Defending Champ Loves Low Profile

By Associated PressJune 22, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 U.S. WomenCHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. -- Annika Sorenstam is trying to win the Grand Slam, Michelle Wie is long off the tee and on potential. Natalie Gulbis gets attention for her looks and Jill McGill is the hometown favorite.
 
Meg Mallon? The defending champion has spent the week at Cherry Hills Country Club in relative obscurity.
 
Oh sure, she got a nice ovation on the first tee before her practice round Wednesday, but the rest of the morning was spent playing in front about 50 fans while huge galleries followed Wie in the group ahead and Sorenstam across the course.
 
Not that it mattered to Mallon.
 
Unlike Retief Goosen, who said he felt underappreciated as defending champion heading into last week's U.S. Open at Pinehurst, Mallon has enjoyed staying just out of the spotlight's reach.
 
``I don't mind being out of radar,'' she said. ``I am not someone who needs to be in the forefront of things.''
 
It's certainly worked in the past.
 
Mallon didn't play particularly well heading into last year's U.S. Women's Open at Orchards Golf Club in Massachusetts and opened the tournament with a 2-over-par 73. She jumped into contention with a 67 on Saturday, but most of the attention was still on Sorenstam and leader Jennifer Rosales.
 
But after being a bystander to so many moments in history -- Sorenstam's 59, Karrie Webb entering the Hall of Fame, Julie Inkster's career Grand Slam -- Mallon put together the greatest final round in the 60-year history of the U.S. Women's Open.
 
Trailing Rosales by three shots at the start, Mallon shot a 65 and held off Sorenstam by two strokes to win her second Open 13 years after her first -- the longest gap in history.
 
``I love the way I did it last year,'' Mallon said. ``I didn't have to do this (media interviews) until Sunday afternoon. It was a nice way to approach it.''
 
It won't be easy to do it again the way Sorenstam is playing.
 
The Super Swede has won six times in eight starts this year on the LPGA Tour and is halfway to becoming the first player -- male or female -- to win the Grand Slam.
 
She has won the Kraft Nabisco and LPGA championships. The final major is the Women's British Open next month.
 
Her scoring average is an awesome 68.60, she's already earned $1.5 million and she's a step away from becoming the first player to win the first three majors since Ben Hogan in 1953.
 
No wonder Mallon hasn't received much attention.
 
``It's nice to be remembered that you won last year, of course, but obviously with the way Annika's been playing people should be focusing on her,'' Webb said.
 
For Mallon to have a chance, she'll have to straighten out the crooked drives that have plagued her all season.
 
Mallon calls her driver the straightest club in her bag. But she's tied for 79th in driving accuracy this year, hitting just 70 percent of the fairways, and her scoring average has climbed to 72.87 per round -- 44th on the tour.
 
One advantage of hitting it crooked is that Mallon's short game has gotten better. But she knows hitting the ball straight is a must at Cherry Hills, where the fairways are tight and the rough is up to four inches deep.
 
Mallon found a driver she likes on the range Wednesday morning, but it was the 14th one she's tried in the past 10 weeks. If this one doesn't work out, Mallon might just go back to the smaller-headed drivers she used at the beginning of her tour career in 1987.
 
``There's almost too many choices out there,'' she said. ``Technology has screwed up my accuracy for some reason because I used to hit it a lot straighter before these big giant drivers came along.''
 
Related Links:
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  • Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

    Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.