Mallon Enjoys Spotlight

By Associated PressJuly 4, 2004, 4:00 pm
2004 U.S. WomenSOUTH HADLEY, Mass. -- The gallery grew with each hole as Meg Mallon climbed the leaderboard in the U.S. Women's Open.
Born in Natick, Mass., about an hour's drive from the Orchards Golf Club, Mallon shot a 4-under 67 on Saturday -- the best round of the day -- to pull within three strokes of leader Jennifer Rosales.
'They're fantastic,' Mallon said. 'They know I'm a Celtics and Red Sox fan.'
Former Celtics coach K.C Jones, a friend of Mallon's, greeted her off the No. 18 green after her round Saturday.
Mallon won the Open in 1991 and has finished in the top 10 five other times in her 18-year career. She opened with a 2-over 73 on Thursday then scrambled back to even to begin Saturday's round.
'I just kept saying this is a U.S. Open and bogey is not going to hurt you,' she said. 'And you don't win it on the first day.'
Pat Hurst was 1 under for the tournament when her tee shot landed 15 feet below the cup on the par-3 10th. But the pin was cut close to a ridge, and the ball slowly trickled off the green.
What followed were replays from Shinnecock.
Her first chip with a sand wedge went up the hill, then rolled to her feet. Her next chip did the same, and Hurst stood there with hands on hip, clearly disgusted.
'I said a few choice words to our USGA official, but she knew it wasn't personal,' Hurst said.
Hurst replaced the club with a pitching wedge, hit a low chip up the hill and it barely stayed on the top shelf. She made a 10-footer for double bogey, but rallied three birdies and shot 71.
She played with Michelle Wie, shot the same score and will play with the teen on Sunday.
Michelle Wie's round of even par was the low amateur round of the day. The 14-year-old also is the youngest of the four teenage amateurs playing in the Open this weekend.
Paula Creamer, 17, shot a 72. Jennie Lee, 17, had a 75 and Brittany Lincicome, 18, the first-round leader, continued to struggle and finished with a 5-over 76.
Creamer, paired with Kelly Robbins, admitted to nerves in the opening few holes. Robbins, who is three strokes off the lead, had the hot hand early and was 4 under at the turn. That helped, Creamer said.
'I learned a lot things from Kelly. She's very good,' Creamer said. 'It was just getting used to all of the people out there.'
Patricia Meunier-LeBouc, one stroke off the lead on Thursday, hasn't flirted with the lead since, shooting 7 over the next two days. Still, the Frenchwoman liked her vantage point on Saturday from after being paired with Mallon, a good friend and the owner of the day's low round.
'I kind of just enjoyed watching her play and then I relaxed and said `OK, it's not my day,' Meunier-LeBouc said.
After that Meunier-LeBouc birdied two of her last three holes.
'That's the way golf is,' she said. 'If you try to hard, you're not making it. This is the U.S. Open. Your brain is going crazy sometimes, but you just have to let it go.'
Kate Golden is amazed at the newest crop of golfers, who made up the youngest U.S. Open field in history. This year's open drew a record 16 teenagers
Golden, the 37-year-old tour veteran, turned pro after graduating from Texas in 1989 and didn't get her first LPGA Tour until 2001 when she held off Annika Sorenstam with a career-low 63 to win the State Farm Classic.
'When I was 18 I never thought I was that good,' she said. 'I didn't have that mentality that I was a world beater like they do now and I don't know where they get it, but they've got it.
'And they're doing it.'
But the times are changing, Golden said.
'It's just different now. There are definitely some amateurs that could turn pro and make a living out here.'
With four birdies in the first nine holes, Kelly Robbins had the low front nine (32) ... The difficult 16th hole yielded nine birdies Saturday after giving up just four the previous two rounds ... Juli Inkster's round of 77 matched her high round for the year; her highest round in the Open was an 86 in 1985. ... Defending champion Hilary Lunke shot an 81 in the third round. She has not made a birdie in her last 32 holes.
Related Links:
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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.

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    Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

    “Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

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    “We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

    In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010. 

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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 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, 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.