Chun In-gee posts opening-round 64 to lead Women's PGA Championship

By Sports Desk June 23, 2022

Chun In-gee coasted with an eight-under 64 on Thursday, to take a five-stroke lead after the opening round of the Women's PGA Championship.

Scoring a bogey on the opening hole of the Blue Course at the Congressional Country Club in Maryland, the world number 33 quickly responded with four birdies over the rest of the front nine.

Birdieing the par-five 11th, Chun then closed the round out with four consecutive birdies to post a 64 for the day, putting her ahead of compatriot Choi Hye-jin, who finished Thursday with three-under 69.

In an otherwise challenging day in wet conditions on the Blue Course, following heavy rain overnight, the world's top three players finished some way off as Chun blitzed the field.

Ko Jin-young ended Thursday with an even score of 72, while world number two and defending champion Nelly Korda finished on one-under.

After taking out the U.S. Women's Open earlier in the month, Minjee Lee had a tough day out, posting three bogeys to eventually finish on one-over.

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  • McIlroy dials it in and Schauffele finally converts – The stats that defined June on the PGA Tour McIlroy dials it in and Schauffele finally converts – The stats that defined June on the PGA Tour

    Whatever data Mark Horton is supplying his PGA Tour clients these days, it seems to be paying off.

    The English statistician counts both Sam Burns and Billy Horschel among those coming to him for guidance in their golf games. And each registered Tour wins in consecutive weeks last month, as Burns captured the Charles Schwab Challenge before Horschel cruised to victory at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday.

    "Hortsy (Horton) is unbelievable," Horschel said after his win. "He's been on my team since 2014. First year he comes on the team we win the FedExCup. He's very English and he's very blunt, and we had a conversation before he joined my team about my record on the PGA Tour and things I didn't do well.

    "My short game wasn't very good and I had stone hands. And this week I showed him finally that I have a short game that can live up to the golf course and save me at times."

    Horschel's game at the Memorial wasn't just good, it was unprecedented. His +13.58 Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green was the most at an event in his PGA Tour career and best since the 2018 Wyndham Championship (+10.74, tied for 11th). It broke his long-time career record of +13.07, set a decade ago at the 2012 Sanderson Farms Championship.

    He was the fourth Memorial winner since 2003 to rank first in both Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green as well as Greens in Regulation (53), joining Patrick Cantlay (2021), Jason Dufner (2017) and Tiger Woods (2012). He also finished the week ranked second in Proximity to the Hole, his third time on Tour ranking in the top-two and more than four feet closer than his previous average in eight previous starts at the Memorial.

    Credit to Horschel for his performance. And in the meantime, Horton will keep crunching the numbers.

    "He just tells me where I need to be on holes, where guys are making bogeys, where the birdies are coming from, the perfect way for me to plot my way around the golf course," Horschel explained. "That's what I love to do. I love to put my ball here, put the ball there. And he backs me up with that data that's he's been giving me for the last eight years."

    SCHAUFFELE FINALLY CONVERTS

    Xander Schauffele knew the record. The numbers don't lie.

    0-4 lifetime. Oh for four. Goose egg.

    That was Schauffele's career record on the PGA Tour when holding a 54-hole lead or co-lead. The now six-time Tour winner was still waiting to successfully convert a third-round position atop the leaderboard into a victory, and the Travelers Championship was one more opportunity to do it.

    "In the past when I had a 54-hole lead or close to the lead, my Sundays felt really fast," he said. "And I'd be sitting back in the hotel or at a house on Sunday [afterward] thinking, 'What happened today?'"

    This time, he said, Schauffele wanted to stay in the present and focus on the task at hand, which was each and every shot. They would all be critical to stave off Cantlay, who trailed him by only a stroke entering the final round, with more players not far behind.

    "I told [my caddie] to hold me accountable on the first hole walking up there," Schauffele said. "And he did a really great job, and both of us were pretty much dialled in from the first hole."

    That they were. Schauffele finished the week hitting 63 greens in regulation, leading the field and tying his most hit during an event on Tour in his career. He also hit 63 earlier this season at the WM Phoenix Open, where he tied for third, and hit 60 twice at both the 2020 Sentry Tournament of Championship (T2) and CIMB Classic (T3).

    That precision helped Schauffele finish with a Strokes Gained: Total of +16.39, the most at an event in his career. His previous best total was +15.31, set in 2020 at The CJ CUP.

    Schauffele trailed Sahith Theegala by one stroke as he approached the last, but the tournament leader closed with a double-bogey before Schauffele hit his approach to 3 feet, setting up the winning birdie. It marked his first individual PGA Tour title since the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions.

    "It's been a year where my stats have been very solid, just haven't really put in four good rounds of golf," Schauffele said afterward. "I think subconsciously or without myself even really knowing I was getting a little impatient. And this week I was just trying to be self-aware as possible to just stay as patient as possible. I had to just realise that I put the work in and if I can just sort of do what I've been doing and just focus a little bit more throughout the day that it will pay off in a big way, and fortunately it did."

    MCILROY DIALS IT IN

    When Rory McIlroy looked ahead to the final-round forecast at the RBC Canadian Open, a simple glance at the wind direction told him all he’d need to know about his chances for victory.

    "Seeing that southerly wind again, I knew I needed to go out and shoot 5-or-6-under par to have a chance to win," he said.

    Simple enough. McIlroy posted an eight-under 62 to edge Tony Finau by two strokes for his 21st PGA Tour victory.

    "You needed to keep your foot down, you needed to keep your foot on the pedal," McIlroy said of his mindset. "I got off to a faster start today than I have done the previous few days."

    McIlroy has feasted in final rounds this year, joining Finau as one of only two players on Tour with four final rounds of six-under or better this year. Prior to his eight-under 62 in Canada, he also posted a pair of six-under 66s at The Players Championship and The CJ CUP to go along with an epic eight-under 64 at The Masters.

    It marked his third final round of 62 or better en route to a PGA Tour win, something no other winner has done more than once since 1983. He also shot a final-round 61 to win the 2019 RBC Canadian Open, as well as a 62 at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    The Northern Irishman was buoyed by an incredible approach shot performance, as he averaged just over 3 feet to the hole from 100 to 125 yards out, 14 feet closer than the field average in the final round.

  • The Open: Woods accepts 'window' for major outings is closing The Open: Woods accepts 'window' for major outings is closing

    Tiger Woods is unsure how long he will be able to play elite-level golf as he prepares for his 22nd Open appearance, having missed last month's U.S. Open in order to ensure his fitness for another outing at St Andrews.

    Fifteen-time major champion Woods made a sensational return at the Masters in April, defying the odds to make the cut after suffering serious leg injuries in a car crash in February 2021.

    The 46-year-old has won three Open titles, the most recent of which came in 2006 when he edged out fellow American Chris DiMarco for a two-shot victory, becoming the first man since Tom Watson in 1982 and 1983 to win the tournament in consecutive years.

    And Woods says missing last month's U.S. Open, won by Matt Fitzpatrick at Brookline, was a decision he took in order to protect his participation at St Andrews, where he won Open titles in both 2000 and 2005.

    "The plan was to play the U.S. Open, but physically I was not able to do that," he told BBC Sport.

    "There's no way physically I could have done that. I had some issues with my leg, and it would have put [The Open] in jeopardy, and so there's no reason to do that."

    Woods also said he experiences "very difficult days when moving off the couch is a hell of a task, and that's just the way it is."

    As the golf legend looks forward to The Open, which begins on July 14, he accepts his window to play at the majors is closing due to his injury troubles.

    Asked how long he could continue at the top level, Woods said: "I don't know. I really don't.

    "If you asked me last year whether I would play golf again, all of my surgeons would have said no. But here I am playing two major championships this year.

    "I will always be able to play golf. Whether it's this leg, or someone else's leg, or a false leg, or different body pieces that have been fused, I'll always be able to play.

    "Now if you say play at a championship level, well, that window is definitely not as long as I would like it to be."

  • WGC-HSBC Champions cancelled due to COVID for third straight season WGC-HSBC Champions cancelled due to COVID for third straight season

    The WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai has again been cancelled "due to ongoing COVID-19 related restrictions", the PGA Tour has announced.

    The event was last played in 2019, when Rory McIlroy took the title.

    But the breakout of coronavirus in 2020 denied McIlroy the opportunity to defend his crown, before the tournament could not be held again the following year.

    While the PGA Tour is now back in full swing, remaining COVID restrictions in China will again prevent the WGC-HSBC from taking place.

    The Tour announced the Bermuda Championship would be played with full FedEx Cup points and an elevated purse of $6.5million.

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