Defending champ Na opens with 64 at Greenbrier

Kevin Na had to wait a few extra months to defend his title at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, and he appears keen to keep his hands on the hardware.

Na broke a seven-year victory drought last year on the Old White TPC, blitzing the field in the final round for a five-shot win. He’s since added another victory at Colonial, but with the revamped PGA Tour schedule he had to wait until September to defend the title he won at this event last July.

Na showed once again why he cruised to victory last year, opening the new wraparound season with a 6-under 64 that featured four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine. It left him in a large tie for second after the opening round, two shots behind leader Robby Shelton.

Na (64) returns to form in first round at The Greenbrier

Na (64) returns to form in first round at The Greenbrier

A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier: Full-field scores | Full coverage

“I have a lot of good memories here, and I’m excited to be back defending. Nice to see my picture up on the wall and have my own defending champion locker,” Na told reporters. “But I played great today. Hit a lot of good shots, made some good putts. Gave myself plenty of opportunities.”

Na has not played competitively since a final-round 80 at The Northern Trust nearly a month ago. He qualified for the BMW Championship but withdrew before the no-cut event began, opting to return home to be with his wife, Julianne, who was pregnant with the couple’s second child. The couple welcomed a son, Leo, on Aug. 19, and the Nas have already begun adjusting to life as a family of 4.

“I’ve had a lot of help at home, which is great. I’ve had plenty of sleep,” Na said. “You learn so much having kids. This is our second child, and you learn to appreciate things that you never even thought about. I’m very blessed, our family is very blessed to have two beautiful kids.”

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GPS tracking of slow play in place at BMW PGA

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Last month, the European Tour unveiled a four-point plan to address slow play, and one of the first pieces of that plan will be put to the test this week at the BMW PGA Championship.

A GPS tracking system will be used this week that will allow officials to keep track of each group’s position on the golf course. The system will also provide displays on tees to let players know their position relative to the groups around them.

A tracking device with be placed on one golf bag in each group. When that group completes a hole, the information is sent to officials and displayed on five holes (Nos. 4, 7, 10, 13 and 16). The plan is to have displays on every hole beginning next year.

The displays will include the hole number, which group is now playing, and the players in the group. If a group is out of position, it will be noted by a plus mark and a red number.

The European Tour tested the tracking system at the Open de Bretagne on the Challenge Tour two weeks ago.

The circuit’s pace-of-play plan addresses regulation, education, innovation and field sizes; it will also include increased fines for pace-of-play violations and targeted timings of slow players.

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Kordas ‘awesome’ as a team, rout Euros to open Solheim Cup

GLENEAGLES, Scotland – The Korda sisters rocked the first tee together Friday making a spirited entrance at the Solheim Cup while also making some history.

And then they rocked Europe.

Americans Jessica and Nelly Korda, the first sister combination to pair together in a Solheim Cup, won the first two holes of their foursomes match and never looked back in a 6-and-4 rout of Caroline Masson and Jodi Ewart Shadoff.

The Kordas put the first point of the competition on the board.

“It was awesome,” Jessica said. “We had fun starting on the driving range, actually. So, it was really relaxed.”

16th Solheim Cup: Scoring and matches | Full coverage

They walked through the tunnel on the first tee clapping together with smoke spewing around them. Nelly said she has dreamed of that moment together since she followed her big sister in Jessica’s first Solheim Cup, outside Denver, six years ago.

“Ever since Colorado, that was the goal that I set in my mind,” Nelly said. “I think both of us did.

“On the first tee, it was so fun. And we had such a good day, really lighthearted.”

They weren’t the first sisters to play in a Solheim Cup. Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam played together for Europe in 1998. But the Kordas were the first sisters to be paired in the competition.

Jessica, 26, and Nelly, 21, have similar games. They aren’t just two of the longest hitters playing the LPGA. They’re two of the straightest long hitters. At one point this year, they ranked 1-2 in total driving.

Jessica said being alongside Nelly made this start less nerve wracking than it might have been.

6 and 4 makes it 1 to 0: Korda sisters give U.S. first point

6 and 4 makes it 1 to 0: Korda sisters give U.S. first point

“I was definitely a lot more calm than I was the last Solheim Cup,” Jessica said. “So, I think that helped me as well.

“Just joking around with her all day. There’s nothing I can say wrong. I know where her buttons are, so I know where not to step, and vice versa. I was very comfortable with myself and just being out there with her.”

U.S. captain Juli Inkster said her inclination was not to play them together, but they showed her they could perform well at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational team event in July. They tied for 12th there.

Still, Inkster split them up for afternoon fourballs in Scotland.

Lexi Thompson, whose run of nine consecutive matches without a loss in Solheim Cup play ended Friday morning, was paired with Jessica in the afternoon. Brittany Altomare, who played with Thompson in a morning foursomes loss, was paired with Nelly.

“She can put us with anyone and it would be fine,” Jessica said. “I don’t feel like it’s that difficult in terms of how our personalities match up. We have a lot of friends on the team. We all get along.”

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Shelton (62) takes 2-shot lead over Na at Greenbrier

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – Scott Harrington enjoyed his long-awaited debut as a PGA Tour member.

In his 17th year as a professional, the 38-year-old rookie shot a 6-under 64 on Thursday, leaving him two strokes behind first-round leader Robby Shelton in the A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier.

With all 21 tour rookies and other Korn Ferry Tour graduates in the field, the first round of the PGA Tour’s season opener in West Virginia was a chance for the new guys and journeymen to make an impression.

Especially for Harrington.

I always did think I was going to get here,” Harrington said. “Even though I’m 38 years old, I feel like I’m every bit as capable of winning out here as any 22 year old. Yeah, age is just a number.”

Harrington turned pro in 2003 and played in four PGA Tour events over the next 12 years. He took time off last year to be with his wife, Jenn, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The disease is now in remission.

He locked up his first PGA Tour card with a runner-up finish last month at a Korn Ferry event in his hometown of Portland, Oregon.

In his debut Thursday, Harrington hit just nine fairways and 12 greens in regulation but made four birdies in a five-hole stretch around the turn.

“It was a lot of fun,” Harrington said. I’ll certainly remember this one for sure. I’ll remember it even more if I can put a few more good ones together.”

Shelton made eight starts on tour as a non-member in 2016-17. He has his tour card for the first time after winning two Korn Ferry events in May.

‘Steady Eddie’ Shelton (62) ‘fired up’ over first-round lead at Greenbrier

'Steady Eddie' Shelton (62) 'fired up' over first-round lead at Greenbrier

A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier: Full-field scores | Full coverage

“I’m fired up,” Shelton said. “Last night it was tough to sleep. I’ve been waiting for this moment all season.”

Starting on the back nine on the Old White TPC, the 24-year-old Shelton made the turn at 3 under and birdied Nos. 1-3. The 8-under 62 is his lowest score on tour.

Defending champion Kevin Na, Lanto Griffin, Mark Hubbard and Zack Sucher matched Harrington at 64.

Na’s putter won last year’s tournament. On Thursday, his approach shots got him onto the first page of the leaderboard. He had four birdies over his final six holes. Three of his back-nine birdies were putts of under 10 feet.

“I have a lot of good memories here and I’m excited to be back defending,” Na said. “Nice to see my picture up on the wall and have my own defending champion locker. It’s pretty cool.”

Hubbard, who won once in 23 Korn Ferry events last season, had a bogey-free round and is looking for his first top-10 finish since joining the PGA Tour in 2015.

“Finishing 40th every week isn’t fun. Grinding to make cuts isn’t fun,” Hubbard said. “I feel like I needed to go back and get that experience and learn how to win again, and this time around I think I’ll find myself in the mix a lot more.”

Brian Harman, Sung Kang, Harold Varner III and Jimmy Walker topped the group at 65.

Hank Lebioda birdied seven of his first 11 holes in a 67.

Bryson DeChambeau, at No. 10 the highest-ranked player in the world in the field, had a 68.

Former Marshall player Davey Jude shot 70, two months after his father and caddie, David, was among seven people killed in a helicopter accident in the Bahamas.

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