Generational clash at U.S. Women's Open

By Associated PressJuly 6, 2011, 9:31 pm

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – One is a 13-year-old, getting ready for eighth grade, spending the start of her U.S. Open week wondering if she should be asking these players for autographs or playing beside them.

The other is 55, a winner of six majors and all but retired – yet still with enough game to grind through qualifying and earn a spot in what she says will be her last pro tournament.

Mariel Galdiano and Betsy King both have tee times at the Broadmoor on Thursday, even though in the golf world, they are playing from completely different sets of tees.

Such is life at the U.S. Women’s Open, where the world’s best try to enhance their resumes while competing against each other – along with dozens of amateurs, qualifiers and other underdogs with big dreams.

“I’ve been telling her lately, put your head down, look at people’s feet, just focus,” said Galdiano’s father, Roger, who also serves as her coach and caddie. “I want her to think of it as practice.”

The reality that it is anything but practice comes shining through at every turn this week the for Honolulu native, who picked up her first golf club about seven years ago, won her first tournament a few years after that and played well enough in qualifying last month, a few days before her 13th birthday, to earn one of 156 spots this week on the East Course.

On Wednesday, she played a practice round with another Hawaiian, Michelle Wie – “Very friendly,” she said – took part in a kids clinic on the driving range with Annika Sorenstam and passed Natalie Gulbis in the tunnel leading to the course.

“She looked down at my shoes and said, `Nice shoes,”’ Galdiano said, glancing down at her white and aqua golf sneakers. “I said, 'Thank you.' Pretty cool.”

Standing at right around 5 feet and with an average driving distance of 220 yards, Galdiano is not the next Michelle Wie, whose formative years have been defined by mishaps on the men’s tour and a long list of lessons learned about what happens when you go for too much, too soon.

“The way we’re going to do it is, we’re just going to go through our routine,” Galdiano’s dad said. “I’m not going to sign her up to play against the men and stuff. We’re just going to try to see how the progression goes. Depending on how good she gets, we’ll see from there. High school and college – that will be a good experience.”

While Galdiano’s future is ahead of her, King concedes her slow withdrawal from the spotlight came for a reason most elite athletes are loathe to acknowledge.

“To be honest, if I could play well enough to play, I’d still be playing,” she said. “Ninety-nine percent of the people that I know who retired – that’s why they retired. They just didn’t play well enough to keep playing.”

King saw the beginning of the end coming in the early 2000s, when the two-time LPGA money leader started having more and more trouble simply making the cut. When her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2005, then her mother with Alzheimer’s a year later, she realized it was time to focus elsewhere. Her folks passed away. King started doing charity work in Africa. She still played the game, but not in any real competitive sense.

“I’ve looked at other players that have tried to come back and I said, ‘I’ll never do that,”’ she said.

Golf, however, does not let go easily. Neither does the drive of a champion. King has won 34 LPGA events, is the first woman to pass the $5 million and $6 million marks in prize money and has been a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame since 1995.

Earlier this year, she decided she wanted to play in a Legends event and thought the U.S. Open qualifier the week before would be a good tune-up for that.

“I really surprised myself,” she said. ” I played OK. I played well enough. I’m very happy to be here. Obviously the golf course is a little bit harder than where I qualified.”

The Broadmoor will be the first U.S. Women’s Open course to play longer than 7,000 yards. The USGA, as always, prides itself on setting up tough courses, with long rough and narrow fairways. The greens on this course, situated near the mountains on the southwest side of Colorado Springs (Locals will tell you: All putts run away from the Will Rogers Monument on Cheyenne Mountain), are difficult even when the resort players tee it up. It figures the course will yield a winning score of around par – more common for the USGA than the 16-under 268 Rory McIlroy posted to win the men’s Open at Congressional last month.

In short, it’s the sort of event that figures to play to the 20- or 30-something crowd – Yani Tseng, Paula Creamer, Stacy Lewis – more than an eighth grader or a Hall of Famer in her 50s.

“My goal this week is to feel comfortable standing over the ball,” Galdiano said. “One shot at a time works best for me. When I think about score too much, it throws me off.”

And for King – well, she says making the cut at the U.S. Open would be a great way to say goodbye.

Some swing thoughts, though, die hard.

“Well, if I win, I can always change my mind,” she said. “That would be a real miracle, believe me.”

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.