Notes Kim Loves Belt Buckles and OU Football

By Associated PressJuly 6, 2008, 4:00 pm
AT&T NationalBETHESDA, Md. -- There were all sorts of fun things to learn about Anthony Kim after he won the AT&T National. Whats with the new flashy belt buckle? And whats the real story behind his decision to attend the University of Oklahoma?
The belt buckle was unmistakable. Already known for wearing garish belt attire adorned with his initials, Kim donned a buckle featuring what appeared to be a diamonds embedded into the letters AK as he played Sundays round at Congressional.
It weighs a lot. It costs at lot, Kim said. Im glad I wore it today. I needed a big day.
Kim said the buckle arrived Wednesday from a clothing company that has him scheduled for a photo shoot on Monday. He wasnt even sure if the sparkling things were diamonds.
It looks like diamonds, and they are pretty upscale, Kim said. So I would be very surprised if it isnt.
As for his Oklahoma drill, Kim said he planned to go to a school closer to his California home and accepted a visit to OU just to get tickets to a football game.
But the Sooners atmosphere at kickoff won him over.
It started pouring rain, Kim said. And I thought everyone was going to leave because thats what I was used to back home. And everyone decided that they were going to take off their shirts and stay. There were people going wild, and I just loved the atmosphere. Thats why I chose OU, because of OU football.
Sure enough, that very, very long par 4 played key role in deciding the AT&T National.
The final groups made a hash of the 518-yard sixth hole in Sundays final round. The hole plays as a par 5 for members, but the PGA Tour decided to make it the third longest par 4 the pros have faced so far this year.
In the next-to-last group, Nick OHearn landed in the front bunker and made bogey. Tim Herron made the green in 2, but he was about 70 feet from the pin and 3-putted for bogey. Jeff Overton had to lay up after putting his drive in the left rough, but he saved par with a tough 20-foot uphill putt.
In the final group, Steve Stricker put his drive to the right and had to lay up. Tommy Armour III drove left and laid up. Tom Pernice Jr. put his approach in the water that hugs the front right of the green.
Stricker and Armour made bogey; Pernice got a double bogey. The results moved Kim'who was two groups ahead'into a three-way tie for the lead, on his way to victory.
Kim, by the way, played the hole well, putting his approach within 17 feet. But he missed the putt and parred the hole.
Perhaps the best moment of mock humor came when Cliff Kresge drove his tee shot into some unseemly left rough, about 10 yards off the fairway. He walked toward his ball and saw three marshals surrounding it.
Must have been a dandy, Kresge said, if it took three of you to find it.
Fredrik Jacobson barely missed qualifying for the British Open last Monday. He didnt realize he would get a second chance at the AT&T National.
Jacobson grabbed one of the final spots available for Royal Birkdale in two weeks with his second-place finish Sunday, shooting 65 to finish two strokes behind Kim.
I didnt know that there was one spot (available) this week, Jacobson said. I played 37 holes in the qualifier, ended up in the playoff and just missed out. Ive actually been pretty tired all week after that one.
Another fatigued qualifier is Rocco Mediate, who finished tied for 18th while attracting some of the weekends largest galleries from fans impressed by his runner-up performance at the U.S. Open.
The last two weeks, theres no way I would have performed like that without (the fans), Mediate said immediately after his closing round of 66. I was on fumes, and I cant wait for this week off. Hopefully Ill be going to Britain.
He will, but the various qualifying scenarios are so complex that he wasnt sure at the time. Dean Wilson, who finished tied for third at the AT&T and did not qualify for the British, gave up trying to figure it all out.
Theres just so many things to keep track of, Wilson said. It was funny yesterday, I was playing with Freddie Couples and he was asking me if I was in the PGA Championship, and I said I dont even know. I dont know where I stand on the Ryder Cup list.
Hunter Mahans group was safely on the eighth green, all within 15 feet of the cup, and they were marking their ball when a fourth ball appeared out of nowhere.
It landed on the back of the green, caught the slope and slid by the right side of the cup as the gallery, and the gallery cheered the closer the ball got to the hole, not realizing there already were three balls on the putting surface.
Mahan, Jacobson and Robert Allenby were startled, looking back toward the fairway to see who hit the shot. They soon realized it came from the opposite direction, a snap-hook off the fifth tee by Robert Garrigus.
I might have hit a tree, Allenby said when Garrigus arrived on the wrong green.
No, he replied, I hooked it that bad.
By rule, Garrigus had to take free relief from off the putting surface. John Wood, the caddie for Mahan, had another suggestion.
Just putt out, skip the next four holes and join us, Wood said.
Trent Cryers usual assignment is giving tours of the Pentagon. On Sunday, the Army specialist was in full uniform on the first tee at Congressional Country Club, announcing the groups for the final round of the AT&T National.
Its quite an experience, Cryer said. It gets me out of the building.
In keeping with the tournaments military theme, personnel from all branches of the U.S. armed forces served as first tee and 10th tee announcers each day.
Cryer had the perfect voice for the job, bellowing out each name with plenty of volume and just the right dramatic cadence. He said he didnt ask for autographs or souvenirs from the golfers; a firm handshake was enough.
By the way, does Cryer himself play golf?
I hack at it, he said.
Attendance was already down from last year without Tiger Woods in the field, and Sundays rushed schedule made things worse. With thunderstorms in the afternoon forecast, the leaders teed off at 10 a.m. instead of the usual 2 p.m., making for thin galleries and vendors desperate for business.
Programs were sold for $1 instead of $5. A women at a lemonade stand between the ninth and 10th holes practically pleaded for customers.
There were 29,867 spectators, down from the 37,211 who came to the final round a year ago. Attendance for all four days was down 24 percent from last year.
Peter Lonard matched the course record with a 63 Sunday, becoming the second player in three days to achieve the mark.
Tom Pernice Jr. shot a 63 during the second round on Friday. Both Lonard and Pernice equaled the score posted by Matt Gogel in 2005, when the Booz Allen Classic was played at Congressional.
How much easier was the Blue Course this year? In 2007, not a single player posted four rounds in the 60s. This year, four players did: Kim, Armour, Allenby and Patrick Sheehan.
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  • Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

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    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

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    Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

    Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

    Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

    Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

    With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

    Ko told Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

    “It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

    Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

    Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

    "It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."

    Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

    Piller declined an interview request when sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

    “I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

    As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

    With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

    That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

    That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

    And that’s a magic word in golf.

    There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

    Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

    The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

    Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.

    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery

    A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

    The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

    Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

    For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

    The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

    The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

    It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

    “The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

    And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

    “It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

    The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

    Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

    Parity was the story this year.

    Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

    The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

    The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

    “I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

    If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

    Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

    There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

    This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

    Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

    She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

    The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.