World No.1 Korda looks to maintain gold streak at Aramco Team Series in London

World No.1 Nelly Korda is looking to defend her Aramco Team Series title in London. (LET)
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Updated 03 June 2024

World No.1 Korda looks to maintain gold streak at Aramco Team Series in London

  • A historic start to 2024 for Korda with 6 wins, including Major championship
  • Defending champion is set to compete with strong field ahead of bid to retain gold medal at Olympics in August

LONDON: World No.1 Nelly Korda will be heading to London this summer in imperious form, as the history-making golf superstar defends her Aramco Team Series presented by PIF — London title at Centurion Club, from July 3-5.

Korda has been inspiring in 2024, securing six titles, including five consecutive LPGA titles and her first Chevron Championship. Her visit to London will be the only time to catch the American playing in England this year.

Overcoming grueling conditions in 2023, Korda cemented her win at Centurion Club by scoring an impressive 11-under-par, claiming her first title on British soil and besting home favorite Charley Hull in the process.

With the 2024 Paris Olympics set for August, and the Solheim Cup in September, the 2024 schedule is relentless for Korda, but the opportunity to defend her title in London was one that she could not turn down.

“Winning in London last year was definitely one of the highlights of 2023 for me. I played some really solid golf across the weekend, which showed me that my game was in a good place,” she said.

“I am very proud of the hard work I have put in the past year and it is nice to see some of the results paying off. I am always looking to improve and focus on my next event and I am excited to be coming back to the Aramco Team Series in London.”

The defending Olympic gold medalist has ascended the Rolex Women’s World Golf rankings this year, now looking untouchable at the top — but despite this success Korda is level-headed, and keen to ensure she can use her profile to inspire more young girls to take up golf.

“It is inspiring to be in a position to have a positive influence on the game.

“Making an impact on the next generation is something that is important to me. I try to inspire young girls and boys to encourage them to pick up a golf club for the first time — and the Aramco Team Series is a big part of that, as I’ve seen firsthand how their initiatives can have such a positive impact on the next generation.”

Already announced for the event are English duo Charley Hull and Georgia Hall, each looking to build on positive outings of their own in 2023 — and this time, overcome Korda on their home soil.

The duo will be part of a field that boasts a host of Olympians and Major winners, with the innovative team event attracting a blend of stars from both the LPGA and Ladies European Tour.

Shane Lowry keeps calm and carries British Open lead at Troon

Updated 20 July 2024

Shane Lowry keeps calm and carries British Open lead at Troon

  • Lowry had a two-shot lead over Justin Rose and Daniel Brown going into the weekend
  • Tiger Woods missed another cut, along with nine of the top 20 players in the world — including Rory McIlroy, Ludvig Aberg and Bryson DeChambeau

TROON, Scotland: Shane Lowry was a surprising model of calm amid all the calamity in the British Open on Friday.
Lowry was not immune from the endless punishment Royal Troon dished out on a day when Tiger Woods missed another cut, along with nine of the top 20 players in the world — including Rory McIlroy, Ludvig Aberg and Bryson DeChambeau.
He was close to losing his cool with a photographer who distracted him, a shot into the gorse bush, a beautiful provisional shot to the 11th green that didn’t count when his lost ball became found and a double bogey that wiped out his two-shot lead.
Lowry steadied himself with two birdies on the last three holes for a 2-under 69, leaving him in a familiar position as he chases that silver claret jug he first won at Royal Portrush five years ago. He had a two-shot lead over Justin Rose and Daniel Brown going into the weekend.
“I was in control of my ball, did all the right things for a lot of the round. Then when I got in a bit of trouble, I feel like I really finished the round well,” Lowry said. “I’m pretty happy with the day. To be leading this tournament after two days, it’s why you come here. It’s why we’re here.”
The shocker at Royal Troon — there were a lot of them Friday — was how many of the top players were leaving.
DeChambeau, the USOpen champion with top 10s in all the majors this year, managed only one birdie in a round of 75. McIlroy would have needed anything under par, and those hopes ended with a triple bogey 8 on his fourth hole. He shot 75.
“I’d much rather have a disappointing Sunday than going home on Friday,” said McIlroy, who was coming off a late collapse that cost him the US Open.
Woods had a 77 to miss the cut in his third straight major, this one by eight shots. His 36-hole score of 156 matched his highest as a pro.
Lowry was at 7-under 135, and only nine other players remained under par after two days of havoc-wreaking wind off the Irish Sea.
Brown, playing in his first major championship, held it together for a 72 that puts him in the final group on the weekend with Lowry. Rose wasn’t even sure he would be at Troon until he went through 36-hole qualifying at the start of the month. He went 29 holes before finally making a bogey, and then he finished strong for a 68.
Masters champion Scottie Scheffler found a pot bunker off the tee at the downwind 18th and made bogey, but otherwise was solid as ever for another 70. He was tied for fourth just five shots behind, along with Billy Horschel (68) and Dean Burmester (69).
“I know tomorrow is going to be a long day, but I’ve done it before,” Lowry said. “For me, it’s just about going out and playing my own game, shooting the best score I can. Try not to worry about what other people are doing and just trying to take care of your own personal stuff.”
It was best to keep blinders on at Royal Troon. There were some harrowing scenes.

McIlroy ended a torrid two days at Royal Troon on 11 over par. (Reuters)

Justin Thomas, who opened with a 68 to get himself in the mix, shot a 45 on the front nine and played his best golf from there to salvage a 78 and make sure he at least made the cut.
Robert MacIntire had an even tougher start. Scotland’s biggest star after winning his national Open last week, MacIntire was stuck in pot bunkers and high grass. He was 8 over for his round through four holes — four holes! — and then played 4 under the rest of the way for a remarkable 75 to make the cut.
The cut was at 6-over 148.
Aguri Iwasaki had them all beat. He took a 9 on consecutive holes and shot 52 on the back nine for a 91. One of those 9s was on the par-3 14th, where he took four shots out of two bunkers and once had to go backward toward the fairway.
McIlroy, who started with a 78, needed a good start and instead got a triple bogey. He barely moved the ball out of thick grass on the par-5 fourth. Once he got back to the fairway, he pulled another shot into the rough, chipped that into the bunker and ended the sad tale by missing a 4-foot putt.
“Once I made the 8 on the fourth hole that was it — 22 holes into the event and I’m thinking about where I’m going to go on vacation next week,” McIlroy said.
PGA champion Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay were in the group at 1-under 141.
Another shot back was Joaquin Niemann. He had another 71 despite taking a quintuple-bogey 8 on the par-3 eighth hole — the Postage Stamp — that measures a mere 123 yards. He was in three bunkers around the tiny green and three-putted when he finally got out of them. Niemann also made six birdies in a most remarkable round of level par.
So much chaos across the century-old links, and it looked for a brief moment like Lowry might take part. He was in the right rough, but he was distracted by a photographer and angry at himself for not backing off the shot that he tugged left toward a clump of gorse.
Figuring it would be lost in the prickly mess, Lowry hit a provisional for a lost ball onto the green, a terrific shot. One problem. Someone found the ball. It was no longer lost, so the provisional ball was not in play.
Lowry took a penalty drop from the bush, going back to find a place where he had a swing, put it short of the green, chipped on and salvaged a double bogey 6.
“To be honest, I was happy enough leaving there with a 6. It wasn’t a disaster. I was still leading the tournament,” Lowry said.
And now comes a big opportunity for Lowry to reclaim that claret jug. He’s not alone in the chase, especially with Troon’s ability to make anyone look silly. Scheffler has quietly avoided some of those moments.
“I’ve played two solid rounds and it put me five shots back, and I’ll continue to try to execute and just continue to try to hit good shots and hit good putts,” Scheffler said, making it all sound so simple on a day when nothing felt easy.

England’s Brown birdies last to lead The Open

Updated 19 July 2024

England’s Brown birdies last to lead The Open

  • Brown leads by one in his very first appearance at The Open Championship
  • Lowry made the most of the calm late afternoon conditions with three birdies in five holes around the turn to shoot 66 and lie solo second

TROON, United Kingdom: Daniel Brown drained an eight-footer on the 18th for a closing birdie that saw him sign for a round of 65 and a one-shot solo lead of the Open Championship in his very first appearance.

Shane Lowry had shot to the top of the leaderboard at five under par as Rory McIlroy was among the big names to struggle on day one of the 152nd Open at Royal Troon.
McIlroy posted a seven over par round of 78 with his hopes of ending a 10-year wait to win a major floundering as most of the field struggled in the wet and windy conditions on Scotland’s west coast.
Lowry, who won his sole major at The Open five years ago, made the most of the calm late afternoon conditions with three birdies in five holes around the turn to shoot 66 and lie solo second.
Two-time major winner Justin Thomas is lurking at three under, while recently crowned USPGA Championship winner Xander Schauffele is among a group of five on two under that also includes Justin Rose.
World number one Scottie Scheffler cut a frustrated figure on the greens but is still in the mix after a one under round that featured four birdies and three bogeys.
McIlroy was aiming to get over his heartbreak at the US Open last month, where he missed two short putts to blow the lead as Bryson DeChambeau claimed his second major by one shot.
However, the Northern Irishman’s round, and probably championship, was blown off course at the postage stamp 120-yard eighth.
McIlroy was unfortunate as his near-perfect tee shot slipped off the green into a bunker, which he took two attempts to get out of, to post a double bogey five.
Another double bogey followed at the 11th, while he also dropped shots at the 10th, 15th and 18th.
“All I need to focus on is tomorrow and try to make the cut,” said McIlroy.
“I need to go out there and play better and try to shoot something under par and at least be here for the weekend, if not try to put myself up the leaderboard a bit more and feel like I have half a chance.”

DeChambeau had been the form player in the majors so far this year, despite his defection to the breakaway LIV Tour.
The American finished sixth at the Masters and runner-up in the USPGA Championship before claiming his second US Open.
However, his struggles with the windy conditions of links golf continued as he was six over par for his opening nine holes.
DeChambeau battled back on the back nine as an eagle on the 17th helped him to a 76.
“I’m just proud of the way I persevered today,” said DeChambeau.
“I could have thrown in the towel after nine and could have been like, ‘I’m going home’. But no, I’ve got a chance tomorrow. I’m excited for the challenge.”
Thomas recovered from his own double bogey at the 12th to post a 68, which was 14 shots better than his opening round at Royal Liverpool 12 months ago.
“I played really solid, got it around. I felt like I had great control of the ball,” said Thomas.
World number three Schauffele continued his fine form in recent months as he dropped just one shot to put himself among the chasing pack.
Five-time major champion Brooks Koepka defied the worst of the weather to post four consecutive bridies between the fourth and the seventh before dropping back to one under.
Tiger Woods had hit back at suggestions from former European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie that he should retire, but the 15-time major champion failed to prove he can still be competitive with a 79.
“I didn’t do a whole lot of things right today,” said Woods. “I had three 3-putts today. I didn’t hit my irons very close, and I didn’t give myself a whole lot of looks today.”
Cameron Smith, champion at St. Andrews two years ago, fared even worse with an 80.
World number four Ludvig Aberg was another of the big names to falter in his first ever round at The Open with a four-over round of 75.
The Swede’s playing partner Jon Rahm is two over, while home favorite Bob McIntire is in the running after a one-over 72 to back up his victory at last week’s Scottish Open.

Jon Rahm hoping to ride Spanish momentum to end drought

Updated 17 July 2024

Jon Rahm hoping to ride Spanish momentum to end drought

  • The major championship season ends with the British Open, and Rahm has been a no-show
  • Rahm hopes he sorted out some issues with his driver by getting a new shaft, which he says has allowed him to swing a little more freely

TROON, Scotland: Jon Rahm felt like one of the most popular players when he arrived at Royal Troon, even if it had nothing to do with him or with his golf.

Spain is on quite the run at the moment. Carlos Alcaraz won Wimbledon on Sunday for his second Grand Slam title of the year, right before Spain defeated England in the European Championship final. It’s the latter that made the Scottish fans celebrate the Spaniard.

No one in these parts likes to see England win anything.

“Played all 18 holes, and I think I got more congratulations for something that I didn’t do than I ever have in my life,” Rahm said Tuesday. “I don’t know what they’ve done, but anytime anybody plays against the English national team, every other country in Europe just unifies against them.

“I think because we’ve heard ‘It’s Coming Home’ so many times the last few years that nobody wants to see it come home at this point.”

Throw in Sergio Garcia winning his first LIV Golf event at Valderrama, and Rahm would like nothing more than to extend Spain’s run of winners.

Mostly, he needs it for himself.

The major championship season ends with the British Open, and Rahm has been a no-show. He was the reigning Masters champion when he left for LIV Golf last December and he still hasn’t won. His last victory was the Masters some 15 months ago.

He barely made the cut at the Masters. He missed the cut at the PGA Championship. And he didn’t even get to play the US Open because of a foot infection.

“Last year from the Masters on I didn’t really play my best,” Rahm said. “Ryder Cup was the only resemblance to maybe the early part of the year. But Nashville and last week (LIV events), I felt closer to getting to a higher level of golf where maybe there isn’t as many thoughts on my process. Maybe I’m playing a little bit more freely and seeing the ball flight that I want to see more often.

“I’m getting much closer to what it might have been early last year.”

The foot infection, right before the US Open, summed up the frustrating year. Rahm was hopeful of playing Pinehurst No. 2 until seeking a specialist, who numbed his foot and thrust a swab into the infection to clean it out.

“Pretty much when I saw that go in I said, ‘OK, I’m not playing the Open,’” Rahm said. “Once I accepted the fact I couldn’t play, I think it was quite enjoyable. I think, as much as any other, I kind of enjoyed watching some of the best players in the world struggle.”

He can relate to a struggle these days, particularly in the majors.

Rahm hopes he sorted out some issues with his driver by getting a new shaft, which he says has allowed him to swing a little more freely. It was at Valhalla for the PGA Championship that he realized he needed a change.

The foot injury was a setback, but he contended at his next LIV event and then tied for 10th at Valderrama last week. He has top 10s in every LIV event he has played except for Houston, when he withdrew because of the foot injury.

Then again, LIV has the same 54 players every week, and only the top half would be considered among the elite in the game. Going the year without a win can be frustrating, much less the last 15 months.

Now it’s down to Royal Troon, a course that typically plays easy on the way out and turns into a beast — and into the wind — on the way back in.

Rahm had planned to only play nine holes on Monday, but the weather was probably as glorious as it’s going to be all week and he wanted to enjoy it. Wind or calm, rain or shine, it’s avoiding the pot bunkers and the gorse bushes that are key to this British Open.

And after this week, golf gets a little hazy. He still has a LIV calendar to finish out, but Rahm said his wife’s pregnancy with their third child is not going well and she is on bed rest. He doesn’t know if he will be able to play the Spanish Open this fall.

And it won’t be until next April that Rahm gets a chance to compete against the likes of Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele. The best players now only come together four times a year in the majors.

“It’s the decision I’ve made,” he said of joining LIV. “Hopefully at some point golf can figure itself out, and we have opportunities to play against each other more often.”

Spanish favorites Sergio Garcia, Fireballs win historic double playoff

Updated 15 July 2024

Spanish favorites Sergio Garcia, Fireballs win historic double playoff

  • For Garcia, the script couldn’t have been written any better, as he won for the first time after three previous playoff losses
  • It was LIV Golf’s first double playoff, and just the second team playoff in league history

SOTOGRANDE, Spain: On an unprecedented day in LIV Golf’s young history, captain Sergio Garcia and his Fireballs GC produced a storybook finish for their Spanish fans on home soil at LIV Golf Andalucia.Garcia rallied from seven strokes down to win his first LIV Golf individual title on the second sudden-death playoff hole against Crushers GC’s Anirban Lahiri.

Meanwhile, teammates Abraham Ancer and David Puig beat the Crushers duo of captain Bryson DeChambeau and Paul Casey in the team aggregate-score playoff as the Fireballs — with three Spaniards on the roster — swept both trophies at Real Club Valderrama.

It was LIV Golf’s first double playoff, and just the second team playoff in league history. The first team playoff came earlier this year at LIV Golf Adelaide, when the home Australian team — Ripper GC — also won.

For Garcia, the script couldn’t have been written any better, as he won for the first time after three previous playoff losses. That it happened on his favorite course, one in which he’s won three other professional events and has now finished inside the top 10 in 16 of his 17 starts, made it even more special.

“To be totally honest, there’s a connection between Valderrama and myself that I can’t even explain it,” said the 44-year-old Garcia, who ended a four-year winless drought while winning his 37th professional title.

Garcia started the day at even par, seven shots behind overnight leader Lahiri.

But the Spanish star played flawless golf for 17 holes, posting six birdies and applying pressure on Lahiri, who was trying to break his own winless drought of nine years.

While Garcia suffered his only bogey of the day with a three-putt at the par-3 third to wrap up his 5-under 66, Lahiri birdied the par-5 17th. That put the tournament in Lahiri’s hands going to the par-4 18th, the most difficult hole on the course this week.

Lahiri found the middle of the green with his approach shot and rolled his birdie attempt to 3 feet to set up the potential winning par. But with a chance to win the individual title and secure the team title for the Crushers, he missed the putt for a final-round 73 to drop back to 5 under and set up the double playoff.

Garcia was riding in a van back to the clubhouse at the time. “We obviously heard the crowds going crazy, so we figured that he might have missed his par putt,” Garcia said. “… It was nice to be able to have another shot at it.”Garcia and Lahiri each parred their first playoff hole. Meanwhile, in the team playoff right behind them, DeChambeau found trouble off the 18th tee and had to lay up with his second shot. Casey’s approach finished in the rough behind the green. DeChambeau bogeyed the hole while Ancer and Puig made easy pars to claim the Fireballs’ first team victory of the season.

Like his captain, Lahiri’s errant tee shot on the second playoff hole left him in trouble, and Garcia won with a par, with his teammates and family racing onto the green to drench him in celebratory champagne.

“Obviously individual for me, it’s a dream come true to do it on my favorite course in front of my family and friends and in front of my teammates,” Garcia said. “But to even make it even better by winning the team championship, too, it was amazing. So proud of these guys, the way they played.”

On the flip side, it was heartbreak for the Crushers, who have won twice this season and lead the season-long points standings as they look to repeat as team champions.

“It sucks. Losing is never fun,” said DeChambeau. “That’s what makes winning so much better. I feel for Baan.”

Perhaps it was simply fate for the Fireballs and their captain to win on home turf in front of a partisan crowd.“A dream weekend for all of us,” said young Fireballs star Eugenio Chacarra. “Super happy for Sergio. He’s been up there a lot, and he’s been playing at a high level for 20 plus years. It’s really nice to see it from close every single day, and so happy for him that he got it done on his favorite course.”

Davis Thompson takes 2-shot lead into the final round of the low-scoring John Deere Classic

Updated 07 July 2024

Davis Thompson takes 2-shot lead into the final round of the low-scoring John Deere Classic

  • Thompson: Everybody is hungry. That’s what makes it difficult out here
  • The final round will be in threesomes off both tees for a slightly later start Sunday with hopes of avoiding storms that already have made the course vulnerable

SILVIS, Illinois: Davis Thompson made birdie on half of his holes Saturday on a soft and defenseless TPC Deere Run, matching his career low with a 9-under 62 for a two-shot lead going into the final round of the John Deere Classic.

Thompson made birdie even after his one bad swing, escaping from the trees on the par-5 17th and then hitting wedge from a bad angle over a knob of rough to 8 feet.

He was at 21-under 192, his first time with the 54-hole lead in his second year on the PGA Tour.

That doesn’t feel like much of a lead this week.

“The guys behind me are playing really well,” Thompson said. “I know it’s going to be tough to finish off a golf tournament, but I’ve done it before. I just have to stay present-minded.”

His lone win was on the Korn Ferry Tour two years ago.

Eric Cole hit 3-wood from 274 yards to just inside 15 feet for eagle on the 17th that carried him to a 64 and into the final group. He was two shots behind. Joining them will be Aaron Rai of England, in the final group for the second straight week after a 66.

The final round will be in threesomes off both tees for a slightly later start Sunday with hopes of avoiding storms that already have made the course vulnerable to low scoring.

Jordan Spieth played early and at one point was tied for the lead — the leaders had not even reached the practice range at that point — and wound up with a 63. By the end of the day, he made up only one stroke on the lead. Spieth was seven shots behind in a tie for 12th.

“It would take something extremely flawless to have a chance,” Spieth said. “But I’ll try and do what I did today.”

Hayden Spring finally shot a round in the 60s — he opened with a course record-tying 59 and fell back with a 71 on Friday — and his 66 put him four shots behind at 17-under 196 along with C.T. Pan, who had a 68.

Still in the mix were a pair of youngsters — one still in college, one just out. Michael Thorbjornsen, who has a card as the No. 1 player in the PGA Tour University ranking after his senior year at Stanford, had a 66. Florida State sophomore Luke Clanton had a 67. They were among those five shots off the lead.

Clanton made the cut in the US Open, and then tied for 10th last week in the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He’s trying to become the first amateur since 1958 to finish in the top 10 on the PGA Tour in consecutive weeks.

Clanton looks so comfortable that he even agreed to do a walk-and-talk with the CBS booth while playing on the back nine.

“It’s crazy, I can’t even really fathom what’s happening right now, honestly,” Clanton said. “I’m still a 20-year-old kid in college just having fun. Doing that stuff is unreal.”

Thompson got into the mix quickly by making a 25-foot birdie putt on the first hole and getting up-and-down from the bunker for a birdie on the par-5 second. He also holed out from a bunker for birdie on the fifth and then got a break on the sixth when his drive hit a tree and kicked out to the fairway, setting up wedge to close range for birdie.

“I guess it was just my day today,” Thompson said. “Hit a lot of good shots on the back nine and finished the round off well.”

He surged into the lead with three straight birdies on the back nine — a tee shot to a foot on the par-3 12th hole, a 15-foot birdie putt on the 13th and then driving into a bunker on the reachable par-4 14th and blasting out to a foot.

Now comes the hard part — going for his first PGA Tour win, seven players within five shots of the lead on a course that is giving up low scores to just about everyone.

“Everybody is hungry. That’s what makes it difficult out here,” Thompson said. “There is a lot of losers every week out here. You can have great weeks and finish top 10. At the end of the day your goal is to win the golf tournament.

“Yeah, it’s frustrating at times, but at the end of the day this is what you work for, to put yourself in these positions.”