Choi hangs on to win Women's Open

By Associated PressJuly 8, 2012, 10:30 pm

KOHLER, Wis. – Na Yeon Choi was cruising to victory in the U.S. Women's Open when her trademark consistency suddenly deserted her.

After yanking her tee shot into the woods on the 10th hole, Choi wound up making a triple bogey – cutting her lead over playing partner Amy Yang from five to two strokes.

'That moment, maybe I thought I might screw up today,' Choi said. 'But I thought I needed to fix that. I can do it. So I tried to think what I have to do.'

Choi birdied the next hole, danced around a few more potential pitfalls on the back nine and went on to win by four strokes Sunday at Blackwolf Run.

It's the first major and sixth career LPGA Tour victory for the 24-year-old South Korean star, who came into the tournament ranked fifth in the world.


Mell: Choi bounces back from disaster

Video: U.S. Women's Open highlights

Creamer on performance of Americans in Open

Photos: The week at Blackwolf Run


Choi shot a 1-over 73 on Sunday and finished at 7 under. Yang, also from South Korea, had a 71 to finish second.

Choi's victory comes at the same course where Se Ri Pak won the Open in 1998, a victory that inspired Choi and many other young South Koreans to try to make it on the women's tour.

'And 14 years later I'm here right now, and I made it,' Choi said. 'My dreams come true. It's an amazing day today, and like I really appreciate what Se Ri did and all the Korean players, they did. It's really no way I can be here without them.'

Pak was among a group of friends who met Choi after she putted out on the 18th green, showering her with hugs – and victory champagne.

'She (said), `Hey, Na Yeon, I'm really proud of you. You did a really good job, and you (were) really calm out there,'' Choi said. 'She talked to me a lot, and she was hugging me.'

Choi is the fourth South Korea player to win the event in the five years, following Inbee Park (2008), Eun-Hee Ji (2009) and So Yeon Ryu (2011).

And while Choi's performance on the 10th wasn't pretty, she could afford to have one bad hole Sunday thanks in large part to her remarkable performance Saturday when she matched the fifth-lowest round in Open history with a 65.

Choi and Yang were the only players to finish the tournament under par.

Yang was expecting Choi's best effort.

'I knew she was going to play well,' Yang said. 'She's very consistent player.'

Sandra Gal of Germany shot a 74 and finished at 1 over. Il Hee Lee of South Korea, Shanshan Feng of China and Italian Giulia Sergas finished 2 over.

Michelle Wie finished at 10 over. After shooting a 66 on Friday to close within a stroke of the lead, she had weekend rounds of 78 and 80.

'Contention for me kind of got my juices flowing and kind of made me want it more and felt like what it was like again,' Wie said. 'So I'm really looking forward to the next tournament and there's a lot of positives to take from this week.'

Top-ranked Yani Tseng finished 14 over, and still needs an Open victory to complete a career Grand Slam.

The afternoon belonged to Choi, who was even through the front nine, making bogey on No. 1 and making a birdie putt on No. 4.

Then she found trouble.

It started on the par-5 10th hole, when she put her tee shot way left into woods and deep rough. Choi was 8 under at that point – five strokes ahead of Yang, who was 3 under.

After a long delay for a fruitless search for her ball, she went back to the 10th tee with a penalty. Choi wound up with a triple-bogey 8 and appeared to be on the verge of unraveling. Yang made a par on 10, cutting Choi's lead to 2 strokes.

Choi birdied No. 11 but got in trouble again on No. 12, putting her approach shot in the long rough short of the green. She managed to chip out of the rough and hit the green, then rolled in a putt of about 20 feet to save par – and, perhaps, her Open title.

Choi then came within inches of putting her tee shot in the water on No. 13, but her ball bounced to safety – appearing to skip twice off of a wall that lined the water hazard – and she made another par.

She then made birdies on No. 15 and 16.

After taking the lead with her big round on Saturday, Choi talked about how Pak's dramatic 1998 victory was one of the main things that inspired her to success in golf. Choi recalled watching that tournament on television and remembered how it changed her goals, helping her dream of something bigger.

Pak, who finished at 4 over after a 71, was holing out on No. 18 at about the same time as Choi was finishing No. 9. But Pak intentionally stayed out of Choi's way at the time.

'I don't want her to lose her focus, so I'm trying to not give her (a) look,' Pak said. 'But you know, she's already been there many times. She won five times already, and of course, this is a little different than a regular event. But of course, having a lot of pressure herself, but she's good enough to be out there.'

Pak is happy to hear that her victory in 1998 inspired so many people in her country.

'They were watching TV back then, and they didn't know what's going on in golf,' Pak said. 'And after I won the U.S. Open, they're watching this moment here, and they know what is golf and they think of their dreams.'

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


FALLING

J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


EUROPE'S BIG 5

Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.