Apr 26

Brooke Henderson can get LPGA membership with Swinging Skirts win

Sunday is the most important day in the young career of 17-year-old Brooke Henderson.

The Canadian former world No. 1 amateur carries a one-shot lead into the final round of the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. Were she to survive at Lake Merced Golf Club and pick up her first LPGA win, it would give her a foundation from which to launch a long career. 

"If someone told me at the beginning of the week I would be leading going into the final round, I would've taken it," Henderson said Saturday evening.

Henderson has no LPGA status, denied the opportunity to play in the tour's Q-School last December. Commissioner Mike Whan declined to give Henderson a waiver that would have allowed her to play despite being younger than the tour's age floor of 18. Whan has been consistent in refusing to grant that exception unless a player has already won an LPGA event.

If Henderson wins on Sunday, she would earn a two-year exemption but would still need to petition Whan for that exemption. He'd likely grant it.

There's a lot on the line for Henderson, but she feels carrying the Canadian golf banner has prepared her for Sunday pressure.

"Back home in Canada I have received a lot of pressure from Canada for the last couple years," she said. "If you have pressure it means you're doing something right. I try and use it to my advantage and try and use it to help me get better. "

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Apr 26

Get ready for a marathon Sunday at the Zurich Classic

It's going to be a long Sunday for the weekend field at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. 

After weather delays limited third-round play on Saturday at TPC Louisiana, the field resumes play with the hopes of completing the tournament before sundown. Of course, a short fog day has already pushed back the festivities further, but the chase is now on in earnest.

Jason Day stands out from the field, which is otherwise very tightly bunched. However, on this Pete Dye-designed track and in favorable, quiet weather conditions, a lot of ground can be made up quickly.

While Day is looking for his second PGA Tour win of the year, the likes of two-time heart-transplant recipient Erik Compton, Honda Classic playoff loser Daniel Berger and Brendon de Jonge are looking for their breakthrough victory. 

Though there's an expectation that play will finish on Sunday, there's the possibility that rain could hamper progress for a fourth day in a row. Were play to spill over into Monday, that would pose a problem for a number of players -- and contenders -- in New Orleans, as they'll head immediately after to San Francisco for the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship, which begins on Wednesday.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Apr 25

Ben Crane made a creative par at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Tee box, fairway, then green. That's usually the ideal way to play a golf hole. Not for Ben Crane, though, at least on one hole on Friday at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

In Round 1, Crane played the 476-yard, par-4 sixth at TPC Louisiana as designer Pete Dye intended, and it left him some 250 yards to the hole for his second shot. He made par, yes, but, in Round 2, he wanted an easier way to make 4.

So Crane decided he would aim not down the fairway, but over some trees to the left of the tee box. His ball landed on the 12th hole, leaving Crane a better angle and just 163 yards into the hole. From there, Crane hit the green and two-putted for an easy par.

Just remember: Where there's a will -- and a line -- there's a way.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Apr 25

17-year-old Brooke Henderson takes Swinging Skirts LPGA lead

World No. 1 Lydia Ko, who turned 18 on Friday, made last year's Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic site of her first LPGA win as a pro. 

Now Canadian prodigy Brooke Henderson is hoping to enjoy her own pro breakthrough at 17 in just her 10th LPGA start.

Henderson, who has no status on the LPGA Tour and was denied the right to play in Q-school last year because of her age, shot 7-under 65 on Friday in Round 2 at Lake Merced Golf Club. It was good enough to give her a two-shot lead over Na Yeon Choi at 9 under par halfway through the tournament.

An eagle at the short par-4 14th coupled with six birdies led to a tournament-record score. The question, however, is if Henderson is ready to parlay that into a win.

"I think I'm ready. Yeah, 17 is young," Henderson said. "As you've seen with Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson and even Jessica Korda, there are a lot of great names that have been able to do it. I'm hoping that I'm one of them."

For her part, Ko is in contention to defend her title. She shot 72 on Friday, which leaves her four shots back of Henderson.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Apr 24

Freddie Jacobson’s record three-putt avoidance streak ends in NOLA

When Freddie Jacobson teed off in Round 2 of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, it had been 30 rounds since the Swede had three-putted a green. However, Jacobson's PGA Tour record streak didn't last long on Friday at TPC Louisiana.

On his first hole, the 10th at the Pete Dye-designed track, Jacobson three-putted from 34 feet, leading to a bogey that ended a streak of 542 holes without a three-jack.

Jacobson had not three-putted since the second round of the Humana Challenge on Jan. 23. At the RBC Heritage last week, he surpassed the Tour's previous three-putt avoidance record, held by Luke Donald at 483 holes. Tracking of that statistic dates back to 2003.

In the end, he closed with 1-under 71 to get to the weekend at 5-under 139 and within striking distance of the lead heading into the weekend.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Apr 24

Tiger Woods will compete in The Players Championship

We now know when Tiger Woods will play next on the PGA Tour.

Woods announced on Twitter on Friday that he'll compete in two weeks at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

This will be Woods' first appearance at The Players since 2013, when he won the event for the second time (2001). Woods didn't play in the event last year as he was recovering from a microdiscectomy procedure on his back on March 31. 

The 14-time major champion finished T-17 at the Masters two weeks ago, which marked his first tournament after taking two months off to find his game. Jack Nicklaus said he spoke with Woods at Augusta National, relaying that Woods indicated to him that he'll play in his Memorial Tournament in early June. Woods is a five-time champion of the event.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Apr 23

Marc Leishman returns after wife’s health scare

Marc Leishman returned to the PGA Tour on Thursday, shooting 2-over 74 in the first round of Zurich Classic of New Orleans. However, the Australian came back with a new perspective, relieved his wife will survive a major health scare.

Leishman withdrew from the Masters two weeks ago, citing his wife Audrey's condition. The severity of the situation, however, was unclear. As it turns out, Audrey was facing both acute respiratory distress syndrome and toxic shock syndrome. At one point, her doctors gave her just a five percent chance of surviving. 

"It wasn't looking good for her survival," Leishman said, according to the Australian Associated Press. "It was shattering. The toxic shock syndrome started shutting down all of her organs."

Initially, Audrey believed she was dealing with the flu, but on March 31 decided to go to the hospital. Fortunately for Audrey, doctors were able to flip her onto her stomach to help drain fluid that had built up in her lungs. She was in a medically induced coma for four days.

"The only thing in our favor was she was fit, goes to the gym all the time, is young and has two young kids and a real will to live," Leishman said. "Thankfully in the end, that's what got her through."

Leishman lost 10 lbs in just a few days, doing what he could to remain supportive and lend whatever help he could to his ailing wife. 

As Audrey recovers and regains strength, she is grateful for the doctors who saved her life and the outpouring of support.

"I never really allowed myself to ask why it happened I have instead chosen to focus on the fact that I survived and the amount of love and support everyone has shown us," she said. "It has been so overwhelming and humbling to see how many people are in our corner and supported us."

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Apr 23

Nicklaus: Tiger Woods told me he’s in for the Memorial

Tiger Woods hasn't said yet publicly when he'll play again, noting after the Masters that he would take some further time away from the PGA Tour following a two-month stint to again find his game.

However, according to six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus, the former world No. 1 told him at Augusta National that he'll be playing in Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament in June.

“It’s as much conversation as I’ve ever had with Tiger,” Nicklaus said Wednesday at a tournament-related luncheon in Columbus, Ohio. “We talked about a lot of things. It was good. And he said, ‘Hey, (I’ll) see you in May. I’ll be at the Memorial.’ It’ll be nice to have Tiger back.”

The Memorial will be played June 4-7. Woods missed the tournament last year as he was recovering from a March back procedure.

However, Woods is expected to play at least once before the week at Muirfield Village. He is expected to play in The Players Championship in two weeks.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Apr 22

Lindsey Vonn isn’t very convincing when she says she loves golf

Though she may be Tiger Woods' girlfriend, skiing great Lindsey Vonn does not have the Golf Bug.

Appearing on "Late Night with Seth Meyers," Vonn was asked if she enjoys Woods' sport. She was very diplomatic, although completely unconvincing. 

"I love golf," Vonn said through pursed lips, drawing laughter from Meyers and the audience.

Meyers tried to draw a comparison between the speed of downhill skiing to a golf tournament. Vonn tried to volley back, but couldn't come up with anything positive, so she repeated, "I just love golf."

She added, "(A round of golf) is like five hours," nodding her head. "That's a long time."

The talk-show host wanted to prop up his guest for her willingness to subject herself to watching a sport she doesn't seem to like all that much.

"You're a very good girlfriend," he said.

Vonn agreed, smiling and saying, "I am."

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Apr 22

Poulter rants on Twitter about decision to skip Euro Tour flagship event

Ian Poulter does not have a good track record in the European Tour's flagship event -- their Players Championship -- the BMW PGA Championship. So he's not going to play in it next month, and the Englishman caught a lot of heat for the decision.

Naturally, Poulter responded to the haters on Twitter, including Daily Mail writer Derek Lawrenson. 

However, there's no fear that British fans won't see Poulter on home soil this year. He'll play in the Open Championship in July, as well the revived British Masters in October.

Meanwhile, the BMW PGA is suffering from the draw of the Irish Open, to be played the next week at Royal County Down, one of the top 10 courses in the world. Rory McIlroy has been actively recruiting players to compete in the event, leading some, including Sergio Garcia, to skip the week at Wentworth in favor of the Emerald Isle.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.