Aquaman Ready to Defend in Memphis

By Associated PressJune 5, 2008, 4:00 pm
Stanford St. Jude ChampionshipMEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Woody Austin is back and ready to defend his Stanford St. Jude Championship title at the course that jump-started a stunning 2007 season.
 
Now, if he can just get his golf game into shape as he did here a year ago hell have a chance.
 
Im not playing really bad, Austin said Wednesday after a practice round. But when I play well, I score terrible. When I play bad, I score worse. Its really just a matter of scoring. I think the best way to describe it is every bad swing is magnified and every good swing is unrewarded.
 
This year hasnt been that bad for Austin, not compared to how he came into this tournament at the TPC at Southwind course in 2007. A year ago, he had missed five cuts with his best finish a tie for 18th in New Orleans. This year, he has two Top 10s, tied for fourth in New Orleans and has missed only three cuts.
 
But there hasnt been a moment that stands out like finishing second to Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship by two strokes or falling face first into the water hitting a shot for the Americans at the Presidents Cup to help halve a match.
 
Asked to pin down his biggest problem, Austin said its been a combination of things.
 
As my caddie puts it, Im one foot on the wrong side of the ledger right now. Everything is one foot off the wrong way, Austin said.
 
Making that adjustment here in this U.S. Open warmup wont be easy.
 
Kenny Perry is here looking to string together consecutive wins for the first time since 2005 in his push make sure he doesnt miss playing for the United States in the Ryder Cup in his home state of Kentucky. He won at Memorial last week for his first win since 2005, when he won back-to-back, but this will be his seventh straight tournament.
 
My dad always said youve got to ride the train when its going, and he told me to run it to the ground until Im just mentally zapped and I feel the game going, Perry said. Even though Im mentally tired, I think I can go out there this week and play well.
 
The field features four others in the top 13 on this years money list, including Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia and Boo Weekly. Padraig Harrington, the 2007 British Open champ, is here along with David Toms, a two-time winner here, Retief Goosen, Masters champ Trevor Immelman and local favorite John Daly, whos enjoying a sponsor exemption.
 
This tournament moved to the week before the Open last year with a bigger payday thanks to new sponsor Stanford Financial Group and celebrates its 20th year at the TPC at Southwind by starting a new tradition. The winner will receive a new seersucker jacket with the $1.08 million check as this event joins six other other events in awarding jackets to their champions.
 
This course, redesigned after the 2004 event, is much tougher. The 2007 scoring average in 2007 was 2-over 72 with the par-4 No. 5 (44th) and par-3 No. 14 (30th) among the tours 50 toughest holes. No rain and winds gusting up to 35 mph have dried up the course, and its expected to stay windy, hot (90s) and dry through Sunday'a perfect mix for firm and fast greens.
 
But the rough, featuring Bermuda, isnt near as high as last week at Memorial.
 
You play well, you score well, Austin said. If you dont, its going to get you.
 
Austin found what he needed in 2007 on the final day, shooting a 62 that was the lowest finish of the year by a winner and the fifth-lowest finish by a winner since 1970.
 
If only it were that simple.
 
The hole you cant hit left will be the hole I hit it left, and the hole you cant hit it right will be the hole Ill hit it right. Im not getting away with nothing. Theres no in-between. Absolutely no in-between, Austin said. I have to either hit it just flawless or make everything I look at, and Im not doing either one.
 
Harrington is here trying to tune up his game and end what has become his traditional slump in May and early June. He missed the cut at this event last year in his first trip to this course and followed up by missing the cut a week later at the U.S. Open.
 
He knows hes a bit of a perfectionist but isnt quite sure why he has struggled at this point every year for about 20 years. But being on the course in a tournament is the best way he knows to try and snap out of any problems.
 
I find it gets my focus right so when I turn up at a major, Im ready to go. Im not trying to find anything that week, Harrington said.
 
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  • Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

    Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

    Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

    Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

    Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

    With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

    Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

    “It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

    Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

    Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

    "It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."

    Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

    Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

    “I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

    As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

    With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

    That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

    That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

    And that’s a magic word in golf.

    There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

    Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

    The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

    Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


    A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

    The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

    Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

    For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

    The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

    The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

    It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

    “The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

    And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

    “It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

    The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

    Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

    Parity was the story this year.

    Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

    The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

    The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

    “I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

    If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

    Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

    There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

    This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

    Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

    She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

    The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.