Notes Taller Teen Sensation No More Shortcut

By Associated PressJune 25, 2008, 4:00 pm
U.S. WomenEDINA, Minn. -- This time, Alexis Thompson is just one of the girls.
 
The youngest player to ever qualify for the U.S. Womens Open at age 12 last year, Thompson has returned with 5 more inches on her now 5-foot-8 frame. She has full-fledged status as a teenager, one of 28 players at Interlachen 19 or younger.
 
Sure, Thompson is still the youngest of them all, but its not as if shes the only one who cant yet vote. She has already played this tournament, an experience that cant be claimed by 40 first-time participants in 2008.
 
It definitely helped me a lot, Thompson said, reflecting on last years 16-over par finish after two rounds at Pine Needles. It just showed me how good I have to be and how I, like, have to present myself out there'with attitude.
 
Argentinas Victoria Tanco is one of two 14-year-old qualifiers. Her bio in the players guide lists attends grade school in the college section. OK, so thats a little lost in translation. Despite her age, though, shes not necessarily lost in this field.
 
Tanco finished first, one spot ahead of Thompson, at the sectional qualifying tournament in Florida earlier this month and boasts a wire-to-wire win in the 2007 junior world championships.
 
Nervous? A bit, she acknowledged Wednesday with a sheepish smile and a laugh.
 
I try to take it like normal, because never in my life are so many people following the tournament. Never I sign so much autographs, Tanco said. Its really nice to play with all the best players in the world, and its really exciting.
 
NO SHORTCUT
The U.S. Womens Open has the potential for excitement on the final hole because the dogleg 18th is a par 5 that measures 530 yards and can be reached in two shots. Lorena Ochoa was among those who cleared the pond easily with a 5-wood.
 
Some players found it to be even shorter. It only took a few practice rounds for players to realize they could blast a drive through a gap of trees down the adjoining 10th fairway, then play away from the pond to the green.
 
I was able to cut off 40 yards, said Karrie Webb, who hit a hybrid equivalent of a 3-iron to the green.
 
Webb and Meg Mallon, who could also reach the green playing the 10th fairway, both figured it wouldnt be so easy when the first round began Thursday. And they were right.
 
One option was to play the hole as members at Interlachen do: The 10th fairway is declared out-of-bounds while playing the 18th. Mike Davis, senior director of rules and competition for the USGA who sets up the golf course, found a more practical solution. He said the tees will be moved forward about 10 yards, eliminating the gap in the trees.
 
Im not going to plant a Hinkle tree. This is a much easier fix, Davis said.
 
The tree reference was to Lon Hinkle, who took a shortcut during the 1979 U.S. Open at Inverness. The next day, a tree was planted to discourage players from going down the wrong fairway.
 
SPEECHLESS
Yani Tseng of Taiwan, the McDonalds LPGA Championship winner this month, was asked how she learned to speak English so well.
 
I talk a lot, she said.
 
Tseng, though, was speechless at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines two weeks ago while she helped out NBC analyst Dottie Pepper. She was in awe of the power Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott, but she really took interest in Scott, a heart throb for so many teenagers. Tseng finally met him after the round.
 
He was a great-looking guy, she said. And when I saw him, I almost pass out. I was so nervous talking to him. I couldnt speak.
 
NOT YET READY TO AGE
The popularity of the womens game is growing, but United States Golf Association executive director David Fay said its still too soon for a U.S. Senior Womens Open to match the men. Finding the right amount of prize money and a willing TV network to broadcast such an event would be the first hurdle to clear, Fay said. The LPGA Tour also would have to be on board.
 
So for now, no plans.
 
Thats been a question thats been asked probably about 10 years, Fay said. And Im sorry it sounds like a Groundhog Day answer, but our position remains the same. Were just not ready to do something like that yet.
 
TO THE ISLAND
The USGA has selected Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., as the site of the 2013 U.S. Womens Open. The course, which opened in 2006 with a design by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak, is nestled against Great Peconic Bay on Long Island. It features rolling fairways, big bunkers and dunes, and undulating, challenging greens. Several holes have a striking view of the water, and others are surrounded by inland forest.
 
The U.S. Womens Open hasnt been held in the state of New York since 1973, when it went to The Country Club of Rochester.
 
GOLFING WITH GULBIS
Natalie Gulbis has been long known for good looks and a high off-the-course profile, and she was predictably tabbed in a recent poll at Golf.com asking readers which LPGA Tour player theyd most like to golf with.
 
Well, one lucky guy or girl will get that chance.
 
Gulbis is promoting a contest with accounting firm RSM McGladrey that asks entrants to write an essay describing a person who has influenced their success in life. The winner will join Gulbis in Las Vegas for a morning workout, nine holes in the afternoon and a celebratory dinner.
 
Gulbis named her father, John, as the man behind her success. He worked an overnight shift as a juvenile probation officer in Sacramento, Calif., and used to take his only child to the course for practice as soon as he finished in the morning.
 
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.