Chun wins U.S. Women's Open

By Associated PressJuly 12, 2015, 10:54 pm

LANCASTER, Pa. - In Gee Chun's modest goal for her first U.S. Women's Open was to enjoy every new experience.

Boy, did she enjoy herself.

The 20-year-old South Korean stormed from behind, posting birdies on four of the last seven holes to rally for an unlikely one-stroke victory Sunday.

Chun shot a 4-under 66 in the final round and finished at 8 under, becoming the first player to win her U.S. Open debut since Birdie Kim in 2005.

''Everything I faced and I did here was completely new,'' Chun said. ''So all I did was enjoy the new stuff ... I enjoyed it and had a lot of fun. Even though I'm Korean, here American fans supported me a lot and they gave a lot of claps. That has put me in the great rhythm of play, and I enjoyed that tournament rhythm.''

A bright smile rarely left Chun's face, and that was part of the plan.

''Without thinking any negatively, all I could do was just enjoy the game,'' she said. ''That's what has brought me to the U.S. Open win, I believe.'' 

The win was Chun's fifth of the year after three in Korea and one in Japan. She credited her experience in four LPGA events earlier this season for her success in the other events and preparing her for the rigors of the U.S. Open.

''With all those four wins this year, I got a lot of confidence coming into this tournament,'' Chun said. ''And that's why I could enjoy every moment of the tournament.''

Third-round leader Amy Yang struggled in the middle of her round and then pulled within one by going eagle-birdie at Nos. 16 and 17. But she bogeyed the 18th and fell a stroke short.

Playing in the final group on the last day of the championship for the third time in four years, Yang squandered a three-stroke lead and settled for a 1-over 71 and second at 273.


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Two-time champion and top-ranked Inbee Park (67) overcame putting woes and rallied late, tying for third with Stacy Lewis (70) at 5-under 275. Lewis was three back at the start of the round. 

Defending champion Michelle Wie battled hip and leg injuries and limped in with an even-par 70, placing 11th at 2-under 278.

As Yang and Lewis drew most of the focus as the last grouping, Chun went about picking up strokes on the leaders. At 4 under heading into the final round at Lancaster Country Club, Chun picked up two strokes on the front nine, closing within two of the lead.

''I knew it wasn't going to come down to the two of us,'' Lewis said. ''I knew somebody was going to shoot a number to get up there.''

Chun got within a stroke with a birdie at the 12th, and then rolled in a 9-foot putt at No. 15 for the first of three straight birdies. She moved into the lead with a birdie at 16 as Yang and Lewis struggled. She added another birdie at the 17th to stretch her lead to two strokes.

At the troublesome 421-yard, uphill closing hole, Chun drove into the rough, chipped short and went on to make bogey, falling into a tie for the lead with Yang, who birdied 17.

But Yang failed again in her bid to claim the biggest prize in women's golf. She also drove into the rough at the last hole, chipped short of the green and failed to get up-and-down for par, giving Chun the win.

''I did my best out there today,'' Yang said.

Yang was tied for the lead heading into the final round of 2014 and second after 54 holes in 2012. She tried to put another failed final round into perspective.

''It was another good experience,'' she said. ''It just didn't go as well as I thought, but I learned another great lesson here. And it's going to make me better player, improve my game.''

Lewis' bid for her first U.S. Open title was foiled by a pair of double bogeys, with the most costly one coming at 15, a hole after she had moved into a tie for the lead. At the 15th, she drove into the rough, hit her second shot through the fairway, and then dumped her third shot into a greenside bunker before taking a 6 and falling out of contention.

''I think anytime you have a championship like this, you want to have somebody go out there and win it, and that's definitely what happened there at the end,'' Lewis said.

But, the two-time major winner admitted the loss stung.

''I'll get over this eventually, but it will take a day or two,'' Lewis said.

Park had three birdies on the back nine. Within two shots of the lead through 16 holes, the putting woes that dogged the 2008 and 2013 winner returned and her bid ended with a three-putt bogey at the 17th.

Wie grimaced in pain throughout the round. The nagging left hip and leg issues that have made this a forgettable season for the 25-year-old four-time LPGA winner seemed to intensify in the final round. She repeatedly cringed and tried to take weight off her right side after drives. Her round did have one highlight, with her drive at the 234-yard, par-4 16th hitting the flagstick before she rolled in the short eagle putt.

Megan Khang was the championship's low amateur. The 17-year-old from Rockland, Massachusetts, closed with a 1-over 71 and finished at 5-over 285.

Fan favorite Laura Davies, who is to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame at St. Andrews on Monday, closed with her worst round of the championship, a 5-over 75. The 1987 champion, who was the oldest player in the field at 51, finished at 287.

The event set a U.S. Women's Open attendance record with 134,016 spectators for the week, the USGA said, surpassing the 131,298 in 2005 at Cherry Hills outside Denver.

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Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

“That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

So was Woods.

DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

“His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

“He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told PGATour.com afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.


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“The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

“Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told ESPN.com, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

“Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time. 

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With blinders on, Rahm within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

“It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

“I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”


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Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

“I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

“I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

“If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.

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Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.


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“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

“I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

“I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”


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On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

“We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.”