Friday's golf: 2 European-Asian Tour events postponed due to virus
Virginia Water, England — Two men’s golf tournaments co-sanctioned by the European and Asian tours in Malaysia and China were postponed Friday because of the deadly new virus from China.
The tournaments are the Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur on April 16-19 and the China Open in Shenzhen on April 23-26.
Rescheduling is being discussed, the European Tour said in a statement.
Maybank, the sponsor and promoter, requested its event be postponed. The decision regarding the China Open followed talks with the China Golf Association, tournament host Genzon Golf Club, the Shenzhen government and sponsor Volvo.
“We feel this is the correct course of action at this time,” said Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour.
The coronavirus outbreak has already forced the U.S. LPGA Tour to cancel three events in Thailand, Singapore and China that had been scheduled in the next three weeks.
Kuchar leads at Riviera
Matt Kuchar made a mess of the easiest hole at Riviera. He couldn’t find the fairway and felt he was on the defensive all afternoon in the Genesis Invitational.
He was good enough with the short irons that Kuchar still managed a 2-under 69 and built a two-shot lead over Rory McIlroy and two others going into the weekend at Riviera.
“It definitely wasn’t my best stuff today,” Kuchar said. “Two under was an awfully good score for the way I drove it.”
Tiger Woods happily would have taken a score like that. Instead, he made his bid for a first victory at Riviera and a record 83rd title on the PGA Tour a lot tougher. Two swings with a wedge wound up costing Woods three shots, and his 73 left him nine shots behind.
“I made some pretty bad mistakes out there,” Woods said.
He can’t afford any more, not with 44 players ahead of him, including past champions like Adam Scott and Dustin Johnson, and players who would desperately like to add their name to the list of winners at this historic club.
McIlroy, in his return to No. 1 in the world, handled the par 5s and kept mistakes to a minimum in his round of 67, which puts him in the final group Saturday with Kuchar and Harold Varner III, who had a 68 in the morning.
Kuchar was at 9-under 135. He began with a bogey on the par-5 opening hole, one of only two players in the 121-man field to not make par or better. Kuchar went long of the green, took two chips to get on the green and missed a 15-foot par putt.
Wyndham Clark had a 68 and joined McIlroy and Varner in the group two shots behind.
Woods didn’t have to search long to figure out his errors.
He started well enough with a smart choice to hit iron on the reachable par-4 10th because of the back right pin position, a wedge into about 12 feet and a birdie. And he was never in too much trouble. The 15th hole did not appear to present any problems, especially after Woods crushed a 335-yard drive to the middle of the fairway.
He hung his head immediately after a chunked pitching wedge that plugged into the bunker short of the green, leaving no shot to a front pin. He blasted that through the green, chipped back to 7 feet and missed putt for double bogey.
“I just hit it fat,” he said. “Honestly, I was just trying to cut a little wedge in there and get it up in the air.”
After two birdies on the par 5s around the turn — Nos. 17 and 1 — Woods gave away another shot with a sand wedge from light rough into the front bunker on No. 3 for bogey. He bogeyed the par-3 fourth, and then he three-putted from about 50 feet up the slope on the par-3 sixth.
Woods to skip Mexican Championship
Tiger Woods is among four players from the top 10 who are skipping the Mexico Championship next week, a World Golf Championships event with no cut and a $10.5 million purse.
Woods, who tied for 10th last year at Chapultepec Golf Club but was never in serious contention, did not offer a reason and was vague when asked about his schedule this week. He shot 73 in the morning at the Genesis Invitational, where he is the tournament host.
“I’ve been so busy with this event and trying to deal with all the little things that I haven’t really focused on next week,” Woods said.
Brooks Koepka is skipping for the second time in three years, the first time by choice. He had a wrist injury in 2018, and Koepka will be playing his hometown Honda Classic the following week.
Also skipping Mexico City from the top 10 are Justin Rose for the second straight year and Patrick Cantlay, who is having elective surgery on his septum next week to be ready for The Players Championship and the weeks leading to the Masters.
Park tied for lead Down Under
Seven-time major champion Inbee Park moved into contention for her 20th LPGA Tour victory by taking a share of the second-round lead at the Women’s Australian Open.
Park shot 4-under 69 to put her at 10-under 136 at Royal Adelaide, level with first-round leader Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70).
“It was a little bit more calm this morning, so it was nice to play out there,” said Park, looking for her first win since the 2018 Bank of Hope Founders Cup. “My putting was consistent, like the last couple of days, so it was good. I just love the golf course and the atmosphere here. So, hopefully I can pull it off on the weekend.”
After an afternoon of misty rain and wind gusts up to 20 mph, Ewart Shadoff joined Park at the top of the leaderboard. Two early bogeys dropped the Englishwoman off the pace, but she rallied with five birdies to grab a share of the 36-hole lead.
Jillian Hollis (69), was in third place, one stroke behind. Defending champion Nelly Korda (73) was six strokes behind.
Five-time champion Karrie Webb, whose lead-up to the tournament was hampered by a virus, missed the cut after a second consecutive 74.
Because of the virus outbreak in China, the Women’s Australian Open will be the last LPGA tournament for a month after the cancellation of three scheduled events in Thailand, Singapore and China.