitting below the cut line at T86. Ko is danger of missing her first cut in an LPGA event. She has made every cut in her first 53 starts of her career, dating back to the 2012 Handa Women’s Australian Open.

“On the back nine I was putting and on the front it was just nothing really was clicking, not that many birdie opportunities,” said Ko. “And when you miss putts along the way, you're not going to shoot a good score. I think I'm hitting the ball good enough that I've got a good chance for tomorrow.”

Super stroking:
Cheyenne Woods described her recent stretch of golf as “a tough few months” and knew she had to make some changes to see some type of improvement. Woods’ best finish in her rookie season this year is T24 at the JTBC Founders Cup in Phoenix back in March and is coming off a streak of five-consecutive missed cuts. Last week in New Jersey, Woods’ swapped her putter grip for a Super Stroke model and said she immediately felt a difference.

“Last week at ShopRite I changed my putter grip to the Super Stroke so it’s a little bit thicker and that kind of gave me a better feel,” said Woods. “Last week I didn’t play well but I putted better so I carried that into this week and I’m putting better this week also. But I think that gives me more confidence from the fairway, too, for my approach shots.”

She currently ranks 128th in putts per GIR (1.9) and 116th in putting average (30.7) on Tour but needed only 26 putts in her round of 63 on Thursday.

Woods said her comfort level on the big greens this week at Whistle Bear carried over to the rest of her game. She said she didn’t change anything mentally and approached this week in the same care-free manner she always had.

“I think that was a big change for me that helped me,” said Woods. “But overall nothing else besides that, just the same mindset coming into the week with a fresh mind and coming to play my best golf.”

Waterloo region reminds Lang of home:
Brittany Lang’s lone LPGA victory came at the Manulife LPGA Classic in 2012 and while the venue may have changed she can’t help but feel the good vibes when she returns to the Waterloo Region.

“Seeing the pictures of me holding the trophy just reminds me of things I was doing then and kind of gives you some confidence, absolutely,” Lang said. “I like it. It reminds me of home, you know, just open space and nice people, nice course. It reminds me very much of Texas so I feel very comfortable here.”

The Texan used those good vibes to put together a 7-under round of 65 at Whistle Bear.

“I like this course a lot,” Lang said. “I didn’t think the scores would be quite as low as they are, but again, the course is in perfect shape and there wasn’t a whole lot of breeze. I didn’t miss many shots and I rolled it really good, so it was a really fun day.”

Not as easy as it looks:
Laetitia Beck has experienced the typical rookie season struggles early in the year and a stretch of three-straight miss cuts left the 23-year old a bit discouraged. Her best finish of the year came in her first start at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, a tie for 27th.

“It was a struggle. I started decent and then I thought it’s easy,” said Beck. “Then I didn’t make a few cuts so I was disappointed. I mean, I don’t put too much pressure on myself so it’s not like I expected to win every event.”

But a first-round 8-under 64 seems to be exactly what the Israel native needed. The round bested her previous low round by six shots which she shot on two occasions. Beck made her LPGA Tour debut in Canada four years ago in 2011 at the CP Women’s Open where she qualified.

“But coming here I always had a good I enjoy Canada,” said Beck. “I go and practice in Montreal part of the year and my first LPGA event was in Montreal, the Canadian Open, so I do have good experience here in Canada.”

Beck, who became the first Israeli to make the LPGA Tour when she tied for 18th at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament, does not carry the distinction lightly. She hopes her career on the Tour can help change the perception of the game back in her home country. If any young players in Israel need a role model to emulate, look no further than Beck. She left Israel at the age of 14 to attend the IMG Academy then played four years at Duke University while earning degree in psychology. She then qualified for the Tour on her first attempt last winter.

“So we have one golf course, one 18 and one nine, so we don’t have that many golfers but I’m hoping that I will help golf in Israel,” said Beck. “I know it will not change the game there, but slowly if we can have people like me and others help the game and help not only younger people but also older people in Israel understand that golf is not just a sport for I think we have people in Israel that don’t know the sport think that it’s not a sport. So I hope it will change the Israeli mentality and what they think of golf.”

Olympic hoes for Beck:
Seeing the Israeli flag fly at LPGA events gives Laetitia Beck a huge sense of pride, especially knowing it is solely flying because of her as the lone Israeli on Tour. The rookie hopes to turn things around this season after a tough start but has her sights on bigger things. She wants to be in the same conversation as the other elite athletes from her home country.

“I’m proud of it,” said Beck. “And obviously the Olympics is a huge goal so I hope to get a chance to meet all of them and be part of the team.”

Beck currently ranks 614th in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings which are used for the Olympics Golf Rankings criteria. Her goal of making it to Rio is not out of reach but she will have work to do. The last player ranked in the Olympic Rankings is Melanie Maetzler of Switzerland who is currently 480th in the Rolex Rankings, 134 spots ahead of Beck. If she finishes top-10 or better, Beck could jump at least 307 spots in the Rolex Rankings.

Gal gets it together:
Sandra Gal sits in a tie for fourth after a opening round 64 at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic.

“It kind of crossed my mind this morning that I haven’t had a really low one in a while, kind of ironic sometimes how that works,” Gal admitted.

The 64, which tied the low round of Gal’s career, came after Gal reached out to her coach for some help at the beginning of the week.

“Actually my coach Andrew Park, I sent him my swing earlier in the week and we worked a little bit on something that wasn’t going that well the last couple weeks so I think that helped my ball striking,” Gal said. “Basically, because I’m a tall player, trying to be a little bit more compact. So I put something under my right elbow or under my right upper arm so that way my hands stay closer to my body coming down and I just feel like everything’s a little more connected.”

In an era where players send coaches videos during most events, it is a rarity for Gal.

“This year I don’t think I’ve sent him a swing yet,” Gal admitted. “He comes out a few times per year. I’ve just been hitting it well this year, just now something was off so I just sent it to him.”

Numbers to know:
3 - Three players - Cheyenne Woods, Cristie Kerr and P.K. Kongkraphan - tied the competitive course record at Whistle Bear of 63. The record is also held by PGA Tour pros Matt Bettencourt and Jon Mills
0 - Number of cuts that Lydia Ko has missed in 52 career events, Ko currently sits T86 at 1-under
105 - Number of players who shot under par on day one
29 - Cristie Kerr shot an opening round 29, the lowest nine of her career

Quote of the day:
“The course record. Sorry, Drake.”

-Cheyenne Woods on what was bigger, meeting Drake backstage or setting the course record

Scores

Pos. Player Score Total Dif. Prize Money
1 Suzann Pettersen 66 - 65 - 66 - 69 266 -22 $225,000.00
2 Brittany Lang 65 - 68 - 69 - 65 267 -21 $139,572.00
3 Mariajo Uribe 65 - 66 - 67 - 72 270 -18 $101,250.00
4T Minjee Lee 69 - 66 - 70 - 67 272 -16 $59,030.00
4T So Yeon Ryu 68 - 69 - 66 - 69 272 -16 $59,030.00
4T Jacqui Concolino 71 - 64 - 68 - 69 272 -16 $59,030.00
4T Cristie Kerr 63 - 69 - 67 - 73 272 -16 $59,030.00
8 Shanshan Feng 67 - 67 - 72 - 67 273 -15 $37,826.00
9T Hyo Joo Kim 66 - 67 - 72 - 69 274 -14 $32,477.00
9T Ilhee Lee 66 - 72 - 66 - 70 274 -14 $32,477.00
11T Inbee Park 69 - 68 - 70 - 68 275 -13 $26,000.00
11T Jenny Shin 67 - 70 - 70 - 68 275 -13 $26,000.00
11T Charley Hull 68 - 68 - 70 - 69 275 -13 $26,000.00
11T Julieta Granada 65 - 69 - 69 - 72 275 -13 $26,000.00
15T Anna Nordqvist 65 - 74 - 68 - 69 276 -12 $20,479.00
15T Alison Lee 69 - 68 - 70 - 69 276 -12 $20,479.00
15T Sarah Jane Smith 70 - 70 - 66 - 70 276 -12 $20,479.00
15T Catriona Matthew 69 - 66 - 71 - 70 276 -12 $20,479.00
19T Caroline Masson 72 - 66 - 69 - 70 277 -11 $16,076.00
19T Sandra Gal 64 - 71 - 72 - 70 277 -11 $16,076.00
19T Mi Hyang Lee 71 - 67 - 68 - 71 277 -11 $16,076.00
19T Thidapa Suwannapura 68 - 70 - 67 - 72 277 -11 $16,076.00
19T Sei Young Kim 65 - 73 - 67 - 72 277 -11 $16,076.00
19T Laetitia Beck 64 - 69 - 70 - 74 277 -11 $16,076.00
19T Katie Burnett 67 - 68 - 67 - 75 277 -11 $16,076.00
19T Pernilla Lindberg 66 - 67 - 68 - 76 277 -11 $16,076.00
27T Jane Park 69 - 70 - 70 - 69 278 -10 $10,934.00
27T P.K. Kongkraphan 63 - 75 - 71 - 69 278 -10 $10,934.00
27T Mo Martin 66 - 71 - 71 - 70 278 -10 $10,934.00
27T Lydia Ko 71 - 68 - 68 - 71 278 -10 $10,934.00
27T Lizette Salas 68 - 69 - 70 - 71 278 -10 $10,934.00
27T Pornanong Phatlum 71 - 67 - 68 - 72 278 -10 $10,934.00
27T Karlin Beck 68 - 69 - 69 - 72 278 -10 $10,934.00
27T Na Yeon Choi 66 - 71 - 69 - 72 278 -10 $10,934.00
27T Alena Sharp 67 - 70 - 68 - 73 278 -10 $10,934.00
27T Victoria Elizabeth 67 - 66 - 71 - 74 278 -10 $10,934.00
27T Kelly Tan 70 - 67 - 66 - 75 278 -10 $10,934.00
27T Yani Tseng 68 - 65 - 69 - 76 278 -10 $10,934.00
39T Sarah Kemp 67 - 71 - 72 - 69 279 -9 $7,794.00
39T Caroline Hedwall 67 - 73 - 69 - 70 279 -9 $7,794.00
39T Jaye Marie Green 71 - 68 - 69 - 71 279 -9 $7,794.00
39T Chella Choi 67 - 69 - 72 - 71 279 -9 $7,794.00
43T Tiffany Joh 67 - 72 - 72 - 69 280 -8 $6,750.00
43T Kim Kaufman 67 - 66 - 74 - 73 280 -8 $6,750.00
43T Alison Walshe 71 - 66 - 68 - 75 280 -8 $6,750.00
46T Danielle Kang 68 - 71 - 70 - 72 281 -7 $6,037.00
46T Karin Sjodin 66 - 73 - 67 - 75 281 -7 $6,037.00
46T Haru Nomura 69 - 66 - 71 - 75 281 -7 $6,037.00
49T Karine Icher 69 - 70 - 73 - 70 282 -6 $5,211.00
49T Jessica Korda 70 - 70 - 68 - 74 282 -6 $5,211.00
49T Candie Kung 70 - 70 - 67 - 75 282 -6 $5,211.00
49T Perrine Delacour 69 - 68 - 70 - 75 282 -6 $5,211.00
49T Sophia Popov 66 - 70 - 69 - 77 282 -6 $5,211.00
54T Belen Mozo 69 - 71 - 73 - 70 283 -5 $4,432.00
54T Sue Kim 69 - 71 - 72 - 71 283 -5 $4,432.00
54T Kris Tamulis 69 - 69 - 73 - 72 283 -5 $4,432.00
54T Mika Miyazato 67 - 71 - 73 - 72 283 -5 $4,432.00
54T Cheyenne Woods 63 - 73 - 74 - 73 283 -5 $4,432.00
59T Ayako Uehara 70 - 70 - 76 - 68 284 -4 $3,760.00
59T Sydnee Michaels 70 - 70 - 75 - 69 284 -4 $3,760.00
59T Sara-Maude Juneau 71 - 68 - 72 - 73 284 -4 $3,760.00
59T Wei-Ling Hsu 70 - 70 - 70 - 74 284 -4 $3,760.00
59T Brittany Lincicome 67 - 72 - 71 - 74 284 -4 $3,760.00
64 Amy Anderson 72 - 68 - 74 - 71 285 -3 $3,516.00
65T Kelly Shon 70 - 70 - 73 - 73 286 -2 $3,400.00
65T Jackie Stoelting 69 - 69 - 73 - 75 286 -2 $3,400.00
67 Maria Hernandez 69 - 69 - 77 - 72 287 -1 $3,286.00
68 Natalie Gleadall 68 - 72 - 70 - 78 288 E $3,209.00
69 Joanna Klatten 68 - 70 - 73 - 79 290 2 $3,133.00
70 Kendall Dye 69 - 71 - 74 - 80 294 6 $3,057.00
CUT Vicky Hurst 73 - 68 141 -3 $0.00
CUT Min Seo Kwak 73 - 68 141 -3 $0.00
CUT Dori Carter 72 - 69 141 -3 $0.00
CUT Min Lee 72 - 69 141 -3 $0.00
CUT Sakura Yokomine 72 - 69 141 -3 $0.00
CUT Marina Alex 71 - 70 141 -3 $0.00
CUT Laura Diaz 71 - 70 141 -3 $0.00
CUT Brooke M. Henderson 71 - 70 141 -3 $0.00
CUT Ji Young Oh 71 - 70 141 -3 $0.00
CUT Sun Young Yoo 71 - 70 141 -3 $0.00
CUT Nannette Hill 70 - 71 141 -3 $0.00
CUT Christina Kim 70 - 71 141 -3 $0.00
CUT Amelia Lewis 70 - 71 141 -3 $0.00
CUT Pat Hurst 69 - 72 141 -3 $0.00
CUT Brooke Pancake 69 - 72 141 -3 $0.00
CUT Sadena Parks 68 - 73 141 -3 $0.00
CUT Angela Stanford 66 - 75 141 -3 $0.00
CUT Jennifer Song 73 - 69 142 -2 $0.00
CUT Brittany Henderson 72 - 70 142 -2 $0.00
CUT Eun-Hee Ji 72 - 70 142 -2 $0.00
CUT Jennifer Kirby 72 - 70 142 -2 $0.00
CUT Ju Young Park 72 - 70 142 -2 $0.00
CUT Danah Bordner 71 - 71 142 -2 $0.00
CUT Carlota Ciganda 71 - 71 142 -2 $0.00
CUT Azahara Munoz 71 - 71 142 -2 $0.00
CUT Morgan Pressel 71 - 71 142 -2 $0.00
CUT Jodi Ewart Shadoff 70 - 72 142 -2 $0.00
CUT Jennifer Johnson 70 - 72 142 -2 $0.00
CUT Stacy Lewis 70 - 72 142 -2 $0.00
CUT Kristy McPherson 70 - 72 142 -2 $0.00
CUT Jing Yan 70 - 72 142 -2 $0.00
CUT Austin Ernst 69 - 73 142 -2 $0.00
CUT Jee Young Lee 69 - 73 142 -2 $0.00
CUT Maria McBride 69 - 73 142 -2 $0.00
CUT Hee Young Park 69 - 73 142 -2 $0.00
CUT Jenny Suh 68 - 74 142 -2 $0.00
CUT Moriya Jutanugarn 74 - 69 143 -1 $0.00
CUT Q Baek 73 - 70 143 -1 $0.00
CUT Lee-Anne Pace 73 - 70 143 -1 $0.00
CUT Jane Rah 73 - 70 143 -1 $0.00
CUT Paz Echeverria 72 - 71 143 -1 $0.00
CUT Lorie Kane 72 - 71 143 -1 $0.00
CUT SooBin Kim 72 - 71 143 -1 $0.00
CUT Meena Lee 72 - 71 143 -1 $0.00
CUT Hee Kyung Seo 72 - 71 143 -1 $0.00
CUT Karrie Webb 72 - 71 143 -1 $0.00
CUT Ai Miyazato 71 - 72 143 -1 $0.00
CUT Demi Runas 71 - 72 143 -1 $0.00
CUT Dewi Claire Schreefel 71 - 72 143 -1 $0.00
CUT Mina Harigae 70 - 73 143 -1 $0.00
CUT Ha Na Jang 70 - 73 143 -1 $0.00
CUT Mirim Lee 70 - 73 143 -1 $0.00
CUT Cydney Clanton 69 - 74 143 -1 $0.00
CUT Ariya Jutanugarn 77 - 67 144 E $0.00
CUT Becky Morgan 75 - 69 144 E $0.00
CUT Haeji Kang 74 - 70 144 E $0.00
CUT Katherine Kirk 74 - 70 144 E $0.00
CUT Ryann O'Toole 74 - 70 144 E $0.00
CUT Simin Feng 70 - 74 144 E $0.00
CUT Marissa Steen 69 - 75 144 E $0.00
CUT Therese Koelbaek 75 - 70 145 1 $0.00
CUT Rebecca Lee-Bentham 73 - 72 145 1 $0.00
CUT Lisa Ferrero 75 - 71 146 2 $0.00
CUT Laura Davies 73 - 73 146 2 $0.00
CUT Garrett Phillips 73 - 73 146 2 $0.00
CUT Lisa McCloskey 72 - 74 146 2 $0.00
CUT Felicity Johnson 76 - 71 147 3 $0.00
CUT Cindy LaCrosse 75 - 72 147 3 $0.00
CUT Paula Reto 74 - 73 147 3 $0.00
CUT Ashleigh Simon 73 - 74 147 3 $0.00
CUT Julie Yang 72 - 75 147 3 $0.00
CUT Mallory Blackwelder 74 - 74 148 4 $0.00
CUT Xi Yu Lin 74 - 74 148 4 $0.00
CUT Augusta James 76 - 73 149 5 $0.00
CUT Beatriz Recari 79 - 71 150 6 $0.00
CUT Paola Moreno 75 - 75 150 6 $0.00
CUT Christine Song 79 - 76 155 11 $0.00
WDC Se Ri Pak 70 70 -2 $0.00
WDC Mi Jung Hur 71 71 -1 $0.00
WDC Stephanie Meadow 77 77 5 $0.00

 

Preview

DATES:  June 04-07
SITE: Whistle Bear Golf Club, Cambridge, Ontario
PRIZE MONEY: $1,500,000
Click here for tournament stats & info

The LPGA makes it return to Canada this week for the fourth installment of the Manulife LPGA Classic at Whistle Bear Golf Club.

The field features 10 Canadian players including sponsor invites and sister duo Brooke and Brittany Henderson.

“It’s an amazing opportunity and we’re really excited to both be on sponsor’s invites this week and we’re very grateful for Manulife for giving us this great experience,” Brooke said. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun because we have a lot of family and friends hoping to make the trip up in the next few days. And playing with Lorie Kane this morning in the practice round, all three Canadians in the same group and two sisters, so it’s going to be a great week.”

The tournament will hold a special meaning to Brittany as it will mark her LPGA Tour debut. She currently competes on the Symetra Tour-Road to the LPGA.

“Yeah, my first LPGA event so I’m excited for that alone, and I’m happy to have Brooke here with me and to be kind of in a home area is really awesome, so I’m really excited. “

The duo were joined in their practice round this morning by the last Canadian to win on the LPGA Tour Lorie Kane.

“Manulife’s involvement in women’s golf, I’m thankful this week they’ve given me an invitation to come and play,” Kane said. “It’s quite overwhelming the amount of support that we’ve gotten, so I’m hoping, like I said, that it transitions over to here. I think this tournament just keeps continuing to grow.”

New course, tough test:
After playing the first three years of the event in nearby Waterloo, the Manulife LPGA Classic will host the LPGA’s best at a new venue a half hour away, Whistle Bear Golf Club in Cambridge. The buzz from players is that they will face much more of a challenge this week. The three winning scores the past three years tell the story of the birdie fest fans were used to seeing: Brittany Lang, -16 (2012), Hee Young Park, -26 (2013) and Inbee Park, -23 (2014).

Canadian Lorie Kane already got two looks at the course by Tuesday afternoon, one in a charity outing on Monday and a practice round with the Henderson sisters on Tuesday morning.

“My first time here at Whistle Bear. You know, it’s funny, I think it has some similarities to Grey Silo but it’s going to be a nice test of golf,” said Kane. “If it blows, which I think the potential could be to get windy here, it’s going to be quite a challenging layout.”

“The greens, there’s a lot of movement on them,” Kane added. “It will be interesting to see where I think there’s some parts of the greens you can’t use because there’s a little bit too much slope. But we are the best women golfers in the world and we’re up to the challenge. I’m looking forward to it. I think we needed a little bit of rain. I was in Toronto over the weekend and Sunday was pretty cold and wet, so I think once this place dries out it will play a lot differently.”

Kane said she hopes the location change doesn’t have an eff ect on the enormous crowds that the Tour has drawn in previous years.

“But it will be fun to watch. I’m hoping that we get the same amount of fans and support that we had when we were at Grey Silo,” Kane added. “I always caution and kind of worry a little bit when we leave a venue that we’ve been to and people know their way around, that they learning something new is not always easy for the spectator. But I think this course may be even more spectator friendly because there’s vantage points where you can see several different holes and you don’t really have to move around a whole lot. I hope they come out in droves.”

Hendersons in it together:
Sponsor invites Brooke and Brittany Henderson have grown up together in the game of golf despite a six year age difference.

“As I mentioned, a lot of times before, I grew up watching Brittany and every weekend I would be going to tournaments and following along and wanted to be just like her,” Brooke said. “And I’ve been able to follow in her footsteps to this point and now we’re taking this journey together trying to be the best that we can be. So I’m very fortunate and grateful that I have a sister that I could look up to all these years and now together moving forward.”

Brittany recalled a time when her younger sister didn’t exactly have the chops for the game.

“One of my earliest memories of Brooke, when she fi rst started she thought it was the best score was who could get in the hole first,” Brittany said with a chuckle. “So she’d be taking off running and I would be just walking going, What are you doing? She’s sprinting down the fairway.“

The duo occasionally has throwback rounds to honor young Brooke’s aggressive approach to the game.

“Sometimes we still go back and in the late fall when there’s no one really out there, we kind of have a game where let’s run and see who gets in the hole fi rst, so it’s kind of fun,” Brittany said.

Thanks for the support:
Anna Nordqvist didn’t have much time to celebrate her fifth career victory at the ShopRite LPGA Classic on Sunday.

Asked whether she toasted the win with a glass of wine or champagne, the Swede said it might have smelled like she did.

“Well, I was drenched in champagne from Karin and Mimi who ran out on the green, so I smelled like an alcoholic after,” said Nordqvist.

Instead, she took the two-hour drive north in New Jersey to North Caldwell with her mom, Maria. Anna had committed to playing in former LPGA player Val Skinner’s charity event on Monday and upheld her commitment. She took the time in the late-night drive to answer calls, texts and social media posts sending congratulations.

“I was very touched by all the messages and everyone watching, everyone supporting, everyone following,” said Nordqvist.

“It’s the middle of the night in Swedish time and didn’t show it on TV, so a lot of people were pissed back home but obviously very happy for me, though.”

With over 100 messages on her phone and more on social media, the 27-year old said her reach to fans and followers surprised her.

“With social media these days, I was amazed with the support you get on there and how many people actually follows you and watched it,” said Nordqvist.

Going for golf at Pan Am games:
Lorie Kane and Brooke Henderson will be going for gold at the Pan Am Games next month in Toronto the Canadian Olympic Committee announced on Sunday.

“Really very excited about the opportunity,” Kane said. “Quite honored that I’m going to be able to wear the red and white and to play in an event that will now put golfers in the same light as all the other great athletes we have. I think it’s going to be as much fun for Brooke and I to be part of the village and just experiencing what other athletes experience.”

This year marks the first time golf will be added to the events schedule of the event. The Pan American Games is a major sporting event in the Americas featuring summer sports. Like the Olympics, the Games has an athlete village where the athletes stay and Kane joked that Henderson will bring down the median age of Team Canada.

“Golf can be a lonely, one show game. But I’m going to have a young 17 year old to...I was joking, I said, well, she balances out the age because I’m likely the oldest person in the village, or one of the oldest athletes,” said Kane. “But I’m sure we’ll have a lot of fun and looking forward to it. I know the golf course quite well, so I think the two of us will be there with one goal in mine and that’s to win gold.”

Henderson echoed Kane’s thoughts.

“It’s a great honor, especially being the fi rst Pan Am Games with golf and it’s in Toronto pretty close to home and in Canada, which I think is huge for both the game of golf and for Canadian fans of all sports, especially leading into the Olympics next year,” said Henderson. “It’s a multi sports game, which is very different from a regular golf tournament, so I think it will be great to experience, interacting with other athletes, interacting with the huge facilities and huge complexes that will be there, which I don’t see week to week on the LPGA Tour or any other golf tournaments.”

“And then being with Lorie, she is a player that I think all Canadians, especially women in Canada, have looked up to since she began playing golf and began on the LPGA Tour,” said Henderson. “She really set the pace for the women’s game in Canada. She was the last one to win an event on the LPGA Tour, and as I mentioned before, we’re trying to change that this week. But it will be a lot of fun with her because she’s a great person and a great golfer, too.”

Endurance tested, wins approved:
Anna Nordqvist had a whirl-wind of a 24 hours following her victory in New Jersey on Sunday and when asked whether she was running on adrenaline fumes on Tuesday afternoon, Nordqvist said her recent focus on endurance and nutrition has significantly helped her stay energized. She didn’t get much sleep after her win on Sunday and didn’t get into her room in Canada until 12:30am with three fi re alarms in the hotel to top it off .

This past off -season, she started working with a new trainer, Marcus Park, and Ara Suppiah, a personal doctor that works with PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players.

“This off season… we changed my whole fi tness regimen and nutrition just to be able to handle like a couple weeks of travel,” said Nordqvist. “I think that even helped me on Sunday because it was really tough conditions and I felt great coming down the last holes. So just knowing I have endurance and I’ve been working out and I’m doing what I’m supposed to with my nutrition, I feel like I’m very energized. And just knowing that I have two weeks ahead of me is going to be big for me, especially ending with a major. So a little bit tired but ready to keep working hard and we’ve done a lot of the hard work at home.”

Nordqvist said her regime includes exercises that have improved her explosiveness too.

“I’ve always been into sports and I’ve always wanted to be an athlete,” said Nordqvist. “I feel a lot more athletic now. Once I started, once I saw Marcus and Ara in the gym in the off season, I could barely jump, I could barely jump a box. That’s something I’ve never done in my whole life. So I’m just trying to work on a little bit more explosive power and obviously getting more endurance and better cardio. But I feel like I picked up a couple yards of clubhead speed and I think that’s big for me just knowing that what I’m working on is paying off , and having someone to kick your ass when you’re home is pretty sweet, too.”

Quote of the day:
“I know there was a time in my career where I felt the pressure and I leaned on Dawn Coe Jones and she said, Lori, when you come home to play, you need to think of it as the extra club. The fans, they want nothing but the best for us here, particularly in this country, and to wear it any other way is too bad.” -Lorie Kane on the Canadian crowd support

Inbee Park has had a solid track record at the Manulife LPGA Classic the first three years of the event while it was held at Grey Silo Golf Club and didn’t finish outside the top-15 in three starts. Park’s finishes the past three years: T2 (2012), T14 (2013) and a win (2014). The defending champ said she was a bit sad to hear they would be relocating course because of her past success there but is open to the new challenge at Whistle Bear.

“It’s always a little bit sad to move to another golf course from the golf course you really liked, but obviously you’ve got to get used to new golf courses,” said Park. “I think it’s another challenge. And no one knows this golf course, so maybe it will suit me better so we’ll see this weekend.”

Park said she wouldn’t be surprised to see one of the talented rookies to do well this week. She thinks the young players may have more of an advantage this week since everyone is coming in on a clean slate.

“Maybe it gives rookies a little bit more advantage because obviously a lot of the girls, the veteran players that was on the tour play most of the golf courses many, many times and they know the golf course so well,” said Park. “But the rookies, they’re pretty much new to every golf course. Maybe a new golf course can probably put everybody in the same starting line I would say. So yeah, but I mean it’s not exactly you play well because the you know the golf course well. I mean, you never played that good on your home course all the time. So I think it’s just your body condition and your game strategies. I think yeah, I don’t know how it’s going to play out, but I think it’s a great looking golf course.”

Fun not in the sun:
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Lydia Ko planned on relaxing in the sun during her two-week break from Tour action but the 18-year old instead took a hibernating approach to her time off. Aside from making trips to Westchester Country Club and Lancaster Country Club for scouting opportunities for the Tour’s next two majors, Ko said her lazy two weeks were much needed.

“I was planning on sitting outside by the pool, maybe fixing my golfer’s tan, but I ended up just lying in bed, you know, doing a couple assignments, watching TV, being pretty lazy,” said Ko. “So I really didn’t see the sun for a couple days.”

Ko said she didn’t practice nearly as much as she usually does and instead caught up on some school work toward her psychology major at Korea University. She said some of the assignments included self-reflection in which she gave her own title:

“Yeah, case study of Lydia Ko by Lydia Ko,” she said.

The Kiwi said she enjoys those exercises and likes looking back at how she has handled her journey as a professional golfer so far.

“I mean obviously it’s tough to do a couple things at the same time, but some of the assignments have been really cool where I had to like contribute the things I’ve done, my psychological things,” said Ko. “You know, like kind of go back through the last couple years and I had to explain like the mental side, not always just like me itself. It’s really cool because I had to kind of go back on that journey again, and when you’re like playing you kind of stay in the present and you kind of look forward to what’s coming up next, but to go back and see the past is really cool.”

Now she want a photo, you already know though:
When LPGA Tour rookie Cheyenne Woods saw one of her favorite musical artists, Drake, announce his Jungle Tour dates, she immediately looked at the stops to see if she would be in the area of one of his six stops.

“I have always been a huge Drake fan,” said Woods. “I listen to him when I warm up, off the course, everything. When I saw that he released his tour schedule, I looked at it to see if any of the cities matched up with our Tour stops.”

Woods saw that the Toronto native would be playing in his hometown during this week’s Manulife LPGA Classic. She made a call to her manager with Excel Sports and put in the request. She landed the tickets and brought fellow rookie Sadena Parks and second-year Tour member Jaye Marie Green.

“And this was a month and a half ago, as soon as I saw it, I messaged my manager to see if he could get me tickets,” said Woods. “It took him a few weeks but he got them which was amazing. Someone with Excel knew Drake’s manager so through the manager, we got tickets and got introduced after the show.”

It was after the show that Drake asked for a photo and posted it to his Instagram account. Woods said she woke up the next morning not knowing where the 500 new followers came from.

“I didn’t know he was going to post it,” said Woods. “It was probably one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. He was amazing.”

Asked what her favorite song of the night was, she said “Know Yourself” from his latest album If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.

“How can you not get hyped about that song?” she said.

Watching from the sidelines:
Lydia Ko enters her 18th week at the top of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings and said that she watched the coverage of the ShopRite LPGA Classic from home but she wasn’t watching to keep an eye on the status of her ranking.

“I wasn’t really watching because of my ranking,” said Ko. “I mean, if somebody else plays better, I really can’t do much about it. Just because I want to maintain my ranking doesn’t mean I want to play every single week. It becomes a really long season if I play all the events. But yeah, I kind of watched because it was such an exciting finish, especially all the girls making birdies.”

Inbee Park had a chance to take over the No. 1 ranking last week with a two-way tie for third or better finish. It looked like Ko would be safe heading into Sunday with Park trailing the lead by six shots and in a tie for 21st but a final-round 68 jumped her up the leaderboard into a tie for fifth and one shot out of a tie for third. Ko said the late run by Park didn’t even cross her mind

“I was really excited watching it, and then obviously there was a great winner, Anna, by the end of the week,” said Ko. “But yeah, when I watch it I’m kind of seeing what the tournament’s like. I wasn’t necessarily watching because I was thinking about oh, my God, is she going to become World No. 1 now? It’s just a whole lot of fun and kind of support the LPGA.”

By no surprise the courteous teen said she didn’t have any voodoo dolls of Park.

“No,” said Ko. “I’m happy when she makes birdies.”

Rolex Rankings No.1 scenarios:
The fight at the top of the Rolex Rankings continues this week in the desert with Inbee Park being the only player to have a chance to unseat Lydia Ko at No. 1. Here are the scenarios:

Inbee Park can go to No. 1 if:

With a win even if Lydia Ko finishes in 2nd.

Inbee finishes in 2nd and Lydia Ko finishes in a two-way tie for 3rd or worse.

She finishes in solo 8th AND Lydia Ko misses the cut.

Super starts:
World No. 1 Lydia Ko and No. 2 Inbee Park have been dominating the 2015 season in every statistical category – including wins. They’re two of only three players with multiple wins with two apiece alongside rookie Sei Young Kim.

Ko said she’s pleased with the first part of her season so far and currently leads five stat categories. She said she’s hoping to get back on track in terms of finishing and to improve on her past two finishes: a T41 at the North Texas LPGA Shootout and a T16 at the Kingsmill Championship.

“I started off really well in Ocala and then I kind of continued that going. You know, I kind of kept the Top 10 thing going until ANA,” Ko said. “Obviously I would have loved to have played better the last two events I played after Swinging Skirts, but there are those stages where sometimes this works and sometimes this doesn’t. I guess when you have the really good weeks or when you’re really near the leaderboard is when kind of everything clicks, but that hasn’t really happened in the last couple events. I know that I’m playing consistent enough that I can shoot similar scores and hopefully it will start again this week.”

Park echoed her contentment with her own start and hopes to take that momentum into the heart of the summer with a stretch of tournaments that includes three major championships in six weeks.

“I think it’s a great start. Everybody wants to have a good start to the season,” said Park. “Obviously we have a lot of good, big major tournaments coming up this year very soon, a lot of them coming really soon and really bunched up together. So yeah, it’s good to have confidence going into the majors and having a successful season, early season definitely helps you go through the season much better. Yeah, I feel like my game is in pretty good shape and yeah, this is going to be like the final touch up. So yeah, I’m just going to try to, you know, work as hard as I can so I’m ready for next week.”

Lydia Ko
Inbee Park
Rank
Statistic
Rank
1
Rolex Player of the Year
2
1
Race to CME Globe
2
1
Official Money List
2
1
Greens in Regulation
4
1
Rounds Under Par
2
4
Scoring Round
1

Quote of the day:
“I think a good iron player is going to play well here. You really have to hit it to the right spots on the greens but you can also use slopes to get it closer. Putting is key when you’re winning a tournament or not. You have to putt well, but then just hitting it to the right places. Off the tee there’s a few holes that are narrow, but in general you can get away with some tee shots.” -Stacy Lewis on what it will take to win at Whistle Bear





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