Golf Buzz

June 11, 2015 - 2:31pm
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T.J. Auclair
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Cristie Kerr
USA Today Sports Images
Cristie Kerr has shown remarkable consistency over the last decade-plus, racking up 17 wins. This week at Westchester CC, the 37-year-old is looking for her third major win.

HARRISON, N.Y. -- Cristie Kerr, a 17-time winner on the LPGA Tour with two major wins, had herself tied at the top of the leaderboard midway through the first round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship on Thursday after firing a 3-under 70 at Westchester Country Club.

Kerr's only blemish of the day was a bogey at the par-5 fifth hole. She immediately bounced back with a birdie at the par-3 sixth to right the ship.

RELATED: KPMG Women's PGA Championship leaderboard | Round 1 photos from Westchester

"The front nine I had a bunch of chances and a couple putts lipped out, and I just tried to stay patient and got off to a great start on the back nine," said Kerr, who birdied two of her first three holes on the back side. "I made kind of a longer putt on No. 10 and then a great save on the next hole and then just kind of got some momentum. You know, 3-under, had a couple putts lip out, but I made a couple great saves, as well. Like on the par 3, 16, hit it way right of the green, flopped it up there and made about a 12 -- at least a 12-footer for par. I went on to birdie the next hole so kind of kept the momentum going today."

For well over a decade, Kerr has been one of the LPGA's most consistent winners. The 37-year-old whose last win came in March at the Kia Classic, said that because of her competitive nature, she doesn't see herself slowing down anytime soon -- like LPGA legend, Juli Inkster.

"Juli [Inkster] has always been my idol," Kerr said of the 54-year-old, seven-time major winner. "She's still a grinder. She still loves to practice and compete. I'm the same way. It's just fun. It is hard. There are some really tough days and there's some really rewarding days. It's always that unattainable chase that you look forward to trying to get every day, for me, at least."

This is the inaugural year for the reimagined KPMG Women's PGA Championship. Kerr said that given the atmosphere, there's no denying that this is a major week.

"It is a major in every way," she said. "I always think it's interesting when you start a golf course out with a par 3. Some of the best courses in the world do that, like Lytham and St. Annes. I think the long par 3 starts that course. Some of the greatest courses are par 3s to start off. So it was interesting that they brought a little bit of that old-school kind of here to New York, and it's not like just driver down the middle of the fairway. You have to place your shot on the first shot of the tournament. I think that's kind of cool."

June 11, 2015 - 10:58am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Justin Bieber
Pop star ustin Bieber took to the course on Saturday in Los Angeles and, well, it wasn't pretty.

Justin Bieber took to the links in Los Angeles on Saturday and -- lucky us -- someone filmed a little of it.

RELATED: The 'Relaxed Rules' of Golf | Beyonce plays golf! Well, sort of

Based on what I can see here, Bieber is quite generous with the rules, has a temper and a wild, wild swing:

Assessment? I'd rather listen to his music than play behind him.

June 10, 2015 - 4:39pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Suzann Pettersen
USA Today Sports Images
Suzann Pettersen won the LPGA's Manulife Classic on Sunday for her 15th career win, but she isn't impressed. This week, she looks for major No. 3 at Westchester CC in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship.

HARRISON, N.Y. -- Former world No. 1 Suzann Pettersen enters this week's KPMG Women's PGA Championship on the heels of her 15th career LPGA win on Sunday at the Manulife LPGA Classic.

A career that's 15 wins strong and counting is pretty special, isn't it?

So what does it mean to Pettersen, a two-time major winner?

"Nothing really," she said, smiling but dead serious. "I mean, 15 wins, I've been out on Tour for 15 years, that's one a year. That's not that impressive."

RELATED: KPMG Women's PGA Championship tee times | Lewis sees ideas come to fruition

Pettersen may not think so, but her peers would disagree. In an effort to get even better this season, Pettersen turned to renowned instructor Butch Harmon. Sunday's triumph was their first as a team.

Pettersen noted that while working with Harmon -- who grew up around this week's venue, Westchester Country Club, and has given Pettersen some tips -- is amazing, being a part of the Harmon team is what means the most. It afforded her an opportunity recently to play a round with one of Harmon's many stars, Phil Mickelson.

"I got to play a round of golf with Phil Mickelson which was very inspirational for me," Pettersen said. "I got to kind of pick his brain about his short game. I mean, stuff like that, you can't necessarily buy that off a teacher because I think the best advice you get out there is from the players themselves. So being on Butch's team kind of allows me to get more knowledge of not just Butch himself but also his players."

Pettersen, who over the course of her career has seen the best (and been the best) in the likes of Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb, Yani Tseng, Inbee Park and Lydia Ko, thought that maybe her career would be winding down after the 2016 Olympics.

However, she's now realizing the game is something she just isn't ready to let go of.

"I have a lot of new goals on my mind," she said. "I feel like I've started all over. That's kind of what I needed. I felt like I needed a little bit of a kick in the butt to be honest. I didn't need anyone who was like sugarcoating me and just telling me what I've done is fantastic and I should be happy with that. I needed somebody to push me and help me challenge kind of my own skills. So I'm very motivated. I always said 2016 would be a breaking point for me. I would be happy to maybe hang the clubs on the wall after the Olympics, but at this point, I don't see why I should because I still love this game way too much, and I see myself feeling way too competitive. So I don't really have an end goal right now and I see myself playing for many, many years to go. So, I'm happy to be around." 

June 10, 2015 - 2:32pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Stacy Lewis
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Stacy Lewis, one of the top players on the LPGA, is excited for this week's KPMG Women's PGA Championship since she was instrumental behind the scenes with three key ideas.

HARRISON, N.Y. -- LPGA star Stacy Lewis, currently No. 3 in the world, was heavily involved in the process of evolving this week's KPMG Women's PGA Championship thanks to three specific ideas she offered up to the powers that be:

1. A big course.
2. A big purse.
3. Network television

"They killed it with all three of them," said Lewis on the eve of the championship at Westchester Country Club. "And then from there, it was just little things kind of behind the scenes but having a big media center, having good access for the people who watch. I said it has to feel like a big tournament. You walk up 18 [here] and it feels like a big tournament and that was what we were looking for."

RELATED: KPMG Women's PGA Championship tee times | Lincicome throws first "pitch" at no-hitter

With all those items checked off, Lewis is hoping to check off something else this week too -- major win No. 3.

Given her obligations to sponsor KPMG outside of the ropes, however, that has made this week's preparations a little less than desirable from a time standpoint.

Later on Wednesday, in fact, Lewis was scheduled to join Annika Sorenstam at the KPMG Women's Leadership Summit.

"I make sure I allow my time for practice," said Lewis, a 12-time LPGA winner. "I said no to a few things this morning because of how busy my afternoon is and made sure I set aside my time for practice because that's most important. And when I'm there, I'm inside the ropes. I'm not answering questions or doing anything else. You are where you are; just be where you are is the biggest thing. I've done it before. I was all over the place at ShopRite last year and still won a tournament. It definitely can be done. It's just being where you are in that moment."

Lewis tees off in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship with Caroline Hedwall and Mi Hyang Lee at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. 

June 10, 2015 - 10:49am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Dustin Johnson
USA Today Sports Images
Dustin Johnson won the St. Jude Classic in 2012. Can he turn the trick again this week?

The PGA Tour is in Memphis this week for the FedEx St. Jude Classic -- the last tournament before the second major championship of the season, the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.

Since a major renovation at TPC Southwind several years ago, the St. Jude Classic has managed to draw a much stronger field. With tougher course conditions, the crazy-low scores that once ruled in Memphis don't occur nearly as often.

RELATED: Tee times for the FedEx St. Jude Classic | Perry formally ends PGA Tour career

The course may not mimic U.S. Open conditions, but it is a place you have to think your way around.

With that, here are the five players you'll want to watch this week.

5. Phil Mickelson
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T2 at the Masters
Reason to watch: It certainly hasn't been the best of seasons for Mickelson, but -- to this point anyway -- it's already better than it was a year ago. Mickelson's last two starts at TPC Southwind have resulted in a T11 and a T2, respectively. It's a course he's clearly comfortable on. Along with that, everyone in the world knows that Lefty has his sights set on Chambers Bay next week, as he takes a second crack at trying to snag the one major that eludes him. Mickelson would love to have a great week on the course following last week's T65 at Memorial, something to give him some good vibes going into the U.S. Open.

4. Webb Simpson
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T2 at the Wells Fargo Championship
Reason to watch: With four top-10 finishes this season, it seems Simpson has done just about everything but notch a win. He enters this week after having tied for second -- his best start of the season -- at the Wells Fargo Championship. In his first Memphis start since 2010 one year ago, Simpson tied for third. I think his first win of the season is coming soon. Why not this week in Memphis?

3. Harris English
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Lost playoff at Farmers Insurance Open
Reason to watch: I think English is searching for a measure of redemption at TPC Southwind this week. As the defending champion of the tournament last year -- his first title defense on the PGA Tour -- English disappointingly missed the cut. Players at this level never want to miss the cut, but especially at a place where they're defending a title. English has been solid this season with three top-10 finishes among his six top-25 finishes, including a playoff loss at Torrey Pines. I'm still waiting for English to bust out as one of the young stars on the PGA Tour as many predicted. This year will be better than last for him in Memphis.

2. Billy Horschel
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Third at the Valero Texas Open
Reason to watch: Lately, it just seems as though the 2013-14 FedExCup Champion has been building toward something big. Following a T13 at the Players Championship, Horschel tied for 11th at the Memorial a week ago. Add that to the fact that he's got top-10 finishes in his last two starts at Memphis and I think that could be the recipe for a special week.

1. Dustin Johnson
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Won the WGC-Cadillac Championship
Reason to watch: TPC Southwind is a track that Johnson always plays well at... when he plays, which he's done the last three seasons, with a T24 (2014); T10 (2013); and a win (2012). It's also been a season of consistent great golf for Johnson. Half of his 12 starts have yielded top-10 finishes. That's tied for third best on Tour. Listen, Johnson is a favorite every time he tees it up. It's been that way for a few years now and that hasn't changed.

Here's how my five to watch fared last week at the Memorial Tournament:

5. Tiger Woods -- 71
4. Matt Kuchar -- T26
3. Justin Rose -- 2nd
2. Bill Haas -- T18
1. Dustin Johnson -- T13 

Mr. Met and Brittany Lincicome
Brittany Lincicome via Twitter
Brittany Lincicome threw the first strike of Chris Heston's no-hitter at Citi Field Tuesday night.
Brittany Lincicome is quite an athlete, as well as a sports fan – and a trick-shot artist – so it was no surprise that she was asked to throw out the first pitch at the game between the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets Tuesday night as part of KPMG Women's PGA Championship Week. And sure enough, Lincicome didn't disappoint, hitting the catcher's mitt in her big moment on the mound at Citi Field.
She also met Mr. Met and Victor Espinosa, the jockey who rode American Phraoah to the Triple Crown, and even visited the owner's suite. Little did she, or anyone, know, however, that her first pitch was soon to become a part of history – because following her to the mound was Giants rookie Chris Heston, who went on to throw the first no-hitter of the 2015 Major League Baseball season.
So now, we suspect, our girl Brittany won't be invited back to throw out any more first pitches at Mets games. If the Giants have any smarts, though, they'll sign her up to be their permanent first-pitch tosser. And no matter what, she'll go down in history for her role in this latest slice of Giants history.
Here's her pitch, courtesy of Golf Channel analyst and big-time Giants fan Kay Cockerill: