June 11, 2015 - 3:21pm
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T.J. Auclair
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Lydia Ko
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It wasn't the best round ever for Lydia Ko on Thursday, but with back-to-back birdies to finish off a 1-under 72, she's right in the mix at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship.

HARRISON, N.Y. -- World No. 1 Lydia Ko didn't have her best stuff during the first round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Westchester Country Club on Thursday, but it was still good enough to turn in a 1-under 72, just two off the clubhouse lead at the time of this post.

After a fairly uneventful front nine with a birdie and a bogey for an even-par 36, things got colorful for Ko on the inward nine.

Ko birdied the short, par-4 10th hole, followed by a bogey on the 11th. She birdied the par-5 12th, but bogeyed the par-4 13th. After another bogey on the par-3 16th, Ko finished the day with back-to-back birdies to end on a high note.

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

"I think it's really important," Ko said about her birdie-birdie finish. "I personally love courses where you can finish on a par 5. I feel like it makes it very interesting. And especially if the leaders are close, you just never know what the score is going to be like. I love that we are finishing on a par 5, and two birdies in a row, I hit some solid shots. So yeah, just got to take that out tomorrow."

When asked if the course played like a U.S. Open-style venue, Ko said it did.

"This course, like I said yesterday, there's nothing about it I would say it's not a major," she said. "It's got great facilities, great hospitality, and the course itself is playing tough. You can lose shots in the blink of an eye and you can grab some along the way.

"I think patience is really one of the big things," she added. "If you're not patient out there, it's going to get to you. You're going to make some silly bogeys or make some good bogeys maybe. Yeah, just keep the mind in a positive state, that's what I tried to do the last two holes coming in. I think that's really important. Just got to know that, hey, there may be some tough holes but then there are some holes that you could recover from."

And that's precisely what Ko did on Thursday.

World No. 1 Lydia Ko opens with 1-under 72
June 11, 2015 - 3:00pm
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T.J. Auclair
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Brittany Lincicome
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Brittany Lincicome is one of the longest hitters on the LPGA Tour. It's no surprise that she's excited to be playing a major on a course that features five par 5s.

HARRISON, N.Y. -- On the LPGA Tour, Brittany Lincicome's nickname is "Bam Bam" because she can smash her driver. She just crushes it.

So, when she saw that Westchester Country Club features five par 5s this week, Lincicome was licking her chops.

RELATED: KPMG Women's PGA leaderboard | Lincicome throws first pitch of Mets-Giants no-no

"See my eyes light up," said Lincicome, who already won the first LPGA major of the year at the ANA Inspiration in April. "I'm super excited. The first couple days, Monday, I had only played nine holes and I'm like, 'wow, am I missing something?' And then two of them are reachable -- actually all three of them were reachable today. So that makes it even more exciting. All you focus on is getting it in play and then you go from there. So any time the par 5s are reachable, your scorecard kind of goes from normally 72 to kind of 68 and, this week it might even go one lower. But being a major obviously there's going to be a couple bogeys out there that are going to happen; it's inevitable. A couple under par each day would probably be really good."

In Thursday's first round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, Lincicome played the five par 5s in 3-under par with one bogey, an eagle, two birdies and a par on her way to a 3-under 70.

The eagle at the par-5 15th hole was the highlight of the round, followed by a birdie on the difficult par-3 16th moments later.

Lincicome hit a 4-iron from 203 yards out into the 15th green, which left a speedy, downhiller for eagle.

"The putt, actually, if it wouldn't have hit the hole, I think it would have gone off the green," she said. "Jeff (her caddie) asked if I had dented the cup at all, if I needed to replace the cup because it was going in with some speed. The next hole, my birdie putt was three, four feet and if I would have missed it I wouldn't even have cared because that hole I literally just tried to make par on every day and just keep moving, because I think that's one of the toughest par 3s that we've ever played just because it's so far and the green is so small. I got really lucky there."

Lincicome was paired with Cristie Kerr and Jessica Korda in Round 1 and all three players were solid. Kerr and Korda also opened with 70.

Lincicome and Korda were especially impressive, as both players played their final nine holes in 4-under par after making the turn at 1 over.

"We both (Lincicome and Korda) birdied 9 and going to 10 and said: 'Let's do a $5 birdie game to get us motivated to shoot better,'" Lincicome said. "She birdied the last so we were tied unfortunately or I was going to be up $5. Just the small things. We just kind of needed something to kind of motivate us to get back in it. We weren't out of it by any means, but obviously being a major, you never know if you're going to birdie that many holes coming in. If you're already over par, it's hard to get it back. It was just fun. Kerr and Korda, it was a great group all around. We had a really good day."

Was Kerr in on that game?

"We didn't let Kerr in because she was already making too many birdies," Lincicome joked. "She doesn't need any motivation. She's going to walk it in and make her birdies." 

Long-hitting Lincicome loving Westchester's five par 5s
June 11, 2015 - 2:31pm
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Cristie Kerr
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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."

Kerr chasing third major win at Westchester Country Club
June 11, 2015 - 10:58am
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T.J. Auclair
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Justin Bieber
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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.

Bieber has a relaxed set of golf rules
June 10, 2015 - 4:39pm
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Suzann Pettersen
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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." 

Ultra competitive Pettersen remains her own toughest critic
June 10, 2015 - 2:32pm
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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. 

Lewis sees ideas come to fruition at KPMG Women's PGA Championship