Sunday, March 18, 2018

U.S. women rebound to win twice in International Crown

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A switch in pairings led to a change in fortune for the United States in the International Crown.

Coming off a dismal showing in the opening round, the United States shuffled its lineup and got the desired result, beating Spain twice Friday to earn its first points in the eight-country competition.

Lexi Thompson and Cristie Kerr took control on the back nine against Belen Mozo and Beatriz Recari in a 3-and-2 win, and Paula Creamer and Stacy Lewis held on to beat Azahara Munoz and Carlota Ciganda 2 up.

One day earlier, top-seeded America lost twice to Taiwan and was the only country without a point. The Americans traded partners Friday, and the new pairings proved to be far more productive.

"Obviously, we made the right decision," Creamer said. "We felt comfortable."

Kerr said: "I thought Lexi and I had a lot of chemistry out there together. We played with a lot of heart for each other."

The Kerr-Thompson pairing won holes 10-12 to go 3 up, and Creamer-Lewis took the lead for good by winning No. 7 before adding to their advantage on Nos. 9 and 11.

Munoz and Ciganda got to 1 down heading to 18 before both landed shots in a bunker. They ended up conceding the hole.

"I would say it was a little bit of a relief when they hit the bunker, but until they hit the bunker shots, I don't think we were relaxed at all," Lewis said.

Although it was an uplifting performance by the U.S. team, that won't be the only memory Creamer will take from the afternoon.

"The highlight of the day was shaking (Olympian) Michael Phelps' hand," Creamer said. "I almost fell over. I haven't washed my hand yet. We talked about that for two holes. I mean, when are we ever going to do that again?"

Senior British Open: Bernhard Langer had a seven-stroke cushion to take into today's third round after shooting 5-under 66 to add to his opening 65 at Bridgend, Wales. The 56-year-old German was 11-under 131 at a sunny Royal Porthcawl, with Scotland's Colin Montgomerie and South African-based Englishman Chris Williams tied for second at 138. Montgomerie shot 66 and Williams added 70 to his opening 68. "I've got a massive mountain to climb to catch Bernhard," Montgomerie said. Spaniard Pedro Linhart (69) was a shot further back, and Americans Bob Tway (73) and Tom Watson shared fifth at 2-under 140. Watson had a faultless round of 66 with three birdies, an eagle at the 18th and no dropped shots. "I played very aggressive and smart today," said Langer. "I missed a couple of opportunities early on, but I'm very pleased overall. Playing good golf on a great course is a lot of fun. But you have to be very careful, very smart and hopefully execute properly."

PGA: Two-time winner Jim Furyk birdied two of his last four holes in the Canadian Open to match the Royal Montreal record at 7-under 63 and tie Tim Petrovic atop the leaderboard. Furyk, 44 and the 2006 winner at Hamilton and 2007 champion at Angus Glen, matched Petrovic at 10-under 130 on the tree-lined Blue Course. "Winning any event is special," Furyk said. "I've had a lot of success (in Canada) and really a lot of support here. But we're only at the halfway point." Petrovic, 47, followed his opening 64 with 66. He missed the cut in his past five events. "I have been hitting the ball really well for about the last three weeks," he said. "I've seen signs of some good rounds coming. Am I surprised? Maybe a little." Petrovic was the last to get in the field, grabbing a spot when Benjamin Alvarado withdrew Tuesday. Petrovic won his lone PGA Tour title in New Orleans in 2005. Canada's Graham DeLaet, playing in a threesome with Furyk and Matt Kuchar, was two back along with Kyle Stanley (67). DeLaet, trying to become the first Canadian winner in the event in 60 years, also shot 63.