Notes Star Starting Over Tigers Drug Issue

By Associated PressJuly 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
AT&T NationalBETHESDA, Md. -- Stacy Lewis got her professional career off to an amazing start.
 
Now she gets to start over.
 
In a policy that no longer makes sense, Lewis will not get credit for her tie for third in the U.S. Womens Open as she tries to earn enough money to get her LPGA Tour card without going to Q-school.
 
The only thing that could have helped me was to win, Lewis said at Interlachen, where she had a one-shot lead going into the final round and closed with a 78 to finish five shots behind Inbee Park.
 
Lewis earned $162,487, which would have been enough to finish the year equal to 80th on the LPGA Tour money list. She is playing in the Northwest Arkansas Championship this week, one of a maximum six events she can play to earn enough money.
 
She also will play the Jamie Farr Classic next week, and on Tuesday received a sponsors exemption to the LPGA Kapalua Classic on Maui. Her agent, Jeff Chilcoat of Sterling Sports Management, said he is working on three other tournaments.
 
I think it should be revisited, he said of the policy. And frankly, Id love to have it revisited retroactively. But I dont anticipate it being changed for her.
 
Starting in 2003, the LPGA expanded the maximum number of sponsor exemptions for non-members from four to six tournaments, and counted only domestic tournaments with at least 75 players in the field toward the money list. The U.S. Womens Open didnt count, because it is not co-sponsored by the LPGA.
 
The policy favors rank-and-file LPGA members, noting that non-members who want to earn a card without going to Q-school should have to compete in fields comprised almost entirely of LPGA members.
 
The fear was that someone could have one big week at the richest event in womens golf and get a card, for prize money at the Womens Open used to dwarf everything else. While the Womens Open purse of $3.1 million remains the largest, there are a dozen other LPGA events with at least $2 million in prize money.
 
Lewis doesnt fit the profile of a fluke.
 
She has a trophy from the Northwest Arkansas Championship, where she shot 65 last year before the tournament was washed out by rain and erased from the records. She tied for fifth in the Kraft Nabisco Championship last year as a junior at Arkansas, where she later won an NCAA title.
 
Now, she can only hope three more tournaments have room for her to compete.
 
TIGERS TEST RUN
Tiger Woods is still a candidate for drug testing, even though he will not be competing the rest of the year. But he already knows what to expect, having gone through private testing.
 
Ive done it twice, actually, Woods said.
 
Why did he require two tests?
 
Woods didnt say when the tests were conducted, but both came back negative. After the first test was clean, he said he changed the brand of amino acid as part of his nutrition program, and wanted to make sure the change didnt alter the results. He said the second test came back negative, too.
 
GRAND STAGE
Jessica Korda found herself in quite the arena Sunday at Interlachen, where the 15-year-old had the low round of the final round at 4-under 69 and tied for 19th. Later that afternoon, she stood along the ropes with her younger sister to watch the last group.
 
She has seen big crowds at a Grand Slam event before.
 
Korda was 5 when her father, Petr Korda, beat Marcel Rios to win the 1998 Australian Open in tennis.
 
I just remember I was coloring when he came into the stands and got us, she said.
 
Petr Korda was her caddie last week, and could not have been more proud. He tried his three children in tennis, but Jessica liked golf.
 
She never wanted to play tennis. She never wanted to sweat, he said. And that was good, because she would not have to carry the name. Now she can set her own goals.
 
And what was it like going from center court to being a caddie?
 
My stage is over, Korda said. Im very happy to be supporting her now.
 
CADDIE CHANGES
Steve Stricker showed up at Congressional with a new caddie, saying longtime friend Tom Mitchell decided to take a break to spend more time with his young family. Stricker picked up Jimmie Johnson, who previously worked for Nick Price and most recently was on the bag for Charles Howell III.
 
Johnson, however, is still auditioning. Stricker said he might try a couple of other caddies the rest of the year, and he already knows one who will work for him at the PGA Championship'his wife, Nicki.
 
She was his caddie when he won the Kemper Open for his first PGA Tour victory in 1996, and continued to work for him until they had their first child in 1998.
 
Shes fired up and excited to do it again, and Im excited to have her out here, Stricker said.
 
Meanwhile, Ernie Els has fired J.P. Fitzgerald and has gone back to Ricci Roberts, the caddie who worked for him when he won all three of his majors. This is at least the third time Roberts has been rejoined the South African.
 
Weve obviously got a long and successful track record together'one of the best in the business, in fact, Els said. Hopefully, there are many more wins to come.
 
CONGRESSIONAL FUTURE
The board of directors at Congressional Country Club has recommended a three-year contract to host the AT&T National starting in 2012, with an option for three more years that will take it to 2017, The Washington Post reported.
 
It still requires approval from the full membership, but tournament host Tiger Woods liked the development.
 
I want our golf tournament to be there for perpetuity, Woods said. It is an unbelievable golf course, and in our nations capitol, on our nations birthday. The stars couldnt get aligned even more than what it is. Hopefully, we can keep it there.
 
DIVOTS
Stacy Lewis signed an endorsement contract Tuesday with Mizuno, the only American woman paid to play its clubs. Lorena Ochoa has joined Golf Digest as a playing editor, a deal that includes her contributions to Golf Digest and Golf For Women magazines. She will provide instruction and feature content. Hazeltine will be stretched to over 7,700 yards when the PGA Championship returns there next year. Among the holes that have lengthened are No. 12, which can play as long as 545 yards as a par 4.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Seven of Kenny Perrys 11 victories have come at three tournaments'three times at the Memorial, twice each at the Buick Open and Colonial.
 
FINAL WORD
Youre up against an absolute freak and thats tough. But at the same time, hes making us so much money its a joke. We can only be thankful for the way hes played the game.'Robert Allenby on playing in the Tiger Woods era.
 

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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.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    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.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

    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 GolfChannel.com 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 GolfChannel.com 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.