Lunke Finding Balance One Year Later

By Associated PressJune 29, 2004, 4:00 pm
2004 U.S. WomenSOUTH HADLEY, Mass. -- Success didn't spoil Hilary Lunke, but it nearly ruined her game.
The biggest tournament in women's golf remains the only victory in her professional career. A year ago, Lunke coolly sank a 15-foot putt on the 90th hole of the U.S. Women's Open to win a three-way playoff and become the first qualifier to capture the trophy.

The dramatic victory catapulted Lunke's name among golf's elite. But she nearly got swallowed up in the whirlwind of attention that followed.
'I said 'yes' to everything that was asked of me in the first week and was completely worn out,' she said. 'I just didn't really know how to balance that with the other things that are going on in my life. I just needed a big break.'
The off-season gave her time to work on that balance. Slowly, Lunke said she has learned how to handle it just in time to defend a title she never expected to win.
Despite not having any top 10 finishes this season, Lunke, 25, said the part of her game that suffered the most -- putting -- is starting to come around.
'I struggled with my putting absolutely horribly,' she said. 'I feel like my game is better than it was last year and I'm hopeful to defend my title. I didn't go into the U.S. Open last year with the aim to win it. I went in hoping to have a good week.'
What a week it turned out to be.
Lunke is among the shortest hitters on the LPGA Tour, yet her game proved to be a good fit on the longest U.S. Women's Open course ever at Pumpkin Ridge, where the fairways were hard and fast.
She was the only one who thought she could win, and even after her dramatic birdie putt on the 18th hole of the Monday playoff, it still didn't sink in for everyone involved.
'I honestly thought I had won,' said Angela Stanford, who finished second along with Kelly Robbins. 'It wasn't until we started playing the end-of-the-year events and Hilary was always there with me. She was always introduced as 'U.S. Women's Open champion,' and I thought, 'OK, wait a minute. That's not me.'
'I know I did finish second,' Stanford said. 'But for a while there -- a good six months -- I thought I won.'
It didn't take Lunke that long to realize what had happened.
'The whole week my cell phone was clogged up with messages, night and day,' Lunke said.
She showed up for her next event in Vancouver to register, thinking it was just another day.
Not a chance.
'There were reporters everywhere, writing down everything about me, what I was wearing,' she recalled. 'I hadn't showered. It was pretty much nonstop press conferences.'
But the U.S. Open title also opened doors and provided some security for Lunke and husband and caddie, Tylar, who married 11 months before the Open. The newlyweds put her $560,000 winner's paycheck to good use. Weary of paying rent, they bought a home a week before the Open even though they knew that making the mortgage was going to be a stretch each month.
'It couldn't have come at a better time. It made a nice place for us to go home to,' she said.
Tylar Lunke will caddie for his wife through this year's British Open before returning home to Texas to attend business school.
Lunke defends her title this week at the historic Orchards Golf Club, a course originally made for a woman.
Donald Ross designed the course in 1922 for Holyoke industrialist Joseph Skinner, who had it built for his daughter, Elisabeth, a talented golfer. The course drew its name from the rows of apple trees Skinner planted on the 80-hectare (200-acre) site. It later was purchased by Mount Holyoke College and is set among the rolling hills of the quintessential New England town.
A friend gave Lunke a yardage book to The Orchards the day after she won the Open, and the champ liked what she saw during a recent visit to the course.
'It looks like an old-fashioned style golf course with small greens and emphasis on ball-striking,' she said. 'I like old style courses. My plan is to go into it hoping to have (all) of my skills and hoping they'll all show up with me.'
Lunke acknowledges there's more pressure on her now than ever before and she's been trying to separate herself from it by keeping her attitude light.
'I am the same person and the same player that I was at this time one year ago. I wasn't a person who was expected to go out and win major championships,' she said. 'But I respect the position I'm in and making sure I'm working as hard as I can to defend my title.'
And if she doesn't, Lunke figures she's already ahead of the game.
Her only goal when she joined the tour in 2002 was to win one tournament, to have one week that would always be special no matter what happened the rest of her career.
'And to have that week be the U.S. Women's Open and in the fashion that it happened, I would be absolutely content,' she said.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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    Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

    By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

    Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

    As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

    Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

    This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

    The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

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    Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

    PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

    She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

    “I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

    Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

    “Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

    She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

    “I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

    Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

    She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

    “They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

    Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

    While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

    “Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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    Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

    PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

    In fact, she named her “Mona.”

    For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

    While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

    And that has her excited about this year.

    Well, that and having a healthy back again.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

    Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    “Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

    Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

    She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

    Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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    Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

    By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

    PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

    Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

    Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.